Men in the Movement help men become allies for #MeToo

Nate Day

Carl Olsen, Men’s Programing and Violence Prevention Coordinator at the Women’s and Gender Advocacy Center, gives a presentation on men and the #MeToo movement. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Nota del Editor: El Collegian está empezando una sección para nuestros lectores que hablan Español. Articulos en Español va a estar en linea y en la impresión. Encontrar la versión original en Ingles aqui. Traducido por Daniela Navarro.

#MeToo is a historic movement for women, but some men may struggle with how to be allies in relation to this moment in time. 

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To address men’s relationship with #MeToo, Colorado State University’s Men in the Movement and ROTC hosted an Open Event to discuss the topic, called “#MeToo and Men.”

“There’s confusion among men who want to do better,” said Carl Olsen, the coordinator of men’s programming and violence prevention with the Women and Gender Advocacy Center. “They’re confused by the power of #MeToo movement, and this is a space for men to grapple with what’s hard for men to discuss.”

The Open Events are hosted once a month by Men in the Movement. Previous topics have included “WTF is the friend zone” and “Men and Depression.”

Monday’s event began with Olsen leading the audience in a discussion of what #MeToo meant to them. Students discussed #MeToo’s status as a campaign against sexual violence, with one individual referring to it as “a movement to bring sexual violence to light and show how common it is.”

The group then discussed their reactions to the movement. Some felt that it was largely dominated by a concept known as white feminism—an ignorance of women of color within feminist ideals—and also “men covering their asses.”

Olsen discussed how #MeToo created a stereotype for men, something they may not have faced before.

“Men have previously had the luxury of not being associated with the actions of other men,” Olsen said. “We saw this kind of thing after 9/11 when people were targets for hate crimes based on their religion.”

Following the discussion, Olsen scribbled four words on the whiteboard: Awareness, Knowledge, Skills and Action. Olsen then explained that within a movement like #MeToo, those are the four steps to combatting the problem.

According to Olsen, the first step is becoming aware of the issue, followed by building what you know about it. Next comes building the skills to combat it, and, finally, those skills are put to use.

Olsen asked audience members to divide themselves up into three groups based on the first three steps and discuss what it is that they’re currently doing with their respective step.

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The awareness group discussed reading up on social issues and surfing social media to find out what’s trending.

“I don’t know sh*t about this stuff,” admitted a participant in the awareness group at the beginning of his discussion. However, he later explained, “I’ve been learning so much about this over the last few weeks.” 

Similarly, the group discussing the knowledge step talked about reading into more information, specifically statistics, as well as attending workshops and forums similar to the event.

Finally, the group tackling skills and discussed more complex concepts like “code-switching,” the idea that one must change their communication patterns when engaging with individuals from different backgrounds in order to get a point across.

Audience members recognized the importance of the “skills” step.

“I’ve been aware (of #MeToo) for a long time now,” said Akiva Meolo, an undeclared freshman. “I have some skills, but when it comes to crisis mode, we might not know what to do.”

However, Olsen said that realizing the other steps is an important process because “we gain awareness of f*cked up sh*t and we want to go straight to action, but we have to build those skills first.”

The event wrapped up with a question from Olsen: “Are we ready for action?” This was immediately followed by a student’s response: “We have to be.”

Nate Day can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NateMDay.