- Shelia Poole The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A few years back, the Rev. Edward Landrum was on a bus with about 30 other men.
They were leaving Jackson, Ga., where they had protested the execution of Troy Davis, who was convicted in the 1989 murder of a Savannah police officer.
Along the way, the senior pastor of Moore’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Carrollton, overheard several men talk about a woman he knew, implying that they had had sex with her.
He confronted the men, some of them seminary students.
“I told them we’ve just left protesting an injustice and here you are bragging and demeaning a female,” he said. “How we talk about our women is a form of abuse. It was so disheartening.”
Landrum still thinks about that day, particularly as he reads about the growing number of women who have come forward alleging they were sexually harassed or assaulted by Hollywood mogul and political donor Harvey Weinstein.
Using the social media hashtag #MeToo, women have shared disturbing stories about their own incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, school, church, by relatives, friends and strangers.
For some, though, the big question is where were the men?
Since the scandal broke, actors such as Mark Ruffalo and George Clooney have denounced Weinstein’s behavior . In 2013, actor and comedian Seth MacFarlane slammed Weinstein during the announcement of the Academy Award supporting actress nominations.
"Congratulations," he said. "You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein," which got a considerable response from the room, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
“There’s no way all these people could have been victims and men didn’t know about it,” said Landrum. “The problem is they kept silent, We have to speak plainly to our young men at an early age and let then know that this kind of behavior is inappropriate. We need to call them on the carpet as soon as we witness it. That way the brave women who are speaking out won’t feel they are on an island by themselves.”
Social media is also weighing on men speaking out as well.
Jeffrey Brown, vice president of development and marketing for the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, said men should learn how to safely intervene if they see inappropriate behavior.
“If I’m a friend of Harvey Weinstein’s, I’m going to pull him aside and have a conversation about what he is doing wrong and tell him why what he is doing is wrong,” Brown said. “Somebody has to be willing to stand up and say enough is enough. That’s where strong-willed men come into play. We need more men to stand up and say it’s wrong, no matter what it does to my career.”
DeKalb County-based Men Stopping Violence organizes men to end male violence against women and girls through training, programs and advocacy.
“We believe that men learn to degrade women primarily from other men, and that men will learn to respect women primarily from other men,” said Greg Loughlin, assistant director of the 35-year-old organization.
Men, he said, need to hold other men accountable for their actions.
It’s not that women can’t create safety for other women, but men need to play a role too.
“We live in an environment of sexism and in a culture where men’s voices have more weight, particularly with other men,” he said.
In Weinstein’s case it appears that others knew about he abuse.
“The Hollywood community colluded to make this abuse possible,” Loughlin. “That’s part of the reason Men Stopping Violence puts so much emphasis on holding the community accountable. We don’t see this as a problem of individual men alone.”