Men Shouldn't Need Wives or Daughters to Take a Stand Against Sexual Harassment

serious little girl

Last week, allegations that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein might be a serial sexual predator rocked Hollywood. A New York Times article detailing years of sexual harassment allegations went to print, including claims that the mega-famous producer forced everyone from actresses to journalists to watch him shower and perform sexual acts, as well as paid dozens of women to keep quiet about the abuses they endured. The allegations are enough to make anyone's stomach turn, and thousands have flocked to social media to condemn Weinstein. But in the conversation that's taking place, there's one disturbing and all-too-common narrative that keeps popping up: what Harvey Weinstein did is wrong because his alleged victims are "wives and daughters."


Yesterday, Ben Affleck spoke out against Weinstein in a post on Facebook, where he wrote, "We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters." Days before that, his bestie for life, Matt Damon, echoed the same sentiments when he told Deadline, "Look, even before I was famous, I didn't abide by this kind of behavior. But now, as the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night."

Oh, now that you have daughters it keeps you up at night? Well, thanks for that, Matt. Just FYI, it was happening before you had daughters too.

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It's not uncommon for well-meaning fathers and husbands to trot out the "wives and daughters" line whenever something awful happens to women in the public eye. It's a go-to, a way of saying they can relate because they care about the women in their lives, and they wouldn't want to see the women they care about fall victim to predators. But sexual harassment isn't just bad because women are wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers.

Sexual harassment is bad because women are human beings.

It didn't take long for outraged people on social media to start pointing that out:


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The problem isn't men speaking out about sexual harassment -- that's a good thing. It's also a good thing that fathers and husbands and men from all walks of life are attempting to be sympathetic to the experiences of the women and girls they know. But women are more than where we stand in relation to men, and it shouldn't take a marriage or the birth of a female child or even picturing your own mother to understand that sexual harassment is appalling, full stop.

If you're disgusted by the disturbing allegations against Harvey Weinstein, good. You should be. You should shout it from the rooftops. But don't hide behind your wives and daughters to condemn sexist behavior. Harvey Weinstein had daughters, too. In fact, he had four of them, and a wife who's now filed for divorce. And still he is accused of taking advantage of women, of hurting them, of treating them as sexual objects.

If we're going to put an end to sexual harassment and abuse, it starts with recognizing that "wives and daughters" exist outside of those roles. They are people, deserving of autonomy and respect. And if it takes marrying a woman or making your very own female baby in order to see that, well, then maybe you're a part of the problem.

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