Behaviours to be Questioned Since the #MeToo Movement

November 18th, 2020

As a lawyer specializing in the defense of of sex crimes, I often asked about my opinion of the #MeToo Movement and how it has had an impact on culture in today’s workplace. I am also sometimes faced with people who believe that they have been specifically called out on their behaviour and perhaps even accused of sexual harassment, assault, or misconduct because of the momentum created by the online movement.

Commonly asked questions about the #MeTooMovement include:

  • What is the #MeTooMovement
  • Do people think or behave differently because of #MeToo?
  • Have laws changed because of #MeToo?
  • Should I change my behaviour because of #MeToo?

In this article, I’ll give a brief background of what the #MeToo Movement is, and how it has impacted the workplace environment. If you have any questions about an allegation of sexual harassment, assault or misconduct don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation.

What is the #MeToo Movement

The use of the #MeToo hashtag was created in 2006 and began being used by millions of women to post online about their personal experiences of sexual harassment and abuse. Activist Tarana Burke started the Me Too campaign with the goal of empowering survivors to spread their message and to remind them that “You’re heard, you’re understood.”

The #MeToo movement gained significant momentum when the allegations of sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein came to light, followed by allegations against numerous other prominent politicians, community leaders and famous actors.

The online campaign is really about raising awareness about the rampant prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment in or culture and about giving survivors courage to speak up about their experiences with a goal of ending sexual crimes.

Do people think or behave differently because of #MeToo?

The short answer is “yes.” #MeToo was the leading story in newsrooms across the world for several weeks and it has made people think about their actions, modify their behaviours, and reflect on how their attitudes and actions impact others.

Dating website Match surveyed 5000 single men and women aged 18-99 and reported findings that include:

  • 60 percent of those surveyed said the #MeToo movement is important to them
  • 51 percent of men reported that they have changed their behavior in general.
  • 41 percent of men reported that they changed their behavior at work.
  • 33 percent of men reported that they changed their behavior on a date.

Changes in behaviour that were listed in the survey included actions like being more careful, being more reserved, and increased awareness about the type of comments and jokes they made.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/protecting-children-sexual-abuse/201907/metoo-is-changing-attitudes-and-behaviors

Should I change my behaviour because of #MeToo?

It goes without saying that if you are concerned that any of your actions or behaviours in the workplace could be perceived as harassing in nature, then yes, you should change your behaviour. #MeToo hasn’t made certain behaviours any more or less acceptable, but the movement has empowered women, especially, to come forward about potential sexual harassment.

A study conducted by MTV among 1800 young people ages 18-25 reported that nearly 1 in 3 young men were concerned that something they had done in the past could be considered sexual harassment.  Source: metoo.mtv.com.  The resulting changes in behaviour is being noticed, too. In fact, 1 in 4 of the young people surveyed in the same study said they’ve noticed changes in the behaviour of males around them since the #MeToo movement gained traction.

The #MeToo movement has highlighted the importance for men to reflect on their own behaviours, thoughts and assumptions about masculinity, intimacy, and sexuality. If you are concerned that even the most innocent of actions in the workplace such as a gentle touch to the shoulder or a seemingly harmful joke about the role of women can be misconstrued as toxic masculinity or sexual harassment, change that behaviour to avoid the possibility of sexual harassment accusation and potential legal action.

If you have an questions or concerns about alleged sexual harassment, assault or misconduct, don’t hesitate to contact me for a consultation. It’s important that you know your rights and are fully informed about your legal options.