Modern Australian Magazine

Beyond #MeToo, we need bystander action to prevent sexual violence

  • Written by Anastasia Powell, Associate Professor and ARC DECRA Fellow, Criminology and Justice Studies, RMIT University
Beyond #MeToo, we need bystander action to prevent sexual violence

Something truly powerful happens when victims of sexual violence choose to publicly share their account of harassment and abuse. Some will continue to minimise the violence and blame victims. But movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp make it difficult to ignore the nature of sexual violence in people’s everyday lives.

Read more: Rape culture: why our community attitudes to sexual violence matter

Approximately one in two Australian women and one in four men experience sexual harassment in their lifetime. One in five women and one in 20 men experience sexual assault. But when experiences are shared online it reveals much more about the everyday nature of the abuse.

One such common revelation is that some victims tried to report their experience to someone – a friend, a colleague, a manager – but they were either not believed or their report was dismissed.

Sometimes, in the cases of powerful men, people even responded by saying: “oh yes, he’s just like that”. While we could all use some advice on how to respond when someone discloses an experience of sexual violence, there’s a much larger issue at play when people have an opportunity to do something but instead choose to remain silent.

Read more: How to respond to an allegation of sexual assault

Hashtag activism alone won’t create change

The #MeToo movement started as a hashtag campaign on social media in response to revelations about Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men using their positions to sexually harass and abuse – primarily, though not always – women in the film industry. But a social media campaign alone is not enough to create lasting social change.

Read more: What the Harvey Weinstein case tells us about sexual assault disclosure

This is not the first time victims of sexual violence have raised their voices in a form of modern consciousness-raising. But increased awareness of the problem is not sufficient to challenge the abuse and stop it at its source.

Rather, what’s needed is ways to tackle the hidden causes of sexual harassment and abuse in workplaces, in institutions such as the media, and in society more broadly. Violence against women is more likely to occur in societies and settings where sexism, gender discrimination and gender inequality are excused or tolerated.

Australia’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children reflects this. It includes a commitment to change Australia’s attitudes to – and tolerance for – this kind of violence.

Federal, state and territory governments from both sides of politics have endorsed a policy framework for preventing violence before it occurs. But while governments – and indeed employers and other community leaders – have clear obligations to tackle sexual violence in all its forms, there’s something all of us can also do.

Bystanders need to take action

A recent survey of 1,204 Australians reveals how willing some are to take action when they see sexual harassment, sexism, and gender inequality.

The results show a majority of participants thought it was common for women to be treated unfairly and/or without respect in a range of settings. This indicates sexism, gender discrimination and gender inequality are widespread problems in Australia.

Participants thought it was more likely for women to be treated unfairly and/or without respect in male-dominated settings (70% thought common or very common); clubs, pubs and bars (67%); social media (65%); workplaces (65%); and on the street (57%).

A large majority of participants also thought sexism, gender discrimination and gender equality are concerning problems. More specifically, the survey found:

  • 82% of people surveyed find “females being paid less than a male colleague for the same work” concerning or very concerning;

  • 78% of people surveyed find “a male colleague interrupting and talking over a female colleague” concerning or very concerning;

  • 77% of people surveyed find “a friend sharing a sexist joke about an ‘ugly, fat chick’ on social media” concerning or very concerning; and

  • 70% of people surveyed find “a male colleague making a comment about one of your female colleague’s sexual attractiveness” concerning or very concerning.

But the good news is people also want advice on how to speak up against these types of situations. The survey showed that 79% want practical tips about ways to safely intervene when witnessing disrespect toward women and girls, and 75% want practical tips about how to respond to casual sexism in a social environment without being a party pooper.

Sexual assault and harassment often happens behind closed doors, where there is little opportunity for bystander intervention. But everyday sexism, disrespect, gender discrimination, and inequality toward women are issues many observe out in the open – in workplaces, in pubs and bars, on social media, and in the street.

If we really want to create lasting change beyond #MeToo, then we all need to start challenging the attitudes and beliefs that demean and disrespect women.

If you require support for sexual harassment or assault, contact details for national services are available here.

Authors: Anastasia Powell, Associate Professor and ARC DECRA Fellow, Criminology and Justice Studies, RMIT University

Read more http://theconversation.com/beyond-metoo-we-need-bystander-action-to-prevent-sexual-violence-91741

Australia Today

the carbon tax that would leave households better off

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics and PLuS Alliance Fellow, UNSW

The UNSW climate dividend proposal will be launched on Wednesday by the Member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps. ShutterstockToday, as part of the UNSW Grand Challenge on Inequality, we release a study entitled A Climate Dividend for Australians that offers a practical solution to the twin problems of cl...

Read more

If you're feeding with formula, here's what you can do to promote your baby's healthy growth

Rachel Laws, Senior Lecturer in Public Health Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University

If a baby isn’t breastfed, or is partially breastfed, commercial infant formula should be the only other food given until around six months, and should be continued alongside solid foods until 12 months.ShutterstockWhile breastfeeding is the recommended approach to infant feeding, some mothers...

Read more

Why adult video stars rely on camming

Sophie Pezzutto, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, Australian National University

Trans porn star Korra Del Rio camming from her room in Las VegasSophie PezzuttoWith pirated and amateur pornography widely available online, porn no longer provides a steady income for many working in the adult industry. During my research interviewing transgender porn stars in Las Vegas, the overwh...

Read more

How much will voters pay for an early Christmas? Eight charts that explain Victoria’s transport election

Marion Terrill, Transport Program Director, Grattan Institute

The most magical time of the year is upon Victorians: election season. The (taxpayer-funded) gifts promised by the major parties far exceed anything Santa could bring. And the multi-billion-dollar toys on everybody’s wish list? Trains, tracks and roads.There’s nothing unusual about polit...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

Adhari Park: Why is it one of the must-visit sites in Bahrain?

Despite its small area that does not exceed the 1,000 square kilometers mark, the Kingdom of Bahrain is known for being rich of touristic sites and attractions. Bahrain comprises destinations...

Exciting Off Road Adventures In Western Australia

Western Australia has long been a top destination for off roading enthusiasts from all across the world. One look at some of the top off road destinations on offer in...

Things to Do and See in Ballina, Australia

The intricate coastline of New South Wales is renowned for its sumptuous, decadent beaches, hidden resorts and secret camping spots. A long and slow ride down the winding highway that...

Guide to Travel Necessities for 2018

Sure, it sounds like quite an adventure to hit an open road with nothing but a one-way ticket and an open mind, but the harsh reality is – you won’t...

Top Sightseeing Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most fascinating locations for anyone to visit in the world. After all, it’s a place with a variety of unique landscapes, but it isn’t...

Must-Pack Items for a Travel Blogging Boss

As a travel blogger, you get to see and explore so many wonderful destinations and meet various interesting people, but before you embark on a new adventure you need to...

Luxury Camping Adventures Around the World

Perhaps in direct response to the dominance of technology in the modern world, many travelers are feeling a strong draw towards nature. While some are able to fully embrace their...

Dredging works underway Plantation Island

Tourists and workers travelling to popular tourist destination Plantation Island, Fiji, are set to benefit from safer access when marine channel dredging is completed at the end of June 2018...

Top 5 Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Travelling with your dog can be thrilling, but sometimes it can turn into a real nuisance. Unless you know how to properly restrain the pooch, whether it’ll be able to...

Fashion & Beauty

Summertime skin

Summertime skin: the water based and nutrient-rich after sun gel-cream providing more antioxidant support than your traditional aloe While summer might mean spending days on end lapping up the glorious sunshine...

Groom To Do List

Sorry Aussie Men, you no longer just pay for the alcohol, flowers and marriage license. Times have certainly changed. Wedding Expert shares what Australian Grooms are now expected to do before...

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Popular articles from Modern Australian

Click Frenzy's Ironshopper winner More People Want a Sparkling Smile for the Festive SeasonUBank Increases Term Deposit Rates: What That Means for Aussie Savers?Bosses Must Address Their Mental Health for Personal and Business Success4 Things to Expect During Your Trichology ConsultationHappy Adoption: Frequently Asked Questions about Adopting6 Ways You Can Help Others that Will Advance Your CareerTop 6 Stylish Loft Conversions That Will Transform Your AtticThree Reasons Your Home Needs OneRose Smith Absolute Soul Secrets Top Foods That Boost Your Eye HealthFacts about Bruxism You Should KnowThe Most Stressful Life Events and How to Deal with ThemAU’s Most Challenging Hiking Trails5 Tips to Properly Plumb Your Vehicle