Ahead of the 90th Academy Awards, men in the film industry and beyond are joining a new campaign to fight sexism and sexual misconduct. David Arquette, Justin Baldoni, David Schwimmer, Don McPherson, and Matt McGorry are among the signees of an open letter in support of #AskMoreOfHim, a movement that encourages men to promote women’s rights and to help end sexual harassment and violence. The campaign was launched by the Representation Project, the same group behind the similarly named hashtag #AskHerMore, which called out media coverage of women that focuses on their appearance instead of accomplishments.
The new campaign is a kind of answer to #TimesUp and #MeToo that lays out how men can act as allies, acknowledging that the majority of abuse is perpetrated by men and that men also hold most positions of power in the entertainment industry. The statement goes out of its way to get ahead of potential criticism as well: “Some may question our motives for signing this statement and we aim to counteract their skepticism by being painfully honest. Men are imperfect. We are imperfect. And many men, including perhaps some of us, may have enabled the bad behavior of others or acted in ways we now regret.”
Representation Project founder Jennifer Siebel Newsom co-wrote a guest column in the Hollywood Reporter with Jackson Katz introducing the campaign. “Women’s leadership has set in motion a seismic shift in cultural attitudes, beliefs and behaviors,” they wrote. “But women can’t do this work alone, nor should they be expected to. Ending sexual harassment, abuse and assault is not just women’s work. It’s men’s work too. It’s all of our work.”
The full open letter, via THR, can be found below.
We applaud the courage and pledge our support to the courageous women — and men, and gender non-conforming individuals — who have come forward to recount their experiences of harassment, abuse and violence at the hands of men in our country. It is never easy for someone who’s been harassed or bullied to speak up, especially when the abuse is sexual. These people are our colleagues and friends. They are fellow artists and craftspeople. They are also our partners, siblings, parents and children. We are in awe of their strength and commitment to speaking truth to power.
But our awe is not enough. As men, we have a special responsibility to prevent abuse from happening in the first place. After all, the vast majority of sexual harassment, abuse and violence is perpetrated by men, whether in Hollywood or not. And in entertainment — like many industries — men continue to hold most of the decision-making power. Therefore, one of the most powerful things that men can and must do is make it clear to other men — including their friends, colleagues and co-workers — that sexual harassment and abuse are never acceptable. This goes for everything from sexist and degrading comments, right up to domestic violence and sexual assault.
Some may question our motives for signing this statement and we aim to counteract their skepticism by being painfully honest. Men are imperfect. We are imperfect. And many men, including perhaps some of us, may have enabled the bad behavior of others or acted in ways we now regret. Nonetheless, we believe that men must speak out against sexism, even as we engage in our own process of critical self-reflection, personal growth and accountability.
So consider this our pledge to support survivors, condemn sexism wherever we see it and hold ourselves and others accountable. As advocates, actors, writers, producers, and directors, we hope that our actions will inspire other men to join us. Until now, only a small number of them have been actively engaged in this effort. This must change. It’s time we #AskMoreOfHim.
Dennis Barbour, The Partnership for Male Youth
Gary Barker, Promundo-US
Eric Barthold, “Man Up” and Open
Jonathan Kalin, Party With Consent
Jackson Katz, Ph.D., MVP Strategies
Michael Kimmel, SUNY, Stony Brook
Michael A. Messner, USC
Rob Okun, Voice Male Magazine
Pedro Noguera, UCLA
Ianta Summers, Women’s March National Organizing Team
A Call to Men
Futures Without Violence
The Representation Project