October 12, 2016

Men must speak up when they hear language like Trump's, Shaun Harper says

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Penn GSE’s Shaun Harper said Donald Trump’s comments about women should prompt a call to action for all men.

Dr. Shaun Harper

“When men fail to challenge other men on troubling things they say about and do to women, we contribute to cultures that excuse sexual harassment, assault and other forms of gender violence,” Harper wrote.

“I know from my research that confronting male peers is difficult for a 14-year-old high school student-athlete who desperately wants his teammates to like and accept him. He needs his coach to step up and disrupt locker room banter.”

In his op-ed and an interview on the Brian Lehrer Show, Harper explained that lewd talk about women occurs far too often in male-exclusive places, with corrosive effects.

“Those who participate in this ‘banter’ are rewarded,” Harper wrote. “Those who choose not to engage, and especially guys who critique such statements, have their masculinities questioned and risk being placed on the outskirts of social acceptance.” 

This pattern of learned behavior will be continued, Harper believes, unless men work to stop it.

“It’s a sickness of sexism and misogyny that boys and young men learn from other boys and men at a very young age,” Harper told Lehrer.