Updated 13 Nov, 2018

What a difference a year can make.

Ever since the #MeToo movement started picking up steam back in October 2017, we've found ourselves in somewhat uncharted territory. Women (and also some men) have collectively started calling out their harassers and abusers around the globe. And while it's off to a slow start here in Pakistan, it's clear that it's here to stay.

Today, if you get a group of women together, some mention of #MeToo is bound to pop up. But the men, they aren't having these difficult conversations. Not with us and not with each other.

And if they are talking, it's not positive. At least online (who are we kidding, even in real life), we've seen a lot of guys respond with anger, skepticism or just get plain defensive when the #MeToo movement is mentioned.

So we decided to speak to some of the men who work in our building, who've done their homework to get their views on how this social reckoning might change things and what men can do to ensure a safer environment for women in society.

And although it's not exactly a justification, it's true that a lot of factors prime men to be chauvinistic: the fault lies in how society instills in them a damaging view of masculinity, lack of awareness and formative influences, the media they consume, the way their families operate, the company they keep. That said, perpetrators of violence must first be held accountable for their actions and then we'll talk about reformation.

So where do we go from here? Do we isolate the men we have known to be misinformed? Or do we work on their rehabilitation and try to get to the root cause of this toxic idea of manhood? Reprogramming how they think will take copious amounts of self-reflection; we can guide them but they have to do the emotional labour themselves, which admittedly, most have been reluctant to do.

I've been thinking a lot about something Azra Abbas said at Karachi Literature Festival earlier this year; someone asked her how we can take men along on this feminist journey and she replied, "Is that even necessary? If you can't complete your journey without somebody else's help, is that the right journey?"

I agree in sentiment but policy and change will only come if everyone plays their role; even if as a man, you aren't a predator or a misogynist yourself, you should be uncomfortable because #MeToo is also a war on onlookers' complicit silence.

The upbringing of men has taught them to not take women seriously but they are not beyond education and the reason allies are important is because men have a far better shot at getting through to each other than we do of making them understand (sad but true).

Women will continue to call out repressive practices but our voices are often dismissed or go unheard altogether.

Time and discourse will change that but until then, you already got that male privilege, which means more likely than not, you'll have an audience that's all ears; call out your male peers for sexist remarks, sexual misconduct and other problematic and downright criminal behaviours. It should be common decency; it's not weak or uncool to care about equality and treat women as full human beings in 2018, dude.


M. Emad Nov 13, 2018 09:47am
Over 70% Pakistani women experience sexual harassment at workplace.
Sameer Nov 13, 2018 10:03am
Men using #metoo to lure innocent women in too. These men are mostly covering up horrors themselves have inflicted on others. We as men musg recognise that too.
Akhan Nov 13, 2018 12:06pm
@M. Emad But Over 99% Bangladesh women experience sexual harassment at workplace.
Sadaf Nov 13, 2018 12:08pm
Pakistan is far off from metoo movement as Ali Zafar for acquitted despite having a shady trackrrecord
haris Nov 13, 2018 12:12pm
@M. Emad less than bangladesh
Sanjiv Sharma Nov 13, 2018 12:59pm
Well, every man has a mother. Most have sisters and daughters. Why won’t men come along on this journey to protect them?
anas Nov 13, 2018 02:04pm
Thank you for writing this.. men must step up
Riaz Ahmad Nov 13, 2018 02:07pm
Talking about 'Me too' is for you and not for now, it is for the future, first you have to talk about your regressive culture and mindset stuck in seventeenth century time warp. Some how you must find a way of escape to join the world of reason and rational thinking. Your life revolves around emotions and desires of likes and dislikes and desirable and undesireble, no place for reason to think about right and wrong, fair and unfair, licit and illicit, legal or illegal.
tryst Nov 14, 2018 03:40am
Please talk grooming gang also
Sam Nov 14, 2018 03:53am
Beware of the unintended collateral damage before you have men talking too much about this topic. It may cost women jobs where male may get preference in order to avoid any risks.
N abidai Nov 14, 2018 07:08am
Pakistani men have mother's , sisters, wives, daughters,and friends ,who are women! Any respectful, Pakistani men with any equation with women ,in their personal life ,wants other Pakistani men to give them respect ,tolerance ,,and fair consideration ,in professional plateform,, social ,or any where! So ,me too movement , effects everyone! Stop harresment ,men have power ,in male dominate society ,thus,do the right thing, educate other men !
Sara Nov 14, 2018 07:43am
Why doesn't your video show any men being honest ?
Mahmood Anwar Nov 15, 2018 03:51am
Good job guys, you speak the truth. I think most women would agree that its a good start.