For the better part of August, I was engaged in numerous conversations and extensive dialogue with profeminist men and feminist women in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct lodged against the sociologist Michael Kimmel, activist, professor, and author of numerous books on men and masculinities. One concrete result of our conversations was the drafting of a collective statement, first posted on xyonline. You can read it below:
The allegation of sexual misconduct by the sociologist Michael Kimmel published in The Chronicle of Higher Education are serious and troubling. In the wake of the allegation, we are releasing this statement for two reasons: 1) We believe and have been publicly and privately advocating that men should not stay silent in the wake of the #MeToo movement; and 2) Because Michael is a colleague and friend to many of us; his intersectional work on men and masculinities has long been a central force in our field inside and outside of academia.
From the moment the allegations were published* several of us have been in continual dialogue with one another and a range of feminist women about how best to fulfill our responsibilities both to possible victims and survivors, and to our colleague. Among men who identify as profeminist, there is no higher priority than to reduce and eliminate men’s violence against women along a continuum of behaviors, which includes sexual harassment, coercion and abuse of power over subordinates in the workplace.
*(If circumstances require, we will update this statement.)
A vital part of our commitment to do this is—first and foremost—to support the women, men and gender non-binary people who come forward to make a complaint of harassment, bullying, or inappropriate workplace behavior. It can be very difficult for those who experience any form of harassment, bullying or inappropriate behavior to speak out, especially when the person alleged to have committed the act is powerful, popular, or in a position of authority.
To this end, we support investigations by Michael’s university (SUNY-Stony Brook), and efforts by the American Sociological Association to develop ethical guidelines that protect complainants and/or witnesses against retribution. Further, we call on university and other investigators (in this case and others) to demonstrate sensitivity and respect for all parties, and display a strong intersectional feminist understanding of harassment.
Taking concrete steps toward accountability within our own organizations is essential. Those of us in institutions where Michael sat as a board member (Promundo) or advisory board member (Voice Male magazine) accepted his request to be suspended from our boards. And, shortly after the initial allegations were made public, one of our colleagues, the Australian sociologist Michael Flood, drafted as a work-in-progress a detailed set of accountability principles. These principles are intended to help guide our deliberations in this and other situations in which a man committed to feminist change faces allegations of sexual misconduct. The principles can be found here.
The #MeToo movement has catalyzed an unprecedented outpouring of women’s voices about the burdens they have borne and the harms they have experienced as a subordinated class in patriarchal cultures. As men who are deeply committed to gender equity and justice, we celebrate this movement and the opportunities it provides for women, men and people of all genders who have suffered to be heard and treated with the care, respect, dignity and justice they deserve.
At the same time, we call for a systematic, transparent and equitable process of deliberation for the accused. We believe strongly that men who work to promote gender justice are and should be accountable to women, to each other, and to ourselves as individual men. We need to demonstrate that men can be responsible to both women and other men simultaneously. There is no inherent contradiction between caring about healing and justice for victims and survivors and acting respectfully and fairly toward those alleged to have caused harm.
We will continue to listen to the voices of survivors, as well as women colleagues and friends. And we will continue to engage in constructive dialogue as part of our unwavering commitment to accountability, our embrace of compassion and healing, and our commitment to ending sexism and harassment.
August 31, 2018
Gary Barker Promundo-US
Dick Bathrick cofounder, Men Stopping Violence
Steven Botkin MERGE for Equality
Chuck Derry Gender Violence Institute
Charlie Donaldson Men’s Counseling Center of Northern Michigan
Joe Ehrmann Coach for America
Michael Flood Queensland University of Technology School of Justice, Australia
Randy Flood Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan
Alan Heisterkamp Center for Violence Prevention, University of Northern Iowa
Carlos Idibouo North American MenEngage
Jackson Katz MVP Strategies
Tom Keith California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
Patrick Lemmon cofounder, Men Can Stop Rape
Michael Messner University of Southern California
Sebastián Molano Defying Gender Roles
Oswaldo Montoya MenEngage Alliance
Craig Norberg-Bohm North American MenEngage
James Messerschmidt University of Southern Maine
Jeff O’Brien Huddle Up to End Violence
Rob Okun Voice Male magazine
*Affiliations for identification purposes only