With the recent rise of #MeToo and the wave of individuals bravely coming forward, it is evident that now is a critical time to have open conversations about sexual violence that bring this topic out of the shadows and address the cultural change that must happen. Power imbalances that silence survivors are an epidemic that pervade all communities – dance included. From the accusations made against New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins to stories from dancers throughout country, it is clear that members of the dance community are all too familiar with this problem.
However, dancers are also uniquely suited to be a part of the solution. In a community of thoughtful, creative, and forward-thinking artists, dancers have always been at the forefront of the conversation on important issues.
This ability of the dance community to reflect and communicate is especially crucial in finding a solution to the issue of sexual assault and harassment. To join this conversation and support the efforts to find solutions, actor and advocate Justin Baldoni recently launched the fourth episode of his show Man Enough, which is focused on the #MeToo movement and how we can all be better allies by supporting survivors and working towards change. The digital series, which featured World of Dance judge Derek Hough in episodes one and two, is an on-camera dinner party featuring a diverse cast of influential men that explores what it means to be a man today.
The #MeToo movement has given women the long-needed opportunity to share their stories, but Baldoni noticed that men have largely remained quiet. Men often feel discouraged from sharing their feelings or simply don’t have the vocabulary to do so. This episode creates a safe space where men can engage in this difficult conversation by learning from one another, experts in the space, and survivors.
More than just expressing their feelings, the cast of this episode reflects on this movement in order to understand what social constructs, particularly those around traditional masculinity, brought us to this point and how men can move forward as better allies and supporters. They discuss how society has socialized boys, how men contribute to this issue, and how men must be active bystanders and listeners.
To do this, the episode features the insights of experts. Tony Porter, CEO of violence prevention organization A Call to Men was brought in to share his experience with educating men on healthy and respectful masculinity. Dartmouth professor and sexual assault survivor Dr. Susan Brison also speaks with Justin during the episode to explain how survivors process long-term trauma.
The episode also features the stories of three women who bravely share their experiences with sexual assault and harassment. The choice to include female voices in this episode (which isn’t done in previous episodes of the show) is clearly intentional and offers the viewers a different and important perspective. Additionally, two men around the table shared their own experiences with sexual violence when they were young and spoke openly about the stigmas surrounding male survivors.
This must-watch episode shows us that we must speak truthfully and listen carefully in order to move forward and create solutions together. It’s on all of us, men and women, people of color, queer folks, those in power, and even the dance community, to work alongside one another and hold space that fosters these types of important conversations in order to create change.
To watch the all new Man Enough #MeToo Episode please visit Man Enough’s Facebook Watch Page.
This article was provided by Wayfarer Entertainment, written by Emma Bird.