With actress Kristen Bell at the helm and an endless parade of female presenters to follow her lead, the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards was an undeniable tour de force for women throughout Hollywood. Once again, the #MeToo Movement and Time’s Up commanded much attention, calling upon those in positions of authority to speak out against the injustices women face across industries on a daily basis.
Yet, while women were using their time in the spotlight to advocate for one another, the men of Hollywood continued to stumble over their own tongues, much like they’ve done since this revolution began.
William H. Macy, in particular, took time to address #MeToo and Time’s Up backstage after winning the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy on Sunday night. According to Entertainment Weekly, the “Shameless” star told reporters that “it’s hard to be a man these days.”
“I think a lot of us feel like we’re under attack, and that we need to apologize, and perhaps we do, and perhaps we are,” he said. “But we’ll keep talking. To repeat, I’m blessed that I’m in this business.”
“We had a meeting, a bunch of guys got together, under the auspices of Time’s Up — and that’s good for men,” he added. “Men don’t talk enough. Men don’t talk to other men, and we talked. What the hell — a little bit can’t hurt you.”
While Macy’s remarks likely reflect the feelings of countless men throughout the entertainment industry, it’s interesting to watch men distort this moment in history—a moment dedicated to empowering and liberating women—and once again make everything all about them. Like Liam Neeson’s previous claim that #MeToo resembles an old-fashioned witch hunt, Macy believes men are under attack.
Well, if holding predators accountable for the crimes they’ve committed repeatedly over the years qualifies as an “attack” by today’s standard, then yes—we’re using our fighting words.
When men openly criticize the breadth of #MeToo, they must first consider the years of physical and emotional abuse women have endured at the hands of the men in power. Many men might feel slightly “on edge” or defensive right now. Perhaps they feel the need to sensor what they say or do in the presence of the opposing sex. Perhaps they are second-guessing every move they make, worried that it’ll be misinterpreted as something provocative or sexual. Perhaps they’re afraid to be alone with someone of the opposite gender for fear of the moment coming back to haunt them and ruin their careers.
Do these concerns ring any bells?
Except, if these men actually walked even just five feet in a woman’s shoes, they’d recognize that their discomfort will never measure up to the genuine horror women face every single day. Being cautious shouldn’t be seen as some sort of prison sentence, as these men should’ve been treating women with the dignity and respect we now demand all along. Men who’ve done nothing wrong shouldn’t feel as if #MeToo “attacks” their personal character if they’ve been treating women well right from the start.
If you haven’t done anything inappropriate, then #MeToo shouldn’t scare you into submission. If you haven’t enabled abusers to torment your female colleagues over the years by staying silent, there’s no reason you should feel compelled to hide in the shadows now.
Men have controlled the national dialogue without question until recently and, despite #MeToo’s widespread impact, these men still retain most of the power, so there’s very little sympathy to spare for their supposed struggle. If they still wish to be part of the conversation, however, they should heed Macy’s comments about how men rarely talk to one another. They could be powerful allies in this fight for equality, but few have yet to speak up in a constructive manner. Perhaps, if they stop focusing on how #MeToo might hurt them and instead, focus on how men can stop hurting women, society will soon improve for all, not just some.
(This post originally appeared on Storia.)