#Metoo: Implications for the Future
2 min read

What is required for #metoo to effect real change? An important component of the answer to this question may be discussion that raises awareness. This is the view of Peter Jansson, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Dalarna University, whose research examines male violence.

"It is not enough just to inform people about sexual harassment. What is needed is discussion where men and women meet to talk, and men are made to put themselves in the women's situation and understand the feelings that they have," says Peter Jansson.

"It's about increasing the capacity of men and women to see things from the other perspective - that men can put themselves in the women's situation and have empathy and compassion for a person who is subjected to the unease and anguish that result from sexual harassment."

"Research shows that information alone does not help. What is required is a desire to understand one another. Only once a deeper understanding for the negative feelings that the victim experiences can significant feelings of guilt and a wish to put things right develop. Many men feel that they represent equality because they do the dishes, the washing and such things. But upon deeper reflection, it is clear this is not enough. The basis for constructive discussion must still be that there are few men who consciously want to continue scaring women and causing them pain," explains Peter Jansson.

How do you teach children what is acceptable and not?

"Discussion and practice in taking the other person's perspective when it comes to this issue need to take place at an early stage. This may mean difficult discussions that you may want to avoid, but they are necessary if results are to be achieved. This type of discussion needs to take place at home and at school on an ongoing basis and not just as a one-off."

How can sexual harassment at the workplace be dealt with?

At a male-dominated workplace, there may be an obvious jargon about women that is unacceptable while it is more diffuse at other workplaces. Those in charge need to organise discussions where in dialogue, individuals can increase their knowledge, understanding and empathy when it comes to the experiences of others," responds Peter Jansson,

How should such discussions be conducted?

"What is important is not to judge one another. The risk with this is that it leads to people playing a role that fits with the norms of what is considered correct behaviour. Discussion must be open and honest in terms of how a person is thinking and feeling. Such group discussions could be followed up by different methods. The workplace manager has an important role in directing this. However, he or she should possibly not take part in the discussions because employees may be in a position of dependence on the manager and managers can at times also be part of the problem."

What do you think about #metoo?

"I think it is important because it shows that this is a problem within society that affects us all. But it needs to be followed up by long-term measures in places of employment and in schools. Otherwise the risk is that it disappears without anything concrete happening.

The aim of Peter Jansson's research is to increase knowledge and understanding with regards to how the childhood experiences, socialisation, construction of masculinity and emotions of violent men relate to their violence towards other men, towards themselves and towards women.