speak up

Martin Luther King Jr. once said:

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

In a time when women all over the country are standing up and taking to the streets to march against injustice and bring an end to sexual assault, harassment and discrimination, there is a renewed call for men to play a bigger role in challenging disrespect towards women.

Everyday sexism is no longer something to be laughed off as, “oh come on, it’s just a joke”.

It’s time for the disrespectful behaviour to be called out. It’s time for bystanders to speak up. Because if we can’t speak up in our own backyards, how are we expected to speak up when the situation gets real?

In a bid to help men (and women, too) to ‘do something’ when they see everyday sexism, a new series of advertisements has been released by Our Watch, ‘a national leader in the primary prevention against women and their children in Australia’, as part of its national Doing Nothing Does Harm campaign.

Reportedly, the campaign was created in response to research from Our Watch, which found that 75% of Australians want practical tips on how to respond to casual sexism without being perceived as a ‘party pooper’.

The research also reveals that only 14% of Australians feel confident to call out disrespect towards women.

“What came out strongly in the market testing for this iteration of the campaign was that men recognised that something was sexist but didn’t know what to do in response,” explains Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly.

“There was also a feeling of regret for not knowing how to call it out – this campaign shares a host of ways they can do something.”

Aussie sports stars join campaign

To help launch this new iteration of the campaign, and to encourage other men to step up, two Aussie sports stars have come on-board as ambassadors of Our Watch: ALF star, Zach Merrett and NRL player, Kyle Flanagan.

“As a young man, there can be a lot of pressure from other men to act a certain way – tough, strong and stoic,” says Mr Merrett.

“I have been in situations with a group of ‘lads’ where one of them puts a woman down my making sexualised jokes or comments about them. I know most of us have felt uncomfortable with what’s been said but have chosen the path of least resistance and done nothing or just laughed it off – essentially saying that behaviour’s okay.

“While I have tried to align my values with my actions as best I can, I knew I had to do more, which is why I wanted to become an Our Watch ambassador.”

NRL player, Kyle Flanagan adds that the Doing Nothing Does Harm website provides a suite of options for how bystanders can ‘do something’ to stop disrespectful behaviour, including how to show disapproval with body language, ways to support women, and what to say if you want to speak up and act.

“The important message we need to convey to men is that there are many ways to ‘do something’ to challenge disrespect towards women,” says Mr Flanagan.

Tools and resources

This campaign provides the tools and resources to show that individual men, and men as a group can help to change these behaviours and unequal structures by ‘doing something’ when it comes to disrespect towards women.  

For more information about the campaign, visit: doingnothingdoesharm.org.au/

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

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