When you think about Park City's followup to its successful Women's March on Main during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, you probably don't think about the guy who made Ron Swanson a lifestyle. But he was at the march last year, with a neon pink hat on, and at the followup, Jan. 20's Park City Respect Rally. Nick Offerman made a speech that spoke to all the men out there who aren't quite sure how to handle the world now that #TimesUp and #MeToo movements have everyone actually listening to women.
Since these movements have gained steam, prompting many victims to come out with their stories of assault, harassment, and disrespect in regards to powerful men, there's been a subsequent wave of fear among some men. Some have been concerned that they wouldn't be able to hug women without being accused of harassment; some, like actor Liam Neeson, are worried there's a witch hunt about and that innocent men's lives are being ruined; others are back on their #notallmen train. But Offerman's point of view in the opening to his speech — which connects the rampant disrespect of women by people in power to similar disrespect for the environment — is clear and practically foolproof if you need to school any men who feel victimized by the #MeToo movement.
Thanks to the bravery of so many victims this year, mostly women, but also men, we’re learning so much about our ignorance regarding discrimination in many contexts. About bullying and intimidation. Many of us men have been fascinated to discover that we are in fact the owners of ears and that with practice, those organs are perfectly operable. We’re realizing that manliness requires less a show of strength and brutality, than having the guts to be vulnerable and own our own culpability in the longstanding tradition overwhelming inequality. As a nation, we are all thankfully paying a great deal of new expanded attention to the meaning of consent, the meaning of personal respect in the workplace and in our relationships. More of us are awakening to a new sense of empathy and coming to realize that by god, maybe every person is not being treated as though he or she were created equal. And maybe, goddamnit, it’s high time they should be.
In just a few words, a man known for being the pinnacle of manliness spoke to his fellow men, and frankly, gave them no excuse not to understand their place in the ongoing conversation about respect for women in the workplace and in their personal relationships.
It's especially important that among his comments about workplace harassment — which is of course what prompted the investigation against Harvey Weinstein and opened this conversation up for Hollywood and beyond — Offerman made sure to mention that respect for women should also extend to relationships. After all, following accusations from an anonymous woman of disrespectful sexual behavior against comedian & actor Aziz Ansari, the conversation about what it means to respect women has extended beyond just illegal behavior into what is the right behavior. (Ansari has called the sexual encounter in question consensual and says he was "shocked and concerned" upon hearing that his accuser was uncomfortable.)
Of course, while Offerman's introduction was fantastic — the sort of thing you should show to any men in your life who've yet to understand their place in this movement — it wouldn't be a respect rally without the likes of powerhouse women like Jane Fonda, Lena Waithe, Tessa Thompson, & Gloria Allred (who led the crowd in a chant of "Resist, insist, persist, insist, and elect" as a means of reviving the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment). It's just nice to know, that when it comes to the men who haven't yet learned to listen, we've got Offerman in our corner.