Safe Alliance asks men to pledge to stop sexual harassment

We talked to one of the men behind the idea of the pledge

AUSTIN - As each day brings a new allegation of sexual harassment or assault against another high-powered man, The Safe Alliance is working to find a way to prevent the abuse from happening again.    

"It takes literally 15 seconds,” said Michael Simons, the SAFE Board Chairman. 

But at The Safe Alliance, they hope the impact lasts a lot longer. 

"Women, we can't fix it on our own. Men need to step up and change their behavior,” said the CEO of SAFE Kelly White. “It’s time to -- for men to step forward and say it’s on us; we’re going to change these behaviors, and here’s how we do it. We pledge to acknowledge our power and our privilege, and to be respectful.”

"I think with all the things we've seen going on in the media lately, we felt it was important to try to find a way. It's sort of a critical moment in time, and try to find a way to get men involved,” said Simons. "The reality of the situation is that people look at this as a women's problem, but the reality is this is really a men's problem."

The organization just launched a new campaign, called the SAFE MEN pledge. They're encouraging men to sign a pledge that will help stop sexual harassment and abuse. 

"It's by no means, only one gender, specific to one gender. We have to be very clear about that, but it's largely specific to one gender," said White. “Let’s face it, a majority of the harassment and assault is perpetrated by males, and largely against females.”

"In order to fix the problem and improve the situation, men need to get involved," said Simons. 

The pledge says men will recognize their power, commit to a culture of non-violence, and speak out against the sexist behavior. It also says they will support and believe victims as they come forward. 

“It also sends such an important message that they will be believed. They will be honored. It’s okay to step up,” said White. "I've talked to some women who've said, I just needed to be believed.”

Simons said they hope to change what has become normal in some places of society. They want men to stop condoning or turning a blind eye to harassment. 

"I think that's the important message is like everybody can do better," said Simons. 

Several Central Texas men have already signed the pledge, including Senator Kirk Watson and Mayor Steve Adler.

“We’ve had so many powerful and privileged and respected men in our community that have stepped forward and said 'yes I take this pledge',” said White. “If they sign, and they acknowledge and step forward and say this is what I believe, then that’s a strong statement about our community.”

"All of us can do something," said Simons. 

For White, she said it’s about evolving the conversation from recognizing the problem to finding solutions. 

“I don’t want people to stop stepping up, we want them to do that, at the same time, we also need to begin the conversation about how to change the behavior,” said White. “It’s about treating everyone with respect.”

"A lot of the people who are speaking up are women which is exactly what we need, but I think the problem once again lies with men... We need to get men on board in saying, 'listen we're going to behave better, and we're also going to support people when they do speak out,'" said Simons. 

They believe there is a shift happening in what is normal in society.

“I think that the awareness has changed dramatically, and people are already watching their behavior,” said White. 

"I think a lot of what we see today with men behaving badly is because it's acceptable, or people think it's okay. Their friends think it's okay. It’s sort of the natural way for guys to act,” said Simons. "Often times big leaps can be made when everyone is thinking about it, and everyone is focused on trying to do something about it. And I think this is one of those times when we can really make a big leap forward and do something significant and permanent.” 

"This is about moving forward, pledge to be respectful, and to acknowledge your privilege and your power and to treat everybody with respect moving forward," said White. 

A respect, of great magnitude, that can start with a small action, just signing your name.

“We can’t change everything that went before, but we can change the here and now, and the future,” said White. 

"If we all can do a little bit better, then society gets a lot better,” said Simons. 

You can sign the pledge here

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