Examining Perceptions of Male Feminist Allies Following Sexual Harassment Allegations 

Lizzio-Wilson, M. (University of Queensland), Klas, A. (Deakin University) 

The #MeToo movement saw numerous high-profile sexual misconduct allegations, including several against prominent feminist men (e.g. Louis C.K.). This raises an important question: are allegations against male feminist allies perceived as less legitimate by virtue of their espoused progressive beliefs about women? To test this, 370 men and women read a scenario describing a sexual harassment allegation made against a feminist or sexist male manager by a female colleague. Compared to the sexist manager, participants evaluated the allegation against the feminist manager as less accurate, thought that the alleged behaviours less closely resembled sexual harassment, were less likely to believe the victim, were more likely to believe the perpetrator, and were less likely to recommend that the allegation be investigated. These effects were not moderated by the severity of the alleged behaviours or participants’ feminist identification. Thus, instead of being punished for their incongruent behaviour, male allies’ ‘feminist credentials’ appear to protect them from suspicion and scrutiny. These findings highlight a new challenge facing the women’s movement: how to involve male allies without privileging their voices and perspectives over women’s, thus perpetuating gender inequality. The boundary conditions of, and the mechanisms underpinning these effects, are being investigated in a second study. 

Twitter: @dr_morganalw 

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