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Young men have changed their views on flirting and boundaries after #MeToo

In a new book, gender researcher Kenneth Reinicke from Roskilde University explores how young men view harassment, masculinity and their own role in relation to women in the wake of #MeToo.
Lektor Kenneth Reinicke
Gender researcher Kenneth Reinicke has published the new book entitled "Men After #MeToo – Being an Ally in the Fight Against Sexual Harassment". Photo: Uffe Weng


How does the #MeToo movement affect young men who are the first generation seeking to find a partner in an era of new ground rules for interactions between genders? Gender researcher Kenneth Reinicke focuses on this topic in a new book entitled "Men After #MeToo – Being an Ally in the Fight Against Sexual Harassment", which will be published on 28 June. In the book, he interviews 25 men aged 21-30 about what it's like to be a man after #MeToo.

"The young men in the study roughly divide into two groups: One group acknowledges that the #MeToo movement has merit, but they don't really think it's about them and their own behaviour. The other group recognises that there are problems and believes that their own behaviour and role is crucial. I was pleasantly surprised that they have used #MeToo in this way to look inwards and reassess their past behaviour," says Kenneth Reinicke.

The qualitative study on which the book is based has been peer reviewed by international researchers and the book is published by the American publisher Palgrave Macmillan. Most of the men in the book are in higher education, and most of them live in Copenhagen.

"I have chosen to focus on this particular group of young men, because it is likely that it is among well-educated young people in the big city that change occurs first. I think it's interesting to get an insight into how change is emerging here," says Kenneth Reinicke.

Have I offended without knowing it?

A number of the young men in the book reflect that they have been part of a masculine culture, where they have most likely engaged in sexual harassment – without knowing it and without wanting to.

For example, a young man in the book says that for a number of years, he was part of a group of friends who made a sport of being sexually outrageous and harassing girls. "I didn't think about it at all, I didn't know any better. I felt completely justified in doing what I did. There was no self-reflection," the young man says in the book.

According to Kenneth Reinicke, it is common in some environments to gain recognition in the male community by “scoring”. And it's also common for others in the friendship group not to intervene. But that may be changing.

"The #MeToo movement has given young men the opportunity to see things through women's eyes. Several of them now see that they have violated women's boundaries in the past without giving it much thought. Of course, far from everyone has changed their view of their role and the boundaries in relation to women. But my book documents that there is an evolution taking place in the young generation of men," says Kenneth Reinicke.