In the weeks since Harvey Weinstein was revealed as Hollywood’s most notorious sexual predator, countless news stories have illuminated the extent to which women are abused, harassed and sexually assaulted by men — especially men in power. In America, an assault happens every 98 seconds. 90 percent of the victims are women. Many women feel powerless, or that reporting these crimes will make no difference, meaning that two of every three assaults go unreported. It’s not hard to see why; victim-shaming continues to happen, stories continue to be denied (Lena Dunham, I’m looking at you) and men in power continue to go unpunished, a fact proven by our very own pussy-grabbing President.
There is, however, an under-discussed fact which needs to be highlighted — men are victims of sexual assault, too. Statistics show that one in six men has had an unwanted sexual experience in their lives, a fact recently humanized by men like Anthony Rapp and Terry Crews, both of whom bravely stepped forward to share their own stories of sexual abuse. A quick scroll through any Internet comment section, however, reveals that these men are being weaponized by misogynist trolls looking to silence women. The fact that men are raped doesn’t negate the severity of the problem being disproportionately faced by women. If you think it does, you’re part of the problem.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be trying to understand the problem and help to eradicate it. Men live in a world which conditions them to behave like men, whatever the hell that means. After all, nobody can really pinpoint a universal definition or image of masculinity; sure, we deem muscle bros, aggressive bread-winners and men in positions of power to be somehow more “manly,” but these stereotypes change alongside cultural context and are never, ever stable. There are some common assumptions though, and one is that men should be strong and silent instead of being vulnerable and open to emotional discussions — we should “man up.” This attitude partially explains why a staggering 96 percent of male sexual assault (according to UK statistics) goes unreported, and why men are committing suicide at alarming rates — especially in the UK, where it’s the biggest killer of men under 45.
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