Innumerable floods of women have found sanctuary in the rising of the #MeToo movement, using the term as a propellor towards speaking up about sexual assault, sexual harassment, and r*pe (The word r*pe will be censored in this article). It is a hashtag that has helped fight an arduous battle against our justice system’s abhorrent failure to recognize the substantial suffering of sexual assault survivors, as well as adequately deliver severe punishment onto the monsters responsible for the crime.
The sad reality is that in cases of sexual assault, women are often blamed for it. They are riddled with offensive and insensitive inquiries such as the notorious, “What were you wearing?”
In fact, Fox News actually tweeted in 2014, “If there are any women on my TL who are victims of sexual assault & don’t mind sharing something…what were you wearing when you were assaulted?” To pose a question such as “What were you wearing?” insinuates that it was the victim’s fault they were sexually assaulted. It is invalidating to the pain and fear that burdens them every day.
But while the problems women face regarding speaking up about their sexual assault are wholly legitimate, what is often not mentioned are the issues that men face regarding the evil of sexual assault.
Men are also hit with invalidating and callous questions such as “How could you let this happen to you?” or “Did you fight back?” or “Does that mean you’re gay?” Like many other things in the world, society has harmfully reduced this abomination of a crime to a stereotype; for instance, when one thinks of r*pe, typically what comes to mind is a woman as the victim and a man as the perpetrator. This is not to deny that women experience sexual assault at amounts alarming massive, for that fact is sadly far too true; merely to point out that this generalization made by society regularly obscures and pushes aside the trauma faced by other survivors.
Men are unfortunately seen as “incapable” of experiencing sexual assault. Our world, crawling with toxic masculinity, expects them to constantly be strong, tough, and macho. Hence, to fathom that a man was put in a position of such concrete vulnerability and faced trauma afterward is preposterous to many. People are conditioned to wonder why the man didn’t simply fight back or retaliate. Why didn’t he just protect himself the same way he protects his wife, 2.5 kids, and household? Due to this, when a man attempts to come forward about sexual violence, his torment is dismissed.
What is important to remember is that the #MeToo movement, while originally put into motion due to the sexual assault hardships faced by women, is an all-encompassing term. The hashtag #HeToo surfaced at some point in retaliation to #MeToo, which is foolish because #MeToo is not equivalent to #HerToo. It is not exclusively for women survivors of r*pe. The “Me” refers to one person as an individual, regardless of gender, feeling the courage to speak out about the pain they were subjected to. This includes men. Society needs to recognize and accept the fact that men can experience sexual assault as well, and their trauma is just as real and awful as that endured by a woman. The crime holds the same prodigious amount of wickedness no matter what gender is forced to face it.
Ultimately, sexual violence (r*pe, assault, et cetera) is among the worst sins that exist in humanity. And this world needs to improve enormously with how it deals with both the evil itself and the survivors of said evil. Specifically, in the context of this article’s focus, it is crucial for society to remember that #MeToo means men, too.