Harvey Weinstein has been splashed across international headlines for abusing at least 13 women in the Hollywood industry. More women came out about the abuse and harassment they’d suffered at the hands of the film mogul, as well as others. From this incident a few Hollywood actors also came forward about sexual advances.
Since then, a number 0f women – and now men – have posted ‘Me Too’ onto their social media stauses.
To which, the men who have posted ‘me too’ received criticism, claiming that this is a women’s issue and that all too often men hijack women’s arguments.
Obviously being pressured into having sex with men that you don’t want to, in order to further, and in many cases even sustain, your career is far more common for women because the industry is dominated by heterosexual males. And this is an issue on it’s own. So perhaps it was wrong for the actors in Hollywood to speak up on this.
But whenever this viral trend began, it changed the tone of the original discussion, and what was originally about women in Hollywood became about women everywhere. And what started as a stand against sexual harassment, was now encompassing sexual assault; which includes rape and abuse. We are no longer just talking about Hollywood, the office, or the club.
The picture had became far bigger. Until I read a status that went:
I’m sorry, but this isn’t about you.”
Commenters compared the situation to ‘All Lives Matter’ (where white people informed black people that they were speaking on a non-issue). But as we all know, race and gender are not one in the same, as aren’t racism and rape. In fact, the only way I can see that this situation is like black empowerment, is non-victims telling victims how they should feel, or to be quiet.
And when I say ‘victims’, I think it’s important to establish that I’m referring specifically to men that were victims of rape and sexual abuse, not harassed (as men do deal with this on a daily basis, but we must look at what the words of the status being used).
Others claimed that men would drown out the voices of women, and that it’s important for them to be heard – without the male input. But what about the voices of rape victims? In fact, commenters referred to these men as “fragile”, “whiney” and made of “straw”.
Women all over the world were standing in support with the women of Hollywood, but what harm is there in men who have been victims wanting to stand strong against their attackers and support the campaign too?
I don’t believe they came forward to weaken women’s argument, I believe it was to strengthen it. People in pain just often want to heard, not to steal someone’s thunder; especially not when it comes to something as serious as sexual abuse.
Women do suffer under male privilege, and have harder lives in a world which is male dominated, and it’s important that we recognise that, but as the breakout of the scandal trickles down into the stream of social media, and women chose to speak up on all forms of sexual abuse, how are males makes their voices quieter? Or more importantly, what good is it doing by telling other victims not to speak up?
Where is the compassion, empathy and progress in telling someone that’s been raped, “be quiet, we’re not talking about you right now”?
Perhaps the reason some men feel the need to speak up at this moment, is because they feel empowered by women doing so. Many men won’t admit to being raped for fear of how they’ll be judged, emasculated and even laughed at. So when they do, perhaps we should just applaud their bravery too, (or at the very least, just allow them to be heard) rather than telling them, it’s not a convenient time to speak out against their injustice.
Some may argue that this fight is for women because it happens to them far more commonly, but just because it’s less common for men, does that mean we should ignore their cries for help and action too?
No, this was not about men originally, but in this case – where men can empathise a woman’s pain, by having been through something similar (not the same, I’ll admit), and stand with them in solidarity against the real enemy – what’s so bad about that? It makes no sense to fight each other when there’s greater evil at work. The one thing that rapists of men and rapists of women have in common, is that they’re all monsters.
That’s not to say that all men who have been raped or abused should stand up, because again, beyond gender, it’s a personal issue, and some will while others won’t. The same way some women will, and other’s won’t. But I don’t believe those who chose to do so, should be silenced, condemned, or told that their pain isn’t as important, like a absent-minded mother ignoring her crying child because she’s preoccupied with the other sibling.
The fact of the matter is, that men can’t take this away from women and “make it a male issue”, because it will always be a ‘female issue’ – or at least, considered so by the eyes of the mass public, because it does happen to far more of them. There are not enough victims of male rape coming forward to take it away from women; so your concerns of that are empty.
The only thing you accomplish, is making someone in pain feel (even more) worthless.
The irony that lies here, is that a number of non-victims are weighing in to tell men that this isn’t their time to speak. I would argue that it’s actually not a time for non-victims to speak. Those who are not survivors (male and female) have less of a place in this discussion than men who have do.
And I honestly couldn’t imagine a woman that had been raped telling a man he’s precious, “whiney” or made of “straw” because he spoke up about being his experience. I’d imagine they’d have compassion, because they’d been through it.
One woman writes under her ‘Me Too’ status: “I do actually think it’s okay that men who have also been sexually harassed and assaulted be included in this […] There is whole different challenge for men who are sexually assaulted and harassed face in coming forward and they deserve validation, support and empathy as well.”
We’re all human, and compassion doesn’t end at gender. It’s nobody’s place to tell someone how much pain they’re in, or who’s is worse; and when you tell male victims to be quiet, you belittle their trauma. Men and women shouldn’t be fighting each other, they should be standing together and fighting for justice.