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#MeToo: The Problem With Speaking Out
Support, Don't Belittle
A Lot Of Thinking
Over the last few days, I've been really struck by the #MeToo movement and the encouragements, mostly to women, to speak out about sexual assault and harassment that they have experienced. I am floored by the incredible bravery shown by those who have admitted via social media the terrible things they have endured over the years, and am touched by the potential for dialogue that's opening up because of it.
What I'm not impressed with is the blatant attacks against men who try and say, "This happened to me, too," discussing their own experiences with any sort of harassment or assault (physical, mental, sexual...you get the idea).
I've actually seen comments that have said, "Yeah, boo hoo, men," as though somehow if men have gone through sexual assault or physical abuse, their experience is diminished by the simple fact of their gender.
To be fair, I've seen women come forward and tell the men who have tried to shared their stories and offer support and reminders of their respect for the men, and that is what a movement like #MeToo should be about. It's not a movement that's unique to women; sure, statistically, women are the ones who deal with abuse of any sort of harassment of any sort because physically, women are almost always the "weaker sex." That's just genetics and gender differences. However, how many men have also come forward and admitted stories of being assaulted, physically or otherwise, or harassed by men in positions of power?
If one was to look at only Hollywood, there have been a few instances of exactly that, and outside of one case I can think of, the matter was swept away and effectively dismissed. Both Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, once they reached adulthood, were open about the fact that both were sexual assault survivors. The fact that their trauma occurred when they were younger makes it even worse. Corey Feldman continues to make his voice heard and is derided on social media for it.
James van der Beek of Dawson's Creek has also admitted to being sexually harassed. Jim Beaver, who plays Bobby on Supernatural, wrote a poignant and powerful personal essay about his experiences being molested by a superior officer in the Navy. He acknowledged openly that #MeToo wasn't designed for males who had experienced similar crimes, largely because of the widespread nature of sexual assault and harassment against women.
"I respect and support any man who has been sexually misused or sexually bullied," he wrote, according to Upworthy. "But what seems to have taken the world, at long last, by storm in the past few days is most prominently an issue for women, because while many men have been victimized in such manner, the painful truth is that we live in a world where women are *expected* to put up with such things."
But then he delivered the final blow: "The clear likelihood is that had the current occupant of the White House been caught bragging to a TV reporter about molesting men, he would never have become president. But since it was just women, well, boys will be boys."
I get what Beaver is saying, but why shouldn't #MeToo incorporate those male victims of sexual assault or misconduct? Aren't we stronger together?
Why does it seem that, through social media at least, there are those who view movements like #MeToo as gender bashing?
I, too, am a survivor. I will never forget the shame that comes with first admitting to myself that I was molested by a distant male relative when I was too small to do anything about it, and raped in my 20s by a man who insisted that I needed to take care of his "needs."
I was lucky that I was able to be open enough, years later, to meet the man who ultimately became my husband. He has shown me, as have other men over the years, that there are still honorable and kind men out there. Other women aren't so lucky.
All of that said, though, I fail to see what is gained by those who insist on bashing men who are trying to either share their stories through the #MeToo movement or trying to tell at least their corner of the world that their story is no less legitimate than the women's stories.
Yes, women are far more likely to be grabbed, and touched when they don't want to be, and receive comments when all they want to do is go home to their families where they can feel safe. But there are also men out there who have had to stay completely silent about the abuses they've endured because they're men; there seems to be a implicit belief of sorts that if you're a guy who's been harassed or assaulted, it should be made a joke of or you should stay quiet because after all, you're a guy and should prevent stuff like this from happening to you.
If a man is coming forward with their own #MeToo story, why can't we acknowledge that and welcome them as part of our tribe of warriors against sexual assault and harassment?
Why does support of one person mean we need to bash others? Yes, there are men out there who need to be told in no uncertain terms that their behavior is unacceptable or even criminal, but that does not mean every male out there is evil, and there are some people who are behaving as though this is the case.
We can support each other without tearing others down.