I am involved with a variety of issues which are typically considered “women’s” issues. Domestic abuse, sexual assault, street harassment, human trafficking, subjects viewed as men attacking women, men hurting women, men treating women (for lack of a better word) like shit. My Facebook wall is a public service announcement 24/7, filled with articles about men taking advantage of women under the influence or how men need to respect women and not shout at them, how women shouldn’t be forced to change the way they dress because some man will shout a lewd, disrespectful comment, men need to change, not women.
Because of all that, I typically get asked why do you always blame men? There are two parts to this answer.
I am a firm believer that men don’t rape women, men don’t hit women, men don’t assault women, men don’t harass women in the streets. Rapists rape women, abusers hit women, assault women, shout at women. If I was passed out, none of the men I hang out with would rape me, they would take care of me. If I was walking down the street with men I know, they wouldn’t shout at a woman. If they like her, they would speak to her as an equal. If they get mad at a girlfriend, they won’t hit her. Why won’t they do these things? Simple, because real men treat women as equals. Men respect women, men love women and men take care of women.
The second part of this answer is that a large part of my advocacy and public education is regarding men. I strongly believe that men are incredibly underrepresented when dealing with DV/SA (domestic abuse/sexual assault) and a variety of other issues. As a society, we tend to view these as a woman’s problem because the majority of the victims are women and majority of the perpetrators are men.
Not only that, men face different types of problems when trying to speak about any assaults. “Of course men can’t get raped because a real man is strong and can defend himself.” “Women cannot sexually assault men, they always want sex, DUH!” “Real men can take care of themselves, right?” This ridiculous stereotypes make it exceptionally difficult for men to disclose their abuse, especially if a woman is the perpetrator. This is the main reason why male assaults are so under reported. This also makes it almost taboo for society to discuss male sexual assault. Many people don’t know that 1 in 6 men are sexually assaulted before the age of 18, that men can get raped by women, that men do seek out services from DV/SA organizations. At Mutual Ground, a DV/SA agency in Aurora, 3% of their clientele is men and that is slowly growing.
To create a society where women won’t be harassed in the street, where women won’t be assaulted or raped is to create a society where men can experience the same. Men deserve as much respect, love and protection as we do as women. Men deserve the right to come out and receive help & support after an assault. We have to work together. We can’t continue to blame 1 sex for “causing” this problem, this epidemic because this isn’t a women’s issue, this is a people’s issue. Both men and women are the cause of it and both men and women are the victims of it. Just because the percentage of victims is greater for one gender doesn’t mean the other isn’t affected.
I don’t blame men. Those articles on my Facebook page aren’t about men. They are about the real perpetrators, the rapists, the abusers, the cat callers, the street harassers. Those people make society unsafe and those are who I speak out against, not men.