Where Are the Men?
Isn't it time men got as honest and vulnerable as women?
Posted October 26, 2017
Note: Although I have written this from a heterosexual perspective it is not meant to exclude those from the LGBTQIA community who are also touched and wounded by sexual harassment and abuse.
Where are the men?
It is shocking every time something hits the media about sexual violence and assault against women. It might be demonstrations of male privilege in the court system that places more value on the future “success” of a man than on the pain and trauma of the woman he has assaulted, or the code that silently condones sexual relationships in power imbalanced situations such as doctors and patients, teachers and students, supervisors and employees, or the recent confirmations of wide-spread sexual misconduct and sense of entitlement from public figure Harvey Weinstein.
Most now know about the #metoo campaign. It’s wide spread on Facebook where thousands of women are publicly coming out to say they have been victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
Coming out publicly in this way is no small matter. It involves facing memories and unresolved issues surrounding the time(s) of abuse in your life. And is not a simple act of revenge or accusation. Many women are facing the fact of their trauma for the first time, especially publicly, and will be facing the consequences of this with increased emotional vulnerability, shame, insomnia, withdrawal, somatic symptoms and all the things that accompany trauma. Expect private and public impact because of this, some subtle, some not so much. In my years as a therapist for Victim Services and Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, I saw the full range of the effects of even a seemingly simple unwanted kiss from a supervisor upon an employee. Unwanted sexual attention or acts, no matter how seemingly small, can be traumatic.
But once again, as with the March on Washington, it is women taking the lead; taking action to push for more social awareness and honesty. It is women coming forward, revealing painful and difficult personal information. Why are there statistics on the number of women assaulted and not the number of those who assaulted? When will the ones who have perpetrated these acts come forward and be counted?
Reading comments on other posts here on the #metoo issue, it is clear that a lot of angry men out there are putting the blame on "feminists," or women in general.
The thing is that men, as well as women, are losing out on the full range of humanness that we are all deprived of in a patriarchal society. A society that regards "relatedness" as a feminine value that de-masculinizes men. As Terry Real (who works with couples on the brink of divorce) points out in his books I Don't Want To Talk About It (on male depression) and The New Rules of Marriage, a patriarchal society is traumatic for men as well as women. 1
Come on men. Step up. Maybe you are not ready to admit publicly (or even privately) that you have coerced, manipulated, ridiculed, shamed, dishonestly seduced, emotionally blackmailed a girl or woman in order to exert your sexual or power needs, or just for "fun," but you certainly know someone who has.
So come forward. Start a campaign of #yesitstrue if you know a man—even yourself—who has exploited, harmed, or used a woman without her 100% agreement. And remember, this includes inappropriate attention that treats a woman as an object for your physical or visual gratification such as cat calls, telling an upset woman to smile so you can feel better, and “accidentally” brushing up or groping a woman in a crowded place.
Don't let women carry this burden alone. Come forward. Be responsible.
I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression (A Fireside Book/Simon & Schuster Trade Paperback; March 1998).