At this point, it's pretty commonplace that if you log onto any large platform social media website and see a post about women being sexually assaulted, you generally see the same kind of comments. You can see many people being kind and supportive, but also you can see a lot of people complaining. A common complaint is something along the lines of, "Well, men get sexually assaulted too, where's the coverage on that?" While the people who comment this are generally attempting to undermine the original poster's point (and are generally rather misogynistic and victim-shaming individuals), this is a point to consider. While we shouldn't discredit the #MeToo movement and the stories of female sexual assault victims, there is definitely an imbalance in media coverage, national outcry and cultural validation when it comes to female vs. non-female sexual assault victims. It also isn't simply a one sided issue; many people of different backgrounds, political parties and ideologies are guilty of the general neglect of this issue.
Take for example the recent story of Katy Perry and nineteen-year-old American Idol contestant Benjamin Glaze. Glaze mentioned in his audition that he had never been kissed, so Perry invited him over to come kiss her. Glaze originally went for Perry's cheek when she quickly turned her head to plant one on his lips. Glaze said he felt "disappointed and uncomfortable" with the gesture, as it wasn't consensual and he was hoping to save his first kiss for someone he was in a relationship with. While Glaze said he was uncomfortable, many other celebrities stepped in to defend Perry, and many mainstream news media outlets reported the incident as only "unfortunate." None of them seemed to understand that this incident is considered sexual harassment.
Male victims of sexual harassment very often find their cries for help ignored and dismissed by the masses, and it all boils down to systematic hyper-masculinity. When male victims come forward with their stories, many people tell them to "man up" or that they should have "sat back and enjoyed it." Many of these people believe that women and girls are the only ones who experience sexual harassment, however, one in ten men experience rape or sexual harassment in their lifetime. Men are consistently viewed by society as hyper-sexual, hyper-masculine beings, who need to lose their virginity or risk being considered "sad" or to score as many dates as possible. Because of assumptions like this, men who are forced into sexual situations against their will are seen as "lesser men" simply because they didn't want to be sexual. Even those who supposedly advocate for men's sexual rights (especially those often found trolling in comment sections of women's posts coming forward about their assaults on the Internet) are often observed putting male victims down with these inaccurate assumptions. If a person claims to advocate for a cause or issue, they should genuinely follow through and advocate. If not, all you're doing is undermining the traumatic experiences of others, which is never okay.
The most important thing to remember is that all victims of sexual assault are exactly that— victims. It doesn't matter their gender, race, sexuality, etc. They have been hurt and need help. The best way to help them is to listen to their stories and provide whatever support for them that you can. Looking past societal assumptions, expectations and barriers to understand the gravity of the situation at hand is crucial in order to stop this epidemic and help victims heal.
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