At this watershed cultural moment, the #MeToo movement is finally breaking through that wall of institutionalized sexism and seemingly impenetrable power. To combat the powerful cultural dynamics that have so often silenced victims of sexual abuse and harassment, we understand that it is important to believe victims. #IBelieveYou can be a powerful force for active allies to begin to help address widespread and systemic abuse.
Our society hasn’t culturally conditioned women to make accusations against men. Quite the opposite: It conditions women NOT to speak up.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t individual cases where false accusations happen. Just like there ARE individual cases where women are violent and kill their kids. It’s horrific and unthinkable, and relatively rare, but it does happen. I️ would think it would be appropriate to call those women insane too.
The complexity of addressing this issue is that it involves issues of both individual actions and systemic abuse.
There is systemic abuse against women that includes sexual violence along a huge spectrum. And there are individual cases of false accusations. This should not be minimized or shooed away. But false accusations are not an example of systemic abuse against men.
There are, however, other crucially important and systemic abuses against men — in the form of emotional abuse, physical violence, CTE, war, etc. And we need to focus on those things with as much compassion and empathy as we give to women.
In fact, we as women need to step up and help expose the abuses of men in the same way we hope men will step up and help expose the abuses of women.
Telling boys to “man up” or “don’t cry” is a form of emotional abuse.
The piece of it we don’t talk about is that— at least in prior generations— that was often accompanied by physical abuse.
So you have boys that are both emotionally AND physically abused. Often by people who also love them — parents, siblings, friends.
And as soon as they get to puberty, they are told they must “get” the girl at all costs or they will be deemed a ‘fag’ or worse.
So, to gain love and status and acceptance, they do things like play football. Or join fraternities. And are abused all over again.
But we rarely talk about this. Instead the words that come out of our mouth are “men are bad.”
We know that those who are abused often become the next generation of abusers. It is a trauma that changes you. These damaged men who are formed in the crucible of the ‘Man Box’ grow to be Harvey Weinstein, or Kevin Spacey, or Roy Moore.
For this reason, the abuses of men that are so rarely talked about are intricately tied to the abuses of women that we are only now beginning to talk about.
And in order to stop the abuse of women, we must also stop the abuse of men.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
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