Several weeks ago I wrote about the #MeToo campaign occurring on Twitter. This started in response to the Harvey Weinstein allegations and quickly spiraled into women sharing stories of sexual harassment and violence. That shifted to blaming all men for the acts of a few bad actors.
Another element to the #MeToo campaign was ignoring, dismissing, and sometimes attacking male victims who used the hashtag. Some of the negativity was direct, however, most of it came via the notion that men as a group needed to apologize to women and change their collective behavior.
This is a recurring theme with any conversation about sexual violence. The topic inevitably ignores male victims and treats all men as complicit in and responsible for the actions of the small number of men. Of course, there are those who do want to talk about male victims and include them. For example, Christine Wekerle, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, McMaster University in Canada wrote an article stating that “we must listen to male sexual abuse victims #too.”
She states in her article:
The #MeToo hashtag has created a space of female solidarity for victims who have experienced various forms of sexual abuse.
The dominant male response has involved a new hashtag — #HowIWillChange — where men are declaring their intention to stop sexualizing women and to stand in solidarity with them against assault. When men have stepped into the spotlight to say #MeToo applies to them too, as victims of sexual violence, they have sometimes been welcomed and other times less so.
Let us be honest: the hashtag was not created as a space for female solidarity. It was created as a means to politicize and hijack a news story about a corrupt, sexually deviant Hollywood powerhouse. Even if the “space” were created for such solidarity, many of the stories shared are so trivial that it undermined the point. There is a clear difference between someone using the prospect of improving or even having a career as a means to have sex with you compared to someone once touching your thigh or making an inappropriate, sexually-themed comment. The hashtag did not separate those instances. Instead, all were treated as if they were tantamount to rape.
This explains in part why male victims would face rejection in that “space.” Male victims undermine the narrative that men are the problem, particularly because so many of those men report female abusers.
Wekerle goes on to state:
Yet for real healing to occur, I think we need to ask ourselves: Are we ready, as a society, to listen to the male victim? Can we create both virtual and face-to-face culturally safe spaces to listen, without co-opting the female space — to listen, especially to male youth?
We are four paragraphs into the article, and this is where Wekerle chose to go: an accusation that listening to male victims somehow “co-opts” female space. It gets worse:
This question resonates with me as a child abuse and dating violence expert. And it resonates with my team of researchers in boys’ and men’s health in McMaster University’s Department of Pediatrics and the Offord Centre for Child Studies.
If we listen, perhaps we can transform the current of toxic masculinity towards the alternative — a compassionate masculinity.
With that statement, Wekerle reveals that her concern is not about abused boys, merely peddling an anti-masculinity narrative so common among progressives and feminists. What proceeds is little more than abject denial of current data showing the frequency of male victimization, the reality of female abusers, and ignoring men and boys’ experiences in favor of the typical misandrous feminist narrative.
For example, Wekerle stated:
A 2011 review of the prevalence of child sexual abuse around the world shows that it’s a female-dominant issue — about one in five girls and and one in 13 boys globally are sexually abused.
What she does not state is that the abstract reveals something rather interesting:
The overall estimated CSA prevalence was 127/1000 in self-report studies and 4/1000 in informant studies. Self-reported CSA was more common among female (180/1000) than among male participants (76/1000). Lowest rates for both girls (113/1000) and boys (41/1000) were found in Asia, and highest rates were found for girls in Australia (215/1000) and for boys in Africa (193/1000).
That the results come from self-reported surveys explains part of the reason for the lower report rates from boys, particularly in Asian countries. Cultural norms often prevent victims of both sexes from coming forward, yet this is particularly pronounced among male victims. Not only do they often keep the abuse to themselves, yet even reporting it may prove fruitless as many of the countries do not regard sexual violence against boys as rape or treat it as seriously as they do female victimization.
As I have noted many times, using self-reported surveys as evidence that “women have it worse” when we know men are less likely to report their abuse makes no logical sense. We must at the very least acknowledge that men and boys are less likely to report the abuse if we are going to rely on such data.
To understand and prevent male violence against both women and men, and then to disrupt the cycle of toxic masculinity and trauma, we need to check our biases on who is socially “accepted” as a victim. The words of one victim summarize this: “A boy, being a victim, nobody really buys that, you know?”
How odd that Wekerle would quote the man after completely ignoring the sentiment of his comment. When you call masculinity “toxic” and imply that this is somehow related to or the cause of sexual violence, you make it difficult for people to see males as anything other than abusers. It is not masculinity that causes or contributes to sexual violence. It is power dynamics that lead to these types of abuses. It has nothing at all to do with being male.
The challenge we deal with is that there are two simple facts in sexual abuse: (1) the vast majority of perpetrators are males, leading us to blame men and hold them accountable
This is a lie that simply will not die. The CDC has shown numerous times that women make up the majority of those who sexually abuse men and boys. The CDC conducted the study for three different years, and has continually found this result. It is not the only study to reveal that women commit far more sexual violence than people assume. Statistically speaking, it appears that women commit about 40% of the overall sexual violence. Sixty percent hardly sounds like “the vast majority,” so let us stop peddling that lie.
The truth is that the majority of reported offenders are male. There are a number of reasons for this, however, none of them are that women simply do not commit sexual violence.
(2) sexually attacking a person requires a significant degree of emotional distance, which is a key factor in the cycle of “toxic masculinity.”
In other words, women are emotional and inherently empathetic, therefore they could not be sexual abusers.
This emotional distance manifests in many ways as low empathy, low compassion, victim-blaming, micro-aggressions and frankly assaultive behaviour, from “cat-calling” to rape.
In cases of child sexual abuse, or CSA, what I call the “want-take” violent dynamic is at its highest with total disregard for the vulnerability of the child or adolescent.
How are women exempt from this behavior? I have written hundreds of posts about women who preyed on children engaging in the very behavior Wekerle mentioned, often in court as part of their defense strategy. To ignore that female offenders engage in this behavior in most instances of reported abuse is baffling. Perhaps Wekerle has never read about such cases or perhaps she is excusing or ignoring them because they do not fit her narrative.
Young male victims of CSA then have to deal with the violent experience of toxic masculinity from the perpetrator at a time when they are forming their own identities as males, while they are experiencing toxic stress from being maltreated.
Again, how are women exempt from this behavior? Female offenders often prey on men and boys’ tendency to conform to masculine norms as a means of controlling them and continuing the abuse. Imagine the impact that would have on a boy who is forming his masculine identity.
This occurs within a culture where boys are often asked to be tough and may have few male role models for healthy emotional expression. It’s a culture in which men are primarily the perpetrators of violence and in which there may be few compassionate ears to listen.
The sheer lack of self-awareness of this statement almost leaves me speechless. If you keep calling males nothing but perpetrators of violence, male victims will not see themselves as victims. They will assume that only females can be victims. Likewise, those abused by females will not see female as potential abusers, and again dismiss their experiences. Similarly, if every time men come forward to talk about their experiences they are ridiculed for their “fragile masculinity,” they have no reason to come forward.
The very dynamic Wekerle mentions is one that she and those like her create and perpetuate, and yet they are holding male victims responsible for it, all while saying:
So we must listen. Even if the young male victim first tries to push us away, we must persist in our message: “We are here for you — when you are ready to talk, we are here.”
No, you are not. You are not interested in hearing anything male victims have to say. You are only interested in hearing your anti-male narrative said back to you. This is shown by you insistence that “toxic masculinity” is the problem, not that a person the boy trusted violated that trust. One of those is a real problem, and it is not the one that begins and ends with “toxic masculinity.”
Wekerle went on to note the severe impact sexual violence has on boys, including mental and physical problems, as well as potential issues with sexual relationships. Nothing she mentioned had anything to do with masculinity. Telling boys they do not have to be men or that they do not have to be violent or that they can cry would not resolve a single one of those problems. It is almost as if this “toxic masculinity” thing was simply tacked on by some activist.
This is the problem with the anti-male narrative: it has nothing to do with the problems men face. The focus on this feminist nonsense never helps male victims. Only by addressing the actual experiences male victims have will you be able to help them cope with the abuse.
That is, of course, if one’s goal is to help male victims. If one’s goal is actually:
[…] to prevent sexual violence. To prevent is to intervene. But to intervene we — as parents, friends, teachers, service providers — all have to be ready to listen.
then what you are really doing is treating male victims as potential offenders. You are not helping them for their own sake, but helping them with under the sexist assumption that this will prevent those victims from abusing the “real” victims: women.
For Wekerle to talk about creating “a compassionate masculinity” is rather telling given that she lacks said compassion herself. What compassionate person spends thousands of words essentially blaming “masculinity” and men for male victimization, while ignoring that women commit the majority of sexual violence against men and boys? There is no compassion in hiding the truth because it does not fit your narrative.
Perhaps it is much worse. Perhaps Wekerle, by virtue of her love of this narrative, is unaware of the data revealing that women commit the majority of abuse. That would mean she is completely ignorant of men and boys’ stories. In other words, she does not listen to what male victims say. She merely parrots what feminists tell her.
She asked at the end of her article:
Are we #ReadytoListen to male victims?
Apparently we are not.