DNA carried a news article titled ‘Adolescent boys, not girls, are bigger victims of forced sex ‘ which said,
“According to a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University of the US, 15% of boys and 3% of girls reported that someone forcibly tried to have a physical relationship with them.”
The numbers look suspect to me which may be because female respondents have been more reluctant to talk than males, thus skewing the statistics the other way. However, it raises an important point.
Men are the victims of sexual crimes as well. That’s obvious at an intellectual level. But take a minute to think of the gamut of horrors that are encompassed in this: child abuse, date rape, harassment at work, non-consensual marital sex. I’ve been very vocal about the tragedies of being a woman and vulnerable to all sorts of dangers. On the other hand, men aren’t completely insured to these same dangers, are they?
What’s most chilling is the thought that these dangers exist without a comparable level of support. If a guy broke up with his girlfriend, citing ‘too much of pressure for sex’ as a reason, how many of us would take him seriously? If a husband were to report trauma caused by marital abuse and non-consensual sex, who would believe him?
Let’s get closer home. Say you know a couple. And let’s say one of them meets a third person of the opposite sex who starts paying them a lot of attention. These affections may not be reciprocated and there is bound to be some strain in the couple’s relations as a result of the third person. Now if it is the girl who is party to unwelcome affection, a brisk, “No thanks. I’m not interested” usually sorts the problem out, failing which there’s always, “Get lost, creep! I have a boyfriend”. However, if it is a guy who is the object of a new girl’s attention…..ah, didn’t you just stop and think, “Lucky dog!”? Hmm, I did too. And that is exactly the point. Since we assume that any kind of female attention is an enjoyable experience for a man, we can’t conceive the idea that it could be unwelcome and even traumatizing.
Don’t get me wrong, attention is la-di-da for all of us, but most of us are practical enough to realize that it could jeopardize other aspects of our lives. So a girl can easily shrug off the attention…it is the ‘right’ thing for her to do after all. But what does a guy do? Being rude to a woman makes him look caddish, spurning affection makes him seem cold. And heaven help him if girlfriend is the jealous, non-understanding type.
Now the above has actually happened to a couple I know. As it turned out the woman in the couple ended up taking matters into her hands and going out to war with the other woman. The man breathed a sigh of relief. But the couple has also started avoiding certain places and occasions where they are sure to meet the other woman. The other woman hasn’t been deterred in her activities however, and proceeds on smoothly with her life like nothing happened. This is one time I do not sympathize with my sex.
This has still been a fairly safe situation, with one woman playing the perpetrator and another woman riding to the rescue, in the proverbial knight-in-shining-armour manner. However, what of situations where this isn’t possible?
At schools and hostels, who is taking care of little boys from the ‘inappropriate’ advances of adults and….would you believe…their own peers?
Within marriages, is there a way for the husband to seek help in case he needs it? I’m hardly surprised now that men seemed to more and more petrified of commitment than ever.
At adolescence, boys are learning to drive, to drink, to try and get girls into bed. Someone may also be teaching them safety regulations, how to deal with hangovers and seduction techniques. How about self-defense?
Women are no less corruptible than their male counterparts. In the cubicle space of shattered glass ceilings, who is ensuring a safe, harassment-free workplace for male newcomers?
While these times may be long in coming, they’re headed our way, for sure. If women aren’t sex-objects, playthings, showpieces, trophies and dumb bimbettes, we aren’t all paragons of virtue either. The very same temptations to evil lie before us as well and who is to tell…when faced with an opportunity and virtually no chance of being caught, if we wouldn’t take it up ourselves? The average woman is no more an angel than a man. All we all are, is human.
Of note, I’m not minimizing the risks faced by women, indeed not. All I’m doing is pointing out that men are vulnerable to some of these too and in some ways the risks are higher since they have even less of our sympathy than the female victims. While we raise our voices to protest the crimes against women, we speak for empowerment and independence, are we doing so at the cost of making men ‘the weaker sex’? I don’t like the thought of that either. And worst of all, I realize that this is little more than idle intellectualizing since womenpower is the way the tide is turning, even if drowns out some basic rights for men in the process.
If any of my readers are surprised by this post, well, don’t be. There are men I love and care for, after all. And I fear for their safety and peace of mind, just as I do for my own. I’ve often thought that it would be more practical to have a son since being a girl is fraught with so much of agony. But then…I think….I can teach my daughter to take care of herself, and where I don’t, the world will provide ways to support her. If nothing else, I can bring her into a world where she will be heard. I am not sure I can say the same for a son.