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#MeToo and #TimesUp: Are men safe?

"It was a different time!"

"Those women are just after the money and attention."

"No man is safe anymore!"

These are some of the comments I've heard in response to the latest slew of headlines surrounding high profile men being accused to past sexual harassment and assault. People immediately jump to a horrifying world in which men are going to be viciously destroyed by vindictive women and their total falsehoods.

Let's pause for a minute.

The momentum of sexism isn't going to immediately swing so far in the opposite direction that all of sudden no man is safe. Currently, women aren't safe. According to RAINN, the Rape, Assault, and Incest National Network which is the largest anti-sexual violence organization, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Most of them are women. In our country, one in six women has survived an attempted or completed rape.

Women, what measures do you take in your daily life to prevent sexual assault?

Do you think about when and where you're walking alone at night? Wear or avoid certain clothing? Watch your drinks at parties? See a man you don't know and cross the street to avoid him? Consider how close your car is parked to good lighting or the entrance to your destination? Travel in groups or avoid being alone? Carry a weapon?

Most women have at least a few tactics they hold in the back of their mind to try and keep themselves safe.

Men, what do you do to keep yourselves from being sexually assaulted?

I've asked the men in my life this question and mostly received a blank stare in response.

The fact that people are balking because sexual allegations are having real life consequences shows how flippantly these issues have been treated.

For all the people saying we shouldn't hold these men to "today's standards" I say, "Why not?" Has it ever been OK to disrespect a person so deeply that you use, touch, violate, sexualize and degrade another human's body? Has it ever been OK to think that your desires matter more than a person's consent?

No. It has never been OK. We're just now beginning to condemn those actions publically. The only men who should be worried are those who have made it a habit to abuse those around them. They should be held accountable for their actions.

I'm a survivor of sexual assault and the strength and courage of the women who have shared their stories has given me hope. Hopefully, other survivors will feel emboldened and encouraged to point out the other thousands of predators in our midst.

I'm not worried about the security of men. I'm worried about the safety and dignity of the millions of women grappling with unsafe work environments and trauma from assault.

Women are starting to share their stories. I think it's time we listened.

• • •

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

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