When Will #MeToo Include Males Too?

Amidst the rise of the #MeToo movement and the swift takedown of dozens of high profile men after allegations of sexual harassment and assault, many women have felt empowered to speak out about their own experiences with abuse and harassment. The national spotlight is directed toward women, and society is beginning to believe them and recognize the pervasiveness of a problem that has been hidden in the shadows for decades; however, this focus on women’s experiences has led some to question the role of male victims within the movement.

The wide scope of the #MeToo movement has brought attention to the daily struggles of women in a world that constantly objectifies them, degrades them, and dehumanizes them, yet it has overlooked male victimization that stems from a toxic culture that equates manliness to aggression, power, and violence and silences men’s cries for help.

Research shows that boy victims of child sexual abuse are faced with higher levels of mistrust when reporting their abuse.[1] Additionally, researchers note that levels of male sexual abuse are probably higher than the reports say since male victims face fear of punishment, stigmas surrounding homosexuality, and severe drops in self-esteem.[2]

While research shows that women are still predominantly the victims of sexual harassment and men are primarily the perpetrators, we cannot overlook the growing number of male victims. An NBC News article reports that approximately one in six US men have experienced child sexual abuse. A recent Washington Post article states that one in five complaints of sexual harassment at work filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are from men. It is evident that sexual harassment is not just a woman’s issue.

Andrew Schmutzer, a professor who was abused as a teenager, characterized the movement’s neglect of male victims in this way: “As a male survivor, you’re always an adjunct. You’re never the leading subject of a conversation.”

With the growing awareness surrounding sexual exploitation in society, it is essential that the movement make room for male survivors to lead some of the conversations. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is raising awareness of the sexual exploitation of boys and men, and you can find more information about it with the Out of the Shadows: Addressing the Sexual Exploitation of Boys and Men project.

Both women and men should have the confidence to say #MeToo and seek help and healing. Hopefully one day in the future, neither men nor women will have to say it ever again.

Both women and men should have the confidence to say #MeToo and seek help and healing. Hopefully one day, neither men nor women will have to say it ever again. Click To Tweet

 


[1] Jean Von Hohendorff, Luísa Fernanda Habigzang, and Silvia Helena Koller, “‘A Boy, Being a Victim, Nobody Really Buys That, You Know?’: Dynamics of Sexual Violence against Boys,” Child Abuse & Neglect 70 (2017): 53–64, dx.doi.org:10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.05.008.

[2] Gabriela Pérez-Fuentes, Mark Olfson, Laura Villegas, Carmen Morcillo, Shuai Wang, and Carlos Blanco, “Prevalence and Correlates of Child Sexual Abuse: A National Study,” Comprehensive Psychiatry 54, no. 1 (2013): 16–27, dx.doi.org: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2012.05.010.

The Numbers

300+

NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

100+

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

93

NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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