Nandini Arora is an aspiring actuary who loves to write. Although married to numbers, her first love has always been books and writing. She regularly writes about issues such as women’s safety, Feminism, LGBTQ etc. on her blog nandiniaroraweb.wordpress.com.
#MeToo #HimToo #UsToo
When we, as feminists, fight against gender inequality, lack of safety and rising number of sexual assaults, we often forget to include men in the picture. Be it the patriarchal society or simply our bias favoring our own genders, we sometimes overlook the fact that men too are victims of the same patriarchal society that we are so sick of.
Yes, there does not exist a woman on this planet who hasn’t ever been at the receiving end to casual sexism. Each and every women – yes, ALL of us – have at some point in our lives been subjected to sexual harassment in some form or the other. Yes, women have suffered more at the hands of patriarchy than men have. But this does not mean that the boys haven’t. In our revolution against gender inequality, as proud feminists, we cannot afford to conveniently ignore the sufferings of our men. Feminism does not teach us to be selfish. Feminism is about coming together and uniting against a common enemy.
While women all over the world were reciting their experiences with sexual harassment using #MeToo, we forgot that there were so many men too who had to hide their experiences behind their macho-ness. When patriarchy forces women to be damsels in distress, it also forces the men to be the warriors and the saviors to women. Did you know that some men find it unmanly to sit on the passenger seat while a woman drives the car? Did you know that some men also feel uncomfortable when a fellow female colleague speaks in support of them because they feel it undermines their masculinity and makes them appear weak and unable to fend for themselves? That’s how fragile patriarchy has turned manhood into.
In such a toxic environment, men usually prefer to hide their issues and feelings and pretend to be the strong and macho beings that society expects them to be. As women, today, are overcoming their fears of getting slut-shamed for being harassed, lots of men, even today, refuse to take a step forward when it comes to reporting crimes such as sexual harassment, especially when the harasser is a woman.
As a feminist, I cannot boast of supporting gender equality if I do not stand up for men too. So, while I strongly condemn men who harass women, I’d like to take this opportunity to mention all those men who GET harassed by both women and other men. Following the #MetToo that focused on crime against women, actor Anthony Rapp came out to accuse Kevin Spacey of sexual assault. Kevin Spacey, as a response to the accusation. said that he was sorry but couldn’t remember the incident as it was 30 years ago and he was drunk. Yes, that’s what he said. Imagine if that had been a response to an accusation by a woman! In addition, in an unsuccessful attempt to divert the attention from the scandal, he also came out as gay in the same apology letter!
With such a response, he not only angered literally every person who’s ever been a victim to sexual harassment but also the gay community around the world who furiously told him not to use the rainbow (a symbol of homosexuality) as a cover to hide from his crimes. Following this, a lot of other men came out to accuse Spacey of being a pedophile and responsible for harassing boys as young as 14 and 16!
The men saw the female outburst against sexual harassment as support and decided to come out about their experiences with it. The number of men now confidently talking about their stories tell us how men keep their fears and insecurities bottled up in the fear that people will mock their masculinity or no one will believe them. The large number and the severity of the cases also tells us how far and deep the problem goes and the fact that we’re not talking about it is both sad and scary.
How can we expect the men to understand and support us with our problems when we fail to acknowledge the existence of theirs? As feminists, shouldn’t we try to stand up for both women AND men? Shouldn’t we feel just as much, for issues concerning genders besides men and women, as we feel for our own? Isn’t that what truly is gender equality?
Opinions are of the writer.