Maybe this makes me naïve or judgemental, but I believe that although there are some grey areas in life, there are certain situations that remain in the black and white – like sexual assault, which doesn’t even tread slightly along the trapeze of ambiguity in my mind and yet we so often let it.
Through headlines and through time, we have heard of many abhorrent sex crimes by the likes of Josef Fritzl and Brock Turner. Rightfully, this has been something that has outraged us, as nobody deserves to be violated and disrespected: on that we can all agree.
The problem with our generation is that we see ‘bad people’ and the ‘victims’ as falling into a very specific archetype – these overpowering, looming men attacking defenceless and physically fragile people. Does this happen? Of course. Is this horrible? Yes. But the fact is that these are not the only types of attacks that happen, and that other attacks need to be treated with a similar kind of responsibility and respect.
It is clear and acceptable to say that with cases such as Jeremy Forrest, a man in his 30’s grooming a schoolgirl is a case of paedophilia and statutory rape. However, in cases where it is woman who abuses a teenage boy, such as, teacher Amy Beck, all that is said in response are blasé jokes like ‘I wish I had a teacher like that when I was at school’. No you don’t. In both of these cases someone abused their position of power to assault a child. It doesn’t matter whether it is a ‘MILF’ or a sweaty old man – both are equally as predatory. Under law, women cannot be convicted of rape in the same way that men do, even though evil is not gender-specific.
Similarly, women are also capable of violating and abusing others even if they are not as physically ‘strong’ as the person they are attacking. We all know that not all cases of assault involve an element of fighting back because in the moment of an attack not everyone has that instinct or can. This absolutely does not mean that they ‘want’ the attack, which is disturbing way to view the situation and an assumption that desperately needs to be addressed.
As previously mentioned, men can be the victim of sexual crimes as well, it is possible and should not be overlooked. It is also extremely important to note that these men can be attacked by not only women, but other men as well. There is this huge and unacceptable taboo when it comes to men and sexual assault. It isn’t as simple as ‘fighting back’ and people are too quick to call a man weak and throw around sexuality as if it is some kind of justification for the attacker. 96% of male rapes go unreported due to the ridiculous and undue backlash they get for daring to speak out because too often those that do speak out are met with deflating remarks that amount their experience of assault to just a ‘joke’. Our society constantly promotes the stereotype that ‘lads are always up for it?’ have we ever stopped to think about what harm this could cause when the man isn’t ‘up for it?’
If a man touches a women or removes her clothes in a club, despite her telling him ‘no’ then it is clear to everyone that this is wrong and predatory behaviour. The woman may report it, she may choose not to, but that doesn’t change the fact that the man who groped her was taking advantage and trying to claim her body as his. We’ve seen MP’s and Hollywood icons rightfully get justice for treating women in this way. So why is a man assaulting another man in this way brushed off as ‘lad culture’ and ‘banter’? or why is a woman grooming a child seen as ‘hot’ or ‘lucky’?
This can’t go on, gender is not an excuse to ignore sexual assault.
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