No, Men Are Not Trash.

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Trigger Warning: Talk of rape, sexual assault and mental illness. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed belong to our diverse range of talented writers, and don’t represent the views of Wessex Scene as a whole.

If we’re real, I couldn’t care less if you want to go around saying ‘Men are Trash’, that’s your prerogative. What is inherently problematic in this article and in general the concept of ‘university feminism’ that we are seeing, is the view that you can oppress majority communities to empower minority communities. This is not feminism, this is not equality. 

I respect everything the writer says in their article. I am sympathetic and deeply apologetic for the experiences they have had to go through with men. I understand that these experiences have led to a mentality that men have to prove themselves. It should not have happened, it angers me that these men have been so disgustingly abhorrent. I sympathise with her viewpoint because, honestly, I am guilty of this too. My abusive relationship led me to expect that treatment from any man I dated and it has taken a long time to learn to be trusting again. But I think it is inherently wrong and also anti-feminist to generalise men in an effort to raise awareness for female victimhood.

I want to make this clear, I am a feminist. I believe in everything feminism stands for, the inclusion of trans men and women, the raising awareness for male and female specific issues that are victims of toxic masculinity and the patriarchy. I feel a real frustration at the fact that we need to defend ‘men’ because people who work against stereotypes and discrimination, feel it is okay to stereotype and discriminate against other people. It’s also worth considering that yes, I agree that it is safer to assume you’re going to be raped or assaulted because the statistics support this. But there is a very fine line between self-preservation and blatant oppression or discrimination against people that is undeserving. We do not say the same for Muslims, for women, for trans* people, for other minority communities because it is recognised to be wrong. We don’t say it’s acceptable to avoid Muslims or immediately assume they’re terrorists, so why do we do it for men? Though I get it, stereotyping is super easy to do and we are all guilty of it. The point is to grow from it, learn that the stereotypes are not factual, be aware of our mistakes in the past and grow as a collective to move forwards towards equality, not polarisation and demonisation.

In response to the sexual assault statistics, it is factually incorrect that 98% of sexual assaults are committed by men. In fact, women are very much a significant offender in child sexual abuse. For example, a US study concluded that 1 in 5 child sexual abuse cases had a female as a main perpetrator. This article by the independent reports a number of studies where women have been reported or admitted to forcing sex, for example in 2012 46% of sexual assaults in that study were women. We must also remember that sexual assault also comes under taking advantage. This can be not gaining informed and sober consent or using guilt tripping and emotional abuse. Sexual assault isn’t simply about strength and penetration, many females are guilty of sexual assault too. We oppress men as victims and survivors when we ‘fail to treat their abuse as worthy of concern’. Men are also victims to the 85,000 sexual assaults that happen each year (just in the UK, and these are the reported ones). The 12,000 males that are raped are also statistically less likely to report a sexual crime (3% vs 11%). It is not a productive attitude to see men as animals and rapists until they have proven otherwise, we should not advocate this.

It is inherently false that men do not suffer with systematic oppression and this is in NO way disregarding female sexual abuse and oppression, just recognising that it literally exists. Many sociological research studies have suggested and concluded that with issues of mental health, domestic abuse and sexual abuse, males are frequently discouraged from coming forward, are victimised within the media and society by the belief that ‘men can’t get raped’. They are discriminated against even further within these ideas because it does not recognise the existence of male specific problems as a result of the patriarchy. Other statistics demonstrate this discrimination, with 43% of university students being men, and 81% of male students having reported suffering with anxiety, stress and depression. It is also worth noting that 1 in 3 men are sexually or domestically abused, and 75% of suicides in the UK and Australia are committed by men.

My point is we cannot claim to work for equality when we blatantly ignore the effects of the patriarchy on men and say they do not or cannot suffer. Attitudes behind the phrase of ‘all men are trash’, merely perpetuates this issue. It is not productive and does not work towards any other solution except to continue an intolerance and an attitude of hatred. Men of Colour are even further discriminated against, being 17 times more likely to be detained under the Mental Capacity Act in the UK as a risk to society, and are frequently diagnosed with psychotic disorders over their white counterparts because of inherent racial prejudice. This cannot be ignored. Again, the recognition of this in NO WAY denies, disregards or rejects the very also real and shocking experiences suffered by women.

I believe the way forward to equality is not reinstating a misbalance, it is about recognising the specific issues within both genders. We need to look further within the gender and sexuality spectrum that society rejects and realise that it does discriminate against EVERYONE. We don’t move forward in raising awareness and combating sexual assault by rejecting that it is a real and major issue within the male community too. We need to focus on all communities, including women of colour, lgbt+ men and women, BME men and women. Mental health, sexual assault, domestic violence: these are not exclusively a female problem. So no, men are not trash.

Sources of the statistics mentioned are below:

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/an-overview-of-sexual-offending-in-england-and-wales
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2014/oct/28/tackle-mental-health-inequality-black-people
  3. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/sexualoffencesinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2017  
  4. http://www.malepsychology.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/The-Harrys-Masculinity-Report.pdf
  5. https://theconversation.com/women-who-sexually-abuse-children-are-just-as-harmful-to-their-victims-as-male-abusers-80395
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