Nearly the majority of sex offenders are men.
So stop blaming women for sexual assault.
It’s not the clothes they wear, the way they style their hair, the words they say, or how much skin they’re showing that cause men to sexually assault them.
It’s a choice made by men.
Males. Husbands. Sons. Boyfriends. Brothers. Nephews. Uncles. Co-workers. Coaches. Bosses. Total strangers with raging boners.
That’s the key factor – a penis.
So stop blaming the victim for being victimized. And stop letting men off the hook with every stupid ass excuse under the sun.
It’s time for men like me to take responsibility.
The mere possession of male genitalia does not make it impossible to resist sexual urges. Nor does enculturation as a male in a patriarchal society determine our decisions – even if it does influence them.
Sure. We live in a world of toxic masculinity. The “Boys will be boys” sentiment dominates the social landscape. But that’s not what actually does the raping and harassment.
It’s us. Individual men.
We’re responsible for our own actions.
And if seeing that in print makes you want to offer a kneejerk reaction against it, stop and take a breath.
Do you really want to argue that men aren’t responsible for themselves? Are we, as men, really such a weak, passive gender that we don’t qualify as agents in our own lives?
I’d like to propose that we’re better than that lame justification. Men are not one slim step above animals. We are thinking, feeling human beings who – when presented with an opportunity to engage in harassment or violence – have a choice in the matter.
Free will does not end with an erection.
There are lots of things we can do with it. Rape is just one of them.
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
You want to know the REAL reason so many men choose sexual violence?
Because we can.
Most sex offenders are white men – almost 6 in 10.
Most were not sexually or physically abused, themselves, as children.
They’re just guys taking advantage of a power trip that’s often consequence free.
In short, society lets us get away with it.
When men know that no one’s going to hold them accountable, some act accordingly.
The presence of alcohol and violent pornography increase the likelihood of sexual violence, but lack of repercussions is the number one consideration.
We figure victims won’t speak out, and if they do, they won’t be believed. The deck is stacked against the survivors of sexual violence and in favor of the perpetrators.
You don’t need a study by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to prove that – but it’s there.
It just goes to show how much of a rational, reasoned action sexual violence is.
It’s not something done by an uncontrollable animal impulse. It’s the result of a cost-benefit analysis.
That’s why all these #MeToo stories are so powerful.
Women all over social media are coming forward and admitting that sexual violence has touched their lives. And we see most every woman in our lives is affected. For the first time, the scope of the problem is becoming visible.
The ground is shaking under the patriarchy. And as a man I am so fucking relieved.
It is absolutely disgusting to me that so many of my gender don’t give a shit about consent.
They act as if women’s bodies are theirs to do with as they want. Pinch them, grab them, grope them, discuss them as mere objects of our personal pleasure. It’s just a man’s right.
Fuck you, Dude.
I’m not a perfect person. I’ve certainly engaged in inappropriate behavior – especially as an adolescent – but I’ve always respected consent.
And if there’s any time when I’ve crossed a line, call me out on it. Hold me responsible. Treat me like a real person – not some overgrown child, an ape that can’t help but fling his own feces.
Yet we too often stop there. We dare women to name us in a venue where we have all the advantages. That needs to stop.
Stopping sexual assault can’t just be the responsibility of women anymore. In fact, it’s not their responsibility at all.
It’s ours. It’s men’s.
Moving forward, guys like me have to step out of the shadows and take our place at the forefront of this fight.
We caused this mess. It’s up to us to clean it up.
This means calling out sexism. No more yucking it up with the guys uncomfortably in public and then condemning it in private.
This means demanding equal treatment for women. Equal pay, childcare, reproductive healthcare. Easy access to contraception, mammograms, gynecologists, neo-natal care.
This means teaching our sons and daughters – but especially our sons – what consent is, why it’s important, and how to tell if you’ve got it.
And it means acknowledging that women are just as much sexual beings as men. No more double standards, no more defining women as a reflection of men and male desire.
It won’t happen overnight.
It will require commitment and strength.
But we can do it.
Because we’re men.
And if we try, we can be just as strong, just as responsible, just as human, as women.
This post was originally published on Gadfly on the Wall Blog.