By Bryn Fawn
Feminism is the fight for equal rights between the sexes and genders. It often focuses on female and nonbinary struggles, yet men are still a large part of this discussion. They can be pained as much as they can perpetuate the pain. It has gotten to the extent a day has been created to highlight these struggles. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Men is Nov. 18 this year.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports that for every 10 rapes, one victim was a man. Women can rape men also. Yet, the rape of men is often seen as a joke. “Don’t drop the soap” is a cultural phenomenon. It’s in so many American shows and movies, even SpongeBob, yet it’s mocking rape victims.
“No conclusive national data exist regarding the prevalence of prisoner-on-prisoner rape and other sexual abuse in the United States,” Human Rights Watch stated. “Unsurprisingly, when corrections officials are asked about the prevalence of rape in their prisons, they claim it is a exceptional occurrence rather than a systemic problem. Yet a recent academic study of an entire state prison system found an extremely high rate of sexual abuse, including forced oral and anal intercourse. In 1996, [a professor and her colleagues in New Mexico] concluded that 22% of male inmates had been pressured or forced to have sexual contact against their will while incarcerated. Of these, over 50% had submitted to forced anal sex at least once.”
Prisoners aren’t the only men who face violence and abuse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one in nine men experience severe domestic violence physically by their partner.
Still, their struggles and pain are often forgotten and left behind in media coverage and conversation.
After the trial of Johnny Depp against Amber Heard, the masses exploded. Some concluded that Heard had done nothing wrong, as women can’t be oppressors. Some concluded that Heard was proof feminism was somehow “flawed.” Others used it as an example to prove men are victims as well. However, the line is drawn. It reignited the conversation on male victims.
In regards to the conversation of preventing abuse and saving people, men must be a part of the conversation. Most assailants are men, but that does not suddenly shield all men from victimhood. This day also highlights the issue of toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is preconceptions such as men cannot be raped, women cannot rape, men must be tough and cannot show emotion and all other factors of “manliness.” Toxic masculinity plagues society for both men, women and even those off the gender binary. Dismantling its hold on societal expectations is one of the steps to help support victims and prevent future ones, while also bettering everyday interactions and lives as a whole.
If anyone on campus experiences any form of assault or abuse, they can report to University Police or Title IX. If anyone witnesses a crime of any sort on campus, dial 911 immediately. There are services available to victims, like the crisis counseling center alongside regular counseling in the Health Center near Macomb Hall.
Many carry a scar and a would we are unaware of, and that is why days like International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Men are necessary to witness and uphold. Activities for the day can include: advocacy, beginning conversations, hosting circles — akin to Alcoholics’ Anonymous — and providing resources for those afflicted.