Is #MeToo Only For Women? Should It Be?
Abby Franquemont

I absolutely agree that men should be included (accepting your caveats about sharing the talking stick) and it is for one more reason, and I personally think a really important one. Our societal script allows for women to be victims — pretty much expects it, especially of predatory men — because women aren’t really interested in sex anyway, right? They just are interested in love, unless they are sluts, but we are talking about normal/read “good” girls here, and of course they don’t want sex, so when they say no, well, yeah.

And men, well, of course they are expected to be predators, or at least/ best case, insatiable and voracious sexually (ie, want to be predators but keep that impulse under control). Boys will be boys. Or, best case, men propose, women dispose, if you are a gentleman.

When a group of teen football players publicly took a stand against then-candidate Trump’s claim that his pussy-grabbing comments were merely “locker-room talk” they were accused in the most vile terms of not being “real” men. Apparently, there is no space in patriarchy for boys to refuse to be boys — ie, a predator.

More than that, there is no space for men to be victims, especially of sexual abuse or assault. First, real men are strong and only weak men are ever victimized. Second, and more specifically to the case of sexual assault, if men are insatiable and voracious, why would they ever say no? Your friend in the kilt — clearly he wouldn’t have a problem with women seeing him sexually ’cause what man wouldn’t be psyched about that? I remember a comedian talking about this in the 80's — what man *wouldn’t* want his female boss to demand sex from him? Ha ha.

So part of toxic masculinity/patriarchy is, in fact, assuming that a man can’t be a victim without being a wimp and can’t even *want* to say no without being a [choose your offensive effeminizing/homosexualizing (is that even a word?) term here].

I know a man who was sexually abused by counselors at a military boarding school — he was twelve. I know a man who was sexually harassed in an office where he was the only male — all the women were “just joking” with him because they liked to make him blush. I know a man who was sexually abused by a boss on business trips for money — he was eighteen. I know a high school boy who was raped by three bullies because he was suspected of being gay — they were purportedly straight. I know a man who was sexually abused by his mother, which left him feeling deeply ambivalent and guilty because he loved the extra attention and affection in a big family. I know a man who was taken out by his bosses with all the interns for a night on the town — when the few female interns peeled off to go home, the bosses took the male interns to a strip club, where one of the bosses went into the “back room”. Monday morning when one of his fellow interns was talking about how crazy the party was, he spoke up and said he thought it was gross and made him sick to his stomach — his colleague looked relieved and admitted to feeling incredibly uncomfortable. I know a man who was being relentlessly and inappropriately teased by one of his female colleagues; when his female supervisor named the behavior as sexual harassment and asked if he wanted her to intervene, he said no because he did not want to make a big deal out of it — he had never considered the possibility that he was being sexually harassed — he just knew he felt really uncomfortable. I know a man whose college mentor, advisor and Master Teacher made sexual advances to him in the privacy of the practice room; the student was too scared to mention it to anyone and too scared to request a different master teacher, so he tried to slit his wrists twice and only opened up about it once he was forcibly hospitalized and under observation.

Not one of these men ever reported their harassment or abuse or rape. The one who said anything about it at all only expressed his discomfort to his fellow intern, not to anyone in power.

As feminists who understand that these issues are systemic, we need to speak up for the ways in which that system also hurts men: women are not the only victims of patriarchy, even though patriarchy tells us they are. If we, who have studied gender and power and identity in terms of systems and constructs, cannot understand — and explain — how men can be victims of patriarchy and toxic masculinity, then who will? If not now, when?