#MenToo

Like most people, I wish I could say I was more surprised at how commonly sexual assault takes place, but if I had at all doubted its sheer magnitude, that doubt would have been eradicated on October 16, 2017. Just as I do every morning, I woke up, rolled over, and reached for my phone to mindlessly scroll through social media. It had been nothing out of the ordinary- cooking tutorials and videos of children being silly- until I noticed a post from a friend that had accrued an extraordinary amount of reactions, especially considering its extreme brevity.

The post was #metoo.

My groggy mind went straight to Meghan Trainor’s song “Me Too” but I knew that wasn’t right, being that the song wasn’t incredibly relevant at the time, and because the post had mostly received “Sad” reactions.

As the day went on, I noticed that #metoo had exploded across social media and I discovered the sad truth behind it- #metoo refers to those who have been victims of sexual assault, and served as a way to let other survivors know they are not alone.

Of every post I had seen that day and the days to follow, I noticed that only one had been from a man. This led me to wonder if men are assaulted so infrequently, or if they do not feel that they can and should discuss it.

Per the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) 2.78 million American men have been victims of attempted or completed rape since 1998, which roughly equates to about one in every 33 men. Of the total number of American victims of rape, one of every 10 is male.

This means that while statistics show that men are victims of sexual assault less frequently than women, there is no denying its prevalence, and the amount of #metoo posts from men could likely have stood to be much higher, had they decided to speak up.

Many men may choose not to speak up because of instances such as an encounter between Lois and Peter Griffin in S5E1 of Family Guy. Peter returns home, visibly shaken, and sits next to Lois at the kitchen table. Lois sees Peter’s face and looks concerned, until he announces that (he believed) he had been raped. Lois began to laugh.

I am led to believe that a lot of men choose not to speak up for the same reason.

Maybe they are embarrassed, or maybe they don’t understand what falls within the category of sexual assault. The U.S. Department of Justice defines it as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient,” and they declare that this includes sexual activities such as “forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

I’m sure that a lot of people assume that sexual assault exclusively means rape. This legal definition means that more people are victims than what we realize- yes, even me, but also, many more men. Actor Terry Crews is a classic example.

While, that we know of, Crews has not been raped, he does allege that he was groped by a high-ranking Hollywood executive. This means that even Terry Crews is a victim of sexual assault. It was possible even though he is 49 years old. Even though he’s pretty big, and, arguably intimidating. Even though he is a man.

Unfortunately, sexual assault can happen to anyone. #metoo showed us just how true that can be. It’s important that survivors are aware of the freedom to speak up about it, if they choose to do so. If it has happened to you, regardless of your position on the gender spectrum or anything else, you are not alone. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, it's never too late to reach out. Call 1-800-656-4673.

*Image courtesy of Slate