One in six men will experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Yes, men.
The American Psychological Association defines sexual abuse as “unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.” The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reported that 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college.
Statistics like these are a perfect example of why we need to expand our mindsets when it comes to the involvement of men in rape culture. On Facebook, there are only about a dozen relevant pages of #HimToo, a movement advocating for falsely accused attackers. Instagram has about 15,000 posts related to the hashtag compared to the female movement’s 1.6 million.
Lately, men, specifically those who have been falsely accused of rape and sexual assault cases, have been advocating to be recognized in movements relating to this. On Oct. 31, 2018, NPR released a podcast elaborating on how #HimToo started as a countermovement to #MeToo. It’s obvious from the number of social media posts that the movement is relatively small, but this also correlates with the number of falsely accused attackers. About 2 to 10 percent of rape accusations are false, according to Violence Against Women, an international journal. Although this percentage is minuscule, the fact exists and can affect those falsely accused for years.
In May 2018, two men, VanDyke Perry (21 at the time) and Gregory Counts (19 at the time) were proven innocent in a rape case in 1992. Both men were claimed guilty of raping, sodomizing and kidnapping a woman. The woman claimed in a New York State Supreme Court case that she was shoved into a car in Queens and raped in both the car and Central Park. She also claimed there was a third man involved; all three men knew her boyfriend through selling drugs with him. The woman showed semen on her underwear to prove her case. Due to further investigation and DNA testing, it was found the DNA was not Perry’s or Counts’.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for #MeToo. Increased sexual violence awareness and legitimate attackers should be punished severely for their actions. But those who are falsely accused should be more acknowledged, at least with more than a dozen Facebook pages. There was also a highly tweeted meme regarding #HimToo. The person who posted it obviously had no regard for the meaning of the movement. But this teaches a lesson of why it needs more recognition.
When addressing rape culture, men can be cast in a negative light (being the attacker), but can also be innocent advocates for the #MeToo movement.
We need to be less narrow-minded about rape culture and expand the spectrum of how we see these sensitive situations. Every victim, and all sides of the story deserve to be heard, male or female. Not all victims are female. No means no for any gender. Also, just because you are a woman doesn’t mean you should use #MeToo as an excuse to get revenge on a guy or give attention to yourself.
#HimToo, however, should not serve as just an excuse or a way for men to pity their unwanted actions. Men cannot commit acts of rape or sexual assault and use the excuse of being drunk or high. If we are going to emphasize this, it has to be legitimate, and the more men that don’t take it seriously will reflect how the public thinks about it. This same concept also applies with #MeToo. The more false accusations, the less rape culture
Don’t have tunnel vision. Realize that some men can be innocent too.