Monday, August 9, 2010

Men Can be (and Are) Victims and Survivors

Is this video funny?

Not if you believe that there are women out there who abuse men. Not if you believe that domestic violence should be taken seriously, no matter what social demographic the victim fits into.

The following material was originally posted September 26 2009, under the post title, For the Men:

So, the other day I'm walking home from campus, and I hear this girl shout out to a nearby guy, "Hey! My friend likes your butt!!" 

It wouldn't be such a big problem, except that this was at Brigham Young University. And, let me tell you, most BYU girls would freak out if a boy yelled that at them. I think a lot of women would - it would seem obscene, rude, and utterly inappropriate. Some might even label it "sexual harassment," since it took place on campus. The guy just shook his head and kept walking, but I was irate on his behalf. I don't know where people got the idea that there's no such thing as a man being abused, raped, or harassed,  but I think men deserve just as much respect as women. Nobody deserves to be objectified.

And you know what else? I think we're in a culture that unfairly stereotypes all men as either pathetic losers or promiscuous, testosterone-driven, emotionally dense slobs. Is that true for some men? Of course! But certainly not for all of them, and probably not even for a majority of men. In fact, a few years ago I was in a class where our teacher tried to demonstrate something about the difference between men and women by having us play a game, girls against guys. He said the point of the game was to get as many points as you could, and that there was no competition between teams. You had to choose either "yes" or "no" in each round, and what you chose compared to the other team determined how many points your team earned. If both teams chose "yes," you'd both end up with a high number of points - however, if one team chose "yes" and the other chose "no," the team that chose "yes" would get fewer points, and the team that chose "no" would still get the highest possible number of points.

Well, I wasn't stupid - I knew exactly what the men were going to do - they were going to lie to our faces, act nice, and then stab us in the back in their desire to have the highest possible score. So I talked my team into choosing "no," since I thought we'd get more points that way. (if both teams chose "no," they got more points than if only one person chose "no"). Turns out the guys had chosen "yes." So, the guys told us they wanted to cooperate and both choose "Yes" in the second round, but I still didn't believe them, so once again I talked my team into choosing "no." And once again, the guys chose "yes." Again, they offered to choose "yes" along with us. So, we finally chose yes, driven by guilt more than anything else.

Our teacher had been using this experiment for 10 years, and he had never once had a class where the girls chose "no" on the first round and the guys chose "yes." NEVER. It almost always worked out that the guys said they wanted to cooperate, and then they didn't. I recently learned that the teacher is still using the activity, and my class is still the only class to defy those stereotypes.

So, what does this say about me? Am I more masculine than BYU guys since I'm from the East? I sincerely doubt it. Do I have issues with trusting men? Eh, yeah, I kind of do, as all of my exes can attest. Am I unusually competetive for a woman? Probably. But I don't think I'm just an anomaly. I think there's simply a lot of deviation within each gender, and a lot of overlap between genders. Even in a predominantly heterosexual environment like BYU.

Now, I'm not trying to say men consistently get the short end of the stick. I don't believe that any more than I believe white, heterosexual, Christian, middle class Americans consistently get the short end of the stick. But I really do feel for men, whatever life situation they may be in. Men are sometimes told to suck it up and accept injustices in their lives that most people would never encourage a woman to accept in her life, and they're also fed stereotypes about themselves that simply are not true.

So, although I tend to focus on the injustices and problems women face, I don't forget what men have to put up with too. Maybe some day we'll all just treat each other with decency and respect.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for caring, and for being a voice for, well, us.