Living in a country like India, it is not unusual to come across rape cases, cases of sexual assaults or cases related to sexual harassment as we skim through the media. I am very sure when I say “sexual harassment” you all visualize a woman being brutally raped, harassed, eve teased or something along those lines. But how many of you visualized men? Oh! I know, hardly anyone. Well obviously, it’s not your fault because when we go through the newspapers or skim through the news channels we come across such news all the time but the victims are women and men are always the villains, right? WRONG! Men are equal victims in cases of rapes and harassment and it’s just saddening that such crimes hardly ever make it out of the rooms they are committed in, let alone make it to the media.
Before I proceed, let me make it very clear that men are traumatized by such happenings just as much as women are. Research shows that while women respond to sexual assaults with depression and sadness, men respond with anger and engaging criminal activities. Therefore, the fact that sexual harassments and assaults are easier on men is a total farce notion.
With increasing awareness for women’s security in this country, the reason why women don’t speak up about rape cases is a highly discussed topic too. It is obvious that women don’t speak about such incidents to protect their family from all the “shame” and thus saving their dignity in the so called “society.” So how much is it different for men? The answer doesn’t change. Men can’t speak about their situation for the very same reason.
In this male dominated society, we have unknowingly created a certain standard for men too, while we only see females as the victim of those stereotypes. Why is it that a woman can cry openly while a man has to cry behind closed doors? Why can only women show pain, sensitivity, and fragility while any man who even remotely shows such signs isn’t considered a man at all? Are these standards realistic? Does crying or showing sensitivity make a man any less of man?
Such unnatural conventions and stereotypes are the reasons why men don’t speak up about assaults. Men feel a pressure of living up to the expectations of the society much like women. They fear that if they let the world know about these dark happenings, they might not be considered “manly” enough.
It is a fact that, while the overall number of sexual harassment cases have decreased over the years, the cases of sexual harassment against men have increased.
A survey conducted across Indian cities in 2010 showed that 19% of the men from a sample of 527 said they faced some form of sexual harassment at the workplace. The legal system of this country did formulate a “Protection of Women against Sexual harassment (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013” after much ado but there is no law for men to take shelter under, in case they face sexual harassment at work place.
Therefore, it is the lack of the legal support and social support that pushes men to remain silent and urges them to bear with the crime.
While women are the more obvious victims, men certainly are victims of these exploitations too.
At this point, I would like to raise a social issue. Is feminism all about women rights, women protection and justice for women? Or is it about gender justice, equality, and development?
We have become so engrossed in creating higher safety, fostering better rights and achieving justice for women (still hasn’t been very successful) that we forget that men deserve to be treated with equal humanity, respect, and love.