I don't do much social media on the weekends. So when I saw someone's Facebook post Sunday morning, I chimed in with the requested "me too" and didn't think much of it. But on Monday morning when I saw other friends writing the same thing, I realized that "me too" is a thing.
Which on some level, I appreciate. I'm open about being a sexual abuse survivor. It's on my social media and website. But why should the de-stigmatizing work fall to survivors like me? But that’s been the history. Normalizing the prevalence of sexual abuse has primarily been women’s work. Today we have more cis male survivors and non-cis male survivors stepping up to this work. But we need everyone.
So, what about all men? And I don't mean as perpetrators.
Because sexual abuse is not about sex, it's about power and control, men and boys can be victims too. In fact, 28% of male rape victims experienced their first rape at or before the age of 10 (1) and 50% of gender non-binary folks have been sexually assaulted (2). Sexual abuse truly affects everyone. Some more than others, yes, but it does affect all of us.
So we need everyone on board. And because men control the bulk of power in the United States -from medical school curriculum to professional sports- we need their voices too.
We need to hear from all men, either as survivors, or as allies and advocates. And those voices must include real action, not a token "thoughts and prayers" sentiment. That "support" further marginalizes abuse survivors. It makes abuse something that other people have to deal with. But worse, it off-loads the collective responsibility that powerful men have for their piece in rape culture.
What if The Gates Foundation started to prioritize sexual violence as a public health threat?
What about instead of "...if this happened to my daughter/wife," Speaker Paul Ryan starting talking about our culture of toxic masculinity and how harmful it is?
What if Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were to adopt an immediate ban for trolls who harass and threaten sexual abuse survivors who share their rape story?
Any of these scenarios could create a massive shift in the tide of public opinion about sexual abuse. We need everyone to do this work, especially the men in positions of power. Survivors should not have to “lay our trauma bare,” as Zerlina Maxwell said in a recent Instagram in an effort to de-stigmatize sexual abuse. Change must start happening on a larger scale. So, hurray for the "Me Too" campaign. Let's hope there's a "UsToo" campaign in our future.
1) National Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence Survey. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf
2) Transgender Rates of Violence. Retrieved from: http://forge-forward.org/wp-content/docs/FAQ-10-2012-rates-of-violence.pdf