Are you a man worried about being falsely accused of sexual harassment? Is this flood of #meToo and accusations against famous men harassing and raping women making you afraid that women will take advantage of this?
Or are you a woman who just cannot understand how men can see this amount of victimized women and still only think about their own skin? Then I invite you to this article and hope that it will broaden your perspective.
I believe that we must listen to all women who come forward with these accusations. But listening is not believing. Let me explain: there is a far larger number of women who have been harassed, than women who have falsely accused men. So, to protect the victims and prevent assault in the future, we must allow them to speak. Are there going to be women in that group who are lying? Yes, of course.
To prevent men to suffer false accusations we must use our common sense. This means that while we give women the space to come forward without backlash and tell their stories, we must not immediately think that the accused is guilty. This needs to be examined case by case.
As these stories come forward they carry with them a huge shock factor. But we must separate our feelings from this, may it be shock, disgust or disbelieve. We are prone to believe that bad things do not happen, we need them proven beyond question. Especially for men who are not guilty of this behavior (which I do believe are the majority) it is hard to wrap their head around the fact that there are so many victims and that these horrid men were so brazen about their acts. Maybe they do not want to believe that there are so many men capable of this, that women they care about have been victimized, that men they looked up to are guilty.
Whatever the case may be, we cannot move forward without a huge chunk of the population supporting this. We need to take these men with us and bring them to the same vantage point at which we women have been standing since our teenage years. So it is incredibly important to talk and spread these truths, to make men understand what is happening all around them.
But we must also realize that this fear of false accusation is real, even though it is probably sown by guilty men to protect themselves. We need to stand full force behind men who have been falsely accused and support them. We need to condemn women who falsely accuse these men, because they are not only hurting these men, they are hurting each and every victim of sexual assault and making it harder for them to be believed.
But as we stand behind these men, who are victims of a different kind but no less victims, we need to also support everyone who suffered from sexual assault. And we need men to support these victims just as loudly and forcefully as they would a man who was falsely accused.
Men become overly cautious and careful when faced by these new stories and I need to tell these men: all that women want is that you take them seriously, that you listen to them when they tell you this and that you stand up for what is right. There is no bro code in this. If there is a man harassing women, demeaning them or sexualizing them at your work or a public place, stand up to him and say “That is wrong, stop it.” Your female colleagues just want to do a good job, like you. They do not want to be touched or harassed at work.
Talking about having to make contracts before any sexual encounter. This is not about having sex with your wife, girlfriend or date. You are perfectly capable of reading body language and understanding a “no”, don’t act like you’re not. What we are talking about are women, who are not in a sexual relationship with you and taking advantage of their powerlessness.
Just like that minimizing the fear of false accusation by comparing the amount of victims is wrong. This is not a competition of who has it worse.
And I want men to also stop accusing women of bringing sexual assault on themselves because they dress sexy, or walk around alone or any other bullshit reasoning. Think about it. If you saw a colleague wearing a short skirt, will you go up to her and suddenly grab her ass? Will you pull her into a room and rape her while she is fighting you, screaming and crying? No? Then stop excusing men who would answer “yes” to this question! No one is stopping you from looking at someone’s behind and thinking “nice ass!” or seducing your wife.
The only person responsible for rape, is the rapist. The only person responsible for harassment is the harasser. And this happens to women of all shapes and sizes, in all kinds of clothes. And to top it all of: it happens to men as well, big and small, full of muscles or with a big bellys – it does not matter, because it’s about power.
And you can stop it, if you start listening to accusations. Start listening and stop silencing victims. Are there going to be women talking who only want to damage the reputation of an ex boyfriend? Probably. But then use your common sense. Please be our allies and stop help hurting the people you love and care about.