We are daily bombarded with yet another sexual assault or sexual coercion scandal announced by headlines designed to inspire sympathy for those poor, poor men who got caught committing those acts. As a society, we are meant to question the victims’ stories, their value, and worth as trustworthy human beings, and doubt their truthiness. These headlines practically scream “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENS?!”
Yes, indeed. What ABOUT the men? Every headline. Every story about sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual coercion, sexual “misconduct,” adultery. Most of the comments on these stories and on social media comment threads devolve into some version of “why didn’t she?” when the headlines, the stories, and the comments should be “why didn’t he?”
Why didn’t he stop?
Why didn’t he leave her alone?
Why didn’t he accept no as the answer?
Why didn’t he behave respectfully?
Why didn’t he stop coercing her?
Why didn’t he?
Why didn’t he?
Why didn’t HE?
That is the structural problem: heaping all of the responsibility and blame for bad male behavior on women.
In the spirit of reversing this structural dynamic, we revised some headlines for readers to draw attention to the inequities in reporting sexual misconduct (with a link to the original piece):
The byline here says it all: “Allegations against the comedian are proof that women are angry, temporarily powerful—and very, very dangerous.” Let’s all remember that this power is temporary people, because structurally nothing much seems to be changing. “Grace” says she needed help seeing that what happened was assault even though she knew she didn’t want to participate in much of the sexual encounter.
“Grace” is allowed to share her story. No one is asking for Ansari’s career to end or for him to go to jail. My Netflix page had a huge picture of “Master of None” when I opened it last night. Seems like he is going to be fine.
Yes, men are now officially silenced. Which is why the pay gap between men and women in Hollywood continues to grow. And why Bill O’Reilly’s net worth is $85 million.
Let’s put the lens on the alleged perpetrator instead of investigating the women saying they have been assaulted. As the silence breakers say in their Time video, “we can’t all be sluts and liars.” How about the media put the perpetrator as the actor in the sentence instead of making him the object of the action? Original title: “A Running List of the Women Who’ve Accused Donald Trump Of Sexual Misconduct.” HE DID THE ACTION, NOT THE WOMEN.
Deneuve’s insistence that the #metoo movement is going to end “sexual liberty” is absurd. The letter attempts to find a way to allow for women to say no to men in power while also allowing men to push a little to get what they want in the name of sexual freedom. Such assertions just keep rape culture going. Sex requires equity and communication. Not childish games.
Stating that the problem is with the #metoo movement and not with the men that brought the need for the movement to light IS THE PROBLEM. Oh, the #metoo movement feels a tad bit witch-hunty? So, so sorry. Actually, not sorry, says Lindy West.
The original title asks why women don’t report. When will the media stop putting the onus on women to end sexual harassment? I can tell you why women don’t report–because I have reported a bunch of times and no one cares. I have been asked, “So what would you like us to do?” Hm. I don’t know. Have people stop harassing me at my workplace would be a great start? Take harassment training seriously instead of just requiring employees watch a video?
As Samantha Bee did in her raging takedown of the hand-wringing over this story, “It doesn’t have to be rape to ruin your life.” Rape culture is real. And it is a structural problem that is bad for everyone – men and women. But until men care about it as much as women, headlines like this one will keep running.
Attention Media: Do Better Titling Your Articles!