#MeToo For Men

2 min
at 11:43 PM

The implications of the Me Too movement have been profound for women, but Dr. Will Courtenay says the burden of the truths women are speaking really falls on men.

It was a year ago that the phrase “Me Too” was first tweeted as a hashtag. It set off a firestorm of claims of sexual abuse by men and riveted the world’s attention on the issue of sexual violence against women. But there’s a problem with how we think about this issue. We think of it strictly as a “women’s issue.”

When we define sexual violence as a “women’s issue,” it misses the critical point that nearly all perpetrators are men. Most men are not sexual predators, but nearly all sexual predators are male. Every minute and a half, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. and over 95% of all assailants are male.

When we call sexual violence a “women’s issue,” men stop paying attention; they think it’s a problem for women to solve. But it’s also a men’s issue – an issue with a culture of manhood that normalizes sexual aggression against women and girls.

To effectively address the problem of sexual violence, we must address manhood in America. And who should do that? It’s certainly not women’s responsibility. No, it’s our responsibility as men to change the culture of masculinity that produces and enables sexual predators – and to redefine what are normal and acceptable behaviors for men.

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As men, we can no longer be bystanders. To remain silent in the face of sexual violence is essentially a form of consent. We need to break that silence. We need to stand with women as allies and support their speaking out, challenge and stand up to those men who sexually abuse women, and identify and reject the social conventions of masculinity that normalize sexual abuse.

There’s an opportunity right now to make real change to the pervasive problem of sexual violence. We can go on prosecuting individual men forever, but what’s really needed is a change to the definition of masculinity. And we need to make that change not only for women and girls, but also for our sons, so they inherit a healthier definition of manhood.

With a Perspective, this is Dr. Will Courtenay.

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Dr. Will Courtenay is a local psychotherapist specializing in working
with men and fathers.

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