Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.
This letter was submitted by a senior student graduating in December 2018. Due to the content of the letter, The Collegian has refrained from identifying the student by name.
The article “Men in the movement help men become allies for #MeToo” published on April 9, 2018, does not pertain to men in the movement against sexual assault in any way other than how they can support female victims, leaving out male survivors.
When I was seven, my older cousin asked me to participate in oral sex. All I really remember is protesting and the shock walking down the stairs afterward. The truth is, I don’t know what happened, and for someone who wants to know the details in a situation before he casts judgement, that’s extremely hard to deal with. I could have blocked it out or maybe I just turned around and walked down the stairs.
I used to have a lot of nightmares along those lines afterwards. Certain images, mostly on tv or in the media, would bother me for days at a time, and I really didn’t react well to being touched by most people. The aftermath seems like a less severe version of Junot Diaz’s experience, who is the only straight male I’ve seen speak out on the subject.
It was a traumatic sexual experience, and whatever happened changed me from a happy kid into someone who questioned himself, felt older than he was and who resented others who received care because he felt his issues were neglected.
Much of the last five years of my life has been trying to break certain mindsets, among them was to stop relating myself and others to their gender and to stop resenting people who are fortunate enough to receive care and attention from others. Ultimately, everybody is neglected in some way, and we should be happy for them when they’re not.
I didn’t tell anyone about my experience until I was 18 and at this point, I’ve told a grand total of eight people. For over a decade, I carried it around. Aside from one very astute female sociology teacher, who acknowledged regularly that men face societal pressures too, everyone I’ve told are lifelong friends or immediate family members.
Before I was ten, someone tried to molest my handicapped brother. It was another handicapped boy a few years older than him at a summer program. He told us immediately, but you could tell he didn’t really understand what happened.
These events have affected all of my relationships to this point, both platonic and sexual. It can cause so much anxiety or depression that a person can carry with them forever.
Like women, I worry that anyone I tell won’t see me the same again and that people won’t see my complaints as valid. Unlike women, part of the reasoning is the stereotype that men don’t get raped or experience sexual trauma. As I wrote this, I worried how everyone who received this letter at The Collegian might see me.
Most organizations for women’s rights or gender equality use statistics that suggest men barely get raped, but many of them are old and from a time when rape wasn’t defined by most to include men. However, men face issues in reporting, and more recent studies suggest that it probably happens to men more often than most think, possibly amounting to somewhere around 40 percent of rapes.
Men in the Movement might not have anyone who has experienced sexual assault, but to those who may have started reading the article thinking, “Maybe they’ll acknowledge male rape,” they’re left hanging. It leaves us feeling ignored and that we just need to keep quiet about it when we should be saying #MeToo, too.
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