Tag Archives: Rape

Sexual Assault: We Wonder Why They Don’t Come Forward

Sexual Assault: We Wonder Why They Don’t Come Forward

Sexual Assault ribbon

There is something to be said about being a man because we are taught in both conscious and subconscious ways to behave in a certain way. We are taught to be tough and physical. We are taught to temper our feelings and emotions. We are taught to possess and conquer. All of these teachings may be important to our survival, but they come with a price tag: responsibility. When we use what we are taught as men irresponsibly, far too often it is women who face the consequences of our behavior. This is true when there are sexual assaults by men upon women.

If men are taught to be tough and physical, then it could be misconstrued that “no” does not mean “no.” If men are taught to temper our feeling and emotions, then it could be misconstrued that “no” does not mean “no.” If men are taught to possess and conquer, then it could be misconstrued that “no” does not mean “no.” Instead, “no” could mean a temporary denial that will be overcome one way or another.  Men live by the law of the jungle. It is the reality of being male.  It is one of the codes of manhood. Unfortunately, these factors work against women who are sexually assaulted when they speak up.

We wonder why they don’t come forward.

Men who take in the lessons of being tough and physical, tempering feelings and emotions, and possessing and conquering, protect each other. That protection may mean tacit approval. That protection may mean turning a blind eye. That protection may mean outright lying. Men who believe “no” is a temporary denial also promote the law of the jungle, reality of being male, and the code of manhood. They protect other men who feel the same way. That protection may mean tacit approval. That protection may mean turning a blind eye. That protection may mean outright lying.

We wonder why they don’t come forward.

 Imagine you are a victim of sexual assault, and you report it to authorities who are men. There is a possibility they believe in the male code of toughness and possession. It is a possibility they will temper their feelings and emotions toward the accuser. It is a possibility they believe in upholding the male code of protecting another man. It is a possibility they will not believe the accuser. If any of these things occur, it has to decrease the likelihood that the victim gets total cooperation from those who should protect and serve.

We wonder why they don’t come forward.

 A victim of sexual assault may experience subtle or outright character assassination at the hands of a man. Usually this will come from the accused, who will say anything to disparage the accuser. In higher profile cases, other men may help to investigate the victim in hopes of proving her wrong. It may be done to protect the accused man. It may be done to uphold the code. A perfect example of this is asking questions like “what was she wearing?” or “did she say no.” Both instances setup the victim for character assassination. In other words, her actions warranted the response she got. It was her fault.

We wonder why they don’t come forward.

 In many sexual assault cases, it is the accused man who is the “victim.” He could not turn down his urge to be tough and physical. He could not find any empathy for his victim because he tempers his feelings and emotions. He could not control his desire to possess and conquer. So he acted like man should when he committed the act of sexual assault. A perfect example of this is the mantra “boys will be boys.” I hate this because it says we know the code, we approve of the code, and we will not do anything to break the code.

We wonder why they don’t come forward.

 The victim of sexual assault has to live with the trauma of their experience for the rest of their life. I am sure it is a difficult process and something unimaginably hard to overcome. They also have to live with the feelings and emotions associated with attacks on their character and honesty as a result of coming forward. On the other hand, a man who commits a sexual assault may be able to detach himself from the event or deny it happened until he believes it. He can “choose” whether or not to live with the scars his actions created. Remember, he is taught to temper his feelings and emotions.

We wonder why they don’t come forward.

 Even when there is enough strength in numbers and solidarity among women who have been sexually assaulted, their accusations still may not be taken seriously. The #MeToo movement is a perfect example. Women, who finally get the courage to tell their stories after hearing from another victim, are vilified for coming forward. They are blamed of piling on the men they accuse, especially if it is many years later. They are questioned about their motives, as if some monetary award is enough to erase their memories of being sexually assaulted. Of course their movement is viewed as hostile and unworthy of attention.

We wonder why they don’t come forward.

Until we end raising boys who are taught to always be tough and physical, women will continue to be victims of sexual assault.

Until we end raising boys who are taught to temper their feelings and emotions, women will continue to be victims of sexual assault.

Until we end raising boys who are taught to possess and conquer, women will continue to be victims of sexual assault.

Until we end the process of men protecting other men, women will continue to be victims of sexual assault.

Until we end the thought-process of “boys being boys,” women will continue to be victims of sexual assault.

Until we end the process of shaming female victims, women will continue to be victims of sexual assault.

Until we end the process of disregarding the courage of those who take a stand, women will continue to be victims of sexual assault.

We wonder why they don’t come forward.

 

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary is able to get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

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