A few days ago, I was studying one of the topic from Indian Society- women empowerment, their issues and solutions.It happens to be a part of my exam syllabus.While reading this topic, I came across certain laws in relation to issues such as violence, assaults, harrasment and it made me wonder why aren’t these laws gender neutral? Why can’t a man be “victim?” After all, he is a human, he too has emotions and feelings. “Mard ko bhi dard hota hai.”
I was thinking about it only, when one of my friend’s message popped up. Rather than asking him about his well being, I straightaway said,”Have you ever been subjected to sexual assault at any point of time?” He certainly was not expecting this from me and I don’t know what made me ask him this question.
I soon realized that I should have been more careful with my words and I immediately apologized to him. But such a gentle soul he is. He asked me not to be sorry for anything. We talked for an hour about random stuff ( college, trips, house parties, HCL k pass k chole bhature). When I was about to hang up the phone, he said “Yes”. For a few seconds, there was an eerie silence but then he spoke to me and narrated everything. Next day he dropped me a text saying, “I feel better bro. It has been 15 years and yet I did not have the courage to speak up and share it with anyone.”I wrote one word- Always. ( Ohh yeah,I am a potter head and I also wanted to lighten up the situation).
This is not just the story of my friend but many men out there who suffer in silence because molestations, male assaults have always been a taboo, not only in India but all over the world.
In a male dominated society, men are seen as the strongest of all because of which they are not supposed to do the things that go against their manliness, not allowed to openly cry. It is sexist, stereotypical and outdated to still believe that men cannot be forced upon or taken up against their will. Living in a male dominated society where men have always been considered the stronger sex, male molestation lives mostly in the shadows. Patriarchal society forces a boy into thinking that his abuse is something he can get over, without any support.
Boys and men are socialized to see themselves as strong, tough, and self-sufficient. Acknowledging feelings and disclosing vulnerabilities are in some ways antithetical to traditional masculine roles. Men also frequently wear thick coats of shame, having internalized the blame. When they do disclose, they are frequently met with disbelief, such as “That’s impossible.”Or they are met with invalidation and victim-blaming such as, “How could you let that happen?”
Its high time we get over this mentality because a sexual assault is a heinous crime and it is gender neutral. These stereotypes about masculinity made men silent victims of sexual offences. Males are also subjected to traumatization. They are also vulnerable. Its not about he or she. Its about US. Its about what we want for our future generation- a peaceful, compassionate and violence free society or a society full of crimes and assaults. Women and men need to unite and speak with one voice to build a culture against such acts. This is something we must all combat. It is the crime that is shameful- not the survivor.