The fight for sexual assault justice needs men’s cooperation and support

The fight for sexual assault justice needs men’s cooperation and support

The fight for sexual assault justice needs men’s cooperation and support
October 18
00:58 2018

In light of the recent accusations of Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford, I believe it is far past the time to talk about the different ways men can aide in empowering women to make sure their voices are heard where they usually aren’t. The Supreme Court confirmation is only one more reenactment of the same story that keeps happening because we refuse to believe the men we choose to look up to are capable of such awful acts.

We as men must do things differently if we are to ever live in a world where women’s traumatic experiences are taken seriously and acted upon.

The most important thing is also the simplest: Listen. Really, actually listen to women who come forward about their experiences instead of searching for a reason not to believe them. Excuses such as “he was young,” “it was so long ago” or “he was drunk” do not change the nature of the situation at all.

Every person is in control of their choices no matter the outside circumstances, but because these same excuses are used to bombard the voice of the woman coming forward, people doubt her word. They buy into the excuses and even pardon the act. Believing the excuses allows people to keep their perception of the accused man as he was before this “scandal” instead of seeing him for what he is.

It may seem obvious, but I think we should listen to the women who have the strength to come forward and maybe not confirm the person being accused of sexual assault to the Supreme Court.

The next step we can take is to amplify and spread women’s voices because we know people actively discredit them. Men listen to women less than they listen to men, as evidenced by data analysis published on LinkedIn. This information isn’t new by any means, but men committed to ignoring women reassure themselves with a variety of reasons as to why this is — unwilling to accept the fact that men are just less inclined to listen to women.

Our role is to spread the word — not just about believing women who come forward but advocating for overarching ideas such as equality of genders and repercussions for those who commit these crimes.

The flip side of this is the rise in movements such as the #NotAllMen hashtag on Twitter, which are direct attempts to silence women, undermine the validity of their claims and derail the conversation of violence against women. Of course women know that not every single man is a criminal. Saying “not all men do that” serves no purpose other than maintaining an ego and sense of non-responsibility.

For things to change, we don’t need to draw attention our own innocence. We need to focus on the men who aren’t innocent and who do commit these crimes — which a quick Google search will show are much more numerous than we think. Some will be hiding under the veil of #NotAllMen, and that’s why it is not productive. It is harmful and exists to make men feel better for not being a rapist or harasser — which is not a difficult achievement deserving of high praise.

Once we have heard and understood a woman’s message and spread it as much as we could, one more essential action is to just be quiet. Once women have the stage and people are listening, we must not do that “manly” thing and try and speak over her, but instead just let her speak. That’s what all of this boils down to: Women being able to say what they need to say to the people who need to hear it, and for action to be taken in response.

Featured Illustration: Chelsea Tolin

About Author

Nicholas Stiltner

Nicholas Stiltner

NT Daily Opinion Writer

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