The hidden gentlemen of the #MeToo era

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The hidden gentlemen of the #MeToo era

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The scene was familiar—a typical Friday night in Salamanca, Spain; colossal cathedrals lit up every aspect of the miniature town.

  Though most tourists reveled in the Plaza Mayor’s nightly spectacles, groups of international students found themselves among the masses of club-goers on the infamous Calle Bordadores.

  My group spent a majority of our unsupervised time hanging out outside of Camelot and Gatsby’s, the busiest clubs in town.

  However, this often left us vulnerable to numerous risks, multiplied with the addition of alcohol and hormones. That Friday night was no different; after one too many Fanta-mixed drinks, my Polish roommate Stephanie presented herself as an easy assault target who was already being escorted out the club doors.

  Feeling uneasy, Jonah—a vigilante student at the scene—immediately sprang into action. “Please take your hands off my friend,” he said. “It’s time for her to go home.” He promptly broke the pair apart. “In any case,” he said, “you should start acting like a gentleman.”

  In the wake of the #MeToo movement, witnessing said incident was eye-opening, especially when considering that a male was responsible for preventing any further escalation.

   What exactly distinguished a man as a gentleman in this Age of Supposed Male Misogyny? Could these existing gentlemen be unfairly categorized by rising radical feminism and overbearing media coverage? Studies show, moreover, that a whopping one in three men in America identity as a feminist.

   New York native, Jonah, shared his own personal reasons for advocating for women’s rights and safety.

   “When I was in my sophomore year, my girlfriend at the time was raped by one of her close friends,” he said. “I think it really changed the way I saw the #MeToo movement. When the first Women’s March took place I just knew I had to join, so I got a bunch of friends to go protest with me. We all knitted our own ‘pink pussyhats’. I wanted to prove that not all guys were like that, we still care.”

     Another student— Thomas, also gave additional insight on men’s opinions on #MeToo.

    “Even though I’m legally allowed to drink,” he said, “I try to refrain myself from drinking when there are any females present. I started doing that once news about #MeToo broke out in England. Even though it wasn’t as massive in my country, it made me consider a lot of things.”

Thomas was scared to act in a way that could be perceived as a sexual advance. “I don’t want to be accused of something I didn’t do or didn’t intend,” he said.

   While these movements have empowering messages, they have raised a valid source of fear among males.

   In fact, the dramatic increase of sexual accusations has given rise to debate concerning the reliability of such allegations. Could a percentage of these sexual accusations be fabricated or merely inaccurate?

  Although sexual accusations are not to be taken lightly, recent examples such as Brett Kavanaugh’s rape allegations have brought forth further emphasis to the probability of such.

   As author Arash Emamzadeh informs, “Some suggest that only 2% of rape accusations are false, while others state that the rate is higher (e.g., 8%).  According to a few sources, the rate is significantly higher (e.g., 40%).” In his article, “Rape Allegations”, Emamzadeh cites several possible reasons responsible for this varying range of estimates. During his research, he noticed that some analyses conflated unfounded and false while others did not—causing skewed results.

   Legally speaking, the term “unfounded” also describes claims shown to be false or ones deemed not serious, verifiable, or prosecutable.

   In another article, “Why Women Make False Rape Allegations,” feminist author Megan E. Holstein explains that in her time studying and researching false accusation stories she has found that women often tend to “confuse” or “misunderstand” certain aspects of their experiences—most times through consent or lack of communication.

   However, men aren’t the only ones worried by this increasing trend. Mothers like Doreen McGettigan have also expressed their growing concerns. “I’m rationally terrified for my seven grandsons,” she said. “If they grow up to be successful men, anyone from their past can lie and accuse them of a crime with no proof and ruin their lives.”

  I then crossed paths with another male student at Estudio Sampere named Mik.

   After an extensive game of “Never Have I Ever,” Mik eventually came out to some of us as both a bisexual and a victim of sexual assault. Initially shocked, I then remembered that one in six men have or will experience sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime. Unfortunately, this 10% is often disregarded or overlooked.

   This leads to less frequent reports regarding male abuse—oftentimes leaving many men to remain silent and deal with their dilemmas on their own.

    Like many others, Yale Professor Joan Cook was “thrilled by the magnitude of the #MeToo movement, yet frustrated on behalf of abused men who ‘don’t seem to be included under the tent.’”

   During our conversation, Mik elaborated on the subject of male sexual abuse. “I was embarrassed because no one took me seriously afterwards,” he said. “Males can be victims too, but no one wants to acknowledge it,” he said. “I wish people would realize just how often it happens, it’s not as rare as people think. Rape isn’t a gender issue—it’s a society issue.”

    Though the #MeToo campaign advocates a strong, positive message, certain aspects seemed disagreeably neglectful or biased.

   No, not all men are misogynistic. In fact, we as a society are being to turn a blind eye to the gentlemen who do support gender equality, to those who are scared to suffer because of rising tensions, and to those who are already victims themselves.

   In order to truly achieve equality among genders, the wellbeing of both sexes must be considered going forward.