A reality that trails women’s lives is that at any stage of their life, they are vulnerable to abuse. It is a man’s world, and patriarchy has normalized the abuse of women. A man beats his wife, she gets told she must have provoked him. A woman gets raped, she gets asked what she was wearing. A woman is appointed CBN deputy governor, her dressing becomes a subject of debate. A married senator is involved in a sex video with two women, it is his personal life.
It is a man’s world.
So men (abusers) get away with many things- rape, harassment, violence. In dismantling the silence that shrouds these cases, women are speaking up more about their experiences, and you’d be surprised by how many women these things have happened to, forced to keep quiet about their experience and bottle up the trauma because of the stigma it brings.
“Don’t let your child sit on any uncle’s laps”
“Don’t hire male helps”
“Don’t let men slap your child’s bum”
“Beware of men who call your child my wife”
Parent are being given tips to protect their female child from abuse but what about the male child? Is there no need to protect him?
An acquaintance of mine’s first sexual experience was when he was 11, with one auntie. I have come to learn that this experience at a young age with an auntie is familiar to quite a lot of men. I know that men talking about abuse or rape is usually greeted with amusement. I could tell my friends and family about being harassed or abused, and I would be comforted, but do boys have that? Perhaps because the anatomy of men makes it hard to see the evidence of trauma, it is not taken seriously.
When conversations about abuse of women are trending, it seems men too want to point out that abuse is not exclusive to one sex (#metoo vs #mentoo), but do men coming out somehow invalidate women’s experiences? Why are men treated like they are trying to sabotage or sweep women’s issues under the carpet when they talk about being abused? Is the focus of the conversation abuse or women? Is it that men talking about being abused is a way to somehow make light of the issues women face?
Perhaps because of patriarchy, men are seen as the enemy when it comes to abuse and rape. Men and women are seen as being on different sides. There are men, the abusers, or likely abusers and women, the abused or vulnerable to abuse. But men too can be victims of abuse.
Are they victims excluded from sharing their experiences when women share theirs? Are their experiences valid enough to be shared when women share theirs?