The #metoo movement where women speak out against sexual violence and intimidation by men in power was long overdue. The statistic that 1 in 3 women have been sexually abused is an understatement. All women experience aspects of being objectified and sexually intimidated or used without their consent. The anger and the power of women speaking out is vital if we are to move towards a sane, inclusive society.
I have been very keen that men do not jump on the same bandwagon and attempt to hijack the debate with their own experiences of abuse. There is something very unsavoury about a race to claim victim-hood as a sort of prize. Yet, men’s pain; though expressed less vocally than #metoo, and more often expressed through actions; is palpable. Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50 and then there are the deaths through addictions and reckless disregard for their own lives. I read somewhere the shocking but quiteunprovable statistic, that in USA more men are raped than women. With 2¼ million men in prison this is certainly possible. On the streets most male violence is directed against other men and throughout the world many men see no alternative to joining wars and large scale violence. On the domestic front in the UK, men are three times as likely not to tell anyone about being the victim of partner violence than women are; presumably because that is so humiliating. Yet for every three victims of domestic abuse two will be female and one will be male.
Undoubtedly men cause most of the physical and sexual violence that occurs against women and against other men. However, physical violence is not very subtle and relatively easy to detect. It literally leaves marks. I knew one woman who had worked as a barrister in divorce cases who stopped working as she was so appalled at the way men were treated. The Families need Fathers movement and now the Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) movement are the result of pain at loss and separation. All three men I have known who killed themselves had become separated from their children and felt so powerless and angry. Last year I went to one funeral and I really don’t want to go to any more. Of course, if men could cry and reach out for support and help this wouldn’t happen so much. It is easy to say that they are the victims of their own Neanderthal ideas of masculinity. However, these ideas are powerfully socially enforced by men and women. It is equally possible and unsympathetic to say that women are the victims of their own lack of speaking out.
Sexual violence and intimidation of women comes from the objectification of women. Some of the violence that occurs in intimate relations comes from men also being seen as an object. An object to provide financial and emotional security. The mechanism is essentially the same. Many men have had the experience of been viewed as sperm donors once, and then money donors for the next twenty or so years. In my own life I have only ever been ripped off by women; financially, and in terms of my willingness to help and support in practical ways. As an Enneagram Type 2; the Helper it has been an important lesson for me to learn to be much less obliging. The massive success of Jordan Peterson's views where he vigorously uses archetypal psychology and his clinical experience to comment on modern issues particularly to do with men (See Link to Video) is a modern phenomena.
Another aspect is the seduction of children away from their fathers. Many people, men and women, see their father through their mother’s eyes. It is a sort of mass-kidnapping which I have heard of many times in my work as a psychotherapist. The mother over-bonds with the children, perhaps as a form of self-therapy, or perhaps as she feels she has little power elsewhere. The father becomes a distant figure and ripe for projections. He may also be working away long hours. There are some men who arrive home from work after a long commute after their young children have gone to bed and leave in the morning before their children wake up. They only see them at weekends.
There is no value in chasing victim-hood. There is a great value and a deep need for appreciation of the different roles and histories of men and women. Whilst binary notions of gender are a convenient fiction, they suffice for an initial analysis. Men have had the historic task for the last two million years of separating from instinct and Nature in order to develop self-consciousness. This has been necessary for the development of humankind. (Follow link for more on this) So where does all this lead?
There is huge value in improving communication particularly about consent. Expression of desire need to be seen as a potential gift, not a threat. All gendered stereotypes need to be dropped so that real listening can happen to the unique needs and experiences of each person. There is a huge need for appreciation of the contributions of everyone. We have all lost out and need to be consoled, appreciated and healed.