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Sexual assault is always sexual assault

There is an imbalance in the way sexual assault towards men is protrayed in film and dealt with in real life.
Photos courtesy of IMP Awards

Gender has no effect on the impact of assault

There is a disturbing trend in American society that says only women can be the victims of sexual assault. The myth has been perpetuated so thoroughly by Hollywood that it has now invaded every aspect of culture. 

The 2010 film Get Him to the Greek features a scene in which Jonah Hill’s character is sexually tormented and, though it happens off-screen, allegedly raped, with his character screaming, “I want to go home” and continually saying “No.” Wedding Crashers, released in 2005, includes a less dramatic, but still disturbing, scene where Owen Wilson’s character is made to fondle an older woman’s breasts­­—a scene which is played off as silly and comedic. The list of such scenes in film and television goes on and on. 

Is it necessary to point out the obvious issue with this trend? Imagine for a moment if the genders had been reversed in these two examples, or any of the countless other examples possible. Audiences certainly would not have been laughing if Jonah Hill’s character tormented and raped a pleading woman in Get Him to the Greek, nor would the Wedding Crashers scene have earned anything less than outrage had an older man exposed himself to a younger woman and forced her to fondle him. Yet, American moviegoers watch scenes of men being sexually assaulted without any qualms.  

Whether society wants to admit it or not, Hollywood is a major contributing factor to what society as a whole views as right and wrong. Film and television seeps so insidiously inside everyone that what viewers endlessly consume becomes a part of them.  

For example, an unfortunately high number of cases have arisen throughout history where high school teachers have been found guilty of having sexual relations with underaged students. While such incidents have occurred between male teachers and female students, as well as the other way around, the way in which these things are handled is entirely dependent upon the gender roles.  

Male and female teachers alike are typically fired for having relations with their underaged students. However, it isn’t unusual for male students who partake in relationships with female teachers to be viewed as heroes by their peers, and even sometimes by adults. When a female student is involved, a community is likely to burn the male teacher at the stake. When it’s a male student, however, the response, usually from other men, is sometimes “Nice going” or “Is she hot?”  

A more recent example is that of the actor Terry Crews. Right around the time the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke out, Crews also spoke up, stating that he had been groped by a “high-level” Hollywood executive. Crews was not backed by support, but rather found himself ridiculed by the likes of 50 Cent and the comedian D.L. Hughley.  

As if men always want sex, and are therefore incapable of being the victims of sexual assault. Assuredly, both men and women are guilty of perpetuating this disturbing trend. This is absolutely not to say that male victims should be treated better or even differently than female victims. Sexual assault is sexual assault. It’s a horrific thing to suffer no matter who a person is, male or female. Period. 

 

For sexual assault resources visit
The Phoenix Center at Auraria
Tivoli, Suite 227
303-315-7250 for appointments
303-556-2255 for helpline
info@thepca.org

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