Posts Written by sophia

Once more: where are the men?

A SYTYCB entry

In November, when news broke of Jerry Sandusky’s acts of sexual assault at Penn State, there was an outpouring from men across the country. Some scrambled to defend a program whose leaders had quietly turned away from the violence for years, others chewed over what their own hypothetical reactions might be to similarly bearing witness; many expressed genuine anguish.

These kinds of stories, however, are all too familiar to women who face the threat of violence regularly and often devote a dismaying amount of energy steeling themselves against it. Perhaps as a result, some of the loudest reactions came from men for whom the daily threat of violence—particularly sexual violence—is not a reality. There are many complicated explanations for the unprecedented deluge of men’s responses to the Penn State abuse, but one of them is that when it comes to sexual assault, men have the privilege of distance.

There are, of course, many male-identified people for whom sexual assault is not simply a distant possibility, but for most white, cis, heterosexual men (from whom many of the Penn State reactions appeared to come), the reality of sexual violence is unwelcome news. It threatens previously intact establishments that are deeply beloved by them, like Penn State’s football program. It forces them to consider an experience from which most of them previously enjoyed a comfortable removedness.

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