Sexual Assault: A Hidden Double Standard

I want to paint a picture for you, if you would allow me. First, while I am not a huge fan of the overused term Trigger Warning, some may find topics discussed here triggering because of events that have happened to them.

So, the picture: Imagine if you will a person, for the sake of popularity; mainly in the form of “likes” or “shares” or “views” given out during this age of social media, going around and filming themselves touching people of the opposite sex, and filming their reactions to post on the internet. “But Mike, what do you mean by touching?” Well, I’m glad you (I) asked.

How about touching like, grabbing their hand without their permission, or putting their arm around them, or stroking their face without that same permission? What about just outright kissing them?? Like, not even giving them a chance to say anything; just start kissing them.

Hmmm, that sounds really familiar. Where have I heard that before?!?

You might find yourself thinking, “This guys needs to knock it off! He has no right to touch those ladies that way.” Or maybe something like, “How dare he violate those women in that way. Their bodies are not his to touch.” Or, maybe you’d go right to what it really is, and say he’s sexually assaulting them. And you know what – you’d be right on all accounts.

Except…it’s not a guy doing the violating, it’s a very attractive women. And the people violated are random guys.

Now that you know the gender of the violator and violated don’t fit your stereotypical gender roles, do you have the same amount of ire? Would you still light the torches, and gather the pitchforks needed to hunt down this women who sexually assaulted numerous men? Would you even consider it sexual assault?

I assume many of you are nodding right now, proclaiming you would. That you would stand up for these men just as much as you would for a woman in this case. But sadly, statistics show, you’re lying.

This isn’t just a made up scenario for the sake of getting views or making people mad. I don’t do clickbait crap.

Recently I saw several videos floating around social media, mainly on Facebook. These videos were done by a wannabe social media star out of England named Brookelyn. I say wannabe for the very simple reason, that up until she started doing these…let’s call them what the are, assault videos, Brookelyn has displayed less than zero actual talent.

While I hate to give her even one ounce of free promotion, I think it’s important, for context, to see what I’m talking about:

Grabbing the hand of a stranger in public

Stroking the beard of a stranger in public

And finally, kissing strangers in public

After see these videos…now where do you stand on the scenario laid out above?

I’m sure many are going to disagree with me on this. The proof is in the fact that she has over 900K followers over her various social media platforms. Clearly many people, both men and women, think these antics are good for a laugh. But again, what if this was the other way around?

What if a very good looking man walked up to women in society and grabbed their hand, or stroked their face, or god forbid, just started kissing them, all the while filming it (without their permission) and then posting it on social media for the world to see? That man would be labeled (rightfully so) as a sexual predator, and arrested. So why is Brookelyn not being held to the same standards, or at least accountable for her actions. Because she’s attractive? Because she has a nice body and large breasts? Or is it because she’s…a she, and people think women can’t sexually assault men?

In 2014 the National Crime Victimization Survey turned up a staggering statistic. In the 40,000 households surveyed, 38% of the individuals admitting to being a victim of rape or sexual violence, were men. And just in 2015, the Department of Defense reported that almost 11K men are sexually assaulted every year in the military, and barely 1K report those crimes. That’s barely 13%.

Obviously that last statistic is near and dear to me, as I am a veteran of the United States Army. And while I have spent much of my time, since getting out, advocating and speaking to the injustices that women face in the military, I had no idea how many men are facing the same abuse, without people speaking up for them.

I realize many people will think that talking about rape and sexual violence is a far cry from what Brookelyn is doing, but I would urge to really rethink that. Is it that far away? Is it really any different from the numerous cases we hear about every year, and the millions we don’t because women are afraid to come forward? Or is this just another person assuming they can do whatever they want to another person? Except this time, the person knows they are very attractive and is using that to treat others as objects?

Brookelyn in the quest for internet attention, is doing far more damage that I believe she even cares to think about. She’s reinforcing a horrible stereotype that men can’t be sexually assaulted, because what man would turn down a sexual advance from a woman; especially a very attractive woman such as herself? Well, if you watch her video, a good deal of men actually. Many are seen pulling away from her, one even went as far as to throw his sandwich at her. Other say “no”, yet she still continues. What is she going to say if a man goes on this same quest for views using the excuse, “Hey, if Brookelyn can do it to men, then it’s ok for me to do it to women”?

While the statistics I pointed out are based here in America, and Brookelyn is in England, I’m pretty sure sexual assault looks the same no matter where you go in this world. For all our safety, let’s just hope she doesn’t start popping Tic Tacs.

 

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12 thoughts on “Sexual Assault: A Hidden Double Standard

    • Thank you! She was yelling at me over on FB this morning claiming that everyone gave written consent. So the counter was offered, “Before or after you did it? Because, if it was before, that means you failed to provide the disclaimer, and you’re glorifying assault for views. Or, if it was after, that’s not really consent; it was guys who didn’t want to look like they were scared of a good looking woman. Either way, still super wrong!”

  1. While I agree with you that what she is doing might have the effect of convincing some people that men are not in danger of facing sexual assault, and that is rightly something she should be concerned about. I think in this case you are to a degree undervalueing the performative aspects of what she is doing. I want you to imagine for a moment that the camera isn’t involved, these similar events transpire in an office between a man and a woman, once the woman strokes the man’s beard, once the man strokes the woman’s cheek. Neither action is requested or desired, both are reported, given the last 150 years of corporate history, which of these two individuals do you believe HR would be more likely to side with? And in which situations?

    Performance like this, even if driven by a desire for likes and shares, rather than it being driven performance art, is about violating social norms and violating social norms, whether it’seems intended or not puts this performance into the realm of social commentary.

    Whether we want to admit it or not the current social restriction on the casual touching of women by men is a relatively new concept (although I admit it doesn’t feel that way for you and I because it’s been around most of our lifetime) and for far too many men it is maintained not because they truly believe in it, but rather because they fear negative outcomes.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that this particular activity is a bit more multilayered and complex then you give it credit for.

    • I appreciate what you’re saying, because I’m married to someone who (like yourself) has a higher education, and we’ve talked at great lengths on this very topic. I will only counter with this, I believe you’re giving this person too much credit. While I would happily back down, and sit within my own uncomfortable feelings, had this been done by someone coming at it from a PhD level type experiment, I instead feel disgusted, as this person, as proof of all her other material based purely on sex and what she gets (materialistic wise) from it. She also responded on my page like a juvenile saying that no one was hurt, and I should mind my own business. That, in no way screams pushing social norms and calling attention to double standards.

      I appreciate your counter-view however.

      • Oh I’m not saying that she is knowingly doing any of the things that I described on my comment, but even if she is engaging in this type of performance for no other reason than Internet fame it doesn’t devalue the ways that this performance forces the audience to evaluate why it is occurring and further if that audience happens to respond to it, why they do so.

      • You make very valid points. My wife actually said the same thing. She said she wrote a considerable portion on that very topic for her thesis, and agreed with what you were saying. I still stand by my position, but, I will say that I am now more aware of deeper aspects on this topic.

  2. This wacky internet “star” raises some interesting questions. You’ve asked what people would think if she were a he. But what if she wasn’t supermodel hot? What if she was 30 years older? Would it seem less threatening and more comedic? Would the victims be as calm in their responses?

    This reminds me of an exercise I did in a college theater class. A male student attempted to leave the room while a female student tried to stop him. The rest of the class laughed or have odd looks, or cheered the girl on. But when it was reversed, the room got quiet as a male grabbed at a female trying to keep her from escaping.

    Last thing (I promise!) — I’ve heard those military male sexual assault figures, but assumed a good number of them were from other men. That certainly doesn’t justify anything, but I’d be curious to know what the percentages are for male and female asaailants.

    • Oh man, that would have been a really intense exercise to watch. As far as the military stats, I would tend to agree with you, however; assault is assault no matter what gender is doing it to what gender, or sexual orientation. I would be interested in knowing that same stat as well, as I heard “things” during my time in the military.

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