Content Warning: Mentions Sexual Assault.
The recent controversy surrounding Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation to the United States Supreme Court saw the rise of a new movement, #HimToo.
The #HimToo movement, intended as a counter to the popular #MeToo movement, consisted of many conservatives stating their concern about whether they or their loved ones would be falsely accused of sexual assault. This notion that women would risk their reputation and safety in order to ‘ruin’ a man’s life is not only unfounded, but it also serves the purpose of attempting to silence victims.
To begin let’s look at the facts. The most recent crime survey for England and Wales shows that at least one in five women have experienced sexual assault. The Office for National Statistics reports that over 80 per cent of women never reported their assault to the police. These figures are on par with statistics that have been shown in other countries such as the United States. Of reported sexual assaults, the FBI has found only about eight per cent to be unfounded – meaning they were determined to be false after an investigation. These figures demonstrate a clear trend – that sexual assaults are much more likely to never be reported than be false.
Why do so many sexual assaults go unreported? Unfortunately, that is an easy question to answer. A combination of the stigma, fear, and lack of appropriate response are likely to blame. Too often, the response to sexual assault accusations immediately targets the victim, blaming their appearance, actions, or even the fact that they just exist for the actions of men.
Just look at Dr. Christine Ford, a well-respected psychology professor, who in coming forward with her story has suffered death threats and character assassination. And what happens to men accused of sexual assault? Well, the majority of them walk free. Over 99 per cent of perpetrators walk free, and when sexual assault cases actually go to court the punishment is minimal – as seen with Brock Turner’s three-month sentence. Some of the accused even go on to prestigious positions such as President of the United States, Republican Candidacy, and more recently a Supreme Court Justice. With these factors combined, it is easy to see why most cases go unreported.
Now that it has been shown that false accusations against men are neither common, and that even real accusations are not a threat for men, what exactly is the purpose of the #HimToo movement? The only logical explanation is that it exists to detract from the legitimacy of the few sexual assault victims that are brave enough to come forward with their stories. By spreading a false narrative that perpetuates the ideas we disproved above, men and conservatives have come up with a way to create a culture of doubt in regards to accusations without having to rely on any actual facts. The effect of this dangerous, false assumption – that women are deciding to falsely accuse men – is another way to intimidate women into not reporting sexual assault. If anyone is still worried about false accusations, a more appropriate response would be to respect women and their stories, and to teach your sons to do the same.
Image: The White House via Wikimedia Commons