So, I was watching Family Feud and saw Steve Harvey ask this question:
We asked 100 men “what would you do if a woman you didn’t know pinched your bottom?”
The answers were:
- Pinch back/ cop a feel
- Get her number
- Thank her
- Turn and stare
- Say why/ how dare you?
- Tongue kiss her
Let’s think about this for a little while.
Men, what would you do if a stranger sexually assaulted you?
Smile! Assault them back! Ask them out! Thank them for the compliment! Kiss them!
First of all, why would Family Feud even ask this question? These kinds of questions feed into the belief that sexual assault is no big deal and is ok. It is not ok.
Then, of all the responses given, only a few said something along the lines of “How dare you do that?!” It was the seventh answer out of eight.
The fact that one of the contestants said “Say thank you for the compliment” is a problem. That it was the number four answer is atrocious.
This nonsense perpetuates so many unhealthy ideas about sexual violence: that any kind of sexual attention is a gift that you must appreciate; that men cannot be sexually assaulted; that as a man you must always want and like any kind of attention you get from any woman; and that if you are not interested then there must be something wrong with you.
So many men walk around not even realizing that they are victims of sexual violence because we teach them to brush it off and enjoy it. But if I pinch a man’s butt without his consent, it is an act of sexual assault. And he has the right to be uncomfortable, to be angry, and to report me.
But when a man does disclose that he has been sexually assaulted, people often respond with doubt, victim-blaming, and criticism. “How can a man be sexually assaulted?” “Oh, please. You know you liked it.” “He must not be a real man.” These responses are dangerous. Not only are we telling men that they should silently deal with being assaulted, but that choosing to report assault will come at the expense of his manhood. Part of this comes from the idea that being a victim of something makes you weak, and as we all know, a ‘real man’ is supposed to be strong. It is important that we realize that victimization has nothing to do with weakness and perpetration has nothing to do with strength. You don’t have to be strong to make offensive or uncomfortable sexual comments, or to coerce someone into sexual activity, or to take advantage of someone who is under-aged, under the influence, or disabled. Nor does it make you weak if any of those things happen to you.
These ideas aren’t only dangerous for men. If we are telling men that they should say “thank you” to a person for assaulting them, what expectation does this put on women? How many times has a woman responded angrily to unwanted sexual attention— be it touching or unnecessary comments— and been told that she is being oversensitive, or that she should appreciate the attention because it’s a compliment to her attractiveness?
Assault is assault and your body is your body. It does not matter who it is or what specifically they are doing, but if it makes you uncomfortable then it’s a problem. No one has the right to tell you what you are allowed to be uncomfortable with. We need to be more respectful of other people’s boundaries and bodies. And remember, men are people too.