I was heading out to the London Dungeons with my girlfriend last Sunday. We had a lot of fun and the actors were mostly very good, although for some it’s not too hard to see why they’re not West End stars yet. There were a few moments which were pretty good for making you jump, but all was child friendly and the dialogue was occasionally inspired.
However, the thing which has stuck with me was a tube poster – an advert for SurvivorsUK, a charity helping victims of sexual assault and professionals who work with victims of sexual assault. All very admirable, and always worthy of praise and support. What made this stand out against other charities is that SurvivorsUK, as you will already know if you have clicked on the above links, is a charity for male victims of abuse.
It is a singularly sorry state of affairs that support for male victims of abuse is so rare that I feel it worthy of special comment. But it is. This almost sounds like I’m about to turn this blog post in to a heavy-handed, misogynistic “what about teh menz!!1!” type rant and that the title of this post is merely an unsubtle bait-and-switch, but before you judge me, check out the poster itself:
The “talking about it takes real strength” line does in fact undermine that toxic stoicism. But reinforcing the idea that there’s a Real Man archetype, and it involves being strong, is kind of terrible to those men who do not see themselves as strong enough.
And I agree with that point – but the ad is trying to reach a specific subset of men. And it’s the one which has already fallen for the real man party line. They make websites crowing about it. Before we can help people, we need to reach them. This is one small way of doing so, but it all fits in with the larger idea of feminism.
I am a feminist because I wholeheartedly support equality for women. But (somewhat more selfishly) I am a feminist because a world without feminism is one with gender roles such as these for men, which ultimately are unbelievably harmful. How many men are harmed by this? According to SurvivorsUK’s own website:
So quite a lot then, and if these go unreported because of a rape culture in which only women who dress like sluts get raped, then our society is much the poorer.