Trojan Man: Survivors deserve sympathy

Some time ago, I met up with a friend of mine for lunch. She was acting strange the entire time, and eventually I asked what was wrong. That’s when I watched her break. She’d been sexually assaulted at a party the night before. For the second time.

Most people turn away when the topic of sexual assault comes up. Everyone knows that it happens, but many don’t know what to do about it. A 2007 study found that about one in five college women are assaulted before they graduate. One in five. That’s 20 percent.

So, look up. Look around. I’m sure you can spot at least five women. Don’t try to guess which one’s the survivor, though. Most sexual assault victims have learned how to grin past their scars. But that Saturday, my friend couldn’t bear it. It was too soon, and she showed me what a human being looks like when their humanity is taken from them. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I couldn’t empathize with my friend. I can and do sympathize. But as a 6’2″ white man, I’ve never felt threatened like that. I don’t get anxious when I walk home in the dark. I’ve never questioned the motives behind a friendly compliment. I wondered whether I had any justification to write about this kind of thing. I still wonder that.
But that guy, and others like him, are wrong. He pushed when he shouldn’t have and he knew he shouldn’t have. He didn’t want to ask the obvious question (“Is this alright?”) because he knew the answer. He saw her as a fantasy made real, not the human being that she is.

Guys are supposed to be determined when it comes to intimacy. A guy makes the first move, plans the first date, etc. We’re supposed to be persistent, too. It’s the Disney fantasy to never give up on the girl of your dreams. It’s in the perversion and mingling of these two concepts, persistence and determination, that most attackers ground their defense.

As men, we need to come to terms with this fact: we are the chief offenders. We’ve all felt the carnal urge overwhelm us before. But we can control those urges, at the club, at a house party, mid-make-out, etc. But we need to show that we are the sons of our mothers. Satisfaction is given, never taken.