November 21, 2017

Hayley’s House: Kevin Spacey and how society treats male victims differently

Let’s cut the bull, Hollywood is a male-dominated industry, and like many other industries, male power structures have not achieved just results for victims of sexual assault. In Kevin Spacey’s case, this is true for male victims in particular.

Earlier this month, Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was revealed to be a sexual predator with multiple prey, each one a woman with a horrific story to tell about Weinstein. Within days, the hashtag #MeToo came sweeping through our social media feeds; women told their stories of sexual assault or harassment following the hashtag to show unity with other women. The purpose was for victims of sexual assault or harassment to stand in solidarity with others who have experienced the same thing.

Weeks later, actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making sexual advances toward him when he was 14. When Spacey was outed as a sexual predator, he released an apology statement, and in it, he came out as a gay man. This was clearly a calculated attempt to deflect the attention from the incident and onto the fact that Spacey, an Academy Award winning actor, is gay. This is not only problematic toward other closeted gay men, but it is also a shallow move to try and bury the victim and his experience. Within days, media outlets and social media users couldn’t stop talking about Spacey.

There are similarities in these stories, and frankly, they don’t shock me. But there is one big difference that I just cannot shake. The reaction to Weinstein’s case resulted in a mass recognition of the victims of sexual assault. A hashtag trend swallowed up our feeds in an attempt to open our arms to the victims. However, in Spacey’s case, it resulted in talk about the predator himself. All anyone could talk about was Spacey – his show, his movies and their disappointment about this recent news about him.

The victim in the Spacey incident was indeed buried – not by Spacey’s newly announced sexuality – but by the unfortunate gendered victimhood that says male victims are not as important as female victims.

Without even realizing it, society reacted in a way that provides a perfect example as to why this is important. When Weinstein was accused of sexually assaulting women, we ran to their rescue (as we should with any victim). When Spacey was accused of sexually assaulting men, we ran to Spacey demanding answers for his behavior. Although he has been cut from his Netflix show “House of Cards,” and several other show appearances, there is no doubt we have treated this situation differently than we would if he had assaulted a female.

There is no doubt we are on the verge of a sexual revolution. From the Bill Clinton sex scandal to the “grab them by the pussy” audio from Donald Trump, we talk about sexual assault in a different, more productive way in 2017 compared to previous years. If anything, there is an actual conversation about it. But that does not mean we have defeated the patriarchy. The future is starting to look bright regarding justice for sexual violence victims, but it is not going to happen if we continue this ignorant behavior of ignoring male sexual assault victims. Although statistically women fall victim to sexual assault more so than men, it does not mean we should turn a blind eye to anyone, regardless of gender. In order to be successful in this revolution, we must tear down the very core of rape culture and the stigma surrounding male sexual violence victims.

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