Recently, I asked a simple question that didn’t have a simple answer, did NHLer Claude Giroux commit sexual assault? Giroux was arrested at a local club after repeatedly groping a police officer on Canada Day. He was subsequently released without charge. It may have been because he was a professional athlete, or it may have been because his target was a man. I knew when I wrote that post that I’d be playing into a typical Men’s Rights trope, that when it comes to the sexual abuse of men, society tends to shrug. As much as I hate to admit it, they have a point. You needn’t look past so many cultural references to prison rape (either as a source of comedy or as some form of just punishment) to figure that out.
Of course, just because the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) tends to properly identify that issue, doesn’t mean they anything particularly useful with that knowledge. If they wanted to actually do anything about the issue, they would stop championing the ugliest representations of “manhood” and stop vilifying feminism.
What exactly makes Giroux’s actions not a crime? Clearly, it’s the fact that he grabbed a man’s ass. Is there any doubt that had he grabbed the behind of a female cop he would have been charged with something? But when it’s a man on the receiving end, it’s different. A man, a tough man, a cop, can’t be allow himself to be the victim of a sexual assault. What we would consider deeply inappropriate if done to a woman is just a prank committed in poor taste when inflicted on a man.
It’s the distasteful cult of masculinity that holds men to this other standard. It’s the cult of masculinity that tells us that men can’t be victims. If advocates of male victims really want to fight against injustice, it would behoove them to make common cause with the one political philosophy that does more to fight against this gender essentialist crap than any other movement: feminism.
That’s right; if you want to stop the (incredibly minor and relatively insignificant) oppression of men, you need to abandon feeble-minded masculinism and adopt the one social force that has always worked for equality between the sexes. Sure, there are outliers on the feminist side that play into the anti-man stereotype, but these voices, loud as they may be, do not define the movement.
As much as seeking “equality” for men isn’t just about choosing the right allies, it’s about avoiding the wrong ones. Earlier this week, I wrote about the case of Lyle Howe, a Nova Scotia lawyer who was convicted of sexual assault for having sex with an intoxicated woman. The facts are squarely against Howe, yet there is a vocal and vitriolic movement to get him off.
Questions pertaining to the existence of racism in the Nova Scotia justice system are valid, but the rhetoric used by the movement is that of victim-blaming and rape apologies. It is true that false rape allegations exist, but the Justice for Lyle Howe movement isn’t contesting what happened. They’re just saying that a man should be allowed to fuck a drunk woman, consent be damned. If people truly cared about justice for falsely accused men, they would take up the cause of Coner Oberst, and leave Howe to his jail cell, but this isn’t about justice. This is about preserving male dominance, and it is through the choice of their champions and their foes that we see the truth that lies behind the movement.
So did Giroux commit sexual assault? As I wrote, maybe. The bigger question is, how do we battle the social forces that actually work against men? It won’t be easy, but if we abandon the chauvinism of toxic masculinity and embrace the purest ideals of feminism, we’ll be able to take a step closer.
Funny how a movement that is devoted to equality of the sexes is the greatest champion of equality of the sexes, isn’t it?