The sexual harassment of young girls and women by men in power is becoming almost a daily story. But there's an element of the conversation that isn't dominating the headlines: sexual harassment and assault against men.
London’s Old Vic Theatre received 20 allegations Thursday of inappropriate behavior by its former artistic director Kevin Spacey, who is facing multiple allegations from men — some of them minors at the time — who said the star sexually harassed and assaulted them.
Actor and former NFL player Terry Crews claims that Adam Venit, the head of the motion picture department at a major talent agency in Beverly Hills, groped him at an industry party.
And a former male model accused actor and activist George Takei of sexually assaulting him decades ago.
But the problem extends much further than Hollywood. Former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) did prison time after prosecutors revealed that he molested or inappropriately touched five teenage boys. Former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned after sending sexually explicit messages to current and former male House pages.
These stories aren't as unique as some may think. While the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment victims are women, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an increasing number of men are filing complaints too. Of the more than 6,800 sexual harassment claims filed with the agency in 2015, more than 17 percent of them were filed by men.
According to a National Crime Victimization Survey, among 40,000 households asked about rape and sexual violence, the survey uncovered that 38 percent of incidents were against men.
Jodi Omear, vice president of communications for Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one of the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organizations, told The Fix that cultural stereotypes about men keep society from sufficiently addressing this issue:
“Sexual assault can happen to anyone. One of every 10 victims is male, and men and boys who experience assault face the same mental and physical effects as other survivors. Cultural stereotypes about men and how they portray masculinity can make it harder for men to disclose their assault and add additional challenges to their recovery. Many men feel intense shame and embarrassment about being abused or assaulted and stay silent. It's important to remind male survivors that they are not alone, and to share the services available to help them.”
According to the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, adequately addressing the issue of sexual violence against men means changing how society views men:
“For our society to acknowledge that men are raped, we must first recognize and acknowledge that men can be vulnerable. Both men and women are socialized to see men as powerful, assertive and in control of their bodies. It may be challenging for some to think of men being the victims of sexual crimes because it is challenging to recognize men as 'victims' and still think of them as men. This socialization can make it less likely for men to seek services and can make it less likely that appropriate services are available.”
As the conversation about sexual violence and misconduct continues, there are members of the population seeking an environment that is safe enough for their stories to be told — and many of those people are men.