Are men the weaker sex?

Men speak out about be­ing vic­tim­ized and suf­fer­ing from lack of aware­ness

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Zhang Xinyuan

Eleven years have passed, and Zhang Peng can still vividly re­mem­ber the time he was mo­lested and harassed. “I couldn’t share that ex­pe­ri­ence with any­one, es­pe­cially other guys. I am afraid they will just

laugh at me and call me a sissy and weak,” Zhang said.

“If I tell the truth, I wouldn’t get pro­tected like women would, rather I will be laughed at,” he said.

“Some­times, I won­der who is re­ally the weaker sex and the more dis­ad­van­taged group be­tween men and women in China,” he said. “But I can­not even say this won­der­ment out loud with­out be­ing laughed at.”

Ac­cord­ing to Peng Xiao­hui, a sex­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Wuhan’s Cen­tral China Nor­mal Univer­sity, as our so­ci­ety de­vel­ops and peo­ple put more fo­cus on women’s rights, men’s rights are be­ing ne­glected along the way.

“The sit­u­a­tion is not set­tled yet, but I be­lieve that men are on their way to be­com­ing the weaker sex, and the more dis­ad­van­taged group in our coun­try,” Peng said.

Lack of emo­tional sup­port

Zhang’s night­mare hap­pened over a sum­mer break while he was in univer­sity. He was tak­ing a shut­tle bus home when he ran into a se­nior from his univer­sity. They de­cided to sit to­gether on the ride back.

As Zhang drifted off to sleep dur­ing the eight-hour ride, he re­al­ized some­one was touch­ing his pri­vate parts.

“I was star­tled, and I im­me­di­ately woke up and slapped his hands away,” Zhang recalled.

“I had never thought about what I would do if I was ever sex­u­ally harassed, it was very con­fus­ing to me,” Zhang said.

Zhang sat in an­other seat for the rest of the ride and had no idea what to do.

“I ran into him on cam­pus sev­eral times, and he greeted me like noth­ing hap­pened, but I was for­ever dis­gusted,” Zhang said.

After the in­ci­dent, Zhang thought about talk­ing to some­one to re­lieve his stress about the in­ci­dent. How­ever, he is wor­ried that peo­ple would just see him as a sissy who com­plains about lit­tle things, or think that he is se­cretly ho­mo­sex­ual.

“Be­cause I am a man, I am sup­posed to be tough and mas­cu­line and not whine about lit­tle things, so I don’t think I can get the com­fort and sym­pa­thy I want,” he said.

In Au­gust, Li Feng, a male writer, claimed that well-known writer and movie di­rec­tor Guo Jing­ming had sex­u­ally harassed him, ad­ding that at least five other male em­ploy­ees work­ing in Guo’s com­pany are also vic­tims of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. In Novem­ber, Kevin Spacey, the lead in the pop­u­lar TV se­ries

House of Cards was also ac­cused of sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing men.

Apart from sex­ual as­sault, many male white-col­lar work­ers are also fac­ing sub­tle sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the work­place.

Daisy Wu, who works in HR at an IT com­pany in Bei­jing, said that ac­cord­ing to her ex­pe­ri­ence, com­pared to fe­male em­ploy­ees, it is the male em­ploy­ees fac­ing more sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

“Peo­ple know that if they ha­rass women they might get into big trou­ble and lose their job since our so­ci­ety has be­come more sen­si­tive on the sub­ject,” Wu said.

“But if they ha­rass men by keep­ing them in the of­fice later or touch­ing them in­ap­pro­pri­ately, some men won’t even no­tice be­cause most of them have no idea what con­sti­tutes as sex­ual ha­rass­ment and even if they did, they would be too em­bar­rassed to re­port it since it will dam­age their ma­cho im­age,” she said.

A vic­tim in the fam­ily

In ad­di­tion to that, more men have also be­come vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, and most of the male vic­tims are too ashamed to call the po­lice for help, ac­cord­ing to Peng.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by sohu.com in De­cem­ber 2015, in a sur­vey con­ducted in Chongqing, 80 per­cent of the male re­spon­dents said that they have re­ceived dif­fer­ent de­grees of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence from their spouses.

Women were the weaker sex through­out most of hu­man history, but after decades of fe­male rights move­ments since the 1950s, the progress of women’s rights are look­ing up, ac­cord­ing to Peng.

At least there are many gov­ern­men­tal and non-gov­ern­men­tal women’s rights or­ga­ni­za­tions in ev­ery coun­try, said Peng.

“Like in China, there are many non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions that fight for women’s rights and gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, like the Na­tional Fe­male As­so­ci­a­tion, that fo­cus on pro­tect­ing women’s rights in ev­ery as­pect,” Peng said. “How­ever, there is no sin­gle or­ga­ni­za­tion aimed at pro­tect­ing men’s rights.”

The tra­di­tional stereo­types defin­ing what a man is, their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and what chau­vin­ism is, are also causes that

place men in a dis­ad­van­taged po­si­tion. Be­cause of the nat­u­ral phys­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween men and women, men usu­ally take on more phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing, la­bor-in­ten­sive and dan­ger­ous jobs, like work­ing in the mines and con­struc­tion, ac­cord­ing to Peng.

Mean­while, in most Chi­nese fam­i­lies, it is the wife that is in charge of the fi­nances, ac­cord­ing to Peng, which is also a sign of men be­ing the more dis­ad­van­taged group.

“It’s al­ready a so­cial tra­di­tion that men should be gen­er­ous and not pay at­ten­tion to de­tails. Also, I love her and she is my wife. I should spoil her and grant all of her wishes. It’s chau­vin­ism,” Zhang said.

“If I don’t fol­low this, peo­ple might la­bel me as cheap and not manly.”

In ad­di­tion, when Zhang and his wife have a fight, Zhang caves into his wife all the time.

“I re­mem­ber at our wed­ding my mother told me that I am a boy and she is a girl, so I need to put her opin­ion first all the time,” Zhang laughed.

Peng added that so­ci­ety ex­pects men to be the main provider and to have bet­ter ca­reer de­vel­op­ment than women, which is also a sign of in­equal­ity be­tween men and women, a tra­di­tion from the male-dom­i­nated so­ci­ety of the past.

“It does not only put more bur­dens on men’s shoul­ders, it also lim­its women’s de­vel­op­ment,” Peng said.

Sup­port from leg­is­la­tion

An in­ves­tiga­tive re­port on teenage be­hav­ior in South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince in 2013 showed that the num­ber of male rape vic­tims was 2.2 to 2.3 times higher than that of fe­male vic­tims and male vic­tims seemed to be in­creas­ing in China, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by jcrb.com, the of­fi­cial web­site of The Procu­ra­torate Daily.

Although there is no spe­cial in­sti­tu­tion to pro­tect men’s rights, they are not un­pro­tected in laws and leg­is­la­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the draft of the Amend­ment to the crim­i­nal law of the Peo­ple's Re­pub­lic of China (nine), which was im­ple­mented on Novem­ber 1, 2015, sex­ual as­sault to­ward an adult man is a crime. While be­fore, the crime of rape and com­pul­sory in­de­cency only tar­geted women and chil­dren vic­tims in China’s crim­i­nal law, it fills the law gap of same­sex as­sault. And the 13th ar­ti­cle of Mar­riage Law rules that men and women should have equal sta­tus in mar­riage and fam­ily, which is also a le­gal pro­tec- tion for men, ac­cord­ing to a guan­cha.cn re­port in Au­gust.

The first same-sex as­sault case was sen­tenced in Xi’an, Shaanxi Prov­ince on Au­gust 14, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by news por­tal Netease. A male sex of­fender who raped an­other man was sen­tenced to two years in prison for the crime of com­pul­sory in­de­cency.

How­ever, Peng said that in ex­treme cases where a man or teenage boy is raped, it will only be re­garded as mo­lesta­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal law, the pun­ish­ment for mo­lesta­tion is not as se­vere as that for rape. The pun­ish­ment for rape ranges from a min­i­mum three­year jail term to a death sen­tence, while for mo­lesta­tion it ranges from a 10-day de­ten­tion to five years in jail.

Since the crime of com­pul­sory in­de­cency’s pun­ish­ment is “a fixed-term im­pris­on­ment of not more than five years or crim­i­nal de­ten­tion,” Wang Faxu, mem­ber of the Chi­nese Law So­ci­ety and a se­nior lawyer, sug­gested in the guan­cha.cn re­port that the mea­sure­ment of penalty should be dif­fer­ent ac­cord­ing to the sever­ity of the crime.

Wang Ming­wen, a law pro­fes­sor of Xichang Univer­sity also said in the re­port that men’s sex­ual rights should en­joy the same in­vi­o­la­bil­ity as women’s and should be equally pro­tected by the law, es­pe­cially crim­i­nal law.

“Rap­ing a woman is a crime, but rap­ing a man isn’t; it is not rea­son­able,” he said.

“The per­pe­tra­tor aims at hav­ing sex against a man’s will, and re­sorts to vi­o­lence to com­mit a sex­ual crime, which causes se­ri­ous dam­age to male vic­tims’ minds and bod­ies, be­ing fully con­sis­tent with the fea­tures of a crime.”

Peng agrees. “Men and women all need pro­tec­tion. Only when they are true equals, can both of them en­joy more free­dom and op­por­tu­ni­ties to be true to them­selves,” he said.

Some men be­lieve they are be­com­ing the more dis­ad­van­taged group in China.

Men and women all need pro­tec­tion. Only when they are true equals, can both of them en­joy more free­dom and op­por­tu­ni­ties to be true to them­selves, ex­perts say.

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