Are men the weaker sex?
Men speak out about being victimized and suffering from lack of awareness
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.