29 mars 2015

Indignation à deux vitesses

La société n'est jamais à court d'indignation lorsqu'une fille d'âge mineur est séduite et agressée par un homme d'âge adulte. Personne n'oserait tenter de justifier un geste aussi odieux.

Ah! Mais si vous inversez les rôles, là, ça change tout!

Extraits de l'article du MLive:

The teenage boy, tall for his age and wearing a tie, settled into the witness stand in a downtown courtroom for days straight earlier this winter. Each time, he carefully looked away from the 35-year-old high school tutor who was accused of sexually assaulting him when he was just 15.

Though clearly embarrassed, the boy was courteous - even unflappable - answering lawyers' questions about rough sex and skimpy lingerie photos, explicit evidence dredged from the more than 1,000 texts and emails sent between the teen and his Catholic Central tutor.

In some ways, the trial was similar to dozens of other sex assault cases that have been prosecuted in Kent County Circuit Court.

What made the Abigail Simon case stand out was not only the teen-tutor relationship, or that the victim was a boy, but how people reacted to it.

It was online wildfire. Social media was abuzz with locker-room banter about the boy. Some said the relationship should have been the teen's biggest fantasy. Others suggested it wasn't a real crime. The teen wanted it, they insisted.

"He's a boy. Why would you open up this can of worms?" people asked the teen's mother, who brought the allegations to the school and police.

Simon in January was sentenced to eight to 25 years in prison for three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Sixteen is the age of sexual consent and Michigan law prohibits school employees from engaging in sexual activity with students under age 18.

Now that the trial is behind them, the teen's mother says if the case had involved a female victim, it would have elicited a different response from the community.

"Absolutely there's a double standard because she was a little, petite female and they think he convinced her and he manipulated her," said the boy's mother, who is not being identified by MLive and The Grand Rapids Press. "I think society does have a problem with (male victims), and I think it's because they have this vision of males having raging hormones."

The lack of public outrage in sex assault cases involving teenage boy victims is troubling for Randy Flood, director of the Men's Resource Center of West Michigan's Grand Rapids office. Teens are too often regarded as privileged to have been "sexually mentored" by a seasoned, older woman, he said.

"I think that it is dismissive of the vulnerability of boys and it causes them problems in their adult lives," Flood said. "They can't talk about what happened to them when they were 13, 14 years old because society tells them that they weren't victims because it's glamorized."

Society also has a tough time viewing males as true victims of domestic violence, and there's a misconception that men are always the perpetrators, Flood said. While the majority of domestic violence victims are females, Michigan statistics show more than one-fourth of victims are males.

"There's a lot of people who are afraid to talk about male victimization for fear that we're going to digress or devolve back into the era where we weren't taking violence against women seriously," he said, "and so people are afraid to have this discussion."

(...) Counselors may never have an accurate understanding of how many males are victims of sex crimes because of the myth that "it only happens to girls," said Carla Blinkhorn, CEO of YWCA West Central Michigan. She believes such abuse is underreported in part because the majority of outreach is targeted toward encouraging female victims to come forward, resulting in undertones that it's a gender-specific crime.

"There's a real way that we minimize that experience for boys and young men. And when you minimize it, people don't come forward," Blinkhorn said. "A lot of those conversations, I think, historically have been more focused on girls than they have been on boys."

(...) Victims of domestic violence also face gender-specific challenges to seeking help, Flood said. Struggles for men are commonly rooted in the traditional definition of masculinity that tells them real men are tough and in control. Coming forward as a victim can be a mark of shame, so males may often suffer in silence, Flood said.

(...) When males seek counseling at the Men's Resource Center, they aren't usually comfortable with naming victimization as their presenting problem. They will at first express struggles with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Domestic violence issues may surface later after many counseling sessions.

"There's something about victimization that causes a man to feel weak and unmanly and experience shame," Flood said. 

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