Not all men are sexual predators
Over the last few months, the airwaves in the United States have been permeated with various accusations of sexual harassment, rape, and other sexual misconduct. These accusations gave rise to the #MeToo Movement.
Various players in entertainment have come forward to speak up about their experience, and it has really sparked conversations about the fairness of these accusations, as well as the defence of the men whose names are listed as perpetrators.
The fact that so many women feel empowered to step forward and name their abusers is very powerful. However, how many conversations are being had about the perpetrators, and how do we address the issues when someone is wrongly accused.
Russell Simmonds was accused of sexual misconduct by someone with whom he had a past relationship, and he has stepped forward to challenge his accuser and has stated that his recollection of specific incident is not the same as that of the woman who accused him. He said that his recollection of their time together was consensual and that he did not force himself on her. He started the #NotMe hashtag to speak up and prove his innocence.
Simmonds' response to his accuser has sparked an interesting conversation about the effects of accusing someone of sexual misconduct and the importance of being able to prove innocence or guilt. The rise of the #MeToo Movement has really seen the increase of so many women stepping forward and speaking their truth, but what about the truth of the other party? How do we handle the cases where the accuser and the accused have different accounts of the same incident?
Can a regretted experience be seen as sexual misconduct? Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari went on a date with a young lady named Grace, and she said that it was the worst date of her life. Aziz has challenged her account of the date because he believed that they had a consensual sexual experience.
She had a different account.
According to Grace, "The date didn't go as planned. The night would end with Grace in an Uber home, in tears, messaging her friends about how Ansari behaved."
The day after the incident, she wrote a long text to Ansari, saying: "I just want to take this moment to make you aware of [your] behaviour and how uneasy it made me."
To that message, Ansari responds: "Clearly, I misread things in the moment, and I'm truly sorry."
As we try to handle the bad behaviour of sexual predators and create safe spaces for women to function without worrying about dealing with sexual harassment and misconduct, let's be aware of the ramifications of wrongfully accusing someone as well.
This is an important time in our society, and we can really make a big difference, but we must be open to exploring all the sides and ensure that we don't create an atmosphere that discredits the efforts of real victims to live their truth and start the healing process.