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About the Accusations of Male Sexual Abuse

Recently there has been a spate of accusations against men. One after another women shave been speaking up, charging men with having sexually abused them, often years ago. Let’s make no mistake about it, sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment are serious matters and when a woman accuses a man of such a deed it should be taken seriously, investigated and prosecuted. This is even more serious if the woman was a minor when the abuse happens.

However, few of the present charges, which now seem to be in the hundreds, have been investigated. People rush to judgment about these accusations almost as soon as they are made. Oftentimes people lose their jobs and reputations without the case ever being investigated. One accusation follows another, as if it is a case of “monkey see, monkey do.” While sexual abuse is wrong, this kind of piling on is also wrong. It paints a picture of men as sexual abusers and women as innocent victims.

Any woman can make such a charge against a man, knowing that the facts of the case will most likely not be investigated. They can drop their bomb and then walk away, without anybody ever questioning them. Women are seen as victims and men as victimizers. Nobody is allowed to question a woman and women don’t question themselves. Few people can see themselves objectively and this applies equally to men and women. If a woman lies about a man sexually abusing her because she was rejected by him and she is now jealous of his achievements, is that not a case of a woman abusing a man? If a woman is simply mentally disturbed and acts out her disturbance by smearing a male celebrity, is that not also a case of a woman abusing a man?

Why are women allowed to make these charges without being held to account? In 1987, Tawana Brawley, a fifteen-year-old African-American girl, was found on the side of a road, naked, covered with a sack filled with human feces and racial slurs written on her body. A grand jury found that she had concocted a story that a local white sheriff and an attorney and another white man had held her captive in the woods, raped her and left her on the road. The sheriff was fired and the attorney lost his reputation as a national uproar followed with charges about racism. When it was discovered by the grand jury that she was lying, she was never charged with any crime, and though one of the men filed a law suit against her for defamation and won, she only began to pay at the last minute when her salary was garnished.

Harvey Weinstein is accused of having a “casting couch” in his office and he has been “convicted” by the press before going through any legal process. If he offered a woman a role in a movie in exchange for sleeping with him and the woman made the choice to do so, was that abuse? Was that rape? She was not forced to sleep with him. She freely made a choice. But people don’t make fine distinctions anymore. People are seen as either good are bad. Weinstein produced some good movies, and did other good things. His use of the casting couch, if true, was an abuse of power, indicating a man who was not able to or willing to seek sex with a woman in a normal manner.

There are many men like Harvey Weinstein, but there are also many women like him. Men like Weinstein may have dominated Hollywood and the government and certain other industries. However, at present women dominate the fields of education, social work and nursing. Teachers can be abusive to their young students, and teachers can have double standards in the way they treat boys and girls. At present about 2/3rds of college students are female. Is this a reflection of how boys and girls are treated in elementary school? Are girls encouraged and boys discouraged? Do female teachers view all boys as potential sexual abusers? These are questions that need to be asked.

Over the years there has been a lot of talk and writing by women about equality. Women seem to see equality in terms of society having an equal number of male and female senators and judges and doctors and soldiers. This is not equality. This is bean counting. Equality means that each gender shares equally in carrying the burdens of society and takes equal responsibility for its contribution to any conflicts between the sexes. Equality means that each gender is willing to engage in a dialogue with the other, to give and take, to be mutually respectful.

The sexes are a mirror of one another. When you look in a mirror and you smile, the mirror smiles back. If you swing your arm toward the mirror, the mirror swings back. If you frown at a mirror, the mirror frowns back. It is sort of like the Third Law of Motion. Every action has an equal counter-reaction. Each sex is equally guilty of abuse. Mass accusations of male abuse are perhaps themselves an act of abuse.

Children’s literature contributes to this problem. The children’s story, “Little Red Riding Hood,” portrays men as wolves and predators. A famous nursery rhyme says, “girls are full of sugar and spice and everything nice,” while boy are “snails and puppy-dog tails.” From the beginning there is a disparity in how the genders are viewed.

If a mother treats her son as if he is bad–if she tells him he will probably grow up to be a sexist like his dad–he will most likely grow up to be exactly what she predicted. If a mother abuses her little boy, he will grow up to abuse women. And if there are a lot of men who abuse women, these women will become mothers who abuse their sons. It is easy to blame others and to deny one’s own flaws. Confucius once said, “I have yet to meet a man who can point the finger to himself.” He might have added, “or woman.”

If you look hard enough, you can find something bad in anyone. If women look for sexual abuse, they’ll find sexual abuse. If they look at men with respect, they might find something else. But can they point the finger to themselves?

About the Accusations of Male Sexual Abuse

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2018). About the Accusations of Male Sexual Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 10 Feb 2018
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