Yes, Wales, you too

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Llinos Dafydd

The danger with all the coverage of the Harvey Weinstein accusations is that the problem of sexual assault and harassment by men against women is isolated to one man on the other side of the world.

Weinstein will become a lightning rod for everyone’s judgement. If found guilty, he will join others on a list of ‘bad men’ who were exposed and dealt with, and that we can put this problem to the back of our minds and forget about it.

But there’s nothing unique about Hollywood. In any organisation, where there are men in power there are some men who will use that power to prey on women.

The #MeToo hashtag on Twitter and Facebook is just a glimpse at the scale of this problem.

A year ago, when I spoke out about my experience of being raped, I felt very much alone.  Although I knew that statistically hundreds of thousands are raped every year in the UK.

Social media has helped me realise that I’m not alone. Online, you see others leading by example and talking about their suffering. That emboldens you to do the same thing.

And for everyone posting #MeToo there will be many others who are too afraid to post their own message, but who take strength from it all the same.

Not every one of them has been raped like me, but that doesn’t make their stories any less important. For many, it’s the daily grind, the catcalls, the gropes, the weird guy who cornered you and wouldn’t let you go, that gets them down.

The daily fear of sexual harassment damages women too.

Rife

This revolution has already begun with mental health. The taboo has been broken, at least in part. We’re talking about it. And now, hopefully, it will happen with sexual assault and harassment too.

Unlike with mental health, however, support isn’t enough – this is a problem with a clear solution.

I hope this new campaign will bring to light what has been staring us in the face for so long, although we haven’t felt able to talk about it.

We live in a society where sexual abuse by men on women is normalised. Where a man can be elected President of the United States after bragging about sexual assault.

Sexual abuse and harassment is rife in our society. Yes, here in Wales, from top to bottom. And it can no longer be ignored.

If we really want to build a better Wales, as this website claims we do, men need to stop sexually harassing and abusing women.

Yes, I know it’s ‘not all men’. But it’s enough of them that the scale of the problem is massive. It’s part of the fabric of our culture.

Yes, I know some men are abused too. But sexual assault against women makes up the clear majority of what is going on here.

#MeToo is a step in the right direction. But the battle won’t be won until men can admit to themselves, #IDid.

And admit that what they did was a monstrous, repellent act that left permanent scars on their victims.

So, c’mon, men of Wales, up your game. Don’t do it. Don’t let others do it. Don’t deny that it’s a problem.

If you have a son, a brother, a father, talk about it. Make sure other men know it’s not right either.

Blaming the victim won’t cut it anymore. Women know they’re not alone. They know they’ve done nothing wrong.

We need to stop talking about sexual assault and harassment against women. We need to start talking about sexual assault and harassment by men, and what they need to do to bring it to an end.

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