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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

‘Boys club’ in society needs to end

Boys club in society needs to end

As a child, my father always told me two things: never hit a woman and that when he left, I was “the man of the house.” He usually told me this on our various hunting trips or when he left to go on business trips.

I’m sure many of you have been told similar things. I’ve always been aware that using violence against women is not okay, but in today’s society that’s no longer enough. The bare minimum to simply not commit harassment or violence against women needs to be higher. It’s time for men to actively call out and stop this as we see it.

To be clear, what I’m talking about is the “boys club” in society. This refers to when a woman chooses to come forward with an accusation against an abuser and is then often ostracized by all branches of society. Questions such as “what were you wearing” or “why were you drinking,” are asked in order to de-legitimize her accusations. Statements are made like, “You should have come forward sooner,” or “He is immature and you should give him time.” All of these serve to undermine the survivor and justify the perpetrator, and serve to remove her status as a victim and survivor.

No other crime is treated with the leniency that sexual harassment or sexual assault is given. If a murder was committed, no one would ask what the victim was drinking or wearing that night. We would prosecute the murderer to the fullest extent of the law.

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If your house was burnt down as a result of arson, it would be ridiculous for someone to justify the crime based on the home’s paint color or materials it was made of. Yet, when it comes to sexual crimes, efforts are made by people in positions of power to protect the perpetrator. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five women in the United States will experience rape or attempted rape during their lifetime. The same report finds that one in three women will experience sexual violence involving physical contact. These kinds of statistics are ingrained in every woman’s life, in ways we as men have never had to think about. 

Growing up, women are given a list of ways to protect themselves: never walk alone at night, never leave a drink unattended, always check the backseat of the car before getting in, keep car windows up when driving through an unknown place, don’t go to the bathroom alone, don’t wear clothes too short or too tight, etc. With women’s compliance to this list, most men never have to think about the consequences of fellow men amongst our populous. 

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) published a report based on the annual U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Statistics Survey. In it, they found that of every 1,000 rapes, 995 perpetrators won’t serve any jail time. “This is because out of every 1,000 rapes, only 230 are reported to police.” Of those 230, only five are given jail time of any length. It has been taught to women that the actions of men are their responsibility, even if they followed the list. 

I have seen the effects of this in everyday life with my own eyes. It’s easy to notice when you pay attention and listen to women. When I was a college freshman, I worked a job that required me to walk across campus at 6:30 a.m. I’m 6-foot-2, standing at about 210 pounds. To most women who are walking across campus at the same time, I could be a threat. Keys are sticking out between their fingers, phones are ready to call a friend or 911.

I’m not mad that my stature or gender causes fear. I’m mad that we’ve created a society where I can enjoy the privilege of walking alone at night because I am a man, yet women are taught to fear the same opportunity.

I am not arguing that men are inherently bad or evil. In fact, most men want to do what is best for our communities. I am arguing that it’s time for the culture that protects and accepts men who commit these crimes to end.

I realize that the majority of us will not commit these atrocities, but that alone is simply not enough. We need to actively call out the behaviors we witness in other men. Until we as men can fully commit to holding each other accountable, the boys club will continue to protect violent men at the expense of women.  

In the meantime, we owe it women to listen to them fully without judgement, and allow them the due process, if they choose to do so, afforded to so many other crimes. Women are owed this not because they are our mothers and sisters, but because they have the same unalienable rights that we do, and their anatomy or gender identity should not change this. 

Jack Webster is a senior and double major in political science and history.

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