“Men, like women, spoke before #MeToo but we didn’t listen to them,” recalls sociologist Lucie Wicky



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Actor Aurélien Wiik in Saumur (Maine-et-Loire), April 23, 2006. (CAPMAN VINCENT / SIPA)

Doctoral student in sociology, Lucie Wicky, specialist in sexual violence suffered by men and boys, deciphers for franceinfo this movement of speaking out which is emerging on social networks.

“The movie boys wake up”, warned Aurélien Wiik on Thursday February 22. On the eve of the 2024 César ceremony, the actor launched the hashtag #MeTooGarçons on Instagram, in the wake of the second #MeToo wave which is sweeping French cinema with the indictment of several figures of the seventh art. “From the age of 11 to the age of 15, I was abused by my agent,” revealed the 43-year-old actor, encouraging other male victims to “report their stories” with this keyword. Since then, numerous testimonies from anonymous men and personalities have been pouring in on social networks, going beyond the scope of cinema.

Associations fighting against gender-based and sexual violence welcome the emergence of male voices in the #MeToo movement. Lucie Wicky, dgrantor in sociology at the Eschool of advanced studies in social sciences (Ehess) and the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED), is currently carrying out the first study in France on sexual violence suffered by men and boys. She analyzes the phenomenon for franceinfo.

Franceinfo: Does this speaking out by men who are victims of sexual violence seem unprecedented to you in terms of its scale?

Lucie Wicky: We has the impression of discovering something even though there is continuity in speaking out about sexual violence. In the 1990s, we saw testimonies appear from men who were victims of child abuse. The Outreau affair put a brake on these testimonies in the 2000s, but at this same period, after the first investigation into violence against women (Enveff, to download), sexual violence was put on the public square. It is from the years 2010-2015 that the words of men surface again publicly: I am thinking of the creation of the association Colosse aux pieds d’église – by Sébastien Boueilh – on violence in rugby. Then to that of La Parole Libée, founded by men who were victims of Father Preynat. Or even to the publication by Laurent Boyet of the book All brothers do like that, who recounts the incest he suffered at the hands of an elder.

Men, like women, spoke before #MeToo but we did not listen to them. What is innovative since the general movement of fall 2017 is the repetition and frequency of this speaking out. Social networks are also a new space for denunciation, individual, social and media.

Have you nevertheless observed greater difficulty among men in talking about this sexual violence?

We cannot say that there is any particular under-reporting or silencing of men victims of sexual violence. It is true that they have fewer identified spaces to talk about this violence. Most of them are unaware, for example, that the Feminist Collective Against Rape (CFCV) is aimed at all victims. There is also a significant issue of masculinity. In the interviews I conduct, men who were victims as children speak of themselves in the third person, as a strategy to distance the impact on the man they have become today. But if we hear less from men, it is above all because they are less victims than women.

What do the figures say about sexual violence suffered by men?

They show that men are mainly victims in childhood and adolescence. More than 80% are before the age of 18. And 50% declare being victims between 0 and 10 years old, in the family and close circle. While women are victims of sexual violence throughout their lives, men in this case are rare (3.9%, compared to 14.5%).

“Men are primarily – 90% – assaulted by adult men or older boys. There is a real intersection between adult domination and male domination.”

Lucie Wicky, doctoral student in sociology

at franceinfo

The big family, the book by Camille Kouchner, had already made us rediscover this reality. And this is what the #MeTooBoys movement illustrates once again. If there is no #MeToo of adult men, it is because they are a statistical minority.

How are these words of male victims received and perceived?

Work by British researchers has shown that when men file complaints about violence suffered in childhood, the cases are more often pursued in court. A gender issue remains in the reception of speech. Men are taken more seriously and believed than women, in situations of equal violence, at least when they are heterosexual. Gay men and those who identify as bisexual tend to be more discredited in their reporting. They are suspected of having sought it, as with women, with an inversion of guilt.

Despite everything, a #MeTooGay movement emerged in September 2020…

Since #MeToo, this speaking out has been deployed in a sectoral manner, in the gay world, sport, the church… It is a spotlight that allows us to better listen to the victims. In 2017, the movement started with cinema, but expanded. Will it be the same for #MeTooBoys? In any case, we can only rejoice at these public speaking engagements.

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