It has become a societal norm that, when speaking of sexual harassment, our immediate assumption is that a woman was abused by a man. This is mainly due to the fact that we have always associated men with being the powerful sex, whereas females are thought to be more delicate and vulnerable.
The Latest Case: South Korean Boy Bands
However, this is not always the case. A few days ago there was a sexual harassment incident in South Korea that raised a lot of concern about men being sexually abused. Boy band B1A4 appeared on the TV programme SNL Korea in order to promote their comeback album. After the taping finished, the SNL Korea staff uploaded a video to Facebook of a female staff member touching all the band members’ genital areas and then running off.
The video caused a huge controversy not only in South Korea, but all over world. In the beginning, the staff replied saying that they were not actually touching them. As the controversy grew bigger, though, the staff ended up apologizing:
“We will make note to prevent this kind of inappropriate behavior towards the hosts. We would like to sincerely apologize to B1A4 and their fans once more,” they said.
SNL Korea then got into more trouble after boy bands INFINITE and Block B also filed reports of being victims of the same sexual assault by the same female staff member. Videos were then uploaded showing the same behaviour, and they were shared all over Twitter and other social media sites.
Police called the members of B1A4 to give statements on 1st December. They also contacted Block B and INFINITE in order to arrange a meeting regarding their allegations.
“Our priority is to determine if there was sexual molestation or not. After talking to the idol groups and examining the videos, we will make a decision,” said police.
SNL Korea staff member and comedian Lee Se Young appears to be the one who organized the incidents and has not yet been questioned by the police. She has, however, announced her resignation from the show. According to Dispatch, a Korean magazine, if Lee Se Young is found guilty, she may receive a punishment of up to 10 years in prison or a fine of 15 million won (around £6,800).
A Wider Problem
There are many cases of men being sexually harassed all over the world, but they don’t get much attention because they are thought to be isolated incidents. The assaulted are often afraid to report them, too, as they fear society will stigmatize them.
According to a survey conducted on South Korea’s sexual harassment situation in 2015 by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 1.8% of males and 9.6% of females have experienced sexual harassment at their current workplace.
How to Move Forward
The assumption that men will never say “no” to sex is wrong in every way. People need to change their approach and perspectives on male sexual harassment.
Male victims of sexual assault should feel safe to open up and talk about their experiences and not being shamed by the society. Women are not the only ones who may experience sexual harassment — one’s gender does not invalidate his or her role as a victim.
— Thisvi Papanastasiou