Men, too, encounter sexual harassment

Being a victim of sexual harassment is not something that men find easy to talk about due to society's expectations. Photo: Freepik

Despite common perception, gender-based violence (GBV) such as sexual harassment and domestic abuse, doesn’t only happen to women, but also to men.

From physical GBV such as unwelcome advances, inappropriate comments, and physical harassment, to psychological, verbal, and online GBV, not only women but also men are victims.

However, GBV against men often goes unreported due to society’s expectations, cultural stereotypes, and social stigma. And, men who do report it often face embarrassment, disbelief and scepticism.

StarLifestyle talks to men in Malaysia to find out their experiences of GBV and what they think of men as victims.

Vince, 31, salesman

I was once propositioned by one of my clients. She is rich, older and attractive, but it made me uncomfortable because I’m attached. Nothing happened.

Lee, 48, trainer

If it’s not consensual, whether it’s a male or female victim, then it’s considered sexual harassment.

Fauzi, 22, university student

I’ve been stared at and approached by other men at the gym. I think they were attracted to me but I wasn’t interested.

Tony, 28, marketing executive

My (male) boss has asked me to entertain female clients, as in 'make them happy'. I wasn’t expected to be physical with them but flirt with them a little and drink with them, so I took it as part of the job requirement. I didn’t realise that’s sexual harassment!

K. Maniam, 50, semi-retired

I think it would be rare for a man to be a victim of physical domestic abuse, but if it's verbal abuse or emotional blackmail, then it's possible.

Surin, 42, programmer

When I was in my 20s, there was this weird incident, but I wasn’t aware it was sexual harassment at that time. This neighbour – an older single lady who lived by herself – she kept inviting me to her house, asking me to help fix her this and that. When I was free, I would oblige, but then she started to ‘behave weird’, so I stopped going.

John, 55, driver

Sexual harassment against men? (laughs) What is that? Can a man be sexually-harassed ah? Domestic abuse against men? I know of someone whose wife would often shout at him, and in front of other people too. It was very embarrassing for him but nobody knew what to do to help during that time.

Yusuf, 41, restaurant supervisor

It’s more difficult for men to talk about this because, you know, people will ask how can a woman ‘force’ a man to do anything when most times, he will be physically stronger and able to protect himself.

Leon, 39, designer

Most men won’t report it if they get harassed sexually, I mean, they are afraid people will laugh at them, not believe them, or they may be the brunt of jokes like ‘Why you so lucky? Why didn’t you grab the opportunity?’

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