Why This Is a Very Scary Time for Young Men

When a recent Canadian study of about 30,000 students between 7th and 12th grade found that more boys than girls were victims of physical dating violence, the reaction was one of disbelief. Accusations of male sexual harassment were exploding from the university campuses to the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, begetting the #MeToo movement.

The most memorable perpetrators of sexual assault against women committed heinous acts: some women had been drugged and raped; others had been fired after they rebuffed an overt sexual assault. But many other acts were considered by both men and women to be normal fun and flirtation. During the media frenzy, abuse against men was never even reported as a footnote as men—good and bad—were accused and labeled as sexual predators.

In the past 38 years, more than 270 studies, with an aggregate sample size of more than 440,000, have found that  “women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners” from teenage years on. Since studies of teen dating violence began in the eighties, researchers have found that female high school students are four times as likely as male high school students to be the sole abuser of the other sex (5.7% vs. 1.4%).

The best studies of dating violence differentiate by the severity of violence (according to the Conflicts Tactics Scale). For example, a study conducted by Caulfield and Riggs found that 19% of women vs. 7% of men slapped their female partner. However, when it came to kicking, biting or hitting their partner with a fist, 13% of women vs. 3% of men engaged in those more severe forms of violence. The more specific the questions are, the more both sexes acknowledge the women were between two and three times as likely to hit, kick, bite, or strike their partner with an object.

Among all populations, most violence was mutual. But when it was unilateral, it was more likely to have been initiated by the woman. For example, in a study of over 500 university students, women were three times as likely (9% vs. 3%) to have initiated unilateral violence.

Yet these studies have rarely made headlines. Instead, as we watch on TV the tears of only a female victim, it breaks our heart and thus catalyzes our empathy for female victims and our anger at male perpetrators. In contrast, the teenage males do not go on TV and report the humiliation they experienced. The Huffington Post recently updated a story about male victims of sexual assault at Brown University. In one case, it was male on male sexual assault. The victim told HuffPo, “It’s time to include male survivors’ voices. We are up against a system that’s not designed to help us.”

When a teenage female is a victim of dating violence, she often experiences humiliation, self-doubt and sometimes self-blame. In researching The Boy Crisis, I discovered that this is also true for a teenage male. Fortunately, women no longer fear they will be laughed at when reporting domestic violence to the police. However, a teenage male still fears that if he calls the police and says, “Please come over, my girlfriend has been hitting me with a frying pan,” he’ll become the precinct’s Wimp of the Night.

Men are fair game in today’s media culture. They are mocked, disparaged and humiliated by advertisers and in sitcoms routinely.  Notice this FOX TV ad for the ratings season—an hour-long “tribute” to guys being hit in the testicles. Notice: a tribute to violence against males. Instead of being condemned, it’s ranked as “the world’s funniest.”

Now here comes the really scary part if you have a college-age son. Twenty-six states have some version of an “affirmative consent” law either passed or in process. It works like this: if your son is in college and asks a woman on a date, and she accepts, but during that date, he reaches over to take her hand, she can accuse him of sexual assault. Yes, you read that correctly.

The rationale? He touched her before he asked her. And before waiting for an affirmative consent (e.g., “Yes, you may hold my hand”). If she does say “Yes” at the hand-holding stage, he must nevertheless repeat his request for an affirmative consent each time he desires increased intimacy (e.g., a kiss on the lips; then a tongue kiss).

Chances are that very few women will respond with an accusation of sexual assault at the hand-holding stage. But should your son and the woman end up in a relationship, and he breaks up with her, or is found to be having another relationship, or did not tell her he was in a relationship when he asked her out, she, in a fit of anger, could report him to the college authorities because she felt that their being sexual was something she wouldn’t have done had she known that.

Now here’s the rub. In most cases, he is not entitled to face his accuser with a lawyer by his side. No due process for the accused because of how the Office for Civil Rights, under Title IX, requires a “preponderance of evidence standard” as opposed to a “clear and convincing evidence” standard for convicting an accused male student. Even if she later retracts her claim, saying she had consented but was angry at your son for breaking up with her and “wanted to hurt him like he hurt me,” the Title IX investigator of her claim is not allowed to drop the claim of assault. Nor is the investigator allowed to write in his or her report that she changed her assessment– that she had consented.

This atmosphere of “believe her”— without corroborating evidence is making many teenage males afraid of dating a woman. Here’s why he feels caught between a rock and a hard place.

If a man initiates too much, too soon, in the wrong way, with the wrong woman, with the wrong tone of voice, at the wrong time, his future might be ruined. Yet if he initiates with too much caution, he fears he’ll be thought of as a wimp, or hear, “you’re such a sweet guy; I’d love just to be friends.”

When we don’t know that dating violence in college is more likely to be perpetrated by females, we begin to believe that male violence is built on a foundation of misogyny, rather than feeling that the greater amount of violence against boys and men suggests equal doses of misandry and that our laughing at it or ignoring it suggests a much deeper misandry than misogyny.

The original feminist message of “I am woman, I am strong,” has morphed into “I am woman, I’ve been wronged.” Feminist support of “trigger warnings” and “microaggressions” and special “safe spaces” for only women, combined with protests against any speakers who do not believe in males-as-oppressors, and women-as-oppressed (patriarchal theory), is the opposite of empowerment feminism. It is victim feminism. Feminism has been honing victimhood as a fine art. This form of feminism is not the feminism I joined up to support when I served three years on the Board of N.O.W. in NYC.  It is not feminism; it is infantilism.

Is there a way for young men and women to share the risks of sexual rejection–not by option, but by expectation? Risk-taking is the common denominator of the world’s most successful people. They believe that failure and rejection are life lessons that propel them to greater achievements.

When each sex creates a safe environment for the other to express feelings, not repress feelings, both sexes grow in compassion and love. If a man is not going to fear women, feeling like he’s walking on eggshells between courtship and a law court, then let’s begin by transforming the #metoo monologue into a #metoo dialogue.

Whenever only one sex wins, both sexes lose.


  • Warren Farrell

    Warren Farrell, Ph.D.* is the author of Why Men are the Way They Are, and the just-published The Boy Crisis (BenBella, 2018, with John Gray). He is the only man ever elected three times to the Board of N.O.W. in NYC. Dr. Farrell has been chosen by The Financial Times as one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders. He also teaches couples’ communication courses around the country and lives virtually at www.warrenfarrell.com.

23 thoughts on “Why This Is a Very Scary Time for Young Men

  1. Here’s my experience. When I was 15 my boyfriend held me down and pulled my shirt up while I struggled to get away. I moved to Pittsburgh where I met a girl who was recovering from an aneurysm after her boyfriend beat her and she almost died. Then my professor’s daughter’s roommate was beaten to death with a hammer by her ex-boyfriend. After a party an acquaintance held me down on his bed while I asked to go. While jogging a man chased me for several blocks visibly laughing while I yelled at him to stop. Then I moved to North Chicago where a fellow dentist was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend in front of her home. While traveling I purchased a boat ride and when I got out in the water the man began taking photos of me and showing me pornography on his phone and, knowing I was scared, began demanding more money to return me safely. A few weeks ago my sister called me and said her roommate had been raped by a male friend. I don’t know any cases of women harming men. But that’s my experience.

    1. You are obviously just a sexist, misandrist, bigot, and no one here is dumb enough to believe your poorly written stories. You feminists cried wolf too many times. Meanwhile, you pull this kind of thing whenever someone points out that men are victims too, making it really obvious what your motive is. You are a bad person, and you should be ashamed of what a sexist, hateful person you are.

  2. I counseled a man that was accused of spousal abuse. She attacked him and he tried to leave the room, brushed against her and she fell on the couch.
    He said, “She is 100 lbs but has a 600 pound mouth. “

  3. All these empowered women take and then post selfies of themselves half naked with tons of cleavage showing, they go out with pants so tight you can read their lips, shorts or dresses so short they have their butts hanging out, then become enraged when ‘men are only want me for my body’ or ‘he was looking at me with lust I was in fear of being raped!’ OR they complain that ‘he’s not interested’ ‘he doesn’t seem to want me’. What’s a man to do? I agree with the gentleman that said keep a recorder-protect yourselves men because women like that are nuts!

  4. Go your own way, gentlemen.

    Do not provide any resource, any aid, any job, any mentoring, any protection to any woman who is not a friend or family.

    Do not marry. Do not cohabitate. Do not have children.

    Consult a lawyer, & if you live in a one-party consent state, purchase & religiously use a disguised voice-activated recorder. Archive encrypted in the cloud & on physical media not located in your house. Religiously.

    Also keep a pen & paper log of anything the least bit sketchy at work. This is admissible in court even in 2-party consent states. If you don’t have the recorder, do so in detail. Flirting counts as sketchy.

    It’s unfortunate that this is what we’ve come to, but this is what we’ve come to. Protect yourself. Live for yourself. Do not volunteer to be disposable for women & society because ***each will accept your sacrifice. Without a second thought.***

  5. “Is there a way for young men and women to share the risks of sexual rejection–not by option, but by expectation? ”

    The short answer? No. Absolutely not.
    And if we would have the answer be “yes”, then we must also ask and expect men to not be men…and women to not be women….both while living in a world which is not this one. Without that make-believe premise, then no, both sexes will never equally share or equally experience the “risks of sexual rejection”….if only because they are each, by nature, different, wanting different things in different ways at different times…and communicating (or not) all that differently.

    “Moonlight and love songs: never out of date….Hearts full of passion, jealousy and hate.” But who’s to say when a kiss is more than just a kiss… a sigh, more or less than just a sigh? Who’s to say exactly what “I love you” actually means to the one who utters those words and to the one who hears them?

    Sexual interaction is collision. And sometimes it is a happy & joyous thing, full of sweetness & light….and sometimes not…and sometimes it changes from one to the other and back again….as the ‘lovers’ and their expectations, wants, needs, desires, and appetites themselves change and evolve (each in relation to the other).

    In this world, we each advance; we each react, and we do so in different ways. We each seek to discern within the Other’s actions, truth & intent, remaining simultaneously cautious, fearful, hopeful, and anxious. Throw in a six-pack of beer or a coupla bottle of wine….make all this happen on a late Saturday night….complicate it with the baggage each carries (crammed full of lust, love, nerves, disappointment, optimism, eagerness….you name it)….season liberally with adolescent clumsiness and angst…and you have a recipe for miscommunication and misunderstanding.

    Should we be surprised that each, Rashomon-like, experiences those hours of ‘romance’ differently…as time goes by?

    Mr. Farrell suggests that “when each sex creates a safe environment for the other to express feelings, not repress feelings, both sexes grow in compassion and love.” And though this may be true in that Wonderland he envisions, it is not true in real life. The only ‘safe environment’…the one insulated and protected from even the slightest hint of disappointment, anger, jealousy, hate, that feeling that one has been used, that fear that one is simply an object to be exploited, that sense that the Other truly doesn’t care… the only environment safe from such potential upset is the grave. Thank God we are not that ‘safe’.

    The truth is, in this world, there is no such place. And it doesn’t matter how elevated our intentions, how pure our heart, we will still — in love – carry always the potential to hurt and be hurt…to offend and be offended. We are all vulnerable human beings, who — in love — only make ourselves that much more vulnerable.

    We used to consider such emotional bumps and bruises par for the course….a normal part of life & romance. But somehow, in recent years, that common sense fact has been lost in the bizarro-world belief that we are somehow ‘owed’ a life free of upset, a life in which nothing ‘unwanted’ ever occurs. That, of course, is a fairy tale. Unfortunately it is a fairy tale which has infected #metoo & helped to drive the Sexual Inquisition we see on college campuses (and in SCOTUS confirmation hearings).

    We can only hope someday soon we grow-up. #itcan’tcomesoonenough.

  6. Is it any wonder why women are becoming more aggressive? Women vying to compete in sports with men, female boxers, MMA fighters, etc… Ironically, the “feminization movement” has actually worked to DE-Feminize woman. This is the twisted world we live in where acts of good are called evil and evil called good. This “movement it is yet one on several efforts to eliminate the family social structure which is key to maintaining an advanced and moral society. It is the sum of many modern European countries today compared to 50 years ago, and this result is now becoming prevalent in the U.S. particularly in black america, but evident to various degrees in all races and cultures within the U.S..

  7. In this country a decade ago the concern about adolescent relationships in the USA under the general title “Dating abuse” arrived here. As a “new” thing it was less mired in the Gender Politics morass and had a feel of being as much an educational issue about what legally were children. It stimulated some research on young people in general. Conducted by feminist or gender theorists the reports were interesting. Each found something “surprising” to the researchers, that the young men and women both regarded hitting boys as far more permissible that the reverse. That young men who were “abused” in terms of the behaviours were far more tolerant of those behaviours and unlikely to think of it as abuse than the girls. And young men still subscribed very much to the never hit a female social norm, and didn’t have any condoning of the reverse (unlike Patriarchy theory)..
    The reports: Partnership and Violence in Teenage Intimate Relationships Barter,McCarry, Berrige and Evans Oct 2009 NSPCC : Young Peoples Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: Burman and Cartmel University of Glasgow August 2005 : Domestic Violence in Adolescent Relationships; Nina Schutt July 2006 and Attitudes of Young People Towards Domestic Violence from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland 2007.
    All were unusual in deliberately seeking a representative sample both in terms of class etc. but also sex, so are rare in asking males the same questions as females. All reported the surprising findings of this tolerance of being assaulted or insulted in boys and in two studies the much higher self reported abusiveness of girls towards their boyfriends. Perhaps because the boys were seeing it as just what happens or even legitimate control or punishment of infractions. All this surprising data led to each saying that this should be researched further. Well it never was in such large (1000s) studies. And the “industry” settled into its well worn groove. The following NSPCC study concentrated on Girls in Local Authority Care (by definition an unusual and vulnerable group) and others simply followed the lead of surveys in Girls magazines and researched Girls.
    Thus very briefly, when research was commissioned to include “ordinary” Girls and Boys, there was a window on what was really going on and how both sexes behaved and viewed their behaviour. Perhaps unsurprisingly it suggested boys were more “resilient” or tolerant of physical or emotional abuse of themselves. That both sexes were influenced by both traditional “do not hit girls” messages and girls by public campaigns about abusive relationships, but the heightened awareness in Girls actually meant they were likely to see their own abusive behaviour towards boyfriends as abusive, when the boys were fatalistic about such things being “what happens”.
    Now of course the logic of all this would indeed be that any relationship education needs to address some of these asymmetries so both sexes can be helped during this frenetic period of learning to establish mutually beneficial relationships. But of course that’s not what we got, what actually followed has been education about boys “toxicity” and their need to stop being abusive and ask for “consent”. As someone said “being told off for things I haven’t done”. The whole thing was a re-run of Erin Pizzey’s experience. At first there is openness, then quickly followed by co-option into men as toxic. Needless to say as far as I know there have been no similarly broad research pieces since 2009.
    Sadly I can see the same happening now in “elder abuse”. As husbands ill with dementias are labelled Domestic Abusers rather than confused and frightened men literally losing their minds. In yet another version of the women are “mad” and men must be bad formula so familiar from criminal law.

    1. Men interject themselves in situations where quick conflict resolution is a matter of life and death, therefore grow tolerant of abuse. Not to mention also situations where hierarchies are a matter of life and death by nature.
      Women always exploited this, it’s in their nature, one can’t put oneself in such situations and have time sparing to keep society cohesive, so it mostly falls on the shoulder of women who instinctively use male deference and tolerance to keep society glued together, the problem is that now we are more conscious of it without a clue on how to solve it.
      Overwriting nature is not necessarily a bad thing, we do it all the time, the problem is figuring out a way to do it and if it’s even possible.

      1. Personal responsibility & ownership of mistakes; regardless of gender. Teaching this to our children by exemplifying it in our actions and decisions; regardless of gender. Treating the other gender as part of us; both needs are valid & can be met by commitment to that and each other.

        It’ll take a long time & a lot of people doing this. But it eventually can bring balance if enough people are awake.

  8. Teen dating violence is down, but boys still report more violence than girls
    When it comes to teen dating violence, boys are more likely to report being the victim of violence—being hit, slapped, or pushed—than girls. That’s the surprising finding of new research from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

  9. Given all the pitfalls that await and the risks involved, it’s amazing that college age men would even make the effort at all. One wonders how in this environment (and most assuredly not limited to campus life but bleeding out into the work world and even to places that were designed to help people meet each other) people are supposed to mate and breed.

    And the answer is: they’re not. Under our new feminist masters, nothing must get in the way of their pursuit of money and power, and that includes men and babies. Ultimately this will be self-correcting as more patriarchal elements of society outbreed liberals and feminists, and fifty years of cultural brainwashing will never overcome thousands of years of biological evolution. The question is how many lives (especially those of young men) have to be destroyed in the process, and how many of those men will take violent revenge on the women who did that to them.

  10. Not necessarily a scary time. Its a matter of choice and its scarey if you make the wrong one.
    Simply stay away from American women, as far away as possible and have as little to do with them as possible.
    They become not scary, fast.

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