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7 Tips for Men: How to Avoid Accusations of Sexual Assault

Sound Familiar? Advice From Women to Men

Since the rise of the #Metoo movement, I’ve heard a lot of men say that they don’t know how to act around women now. They fear anything they say or do could be taken the wrong way resulting in false accusations of sexual assault. What started as a small whimper among a few, became the shrill and ugly cry of many during the Kavanaugh hearing. Were all men now at risk of being branded as sexual predators and suffering fates similar to those of the many “upright” male figures who have fallen this year?

I’m not going to lie—I’m frustrated. Never mind all of the research that suggests only 2% – 8% of all sexual assault accusations are found to be fake. And, never mind that the Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey found that approximately 3 out of 4 sexual assaults NEVER get reported. Some men (and women) still think men are at a greater risk than women today because of the #Metoo movement.

So, while I typically save my helpful advice to support women, in an effort to alleviate my frustration, I put together a list of tips to help men avoid being accused of sexual assault.

While these suggestions are indeed for guys, I think the ladies will enjoy them too.  Do they sound familiar?

Sexual Assault

How to Avoid Being Accused of Sexual Assault

  1. Sit upright, with your legs together (or crossed). The sitting position referred to as “manspreading” invades women’s space and exposes your genital area to them. This could be misconstrued as an act of indecency or aggression.
  2. Smile when talking to a woman. Especially if the subject matter is heated or intense. A furrowed brow or pursed lips (Refer to Brett Kavanaugh hearing for example) could communicate anger on the brink of becoming a threat. Soften the skin on your forehead, and simply smile.
  3. Speak with a gentle and encouraging tone. Sometimes an upward lilt at the end of a sentence is appropriate. Yes, it signals a question (even when you aren’t asking one), but it keeps you from sounding forceful. You don’t want to make a woman feel like you might force her to do something.
  4. Apologize before correcting a woman. Actually, just apologize before you say much of anything to a woman. Especially in a workspace. You don’t want to come off as being pushy…you know…like you might be into pushing women around. A good example: “Excuse me. I’m sorry, but you see here where you said 1 + 1 is four? I think there might be a possibility you miscalculated? I’m not sure, but I think my calculator is saying the sum is two. I mean, it could totally be wrong…but I just wanted to let you know.” Note: see points 2 and 3 additionally.
  5. Dress appropriately. Leave your shirt on in the gym, on the beach—wherever you are. Even if you are painfully hot and sweaty. When you take your clothes off and run around half naked, we don’t know if you are just hot or coming to sexually assault us. Dress like a gentleman. Oh, and don’t wear super tight clothes that reveal your ripples and bulges. It’s almost the same as exposing yourself to us.
  6. Don’t drink to excess. In fact, don’t drink around women. Or not at all. Just don’t drink at all. Even if you like beer. Really like beer. Really, really, really like beer. It’s likely that if you drink around members of the opposite sex your actions will communicate that you are just asking to be accused of sexual assault.
  7. Don’t walk alone at night: A guy creeping on the streets at night all by himself looks sketchy. You are likely to be mistaken for a rapist. Make sure to walk with friends and try to look cheery and non-threatening.

While following these tips may feel overwhelming at first, practice makes perfect! Before you know it, integrating them into your daily life will feel like old hat and you will rest easy knowing that you will not be accused of sexual assault.

Bonus: if you are accused of sexual assault, you are less likely to be told you were asking for it.

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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.
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