Dear Men is a place where survivors share their stories and ask men to join in the fight to end rape by supporting Edipus. For guidelines and information on how to submit your story, click here.
I was asked to share my story on this site because Janis is a friend of mine and I trust her. I haven’t talked about this in a long time and I feel like it’s still so new even though it happened almost twenty years ago. I was raped by someone I thought I could trust but he turned out to be a liar. I still can’t talk about the details and this isn’t a place to do so anyway but I will say that Edipus makes me feel hopeful. It’s taken me years to understand that all men do not rape. Every man that I see is not my future rapist and doesn’t want to hurt me. I would love to see men at this concert because I know so many other survivors of rape who still aren’t convinced that men care but they want to be. I hope men come to this and I hope some celebrity has the courage so say something. Rape isn’t easy to get over but the wounds don’t have to be so fresh.
Edipus recently sat down with this barista/local hero and asked him a bunch of questions. Surprisingly, he answered all of them. Not only is Michael a devotee to our cause but he truly believes that men can help fight the stigma of assault by standing alongside those who have survived.
We like him. We like him very much.
Edipus: How did you get involved with Edipus? Why?
Michael Swearingen: My friend Janis had told me about this project she was working on and being curious I had a look to see what it was all about. The idea of a concert of all male performers that are standing up against sexual abuse and assault seemed like an amazing way to get a point across to me. Specifically that it’s not just women that are saying “no more!”, but that we ALL can do something especially men who believe that the violence and abuse have to stop.
E: Why is it important that other men be involved?
M.S.: I think that the most important part of men being involved is the fact that it’s men. That we (men) have the ability to turn around and say “Hey! I’m a guy as well and what you’re doing is wrong.” It’s a chance to stand up and be counted in a way. The sad fact is that there are a lot of very sexist men who might not listen to a woman talking about needing to stand up against abuse, or violence, or harassment, but if a “dude” says it maybe they will listen. Saddens me to think that way, but just maybe the more men that stand up and say something will cause others to sit down and listen.
E: Do you believe that men can change the way society views survivors of sexual assault?
M.S.: I would like to think so. The fact is that women are not the only survivors of sexual assaults and abuse and so the more men that have the courage to talk about what happened to them may surprise people and change minds. It’s a very complex reasoning in my head about how society views both genders and how they would view a survivor based on their sex. It happens to people, not just one gender, but people and I think that gets lost in the shuffle a lot of times. I have a feeling that a large majority of the population wouldn’t believe that men can be sexually assaulted, but it happens all the time. To stand up and say “This is what happened to me. Please don’t let it happen to anyone else.” hopefully could be a very empowering thing and cause other men to think differently.
E: Edipus Concert believes that music is an easy way for men to ‘discuss’ the taboo topic of rape. Do you agree?
M.S.: Most definitely. Music crosses over so many boundaries and borders. It gives people a way to connect sometimes via the emotionality of the music and/or lyrics. You get that song stuck in your head and then you have to play it for your friend because you think it’s so awesome. And then the lyrics start to seep in and you realize what the song is about. It’s already connected with you on that emotional level. I think that music is one of the more powerful ways to get a message across.
E: What change would you like to see happen as Edipus Concert evolves?
M.S.: I would love to see other Edipus Concerts starting up in other areas. I would love to see it evolve naturally across the country. Hell, even across the globe – which would be amazing and awesome. A little idea that spreads and creates something bigger than imagined, and all for a positive reason.
E: Finally, what message would you like to give to the world about Edipus?
M.S.: As a gay man, I have often said that men are inherently pigs. I get disgusted with my own gender at times even though I know I myself have said and done piggish things. Edipus is a chance to show that we aren’t all pigs. A chance to show that we can stand along side our sisters, friends, girlfriends, wives, everyone as equals in trying to make a change for the better and hopefully heal some broken souls.
A concert that believes men can make a difference.