Whenever feminists talk about “rape culture”, they remind me of a theory from the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist called “Equivalent Exchange”. The theory states, “Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.” In order to make their theory of “rape culture”, feminists sacrifice male survivors of sexual violence.
Feminists have engaged in this in many the Steubenville articles. Some leave male survivors out entirely. Some mentioned them in passing. Some ignore them because of statistical proportionality. I could explain why acknowledging male survivors is important, but I know most will not care.
Instead, I want to focus on what those views imply: that there really are no male survivors. If you are a male survivor, you are the only one.
The whole idea feels weird. No one wants to hear about your life. People would sooner blame you than help you. After a while, you begin to think that your abuser was right. Perhaps they were the only one who might care.
You would do that, except some people do not just want you quiet. They also tell you that what happened did not really happen. It could not be that bad because of your gender. Your gender rules the world. No one can force them to do anything, so you cannot be a victim. You certainly do not need to talk about it. Yet you do speak up, you are lying, whining, or trying to silence the real, i.e. female, victims.
Male survivors constantly face this kind of isolation. They are damned if they do and damned if they do not. Remaining silent means staying in the shadows all alone, but coming forward means public mockery and blatant denial. While female survivors experience something like this at least people will speak out about it. Scores of people will challenge those myths. When it comes to males, there is nothing but silence.
Even victim advocacy groups seem hesitant to broach the subject. There is little outreach done about male victimization, and the few organizations that do get little media attention. Advocacy groups treat sexual violence as something only men do to only women. For a boy or a man struggling to cope with his abuse, the profound feeling of being the only one can cripple him.
There are, however, those who benefit from keeping male victims silent. Feminists use sexual violence against females to further their political concerns. Presenting rape as a “gendered crime” works for their agenda, but it also breeds anger towards men. This leads to theories like “rape culture”, which argue that sexual violence results solely from men oppressing women. It places sole responsibility for sexual violence individually and collectively in the hands of all males, including male survivors.
Those kinds of ideas can devastate male survivors. They turn men’s abuse into anomalies in which they ironically cause their own abuse. The ideas argue that men always have power, and therefore experience no “real” abuse. The ideas perpetuate the myth that all men are abusers, and people must teach boys and men not to rape or abuse. This works for feminists because it shores up their message. However, it is also a not too subtle way, intentionally or not, of silencing male survivors.
Like feminists, society tells men that they caused their abuse. However, people say this as a way to keep bad thing out of sight and out of mind. People tend to believe that only certain types of people commit bad acts and only certain types of people are victims. This idea leads many to assume that one can avoid violence. That leads people to assume that if one can take precautions does not, the victims brought it on themselves.
Society worsens this by saying men can always fight back. This plays out in a rather insidious way by challenging the masculinity of male survivors since “real men” would protect themselves.
People also believe that male-on-male sexual violence turns men gay or that the men were gay to begin with. People think that erections imply consent. They think all males want sex with women all the time, and any males abused by females are “lucky”. People think women cannot rape males, and if anything does happen, it was harmless. Most cruel, people, particularly feminists, also think any sexually abused male will go on to abuse others.
All of the above factors work only to prove what many abusers tell their victims. No one will believe you. No one will help you. It is your fault. No one cares about you. You must have liked it because you have an erection. You could make it stop if you were a real man. You are gay. You deserve this.
Many male survivors keep quiet when faced wit such negative messages from all sides. Who wants fight with people who think what happened to you is a joke, or argue with people more interested in scoring political points than helping you? It is easier to think you are alone, that you are the only one, than face that kind of hate.
Unfortunately, their silence reinforces the false notion that male victimization is rare. Yet as clichéd as it is to say, to my fellow male survivors:
You are not the only one.
Despite what society, victim advocacy groups, and feminists say, you are not alone.
There are more men and boys struggling and fighting through the same trials and suffering from the same pain than you realize. We are unfortunately millions of voices strong. You do not have to remain silent. If people do not want to listen you, keep talking anyway because you are not doing it for them. You are doing it for yourself and for others like you, and that is what ultimately matters.
* Note: This is a slightly modified version of my original post about this topic.