It is rare that I agree with Nancy Grace. Last night on her prime time show she covered the Pamela Rogers case. Having served just six months of a suspended eight year sentence, the child rapist sent a lurid sexual video to her victim. The judge revoked her probation, requiring Rogers to serve the original eight year sentence plus an additional two years. It should be noted though that Tennessee law requires that only thirty percent of the sentence be served, meaning Rogers technically received three years. She will potentially be up for parole within a year.
On Grace’s show, Nancy stopped a guest as he stated that instead of Rogers going to a bar, she cruised the school halls “looking for a date.” Nancy rightly called that last bit for what it was: a double standard. As Grace said, had a man abused a 13-year-old girl as Rogers did no one would call it a “date,” “affair” or “sexual relationship.” He would not face such a ridiculously low sentence, nor have it suspended without that action creating much outrage. Neither would the girl’s experience be the source for mockery and jokes, nor would she be treated as the aggressor or the seducer.
Yet our society persists in condoning the rape of boys by females. I use the term “rape” because of the clear predatory nature of the crimes. Despite society’s unwillingness to admit it, female child rapists use the same grooming tactics as their male counterparts, with the added exception that female child rapists hide behind their gender.
- Paying attention to a child who appears emotionally needy
- “Accidentally” or purposefully exposing yourself (coming out of the bath, wearing shorts that allow a view of the genitals, openly praising nudity as “normal”, etc.)
- Giving gifts, money, taking the child places, providing alcohol or drugs
- Bringing yourself down to the child’s level of play (becoming the child’s “buddy”)
- Physical contact such as wrestling, tickling, pats on the butt, etc.
- Showing adult magazines or films, letting the child know he/she can come to you for sexual information or concerns
- Telling the child that you need to examine his/her body for some reason
- Intrusive questions about the child’s sexual development, fantasies, masturbation habits, or giving the child more information about sex than is appropriate for the child’s age or developmental level
- Staring at the child or looking at his/her body in a way that makes him/her uncomfortable.
The affects of this grooming are readily apparent.
Many men who were sexually abused by women feel deeply ashamed of themselves, their sexuality, and their gender. Sadly and mistakenly, they believe that there must be something profoundly wrong with them that they were abused in this way. Some men defend against feeling this way by being in a constant state of anger or rage – one of the few emotions that are socially acceptable for men. Many male survivors cope with the abuse by drinking, using drugs, living recklessly, avoiding intimate relationships, numbing their feelings, dissociating, and becoming depressed, anxious or angry.
Many male victims abandon previous relationships with friends and family as well. Often their behavior changes drastically, even to the point of ignoring previous interests. Many contend that this results from the pressures of the trial, but as most cases of sexual abuse are not reported, this position fails to explain why those boys and men would be so negatively effected.
And this is not a matter of boys being “jilted lovers.” In most cases of child rape the victim likes the person who assaulted him and may “consent” to the abuse as a result of the affection the rapist gives the child. But while the affection given by the child is genuine, the affection given by the rapist is not. She is merely using the boy, and one can imagine the damage a boy faces when he finds that all that affection and attention were fake. It is not merely that he was used, but that he was tricked into likely someone, tricked in doing things that he may have waited to do, solely for the benefit of the rapist. This is the ultimate betrayal of trust and it is laughable to pretend that boys are somehow oblivious to it.
The long-term effects of this abuse can be more severe as a result of society’s expectations on males and the failure of the support networks to actively address male issues. The effects can be:
- Homosexuality Issues (mostly for men abused by men)
- Isolation and Alienation
- Legitimacy (being able to take the abuse and its effects seriously)
- Masculinity Issues (feeling okay about being male)
- Negative Childhood Peer Relations
- Negative Schemas about People (difficulty trusting others)
- Negative Schemas about the Self (feeling bad about one’s self)
- Problems with Sexuality
- Self Blame/Guilt
Society insists that all males, virtually from birth, enjoy sex and want it all the time. Society essentially claims that males of any age are always the sexual initiators. In support community this is converted to males are always the sexual aggressor, but both purport that males cannot be victimized, at least not really. Because of this expectation, boys (and men) raped by women face much ridicule and mockery if they did not enjoy or want the sex. As stated above, this is furthered conflated by society’s tendency to associate this lack of enjoyment of rape by women as a flaw or something “wrong” with the boy. Many boys are left confused as to why they did not enjoy the rape and what that means about their sexuality. Does it mean he is gay? Does it mean he is not a “real” man? Some, for the sake of fitting in, deny the affects and deny that the act was rape at all.
All this serves to damage future relationships with both males and females because the violation was not just sexual. The chief issue is the violation of trust. And the damage from that hurt can run deep. In an effort to prevent being abused again, males may test others, particularly women, to see if their affection is genuine. Males may become overly submissive with women, overly attracted to them or assume that they have great sexual prowess with women. They may become emotionally distant or wholly uninterested in having any relationship with women or people in general. And because of the stigma associated with rejecting female sexual advances, i.e. the assumption that one is gay, males are forced to either hide in shame or pretend that they are unharmed, both of which “prove” that boys are “unaffected” by female rape.
Despite those who consider this much ado about nothing, female rapists should not be praised, condoned or ignored. Their acts are blatantly predatory and the women know it is wrong, hence the reason they hide it. And, rather ironically, society knows it too. On the surface it is considered acceptable, yet if it truly were there would not be that tinge of disgust one sees when female child rapists are mentioned. There would not be the nervous laughter or the gratuitous back-slapping. On some level, perhaps hidden deep down, as a society we do think this is wrong, horrible and should be punished.
We owe it to the victims of female rapists to stop keeping those sentiments to ourselves. Our silence only forces those boys and men into silence.