A few weeks ago I posted about the backlash James Landrith received when Dr. Helen wrote about his experiences. I happened onto a feminist post that was surprisingly sympathetic towards male victims of rape:
When I read what happened to James Landrith one of the things that really made me pause is the realization of the way that I have gendered the victim in my mind. Before reading his account yesterday, I never once thought to write about male victims of sexual violence. In my mind they (read: males) were the evil enemy, and not the ally for which I should weep tears of compassion, and solidarity with. I have experienced true shame since realizing this truth about myself. I am 100% against rape, and yet I created a group of victims as invisible, and thus marginalized, and ignored their experiences. Thank you for sharing James, you have opened my eyes in many ways.
One of the greatest fallacies with my reasoning was the thought that because a man had to get an erection to penetrate a woman, he must of have enjoyed it on some level. I am so ashamed to admit to this as I have often fought against this same sort of stereotype when it comes to womens physiological reactions towards rape. Getting an erection, or ejaculating during a rape is not an indication of pleasure, it is an involuntary physiological reaction. To those that think as I once did the following statistics will be eye opening.
It has been my position for some time now that the best way to change people’s opinions about male victims is not badger them into agreeing or shame them into silence but to simply allow boys and men to share their experiences. If a person is reasonable and objective then the person should have little trouble considering male rape victims as being equally victimized and traumatized as female victims.
While the initial post was supportive of male victims, some of the comments on the thread are not as open-minded. There is still the issue of relegating male victimization into the realm of “Patriarchy Hurts Men Too” or the “It’s Your Own Fault” category. Unfortunately, the blogger also falls into that trope. As I have said many times, part of the reason boys and men do not come forward is because they will blamed for what happened. What the blogger and some of the posters do is essentially blame male victims for their rapes and then (rather ironically) claim that those boys and men somehow benefit from it via the “Patriarchy.”
Like James, I think some of the comments on that thread are condescending, dismissive, contradictory and hypocritical. I find it somewhat sad that while the blogger was willing to challenge her gendered view of rape, that challenge could not withstand her strongly held preconceived notions about how rape works, who can be harmed by rape or why rape occurs. Like many other feminists, the blogger and some of her posters fall back on male privilege as a means of — unfortunately — trivializing and dismissing male rape as essentially unimportant in comparison to women’s experiences.
That said, I still believe that a reasonable, objective person should have little trouble considering male rape victims as being equally victimized and traumatized as female victims and acknowledging that politically-motivated theories have little to do with why women and men rape.