In the first two parts of this series I wrote about the condescension feminists and support service groups show when others mention male sexual victimization. I recently posted about one feminist’s response to a male survivor’s story. As I stated in that post, I found Renee’s willingness to accept males as potential rape victims noteworthy, but I also found her willingness to fall back on one-sided feminist rhetoric troublesome:
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.
You totally misinterpreted my comments…final thoughts yes male rape I firmly believe that more support is needed for male victims of rape. They have my fullest sympathy as I believe that no one should be the subject of any kind of violence. What I will not over look for even one minute is the fact that men are still the ones doing the majority of the raping. Having sympathy for the victims should not out way attacking the perpetrators of violence. It would seem to me that if MRA’s were truly interested in addressing male rape they would reach out and encourage other men to stop raping. Not everything is the fault of feminism you know. At least women are making an attempt to address male violence which is more than I can say for most men. (Her bolds)
While I can understand why Renee would take issue with my interpretation of her comments, her response demonstrates my point. Renee still holds onto very gendered views of rape, so her willingness to accept males as victims quickly falters and disappears. When Daran mentioned the victim-blaming present in Renee’s assertion that all men, including male victims, benefit from rape, Renee responded with:
And I stand by it. Please explain to me why it is that rape is used as a tactic of war if it is not for male benefit?
Many people who address men’s issues tend to be skeptical of feminists who claim to support those efforts. Renee’s comments demonstrate why. While she may genuinely feel concern for male victims, it is difficult to believe that when she would — with little hesitation — claim that boys and men who were raped benefited from it just because they are male. The notion that being rape made their lives better is not only insulting, grossly inaccurate and completely unprovable, it also suggests that her concern is not actually genuine.
Again, Renee might take issue with that statement, but I would imagine she would reach the same conclusion if someone blamed women for their rapes and then implied it benefited them solely because they were female. Although that is her most egregious comment, it is not the only questionable remark she makes. Despite acknowledging her flawed, largely uninformed view of male rape in her initial post, she maintains her gendered view of rape and of rape victims, still treats male rape as inconsequential compared to female rape, still maintains that it is impossible for males to be raped at the same rate as women and still maintains that men have equal and open access to support services. And then there are the comments about MRA’s not discussuing men raping women.
It is fair to say that this is what many advocates for male victims deal with it. On the one hand some feminists seem to agree with the advocates’ concerns, but on the other those same feminists openly perpetuate misinformed rhetoric. So while a person might want to jump for joy that finally some feminists are willing to look objectively at men issues, comments like Renee’s give a person reason to pause.
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. However, such a person must also acknowledge that politically-motivated theories have little to do with why women and men rape or why men and women are victimized. That is key to breaking free of one’s preconceived notions about certain issues and problems. Until that happens, one will fall back into old habits and old beliefs, just like Renee did. And that will give male victims a valid reason treat people claiming to sympathize with much skepticism.