Originally posted on January 31, 2011
Victims of violence must always contend with insensitive comments. Be it comments about getting over it, learning from it, or asking for it, there is always someone waiting to give their opinion. Usually the comments come without any caveats. Most people who feel fine with saying that boys raped by women are “lucky” do not feel the need to mitigate their comments. However, sometimes the person does add caveats, and those comments are typically the most insidious. The reason is not because of the nature of the comments, but the because of the awareness of the person making them. More often than not, those people know their comments are wrong. They know their comments will only hurt others. Yet they still feel compelled to share and defend those comments, and seem to think they deserve some support or sympathy for the “difficult” position they are in.
Few issues prompt such inane comments as often as sexual violence against men. For whatever reason, some people like to share their thoughts regarding how much rape does or does not affect males or how good it is for men to finally be on the receiving end of it. These are comments are not tolerated when said about female victims, even when said in jest or as satire. Yet when it involves male rape victims, one sees this:
This is a confessional about rape. About men raping other men, because the men who are the victims are either gay or perceived to be gay. Contrary to my title, I don’t honestly think men are asking for it. I do not think that men — if rumored to be gay, if he acts effeminate, if he really is gay, etc — deserve to be raped anymore than I think women deserve to be raped.
But, I must confess…when I hear about it…in a way…I feel like it could be a good thing in disguise. And, this makes no sense, I realize. This makes no sense, because it’s ridiculous, shameful thought. It is illogical. Good things do not come out of rape. And, when I hear this, I think of Sharon Angle, who famously told rape victims to make lemonade out of the lemons they were given, rather than get abortions.
It is something I’m deeply ashamed to admit. Because, I know how it sounds and that isn’t how I mean it. But, how else could it be taken? And no matter how I mean it, it’s still inappropriate and wrong. So, yes, I am ashamed of this thought.
But, I will at least attempt to explain why I feel this way about male rape.
‘Attempt’ is the apt word as V’s explanation does little but worsen the situation. V starts off with:
Men generally don’t have to worry about being raped, thus they don’t really understand why rape is so devastating to women. […] They do not grow up and hear — from family, society, the media — that they need to be careful how they act, what they wear, who they hang out with, or they just might end up getting raped. They aren’t raised worrying about whether they will be drugged and raped at a party by an acquaintance, a lover, a stranger. […] Men grow up thinking the only time they’d have to worry about being raped is if they go to prison, and then only if they aren’t tough, strong and smart enough to keep it from happening.
While it is true that men are taught to only worry about rape if they go to prison, the actual statistics suggest that males are very often victims of sexual violence. The current statistic states that 1 in 6 boys experience sexual abuse by the age of 16. To my knowledge, no research focuses on sexual violence against adult men outside of prison. However, at least 1 in 6 of all men were victims of childhood sexual abuse, so men are hardly unable to understand rape. Likewise, females account for nearly 40% of the sexual abuse against boys, so it is not as if males must only worry about other males assaulting them.
That boys are not taught to fear sexual violence while girls are taught to be paranoid about sexual violence that will not likely occur does not impact either group’s ability to understand said violence. It does, however, impact whether they will report rape if it happens to them, and whether they will consider the act rape at all.
But now, with the increase in men raping other men outside of prison just simply because they might be perceived or rumored to be gay (regardless of whether they really are), men sort of have to stop and think a little more. They are reminded that they have a few orifices that a penis or phallic-shaped object could fit into, as well. They are not exempt from rape, just because they are male and not in prison. They are just as vulnerable as women if they are perceived to be or rumored to be the wrong type of man. This carries over to with whom they hang out with, what they spend their time doing, what they do for a living, how they dress, their general mannerisms. In short, many of the same reasons that women are judged for when they get raped (read: she was asking for it, look what she did/wore/said/etc).
The above statement only occurs when a person is misinformed or uninformed about an issue. The vast majority of males who are victims of sexual violence are not victimized because they are perceived or rumored to be gay. Those cases might receive more media attention, but the vast majority of male victims are heterosexual, and are likely perceived as such. More so, the increase in coverage comes from an increase in awareness and reporting of sexual violence against males, not from more men being raped by other men for appearing gay.
It is unclear where V got such a notion or how anyone could believe that or the below were true:
Men now have to stop and think twice. Maybe this isn’t on a large scale yet, maybe it never will be. But, it’s starting. Men now have to worry about the same things women do, even if on a smaller scale yet, and it’s being reported in the media more and more. Soon, I would not be surprised if men decide it is within even their own best interests if they crack down on rapists, if they treat it as less of a joke and more of a problem that could effect them and their family just as easily as it could effect the prostitute on the street corner, the drunk co-ed at the frat party she shouldn’t be at, the too-flirtatious girl in her boyfriend’s car, the high school cheerleader after school wearing a miniskirt in the 7-11 and parked away from the windows and cameras.
This sort of hyperbolic nonsense does nothing but demonstrate that some feminists are so isolated in their political bubble that they will believe whatever random thought, no matter how idiotic, that scampers through their brain. The majority of people are not victims of rape. The majority of rape victims are assaulted by people they know, not random strangers. Rape is a part of human history, something both men and women have engaged in. It is ludicrous to imply that only until recently, until the dawn of the 21st century, did men have to worry about rape. It is more absurd and insulting to suggest that men will crack down on rape now that it is happening to them, as if every state in the Union does not have rape laws, as if men just roll their eyes at the rape of a woman rather than explicitly stating they want the rapist dead, as if rapists in prison can just walk around with honor rather than having to be isolated so the other inmates will not kill them.
Such a notion is pure lunacy. Yet it does not stop there. V attempts to rework the caveat:
But, I know that [rape] is a huge (and unfair) price for anyone to pay, no matter who they are or what their gender is, for such a thing. And, it is unfair and horrible that I think like this when I read about such things happening. It isn’t right, it isn’t fair, it is terrible. And, I’m completely ashamed. But, at the same time, I can’t seem to force myself to change the way I see this, the way I think. Despite the fact that I know…I know, that I am doing the same thing men do, just reversed.
I feel so much like a reverse sexist when it comes to this. And in that, I feel as if I am the kind of feminist that many “traditionalist” and conservative people insist that all feminists are. That we preach equality and tolerance, but we really are secretly glad when bad things happen to men. I am not glad. But, I know it sounds like I am. It’s terrible and it doesn’t solve a thing to think this way. So, why can’t I stop?
V, you are not ashamed. If you were, you would not have written the post in the first place. Whatever shame you may feel likely comes from the response you anticipate, namely that other people might not like what you stated. You are sorry that people might be offended, not because they might be offended. The claim that you cannot change your opinion is nonsense. Would you by that from someone voicing racist views? Would you honestly accept their claim that they just cannot seem to see Asians as people as a valid explanation?
The reason you feel like a sexist and that you are the kind of hypocritical feminist that many people insist all feminists are is because, with all due respect, you are. There is no other explanation. You must believe boys and men deserve rape and you must take pleasure from the violence committed against them. Otherwise, you would not have written a post defending those views.
It is rather easy to stop thinking something so vile and disgusting: just stop.
You are not afflicted with a mental disorder or a sexual impulse now frowned upon by society. Instead, you hold a political opinion, and such opinions can change.
Perhaps the truth of the matter is not that you cannot stop, but that you do not want to. No one, absolutely no one deserves rape. It is never a good thing. Even when it happens to people who committed rape, even when those people’s victims are infants, even then it would not be a good thing. That should be so basic, especially to a feminism, that no one should have to remind you of it.
You wanted people to listen to your explanation. To quote Juror #4 from 12 Angry Men, “I have. Now sit down and don’t open your mouth again.”