Originally posted on June 22, 2008
For those unaware, I spend a fair amount of my offline time trying to raise awareness for male victims of sexual abuse. I do not mention it because I do not think that my efforts are what is most important. What is important is that the boys and men who need help get it without having to plead for it or being mocked or harassed for wanting it.
The other thing that I do not talk about is what I experience as I try to raise these issues. While many people in general are open to the idea, many of the local organizations take offense whenever male victims are mentioned, especially when someone suggests focusing on the specific needs of male victims without grouping them into some overall sexual abuse prevention campaign. For the most part, the negative responses are not nearly as openly hostile as they are online, although the condescension is just as palpable. Perhaps comes from being face-to-face with the person. However, the general response is still, “There doesn’t need to be much support for male victims because they’re so rare, but if you’re complaining you should remember who it is who cares about victims of any kind of abuse.”
Again, one can see this online frequently, but it is rare to see it as it appears offline. Luckily, the gift that will not stop giving provides an example:
Mark, could you explain your reasoning behind this “zero sum game” thing? I have to admit that it sounds to me like concern trolling, but I do want to give you the benefit of the doubt and let you explain. How is it that you look at people who are constantly repeating “Patriarchy hurts men, too,” who are just about the only people who speak out for male victims of rape and don’t think it’s a joke, who are always talking about how traditional perceptions of masculinity and are pretty much the only people who actually care about how men suffer under a an unequal society, then call it a “zero sum game”?
Lala linked to two posts that ironically demonstrate the exact opposite of what she stated. Both posts explicitly and implicitly suggest that not only males not “really” victims, but that any abuse done to them, even if done by women, results solely from “the Patriarchy,” i.e. it is boys and men’s own fault if anyone should abuse, rape, torture or kill them.
Worse, Lala contradicts the very point she is making, demonstrating the kind of condescending backlash many advocates for male victims face. Any in-depth reading of that blog would find not one single pro-male post about male victims. They either are not mentioned at all, disregarded as secondary at best, irrelevant at worst, or literally blamed for their abuse. In many ways that mirrors the offline experience of male victims. While plenty of the suport service providers would take credit for helping male victims, few of them have any information on the issues male victims face, many do not have anyone volunteering or working with them who has worked with male victims in the past and most of them do not even have the phone numbers or addresses of therapists or support centers that have and do work with male victims.
What those (usually) women can present is their condescension.
They can use it to brow-beat anyone questioning them and to shame and silence male victims who might come forward and talk about their very different experiences with the support community. Is it overtly meanspirited? No. Is it an outright “shut the fuck up?” No. However, it is as close as one can get to it while still playing nice. While it is not said, the point is rather clear: male victims owe feminists, so male victims should keep quiet or else. These are the same people who do not speak out regularly about male victimization, who do not acknowledge female rapists and child sexual predators, people who do not even have pamphlets for male victims or information or links or a list of available resources. One wonders then just how they can be “just about the only people who speak out for male victims of rape and don’t think it’s a joke […] and are pretty much the only people who actually care about how men suffer under a an unequal society […]”
This is what I have to deal with anytime I speak about male victims. This is what it looks like. It looks like the kindest kick in the groin and spit in the face one will ever see… until one decides to go and talk again a week and a half later. And then that will be the worst… until four days later. And so on and so on.