This is a small suggestion for feminists: if you want male survivors to think you are on their side, stop hitting them in the face.
In many internet discussions of rape, there are (almost always male) trolls who pop up and point out that it is quite possible for men to be raped too. The annoying thing about this kind of troll is that while they are not actually wrong, their point usually has very little to do with the discussion in hand. There is a general problem with human beings raping other human beings, for sure, but in the vast bulk of cases we are talking about men raping women. Certainly there are other cases, some involving men raping other men and a very few involving women raping men, but these cases are very much in the minority.
Myers went on to write:
But the truth is clear – rape is a massive problem, and the vast bulk of victims are women, and the vast bulk of rapists are men. This has to stop and this has to stop now. It’s fabulous that women are tending to organise through this or that branch of feminism in order to do what they can to make it stop, but it’s incredibly important that men also join in the fight against rape.
Simply ‘not raping anyone’ isn’t enough. Not letting your mate get away with dodgy rape jokes is also part of it. Finding out what rape culture is – it’s a just a Google search away you know – and working to make sure that you don’t yourself perpetuate any of that shit is a great deal of it.
And if in the end, you think – as a bloke – that rape isn’t something you need to worry about yourself, you may perhaps have statistics on your side, but statistics mean fuck all when it actually happens to you.
I’m still sure it’s much worse to be a female rape victim – I wasn’t physically damaged and I didn’t have a risk of pregnancy. But the STD test was no fun and the psychological fallout even less fun. I’m supposed to be a guy, whatever the hell that means. And to this day sometimes I still think, well, rape? Really? Maybe it was just really bad sex.
Myers view of rape is wildly distorted. Plenty of studies show that there are more male victims of sexual violence than people think, and a significant number of those who prey on men and boys are female. The notion that “the vast bulk of victims are women, and the vast bulk of rapists are men” simply is not based in fact but on assumption, an assumption prompted by an impressive lack of research on sexual violence against men and an even more impressive bias against conducting such research.
However, Myers comments were good enough for feminist blogger M.K. Hajdin, who stated:
Because Rape Week on the internet seems to be turning into Rape Month, here’s a thoughtful post about the need for confronting rape culture, written by a male victim of rape.
I confess I was feeling apprehensive when I began to read. I was waiting for the inevitable “What About The Menz?” moment. Thankfully, this guy gets it. He tells his story while acknowledging that the vast majority of rape is male-on-female, and doesn’t try to persuade us that his experience was worse than those of female victims.
This is common refrain from feminists, and it is one that shows that plenty of them simply do not care at all about male survivors. James was rather polite in his response on Hajdin’s blog:
I am a male rape survivor. No one, male OR female has any business claiming their rape is worse than anyone else’s experience. I’ve never seen any male rape survivors make such claims in the past so I find it odd that this is being praised as if it rape for a male rape survivor to care about his sister’s pain.
It isn’t male survivors claiming that their rapes are worse. The problem is people who have NOT been raped trying to speak for those of us who have been raped whether male OR female. If you haven’t experienced it, you really don’t know as much about it as you think.
But that did not stop her from hitting him in the face:
Because you’re a rape victim and deserve support for it, I’m going to approve your comment, provisionally. I’m not sure what part of my post you had a problem with, but you seem to be drawing false conclusions about what I said.
Be aware that this is a feminist blog. As the proprietor of such, I don’t have much patience for men who come around mansplaining, picking fights, or showing any other kind of hostility. Victim or not, you will be civil, or you will be gone.
Hajdin’s response is one the many reasons I do not discuss my experiences with feminists. What she showed in her post and comments was not compassion but a demand that no male survivors dare to suggest what happened to them could ever be as bad or worse than what happens to female survivors.
The notion is ludicrious, not only because people ought not play the “who has it worse” with other people’s pain, but also because there are cases in which men and boys were subjected to far worse abuse than many female survivors are. To tell male survivors that they have to down play their rapes so that someone who could not care less about them is not offended is the worst kind of silencing tactic.
And that does not even get to irony of a woman and feminist telling men not to “mansplain” about men’s experiences.
Like James, I do not know of any male survivors who suggest that their experiences by default are worse than women’s. Certainly their individual experiences can be worse than other survivors’ experiences, but no one has ever said to me that just because they are male, what happened to them is worse than what happens to women.
Ironically, this is something I have heard plenty of feminists do. Hajdin did it in her article. I have seen on feminist blogs like Pandagon, Feministe, Feministing, Jezebel, and The Good Men Project. I have seen it done by feminists like Michael Flood, Michael Kimmel, and Hugo Schwyzer. I have seen it done on TV by people like Wendy Murphy and other child victim advocates. It is as if Hajdin and feminists like her are projecting their own behavior onto others.
Make no mistake, this is a silencing tactic, and the people using it know exactly what they are doing. The tactic is designed to keep men from talking about their experiences, get them to mitigate them as Myers did, or to set them off. None of that helps male survivors, but of course that was never the intent.
If you want to help someone, you do not say what happens to them is not really that bad or that it rarely ever happens. You certainly do not applaud them for downplaying their pain. You reach out to them, and let them say whatever they need to say so they can begin address their problems. But you cannot do that if you do not think what happened to them actually matters.