It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:
Our dear David Futrelle appears to have too much time on his hands. He decided to challenge men’s rights activists over their concern for male survivors of sexual violence:
Recently, MRAs have tried a new strategy, seizing on data from The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, a massive study conducted in 2010 under the aegis of the Centers for Disease Control, to claim that “40% of rapists are women.
Men’s rights activists have talked about the survey since December 2011 when it was published, so their commentary is not “recent”. Secondly, the data from the survey shows a much higher rate of female-perpetrated sexual violence than expected. According to the survey:
For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%). For non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, approximately half of male victims (49.0%) reported only male perpetrators and more than one-third (37.7%) reported only female perpetrators (data not shown). (p.24)
If one adds up the numbers, women commit 57% of all sexual violence against males. The CDC researchers decided to exclude being made to penetrate from rape, although most states legally count the act as rape or whatever the highest sex offense statute is in the state. As such, if one counted that act along with that the researchers defined as rape, one finds that women commit 43% of rape against men.
So it is not as if the men’s rights activists citing the 40% rate got it from nowhere. Likewise, there is another study on sexual violence against children that found the same rate. The Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim found:
It was found that nearly 40% of CSA among men and 6% of CSA among women was perpetrated by a female; this has been reported by others. Among male victims of CSA, the risk of negative outcomes was similar when the gender of the perpetrator was compared. Thus, perpetration of CSA by a female appears to exert negative effects that are similar in magnitude to CSA perpetrated by males. Prior reports have suggested that female perpetration of childhood sexual abuse is under-reported, which makes it appear as if female perpetration of CSA does not occur as frequently as male perpetration. However, the findings indicate that female perpetration is common and also associated with a substantial risk for negative long-term consequences. Thus, the vulnerability of boys to perpetration of CSA by both males and females deserves increased national attention.
Yet Futrelle attempts to discredit the statistic:
Trouble is, this claim is flat-out false, based on an incorrect understanding of the NISVS data. But you don’t have to take my word for it: the NISVS researchers themselves say the MRA “interpretation” of their data is based on bad math. It’s not just a question of different definitions of rape: the MRA claims are untenable even if you include men who were “made to penetrate” women as victims of rape (as the MRAs do) rather than as victims of “sexual violence other than rape” (as the NISVS does).
As I showed above, the men’s rights position is quite accurate if you include men who were made to penetrate as victims of rape. It comes out to exactly 42.95% of male victims being raped by females.
Yes, the CDC researchers offered a different explanation for the discrepancy. Futrelle claims the CDC wrote back in response to him, yet the oldest version of the response appeared one month ago on the subreddit AgainstMensRights.
Tamen, a frequent commenter here, wrote the CDC about this issue in April and received a response:
With regards to the definitional issues you mentioned, Made to Penetrate is a form of sexual violence that is distinguished from rape. Being made to penetrate represents times when the victim was made to, or there was an attempt to make them, sexually penetrate someone else (i.e., the perpetrator) without the victim’s consent. In contrast, rape represents times when the victim, herself or himself, was sexually penetrated or there was an attempt to do so. In both rape and made to penetrate situations, this may have happened through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm; it also includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.
In summary, rape victimization constitutes times when the victim is penetrated. Made to penetrate are incidents where the victim is forced to penetrate their perpetrator, so does not meet the definition of rape.
In both cases, the researchers fail to explain why they categorized being made to penetrate as separate from rape. This is a legitimate question as most states do not make the same separation. However, the researchers did provide an explanation in the conclusion of their study:
As an example of prevalence differences between the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey and other surveys, the lifetime prevalence estimate of rape for men in this report is lower than what has been reported in other surveys (e.g., for forced sex more broadly) (Basile, Chen, Black, & Saltzman, 2007). This could be due in part to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey making a distinction between rape and being made to penetrate someone else. Being made to penetrate is a form of sexual victimization distinct from rape that is particularly unique to males and, to our knowledge, has not been explicitly measured in previous national studies. It is possible that rape questions in prior studies captured the experience of being made to penetrate someone else, resulting in higher prevalence estimates for male rape in those studies.
In other words, because being made to penetrate is a crime unique to males, the researchers labelled it as sexual assault. Perhaps the reason is because if one added the two numbers together, the rate of rape against males would increase from 1 in 71 to 1 in 20 1 in 16, thereby implying that males are raped more often than people suppose. Even then, the researchers offer no valid reason for separating the two.
As for the CDC’s response, I commented on that on reddit:
Actually, the response is not particularly informative.
For one, the response states that the lifetime rates do not apply to the 12-month rates, however, neither the response or the study provides the sex breakdown of offenders in the 12-month period. Without any further information, there is no reason not to assume the rates [did not] stay the same during the 12-month period.
Secondly, the response admits that due to a lack of information, which occurs solely because the researchers chose not to include it, no one accurately the breakdown of offenders during the 12-month period. However, the explanation given in the response makes no sense because the study actually offers a breakdown of the perpetrators for the lifetime rates.
Thirdly, the response tries to explain the researcher’s decision to exclude “made to penetrate” as rape. While the exclusion is consistent with the feminist definition of sexual violence, which does not count female-on-male sexual violence as rape, it is inconsistent with both legal and therapeutic definitions, which the response admits. It therefore makes no sense for the researchers to have separated the two […].
In other words, the researchers purposefully did not count “made to penetrate” as rape so as to have a lower overall rate of rape against males.
Fourthly, other studies have found the 40% rate, although it was specifically regarding male victims rather than all victims.
Make no mistake, the way the 40% rate was determined in the article in question is inaccurate. Yet the result is accurate. Even the CDC’s results state that women commit most of the rapes against males, if one counts being forced to penetrate as rape, which it is.
Futrelle went on to state:
What is especially distressing here is that the NISVS data could have been the starting point for a serious discussion of male victims of sexual assault by women, which is a real and often overlooked issue. Unfortunately, MRAs have once again poisoned the well by misusing data in an attempt to exaggerate the purported villainy of women and score cheap rhetorical points.
Actually, they did not. They simply applied the logic used in legal statutes and in the support community. Again, most states count being made to penetrate as rape or whatever the highest criminal sex offense is in that state. Even if men’s rights activists used the language the CDC used, females still commit the majority of sexual violence against males, so men’s rights activists are not misrepresenting how often females commit sexual violence against males.
The numbers spawned serious discussions about the topic, just not in feminist spaces. A Google search shows that. Ironically, hostile comments like Futrelle’s are exactly the type of things that poison the well by misusing data in an attempt to undermine men’s rights activists, male survivors, and victim advocates. Instead of talking about the topic in earnest, Futrelle wrote a post that tries to “score cheap rhetorical points” by attacking the very people raising the discussion about male victimization.
Granted, Futrelle and his followers have a poor history when it comes to taking sexual violence against males seriously. As such, Futrelle’s response to a comment about women’s sexual violence against men is hardly surprising:
I actually think it makes sense to categorize made-to-penetrate as a form of sexual violence other than rape, and to use the term rape for sexual acts in which the victim is penetrated. In any case, it is sexual violence and needs to be taken seriously.
Yes, it needs to be taken seriously, just not counted as legitimate rape even though the vast majority of the cases involved a woman physically forcing a man or boy to have sex with her. Coincidentally, that position implies that the offense is less serious than legitimate rape, a point that appears to confuse Futrelle even though when asked specifically about the issue he freely admits:
Tamen, you were sexually assaulted. What happened to you was a violation of your bodily autonomy. I take that seriously. No, I would not classify that as rape, but I’m not going to tell you what you should call it, because it’s your experience.
Calling something a sexual assault, or “sexual violence other than rape” does not diminish it or erase the experience of the person who suffered it. Sexual assaults other than rapes deserve to be taken seriously just as rapes do.
So just to make this clear: David Futrelle, an active feminist blogger who well-known feminists regularly link to and support, does not believe that a woman who puts an unconscious man’s penis in her vagina without his consent is rape (that sounds familiar).
But, according to Futrelle, it is still “serious.” Just not as serious as rape.
There is a word for that: rape apologism. That is what David Futrelle is engaging in. He is excusing female-perpetrated rape by defining it as sexual assault, which is a lesser form of sexual violence. He may disagree with that assessment, but it is an accurate description of what he is doing.
Curiously absent from these discussions is any mention of this:
More than one-quarter of male victims of completed rape (27.8%) were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger (data not shown). With the exception of the youngest age category (i.e., age 10 or younger), the estimates for age at first completed rape for male victims in the other age groups were based upon numbers too small to calculate a reliable estimate and therefore are not reported.
It appears that the CDC may have decided not to count acts of being made to penetrate against males as rape even when the males were children. Likewise, Tamen notes on Manboobz that the CDC ignored its own definitions of sexual violence and used different ones for the survey. That should make it obvious how the CDC’s inexplicable methodology completely skews their results.
There is one other point to be made: none of the people trashing the men’s rights activists, male survivors, and victim advocates who call the CDC out have made any suggestions about what people should do to help abused men and boys. To the contrary, the feminists attacking those questioning the CDC’s methodology are too invested in scoring rhetorical points to do anything productive. Yet that does not stop feminists like LBT on Manboobz from saying things like this:
Glech, definitely not a big fan of how rape is defined here, but whatever.
And I know I keep harping on this, but shit like this is why I as a male rape victim feel absolutely NO kindred with the MRM. Like, no shit, of course women rape people. Now what are you going to do to HELP those survivors?
The answer, as always, is a deafening silence.
I agree. The answer is always a deafening silence when you ask feminists like Futrelle. When you ask men’s rights activists, male survivors, victim advocates, or egalitarian feminists like Christian Hoff Sommers, they suggest that people support male survivors by creating more services for them and actually acknowledging their victimization rather than playing semantics.
None of the feminists challenging these things bother to do that. None of them call for more research. None of them encourage more men and boys to come forward. None of them ask to see other research about male victimization. No, they write their takedown pieces, wipe their hands, and move on to the next attack.
This does no one any good. Yes, it makes people like Futrelle and his motley crew feel superior, but it does little else. That is the sheer stupidity of all this sound and fury. It leads to nothing, and abused men and boys continue to suffer because people like Futrelle undermine efforts to help them.