Originally posted on May 3, 2014
It is rare when a person gets to engage in justified schadenfreude, but a recent study allows me to do just that:
Women rape men a lot more often than you think, according to the findings of researcher Lara Stemple.
Her journey to this remarkable discovery that could change how we talk about sexual assault in America began with combing over a recent National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
In it, she noticed that 38 percent of sexual assault cases in a survey of more than 40,000 households involved men as the victims. In previous years, the stats were between five and 14 percent, indicating that the crime is grossly underreported.
This is a sentiment Stemple seems to subscribe to in her work with the Health and Human Rights Project at UCLA.
This is annoying many feminists, particularly since Hanna Rosin (yes, that Hanna Rosin) wrote about the report for Slate. Feminists invest a lot of time in framing sexual violence as something only men do to only women. Whenever research reveals more male victims and more female perpetrators, feminists typically deny, dismiss, or ignore it. The most recent examples resulted from the findings of a 2010 CDC study.
The study revealed a substantially higher rate of female-on-male sexual violence, which the researchers did not include as rape. Feminists ignored that. The study also revealed that most sexual violence against males was committed by women. Feminists ignored that. The one thing they did not ignore was when advocates for male survivors combined the rape and “being forced to penetrate” statistics. Many feminists railed against this. Even the researchers of the CDC study complained about it. However, this precisely how Stemple reached her conclusion:
The study, co-written with Ilan Meyer and first published in the April 17 edition of the American Journal of Public Health, also comes to one surprising fact about the nature of who it is victimizing many male victims of sexual assault.
When the term “being made to penetrate” is included as part of the general definition of rape, it turns out that women rape men nearly equally to how often they’re victimized by them.
“This definition includes victims who were forced to penetrate someone else with their own body parts, either by physical force or coercion, or when the victim was drunk or high or otherwise unable to consent,” Rosin explains.
“When those cases were taken into account, the rates of nonconsensual sexual contact basically equalized, with 1.270 million women and 1.267 million men claiming to be victims of sexual violence.”
If only there were a moment to explain the joy of the pure schadenfreude I felt in reading that quote. Wait, there is:
All joking aside, it is an astounding admission: when researchers do exactly what male survivors, their advocates, and men’s rights activists did, i.e. combine the rape and “being forced to penetrate” numbers, they get the same result. It appears men are assaulted at or near the same rate as women. No one is playing with the numbers. They are only counting acts that legally count as rape as rape.
What makes this situation ironic is that people advocating for male survivors have talked about this for nearly three years. We looked at the data, looked at other available research, and came to the same conclusion. Why it took Stemple so long is anyone’s guess, yet at she shows that the advocates are not crazy misogynists trying to silence raped women by making it all about teh menz.
Now the question is what are we going to do about this? It is wonderful that someone finally acknowledged what the CDC survey actually states, but happens next? Will anyone push for changes in how male survivors are treated? Will anyone take this to the White House to see if that administration will form a committee to address this rape problem? Will this receive more coverage or has 15-minutes come and gone?
I know I will not stop talking about it, emailing legislators, and pushing for changes in the support community. But what will impact be on a larger scale?