Mary Koss doesn’t think women can rape men and boys

Despite a recent increase in research about male victimization, the topic remains largely obscure. We still lack any clear understanding of the prevalence of sexual violence against males. One of the reasons for this is researcher bias.

Many researchers studying sexual violence are feminists. While being a feminist does not make one dishonest, it does introduce an ideological bias. Feminism paints sexual violence, particularly rape, as an act of oppression committed by men against women. That theory provides the framework most feminist researchers use to examine sexual violence.

The potential bias is obvious. If sexual violence is something that men do to specifically oppress women, what should we make of instances of male victims? If rape is a tool of male dominance over females, can males be raped? What of the reverse? What if a woman rapes a man? Is that rape? Could the act even hurt or impact male victims?

In most instances, the feminist response to these questions is no. This leads to feminist researchers, who make up the majority of sexual violence researchers, ignoring male victims or downplaying the severity of male victimization. The most recent and blatant example of this was in the the CDC’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

The researchers defined rape as an act in which only the victim could be penetrated:

– Among women, rape includes vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes vaginal or anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.

– Among men, rape includes oral or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.

As I noted in my previous post about the survey, “according to that definition women cannot rape men or women by forcing the victims to penetrate them. They cannot rape men by forcibly performing oral sex on the victims. The researchers instead created a separate definition called “being made to penetrate someone else” that is not counted as rape.”

This move baffled many advocates and non-feminists. In most states, forcing a man or boy to vaginally or anally penetrate someone counts as rape. So does performing oral sex on a male. This is particularly true if the male is a minor. Yet the researchers chose to define being made to penetrate as a separate, less emotionally and physically traumatizing act. As they explained in their conclusion:

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.

This makes little sense until one factors in the ideology guiding these arguments. If the researchers view rape as something men do to oppress women, then the notion that women can rape men simply does not parse. It turns out that one of the researchers in charge of deciding the definition holds such a position.

Researcher Mary Koss gave an interview several months ago. Reporter Theresa Phung asked Koss about female-perpetrated sexual violence, specifically whether she considered female-on-male rape possible. This was her response:

The reporter Theresa Phung: Dr. Koss says One of the main reasons the definition does not include men being forced to penetrate women is because of emotional trauma, or lack thereof.

Dr. Koss: How do they react to rape. If you look at this group of men who identify themselves as rape victims raped by women you’ll find that their shame is not similar to women, their level of injury is not similar to women and their penetration experience is not similar to what women are reporting.

In short, rape hurts males less than it hurts females. Of course, Koss does not factor in the myriad of cultural and social norms that would cause males to downplay their experiences and their impact. There is likewise no mention of that in the CDC survey. It is simply accepted without question that males report less emotional and physical trauma without anyone bothering to ask why.

When Phung mentions Charlie, a man she interviewed who recounted his rape at the hands of a woman, Koss dismissed Charlie and his experiences:

Theresa Phung: “For the men who are traumatized by their experiences because they were forced against their will to vaginally penetrate a woman..”

Dr. Mary P. Koss: “How would that happen…how would that happen by force or threat of force or when the victim is unable to consent? How does that happen?”

Theresa Phung: “So I am actually speaking to someone right now. his story is that he was drugged, he was unconscious and when he awoke a woman was on top of him with his penis inserted inside her vagina, and for him that was traumatizing.

Dr. Mary P. Koss: “Yeah.”

Theresa Phung: “If he was drugged what would that be called?”

Dr. Mary P. Koss: “What would I call it? I would call it ‘unwanted contact’.”

Theresa Phung: “Just ‘unwanted contact’ period?”

Dr. Mary P. Koss: “Yeah.”

If it looks bad in writing, it sounds much worse in audio (it starts at 8:15).

This is the person who helped rewrite the FBI’s definition of rape. This is the person who defined rape for the CDC survey. In the interview, Koss defines sexual violence as a women’s issue that affects men in the same way breast cancer affects men. This is despite study after study, including the CDC’s 2010 survey, showing that there are more male victims than people believe and that there are likely as many male victims as female victims. Her own survey revealed that information, yet Koss still holds to the notion that women cannot rape men.

This is the kind of thing advocates for male victims combat and this it what male victims face when they want to come forward. Here is a preeminent researcher essentially laughing at male victims of female rapists and telling them that they are not emotionally or physically traumatized, that what happened to them is as rare as male breast cancer, and that at best it is nothing more than “unwanted sexual contact.”

As much as I detest the concept of “rape culture” and all the faux logic that comes with it, if ever there were evidence of it existing, Koss’s statement would be it.



21 thoughts on “Mary Koss doesn’t think women can rape men and boys

  1. Research on sexual offenders (both male and female) shows that they tend to hold offense supportive beliefs or cognitive distortions about offending. These serve to give permission for the behavior. One of the most salient is that the behavior was not harmful, that the victim(s) didn’t get hurt in anyway. By negating the existence of harm, the offender can justify the offense.

  2. The vast majority of feminists have attitudes towards male sexual assault/abuse survivors that are utterly appalling. Funny thing is, the female survivors that they themselves champion are frequently far more empathetic and understanding.

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  4. Reading about this case , fortunately this case was referred by the victim to the attorney general for an unduly lenient sentence- on 18th December she was sentenced to 3.5 years custodial based on 4 counts – there was originally 10 counts that the CPS charged her with as her actions were grotesque however the further 6 counts that Lee Bonner took upon himself to disregard for a deal to her pleading guilty – this was done behind the victims back as he wanted to go to full trial and this was denied, either way she still got off with so much she should have been accountable for, that poor man who took courage and sneers to come forward has had to deal with all this , it’s no wonder men feel ashamed to speak up

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  7. I had Dr. Koss as a professor in the 1970’s. She is very bright but has no wisdom here. I know men who were victimized by either their mother or stepmother, and to make this bogus argument that men can’t be raped means, to me, she’s got a screw loose somewhere.

  8. Gotta love Feminists. the CDC and the FBI define rape as being penetrated. WHO defines rape are ‘forced Sexual interaction; to penetrate or force to penetrate”

    Having been accused of rape at 14 (it was so fake, but it took 2 years 4 months 3 weeks for someone to think to take me out of juvie. I never once saw the inside of the court room) I know that feminists are full of shit. What happened to the feminists of the 60’s? the one who fought for EQUAL rights? That stupid bitch in the 70’s who wrote that book “the Myth of the lying Woman” ruined the whole movement. Her book says flat out that women never lie about rape. But her book also says that man cannot be raped because an erection indicates he is enjoying himself. Of course by that definition if a woman has an orgasm while be raped, it means it is no longer rape!


  9. She could not be more wrong.


    Women Need To Be Educated About Sexual Consent From Men, Right Now They Aren’t
    “43% of high school boys and young college men reported they had an unwanted sexual experience and of those, 95% said a female acquaintance was the aggressor.”

  10. You state that
    “In most states, forcing a man or boy to vaginally or anally penetrate someone counts as rape. So does performing oral sex on a male.”
    Do you have a link to published research or to a list of all state’s legislation that shows this, please? From my limited search, it seems that the majority do not count unwanted engulfment of the penis as rape; and other States do not even have rape as an offence, instead putting it all as Sexual Offence of one form or another.

    Saying “This is particularly true if the male is a minor.” is rather misleading as I believe ALL states have laws against having sex with minors of either sex, so my question is specific about the raping of men.

  11. Douglas,

    There are a few articles about the ways the state laws work. Here is a chart that breaks down the laws per state. RAINN provides a comparison list of the statutes. You will need to select at least two states to compare the statutes. You will see that many states have rape laws that do not specify whether the victim must be the one penetrated. All that is technically required is that sexual penetration occurs without the victim’s consent.

    As I noted on reddit, these policies may be technically gender neutral, yet may be applied in a gendered way. Missouri currently does this by prosecuting sex offenses against males under the sodomy law. Other states may do the same thing. It depends on how prosecutors choose to charge the offense. Precedent can allow affect this decision.

    That said, in most states, a female having forcible sex with a male technically counts as rape.

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  13. Koss sounds a lot like the sexist male cops of the 1950s telling female rape victims they “asked for it by the way they dressed” or “actually wanted it.” She’s exactly what she claims to hate, except the only difference is gender reversal.

    I’ve always thought the FBI’s new definition of rape sounded sketchy. Koss didn’t expand the definition of rape, she totally changed it by making it exclusively about penetration and vastly expanding the types of penetration. The fact that she took out “forcible” in itself sounded bad, and to make it worse “consent” isn’t even clearly defined; I’ve heard so many definitions of “consent” that I’m not sure what hers even means (probably affirmative consent, which can be very dangerous if not practiced perfectly). And if you read the definition closely, “rape” doesn’t even have to be sexual. If I get arrested for suspicion of possession of drugs, I could call the cavity search “rape”, especially if the cops turned out to be wrong. I can’t help but wonder if part of this was a reaction to the forced-ultrasounds; to oppose the forced-ultrasounds is a fair argument (I oppose them), but making the word “rape” applicable to the act is extreme and inaccurate; “battery” is a better term to describe such an act.

    The most notable fact that it’s purely about being penetrated is what makes it so blatantly sexist. If a woman is going to assault a man, she’s much more likely to force him to penetrate rather than for her to stick a finger or foreign object inside of his anus. So the majority of female-on-male assaults will be thrown into a separate category, thus not counted as rape essentially taken less seriously. And “rape” is a very strong word, and female-on-male forced intercourse should absolutely fall under this word.

    Feminists want to call any sex that lacks affirmative consent “rape”, and clearly they consider miscommunication and mistakes “rape” as well; any gray area, to them, is automatically “rape”. The most popular definition of “consent” among feminists is affirmative consent with discussion before the act; this isn’t how human sexuality works. For starters, it’s not the place of feminists to tell consenting adults (yes, implied consent is still consent) what to do or how to think; it’s up to the couple to decide if they prefer affirmative or implied consent, and if they want to plan out and discuss the sex ahead of time or act on spontaneity and be in-the-moment. Feminists have zero authority over the choices and sex acts of how adults practice their sexuality; all that should matter is that it’s between consenting adults. And most adults, from my experience, do not consider drunken-but-conscious sex rape, nor do they consider sleep-sex with their significant other rape. Too many people enjoy drunk sex and sleep-sex for it to be rape (unless feminists are willing to accept the idea that rape can be enjoyable…and we all know how likely that is). If someone doesn’t enjoy drunken/sleep sex, they have the right – AND RESPONSIBILITY – to express it to their partner, and their partner is to respect that (if they don’t, THEN to call such an act “rape” is fair). But to advocate “some don’t like drunk sex and/or sleep-sex, therefore it’s rape for everybody” is extremist thinking. But considering 2nd and 3rd wave feminists have always been very authoritarian, it’s not surprising they’d go to extreme measures to stop something THEY personally dislike.

    When I hear advocates say they praise the new FBI definition of rape, it’s basically the advocates admitting their motives: they’re clearly not anti-rape, but anti-male. If they were anti-rape, they’d be calling out this definition for excluding men forced into sex with women. Despite what Koss and many feminists want, society defines “rape” as forced sexual intercourse (much closer to its original definition), not forcibly sticking a cucumber up someone’s anus, and there’s a reason why. And unlike what feminists want to admit, “rape culture” is not the correct answer.

  14. A good comment, bk82.

    There is one area which I pick up on. Many feminists do not deny that what they call rape (which, for some, is ANY heterosexual interaction) can be enjoyed by the female. The point is irrelevant, however, since they insist that women are conditioned by ‘The Patriarchy’ (that silliest of conspiracy theories) into enjoying their role as abused victims of men. So, even when women enjoy sex, it is only because of social conditioning, which therefore makes it rape anyway.

    Sorry if that explanation sounds confusing. Try as I do to understand feminism, there are some parts of it that are just so daft or false-to-fact that it can be difficult to explain.

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