The hidden truth of male-on-male rape in the military

The Washington Times published an article about a new study concerning rape in the military:

Far more military men are being raped by other men and experience other sexual traumas than is reported by the Pentagon because of the stigma attached to such assaults, says a new study released Tuesday by the American Psychological Association.

“Rates of military sexual trauma among men who served in the military may be as much as 15 times higher than has been previously reported, largely because of barriers associated with stigma, beliefs in myths about male rape, and feelings of helplessness,” the APA said in releasing findings published in its periodical Psychological Services.

If the survey of male combat veterans is accurate, it could mean the U.S. armed forces are dealing with an epidemic of male-on-male sex crimes.

Of course, in order to get the clickbait the editors decided to run the title ‘Gay’ rape in military underreported by Pentagon. This has nothing to do with the sexuality of the rapists or their victims. Men make up the majority of the military members. As a result, they will make up the majority of the rape victims because they are the most available potential victims. The editors at the Washington Times should know better than to play that kind of game.

Setting that aside, the numbers presented by the study reveal a severe problem with sexual violence against men in the military:

The Rand Corp., which conducted the most recent Pentagon sexual assault survey in 2014, found that about 12,000 men reported being assaulted. Sexual assault in the military is defined as unwanted sexual contact, including rape and other assaults or the attempt to commit those acts.

Of the 12,000 male victims, 3,850 reported “penetrative” attacks — meaning they were raped.

Technically that is true, but it is possible that some of those victims were forced to penetrate, which would count as rape as well. The article notes that the study’s estimates a 15 times greater number of rapes than the Pentagon’s numbers. As the articles states, “it would mean that as many as 180,000 men are assaulted in one year and, of those, 57,750 are ‘penetrative’ attacks.”

Why is it that this information has only come out now? Why do we know so little about the prevalence of rape against men in the military?

That lies mostly with the stigmas attached to sexual violence against males. People do not think it possible for men to be raped, certainly not military men. These are supposed to be the strongest men among us and fully capable of protecting themselves. Any man who is raped while in the military has to contend with that perception.

They also must deal with the lack of services available to them should they want to come forward. There are few places that will help them, and many of those places have little to no experience assisting male victims.

There is also the unfortunate politicizing of sexual violence by feminist groups. These groups succeeded in tricking people into believing sexual violence is something men do to oppress women. As a result, all of the focus on sexual violence leans toward female victims. Even when the news about military sexual violence broke several years ago, despite the United States government’s own numbers showing that 56% of the victims were male, virtually all the coverage and political grandstanding was about female victims.

This translates into male victims remaining silent, including when they take anonymous studies designed to determine the rate of sexual assault in the military. One researcher developed a means to get around this:

[Sean Sheppard, a psychologist and research fellow at the University of Utah] said researchers used a random response technique that allowed them to extract more accurate data from a sample of 180 male combat veterans. From that technique, they derived the 15-times rate compared with anonymous surveys such as the Pentagon‘s.

He said the military should “consider the fact that stigma and other biases potentially leads to underreporting and to utilize techniques like the randomized response technique to try to determine more accurate base rates. It would be a tool in addition to what the Pentagon is doing.”

These findings, if true, would mean that the rate of sexual violence against males in the military is severely underreported and underestimated. This does not mean that people should not acknowledge female victims or ignore their suffering. It does mean, however, that we need to shift the narrative away from the “women have it worse” tone that currently governs this discussion.

The reason is simple: because of the stigmas male victims face and the lack of research on this issue, we have little idea of how frequently men and boys are actually assaulted. We cannot learn the truth if we follow ideological agendas that politicize the issue. We cannot help male victims if we lack any knowledge about their plight. We must look into this situation and encourage male victims to come forward rather than tell them that female victims have it “worse.”

Even if the above methods prove to result in an overestimate, it is still ridiculous that researchers essentially must trick male victims into talking about what happened to them. That is a problem. Male victims will not talk because they believe no one will listen. We need to change that.

3 thoughts on “The hidden truth of male-on-male rape in the military

  1. Pingback: The hidden truth of male-on-male rape in the military –

  2. “These findings, if true…”

    But they are not true. The article in question was retracted within days by the journal, because the methods used to come up with this number were worthless.

    MST in general, and MST affecting men in particular, is a much under-addressed problem. But like so many poorly-designed studies in the social sciences nowadays, this one wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s