Male rape victims in Uganda speak out

Originally posted on May 17, 2013

I have written before about rape against men in war-torn African countries. Despite the seriousness of the issue, few human rights organizations pay any attention to male rape survivors. Few countries have support services for them, the cultural attitude towards male survivors is highly negative, and the international opinion is that war-time rape is something only men do to only women.

However, there is an effort to change that perception in Uganda:

There remains no reliable statistics indicating how widespread the crime of rape is in Africa’s conflict areas. A non-government organization providing legal aid to asylum seekers and refugees in Uganda is spearheading a project to reach out to men who have been raped.

Chris Dolan, director of the Refugee Law Project, explained the numbers of men experiencing rape are much higher than anticipated.

“We started talking to a handful of male survivors from one of the settlements and they started to meet up and now they have close to 60 members – all within the space of just three months,” Dolan told DW.

Those 60 men are not the only male survivors. They are simply the ones willing to attend the support group. Many more men do not want to go to the group, likely because of situations like this: Continue reading

The Only One

Originally posted on March 24, 2013

Whenever feminists talk about “rape culture”, they remind me of a theory from the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist called “Equivalent Exchange”. The theory states, “Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.” In order to make their theory of “rape culture”, feminists sacrifice male survivors of sexual violence.

Feminists have engaged in this in many the Steubenville articles. Some leave male survivors out entirely. Some mentioned them in passing. Some ignore them because of statistical proportionality. I could explain why acknowledging male survivors is important, but I know most will not care.

Instead, I want to focus on what those views imply: that there really are no male survivors. If you are a male survivor, you are the only one. Continue reading

How not to have a discussion (or how to have a feminist discussion)

I have not read anything on the Good Men Project since Joanna Schroeder informed me that I am banned because of my critiques the site’s treatment of male survivors and specifically because I am a non-feminist male survivor. That was of little consequence as I only read articles from the site when they appeared in a Google alert, and even then I kept my participation on the site to a limit.

The reason I rarely participated there was because, like many feminist spaces, the Good Men Project suffers from stilted discussions. While some people running the site may want to have open discussions, many of them do not. Rather than exchange ideas, these people prefer conformity to feminist ideas and theories. Any critique of feminism prompts an increasingly hostile response that typically ends with one or more feminists declaring the discussion “impossible” and the comments critical of feminism suddenly disappearing.

In my opinion, that is not how one fosters a discussion. Exchanging ideas can be difficult. People do not always agree, and some disagreements can become testy. However, as long as the anger remains directs at ideas and not people, one should allow those testy discussions because they are the nature of the debate. Blocking such comments only prevents an honest debate from happening.

Sometimes, as is typical at the Good Men Project and other feminist sites, that is the intention. Many ideologues cannot handle any criticism. The more personal their connection to the ideas, the more the ideology forms the core of their identity, and the more likely the ideologues will dislike the comments. Blocking the comments and banning certain people is a way of “controlling” the criticism. It does not actually work, of course. There is nothing stopping people from criticizing those ideas in other spaces. However, it does effectively prevent that kind of discussion from occurring in their spaces.

Such is the case with David Perry’s article The Straight Married White American Male Feminist Manifesto. Continue reading

Feminists, support services, and male survivors

When I write about feminist bias against male survivors, many feminists object. They claim that no feminists they know are like that. Some of the bolder ones will claim no feminists harbor such biases at all.

However, when one talks to male survivors and their advocates, one hears a different story. It is common to hear about rape centers hanging up on male survivors, referring them to abuser treatment programs, or accusing them of being rapists. One will hear of rape centers lacking any services for male survivors, from pamphlets to counseling. One may hear of extreme cases of open misandry.

The back and forth between advocates and feminist can go on forever because no one has really looked into how the services actually treat abused males. Until now. Glen Poole wrote about a study that covers this issue: Continue reading

Male survivor agency struggles for government funding

Despite more men and boys coming forward and revealing the abuse they suffered, the British government still offers little support for them:

[Brighton-based Mankind] is one of only a handful of organisations helping male victims of sexual violence in Britain but it has been snubbed by the Government for support.

Minister Helen Grant announced £4 million in funding to open four new rape crisis centres and secure 65 existing centres.

But Martyn Sullivan, the chief executive of Mankind Counselling in Brighton, said: “We welcome any funding that supports victims of rape and sexual abuse but it saddens us that yet again little thought has been given to adult male survivors of sexual crimes.

“The Government’s own figures estimates that 1 in 9 males have suffered childhood sexual abuse and 1 in 29 have experienced rape in adulthood. With this decision, they have chosen to ignore the 3.8 million actual men and boys that these figures represent.

“Male specific agencies were excluded from the Rape Support Fund last year and it looks like the same thing has happened again.

“There has been a rise in cases being reported in light of the Jimmy Savile scandal and we are expecting even more cases.”

This continues to be a contentious issue and, as readers may know, whenever someone mentions this kind of overt sexism against male survivors, there are plenty of people who will deny it ever occurs. To my knowledge, the UK government has done little outreach to male survivors beyond the “Real Men Get Raped” ad campaign last year. (Coincidentally, the ad campaign was created by SurvivorsUK, an split-off organization that supposedly assists male survivors. However, if one looks at their site, one finds that they only provide limited support for a few hours a day three days a week.)

This kind of misandry creates a ripple effect. Not only do organizations that actually help male survivors struggle for funding, but also male survivors do not come forward because they have no one to turn to. The result is the impression that there are no male survivors, which is likely the logic the British government uses to justify not providing funding to male survivor services.

Senate panel hears about rape in the military

Today the Senate held a panel discussing sexual violence in the military. This is a growing issue primarily because of how the military covers up sexual violence. People who report abuse not only face a wall of silence, but some of them face counter charges and potential discharge. The cover-up, much like that of the Vatican, starts from the top. So many people in power are aware of the problem and yet do nothing.

The Senate heard testimony from three ex-service members — BriGette McCoy, Rebekhah Havrilla, Anu Bhagwati, and Brian Lewis — concerning the situation:

BriGette McCoy described how she was raped on her first military assignment, two weeks before her 19th birthday. She described how, later that year, she was raped by another soldier in her unit.

Then came sexual harassment by two officers — including one who requested that she be moved to work directly for him, she said Wednesday.

Testifying before lawmakers, the former Army specialist described the “anguish” and “entrapment” she felt, and the horror of the ordeal that followed.

“I no longer have any faith or hope that the military chain of command will consistently prosecute, convict, sentence and carry out the sentencing of sexual predators in uniform without absconding justice somehow,” she told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on personnel.

“It even starts at recruitment,” she said. “We have quite a few of our men and women that are being raped and sexually harassed during the recruitment process.”

Continue reading