Male rape. It’s a surprisingly controversial subject. In a society where men are always supposed to desire sex, many people deny that it’s possible. Especially in the case of a female raping a male. We hear the rhetoric about females getting raped by males much more frequently. But why is this?
As far as we’re aware, women get raped more than men do. Or at least they disclose the fact that they get raped more than men do. In 2013, 87% of the 2,203 rape victims who attended Ireland’s national rape crisis centre were female, while 13% were male. Of course, it’s important to take into account the fact that many men won’t attend help services or even admit to the fact that they’ve been raped.
This is a large reason why you won’t find nearly as many people speaking out about male rape as you will about female rape. One common complaint about feminism is that it supposedly does not take into account the struggles that men are facing. But again, there are reasons for that.
Let’s look at this issue in terms of the ever-present patriarchy. According to the patriarchy, a man shouldn’t show signs of weakness. He shouldn’t reveal his emotions, or cry, or admit that a woman has established power over him. How could that not harm a man’s willingness to speak out about his sexual assault?
The patriarchy reaffirms the notion that men always want sex. Men live in a society that doesn’t believe rape can happen to them. It’s also important to note that many males would consider rape by someone of the same sex to be a much worse fate than a rape by a member of the opposite sex.
In the United States, incidents of sexual violence are severely underreported, particularly among male victims. And I don’t think it would be very different here.
In 1990, a man called James Landrith was a victim of sexual assault. He recalls, as a 19-year-old waking up in a bed that was not his own. After a night of drinking, he found himself in a motel room with a friend of friend. The previous night, she’d asked him to bring her home after their mutual friend left the nightclub that they’d been in. The woman, who was pregnant, spent the night buying him drinks as a thank you.
He remembers feeling disoriented and the woman suggesting that they get a hotel room where he could sleep it off. He lay down with his pants on, uncomfortable taking them off in front of a stranger. When he later awoke, the woman was straddling him. The next morning, the woman told him that he could hurt the baby if he put up a fight before once again forcing herself upon him.
It took Landrith a long time and a counsellor to help him realise that he had been raped by that woman. Since that time, Landrith has become an advocate for rape victims. Particularly men who were assaulted by women. Although he never sought prosecution of his rapist, he wants other victims to feel free to talk about and seek justice for their sexual assault without shame.
Experts say that sexual assault victims require extensive emotional and psychological healing after these incidents, but male survivors have a harder time putting what happened to them into words.
The singer Chris Brown once accidentally directed attention towards male rape. In an interview with the Guardian, Brown stated that he lost his virginity when he was 8, to a girl who was 14 or 15. Apparently, he then followed up this revelation with a grin and a chuckle.
After this incident, trauma recovery counsellor, Stephanie Baird stated that men who experience sexual attention as children, often explain it to themselves as an assurance that they are desirable. She says that they do this in order to feel as though they had some power in a situation.
A study published in the journal “JAMA pediatrics” says that nearly 1 in 10 youths between 14 and 21 years old have reported carrying out sexual violence in their lifetime. What will be most surprising to some people is the following statistic. Of these 1 in 10 youths, 52% of them were male and 48% were female. The study included kissing and touching against someone’s will, coercive sex, attempted rape, and completed rape. Women turned out to be more likely to instigate unwanted foresexual contact.
Many people will wonder how it’s possible that a man can climax when he didn’t want to have sex in the first place. But some men can perform sexually, including orgasm, even when they’re getting raped. It has been found that even in men who have not consented to sex, slight stimulation of the genitals or an increase in stress can create erections. Rape is about consent, not about sexual performance.
It’s very worth noting that the research about male rape only appeared less than 30 years ago. Even then it was mostly focused on male children. Most of the literature regarding rape and sexual assault still focuses on female victims.
In the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, the Centers for Disease Control first measured a form of sexual violence that was named “being made to penetrate.” This referred to victims who were forced to penetrate someone, either by force or coercion. This found that 1,267 million men reported being made to penetrate. This number is similar to the 1,270 million women who reported being raped in the same period.
2009 research in Ireland shows that only one per cent of men report rape or sexual assault to the Gardai.The same research showed that nearly half of the male victims never told anyone. Irish women’s rates of reporting to the Gardai, while still too low, are way ahead of men’s.
So what do we do This is not a problem that can be solved promptly or simply. First of all, society needs to change. The patriarchy needs to be disabled and the best method that I can think of doing that is by uniting as feminists. Feminism has already done so much work towards taking down the patriarchy and it’s up to all of us to continue that work.
Through making an effort to change our morals, our ideals and our society, we can help males to speak out when they’ve experienced sexual assault.