Rape is indisputably a horrible, tragic, and often life-altering event. There is never a situation in which rape is warranted–no one is ever “asking for it.” Rape culture is heavily prevalent in our society and part of the reason that feminism is so necessary. Rape and all aspects of rape are absolutely terrible. This is what I consider to be the truth and I am not arguing against any of this.
What I am arguing, however, is that rape culture and current feminism itself are all too happy to ignore certain aspects of rape that also need to be discussed.
We had a talk on date rape in health class (which was certainly less than ideal, but I’m going to get into that in another post). I think pretty much everyone can agree date rape is a pretty shitty thing, whether it’s through the use of drugs and alcohol or through violence. Our culture is littered with pamphlets and PSAs and classes on how to prevent date rape, or how to escape in the event of an assault, or how to avoid it entirely. On a less-than-subtle level this is definitely a form of victim blaming–however, it is a reality that sexual assaults committed by acquaintances or partners do occur, and if an individual feels they want to take measures to protect themselves then they will probably be safer for it. It is reported that ninety percent of date rapes involve alcohol use.
With that said, consider the following scenario–it’s one that I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with, whether through pop culture or their own experiences. A girl is at a college party with some of her friends. She’s had a bit to drink (maybe a bit too much). The party is packed and she gets separated from her friends in the confusion. A guy around her age takes her up to the second floor and leads her into a room. He tries to have sex with her and she doesn’t want to–but she’s too drunk to get a single word out, even if that word is “No.”
Looking at this scenario, most would agree it’s rape, especially those in feminist circles. If someone is too inebriated to consent to sex then it is non-consensual. Even if we look at it from a purely legal standpoint rather than a psychological one, this is almost indisputably rape.
But what if the genders of the individuals were reversed?
We, as a society, are starting to actively teach young girls to embrace their sexuality. Women and girls, now more than ever, are encouraged to take initiative in sexual situations and to pursue their own unique agency. It’s a great thing, and we as a culture are only going up from here.
But I can’t tell you how many times friends have said to me “I want to get x drunk enough that he’ll make out/have sex with me.” Hell, I’ve said it myself a few times (ableit half-joking). If a guy said this or something similar about a girl, I can guarantee you nine times out of ten he would get screamed at until he went deaf. But if a girl says this about a guy, a lot of the time she’s actively encouraged. But does this not count as rape?
Men are often ignored when it comes to considering them as victims and survivors of sexual assault. While it’s true that women make up the majority of assault victims, it is estimated that one in ten rape victims are, in fact, male. That’s ten percent–it’s not a number that can simply be ignored.
When most people hear about men being raped, it’s assumed to be in a prison situation (“Don’t drop the soap!”). However, men are believed to make up half of domestic abuse victims, with intimate partner sexual assault included in this statistic. It is estimated that only ten percent of sexual assault is reported when the victim is male. If a man is sexually assaulted, it is likely he would be reluctant to seek help, especially if the perpetrator is female. Men in our culture are taught they are unable to become a victim of sexual assault. It’s never easy for an assault victim to admit they’ve been taken advantage of, but men are culturally expected to be the aggressor–when they’re not, it can trigger strong feelings of shame and a loss of identity, and can lead to them refusing to seek help.
Sexual assault can (and most likely will) have a profound aspect on any individual. It is damaging in any situation to overlook these impacts when the victim is female, but it is equally damaging to overlook these impacts in a male victim, as well as to ignore the unique impacts faced by a male victim. Heterosexual males often have to cope with a feeling that they’re losing their identity, or that the assault will “make them gay.” In homosexual rape victims, they may see the rape as a punishment for their sexual orientation, or see it as a result of their sexual orientation, and may withdraw from their support network and community.
I am by no means saying that violence and assaults against women aren’t absolutely prevalent. I am simply trying to bring to light the fact that feminism largely ignores the fact that men can also be victims of assault–and that women can also be the perpetrators. The current feminist environment has a tendency to put women up on a pedestal, and we forget that men really aren’t evil and aggressive by nature. Male assault victims are people just as female assault victims are.
(((side note: this is by far one of the most prosaic pieces I’ve ever written, and I really hope I can prompt some discussion. Please leave your two cents down in the comments–I really want to know what others’ opinions are on this)))