Rape Victims are not Gender Specific

In Effects of Rape on Men: A Descriptive Analysis by Walker et al., the authors discuss a study they performed to look into the lives of men who have been sexually assaulted. The results were not surprising to me. On the first page, which the page number could not be seen clearly, states “the help and support for male victims of rape is more than 20 years behind that of a female victims.” Seeing that there is really nothing in the media for males that have been raped, nor a lot of research, the everyday crimes of male rape still goes on. On this same page it says “gay and bisexual men are more likely to report sexual assault by other men than heterosexual men.” It goes on to explain two reasons behind this:they are at risk of being raped by dates or while in relationships with men, and th occurrence of sexual assault. This is supported where the article says that ex sexual partner had to do with 65% of assaults in the study o gay and bisexual men. The other reason was homophobic sexual assault, essentially hate crimes against homosexual men.

The article goes on to say on the same first page that “very few male rape victims report their assault to the police because they think that thy will experience negative treatment, be disbelieved, or blamed for their assault.” These types of feelings are actually very similar to women’s experiences of rape. The fear of negative reactions also prevents men from looking towards medical treatment. This, in turn, could lead to victims not knowing if they contracted an STD from the traumatic event. Those that did go to the hospital had much more severe injuries than women usually do. This can be explained in the way that men do not go to the hospital after their assaults unless they are severely injured.

On page 496, it starts to explain the emotions of men after the incident. “Male victims reported significantly more hostility, anger, and depression than females did.” The article explained that this is because “anger is a more ‘masculine’ way to deal with trauma.”

This can go back to the Vulnerability Paradigm discussed in Rethinking Gender, Heterosexual Men, and Women’s Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS by Higgins et al. The article discussed how women can have reduced agency making them more vulnerable to diseases contracted from sexual intercourse. Men can be put in their own vulnerability paradigm when it comes to sexual assault. Their need to maintain their masculinity can in turn put them in danger of not being tested for sexually transmitted disease after the trauma of a rape. Also, in many situations, one could say that some homosexual men lose their agency in the homophobic person’s perspective. This can make them more vulnerable to sexual assault.

On page 500, victims discuss what they believe male victims of rape need in order to make steps to ending this type of trauma. They suggest eliminate homophobia within professional services, police specially trained for male rape victims, support groups in major towns, 24 hour help lines, and more easily available therapy services. We need to take heed to these requests and start to make a better, safer world, for those men affected and could be affected by sexual assault. On our own campus we have “Take Back the Night,” I do not believe we have anything that highlights the plight of male victims. For our own campus, I believe that would be a great step in the right direction.

1 thought on “Rape Victims are not Gender Specific

  1. Simoneh: Your juxtaposition of the two articles is spot on. I think that Higgins et al would agree that expectations (or what Rudolph Byrd called “trappings”) of masculinity make men *vulnerable* in unique ways when they are sexually assaulted. Men are stereotypically expected to be strong and therefore it is hard for most men to admit they were unable to fight off another man. While strength for most would be seen as a “positive” stereotype, in this situation if often silences male survivors of abuse b/c they believe they were not “strong enough.” The other thing that gave me pause about the “Effects of Rape on Men” article is how most men will only report sexual abuse if it is paired with severe physical abuse. It makes sense when I read it (knowing what I know about masculinity) but I had never really thought about it until we read this article as a class. Great job.

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