I read Disclosure by Michael Crichton at a pretty young age (it is beyond me how my parents let a 10 year old read that), and it made me familiar with the connotations men deal with when discussing rape or sexual coercion. Quick overview: male character either has sexual relations with his female boss or risks losing his job. When he does reveal that he is being sexually harassed, his female boss counters by suggesting that he assaulted her. The book showed popular perception because the male was at risk for his job while everyone sided with the female.
The book touched on parts of what “The Effects of Rape on Men” discussed more deeply. The main flaw in my thinking was after reading Crichton’s book; I never really factored homosexual rape- the more prominent one. Walken’s et al. article definitely gave me more insight to the effects of rape on men.
The initial survey was shocking; estimating that rate of sexual assault amongst gay and bisexual men was 27.6%. Additionally, previous studies showed that current or ex-partners committed 65% of the sexual assaults. I extrapolated the data and took it to mean that 1/5 gay or bisexual men will be raped by someone they previously dated. These numbers are ridiculously high, but gay and bisexual men are at a higher risk because of homophobic sexual assaults as a means of emasculation.
There are a lot of parallels reading between sexual assault among men and women. I learned that men experience a lot of the same emotional and physical anguish that females go through. For instance, men feel very vulnerable after the rape, overcompensating for their safety. This can lead to a change in life style when a person becomes obsessed and paranoid about their safety. Men who have been sexually assaulted also blame themselves for the incident or feel embarrassed which can hinder the emotional recovery process.
As Eunice Owiny explains, “The man has been raped, the woman has been raped. Disclosure is easy for the woman. She gets the medical treatment, she gets the attention, she’s supported by so many organisations. But the man is inside, dying.” (Will Storr, 2011)
It seems like there is a double standard when it comes to rape. People are not completely understanding of a male being raped. Owiny, a male rape victim described his predicament as “Everybody has heard the women’s stories. But nobody has heard the men’s”. In East Africa, rape can be used as a political tool (I originally thought that rape was used as a political tool against females in my previous blogs) used as a means of power. There are some horrific stories in which male captives would be raped 11 times a day, and wouldn’t say a word about it after release for fear of being thought as vulnerable and weak. They would lose family support because the wife assumes if the man can’t protect himself, how is he supposed to protect her? The brother will say, “Now, my brother is not a man”.