Women, Men, Victimization!

Jayne Walker’s Article Effects of Rape on Men: A Descriptive Analysis pointed out how “research on effects of post-rape trauma has focused on female victims.” I went ahead and did some research on the definition of rape, and was surprised how many different definitions came up. According to Sue Rochman, In Georgia during the 1990’s, rape was classified as Forcible penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.(Rochman 1991) As you can tell, traditionally rape was only seen involving a penis and a vagina, and not the mouth or anus. Instead of acknowledging male rape, terms such as child abuse, sodomy, and prison rape have been used instead. Besides Georgia, Some states actually acknowledge male rape as an issue (during the early 1990’s), one of them being New Jersey. Their law involved all sex crimes regardless of the victim being male or female. In 1994, the Sexual Offenses act was altered, making male rape an equal crime to female rape.

Going back to Walker’s article, it is mentioned that since the 1970’s (Sexual Revolution), there has been a copious amount of research and literature on the effects of rape on women. There was very few studies on the effects of male rape, but it was in its infancy. Walker and her team gathered 40 male rape survivors in Britain to investigate their psychological health by comparing to the health to a control group. These volunteers completed a questionnaires, which measured psychological health, perspective about the world, and self-esteem. The results were something I had expected; the male rape survivors had poor psychological health and self esteem when compared to the control group. Walker mentions “As predicted, the majority suffered from intrusive re-experiencing of the rape: 58% reported experiencing intrusive thoughts often…” (Walker, 5) After reading this, I think of how many rape victims do not seek help (professional or not). Rape survivors can have serious long lasting psychological/health issues, and treatment services can really help

In Ruth Graham’s article Male Rape And The Careful Construction Of The Male Victim she mentions “Conceptualizing men as offenders and women as victims assumes that a clear distinction can be made between victims and perpetrators of crime. This distinction makes male victimization difficult to understand, as the existence of male victims directly challenges dominant understanding of victimization that often problematize men’ sexuality.” (Graham 3) I remember in class watching the video “Project Unspoken: I am tired of the silence”, and noticing how the men (including myself) didn’t consciously think about sexual violence, perhaps because it would directly conflict with their masculinity? In other words, men don’t view themselves as victims to the extent that women do, and only see themselves vulnerable in prisons. According to Graham, there is a small amount of research on male rape that expose the traditional belief that a male body is impenetrable to sexual assault. There is also research on why male rape is considered a vulgar/horrific form of rape. These types of research, in my opinion, are important for male victimization and male rape to come out of the shadows.

Graham, Ruth. “Male Rape And The Careful Construction Of The Male Victim.” Sage Publications, 2006. Web.

Rochman, Sue. “Silent Victims: Bringing Male Rape Victims Out of the Closet.” The Advocate, Issue 582, 30 July 1991. Web.

Walker, Jayne, John Archer, and Michelle Davies. “Effects of Rape on Men: A Descriptive Analysis.” The British Psychological Society (2005): 1-8. Print.

5 thoughts on “Women, Men, Victimization!

  1. I feel like rape always associates rape with a male and a female.. when it comes to man on man rape, do you think that the rapist is always gay? Do you know if your first definition of rape is still applicable? Do you think people are surprised that men can get raped?

  2. I agree that male rape is often forgotten in comparison to female rape. While the demonstration of power may play a role in all rapes, I feel it can even more so for male rape. Masculinity, sexuality, and power are all challenged and leads to a victim even less willing to report the assault. I do not think that male rapists necessarily have to be gay. Think of the typical dropping the bar of soap in the prison shower scene. I think further research into male rape and the reasons the perpetrators commit these acts could provide valuable insights that apply to sexual assaults on either sex.

  3. Dear upluto:
    In relation to your quote, “In other words, men don’t view themselves as victims to the extent that women do…” I would comment that:
    This is so because men are considered to be “manly” enough to protect themselves. To some it may be funny that a woman can have the physical strength to rape a man, while some heterosexual men may not even acknowledge the possibility of getting raped by a gay or even another heterosexual male. Since “manhood” has always identified men to be physically stronger than women, it was always assumed that only men could rape women.

    In addition, as of January 2012, the Obama Administration expanded the definition of sex crimes. The revised FBI definition states,
    “rape is ‘the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object,’ without the consent of the victim. Also constituting rape under the new definition is ‘oral penetration by a sex organ of another person’ without consent.”

    I believe that this definition uses the term “another individual” or “victim” that can refer to both men and women.

  4. Dear merstar:
    I couldn’t help but notice one of your questions in your comment, and wanted to comment on it:

    Q. “I feel like rape always associates rape with a male and a female.. when it comes to man on man rape, do you think that the rapist is always gay?”

    A. The rapist is not always gay. In the article “Effects of Rape on Men: A Descriptive Analysis” by Archer, Davies and Walker, they published results of a research study which had 40 british male participants. Some of them stated that they felt that their penetrators were heterosexual males. In addition, male prison assaults do not always constitue a gay male raping a gay (or straight) male. A heterosexual male, devoid of sexual intercourse (as there are no females in prison) may also resort to raping another male.

  5. upluto: good job stimulating a robust virtual conversation about the issue of men as survivors of sexual assault/rape. I wonder what can explain the different definitions of rape across time and across states? Can you think of any reason why they changes might have occurred? Any critical historical moments or social movements that may have advocated for these changes?

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