In my last post I spoke about the lack of material that addressed male victims of sexual assault and rape. There was little to no mentioning in the toolkit of coping mechanisms for male victims, in fact, there was little that mentioned males as being victims of rape at all. The reality is that male victims of rape do exist and the discrimination and stigmatization society has against these victims may be the underpinning as to why the scientific community has turned a blind eye to their situations.
In 2011, it was recorded that 10% of all rape victims were male. Although this number may seem small, it is in no way insignificant. This number is probably grossly underestimated due to the fact that male victims are much less likely to report their assaults than their female counterparts. “Few male rapes appear in police files or other official records. Very few male rape victims report their assault to the police because they think that they will experience negative treatment, be disbelieved, or blamed for their assault” (Walker, Archer, and Davies, 495). I think that many of us feel that male rape only happens in the confines of prisons and military organizations, but the practice of men raping other men occurs around the world in a multitude of environments.
Although I am sure there are many theories behind this lack of reporting, I am going to address what I think is one of the most important factors that discourages male victims from reporting their abuse. “Previous research has suggested that gay and bisexual men are more at risk of rape than heterosexual men for two reasons. The first is that they are at risk of being raped by dates or while in relationships with men…The second reason that gay and bisexual men are more at risk is through homophobic sexual assaults” (Walker, Archer, and Davies, 495). I think the stigma that a vast majority of societies place on the homosexual community inhibits gay men from speaking out against their aggressors. I feel that this already extremely stigmatized community does not want to draw any negative attention to a major problem that has been plaguing it for years. The shame and humiliation that is felt after abuse can lead many victims to experience confusion, depression, and isolation from the community they originally associated themselves with.
The general public’s equation of rape with sex may bring on a shame attached to homosexuality. In a lecture given on prison sexuality it was said that, “The sexual penetration of another male prisoner by a man is sanctioned by the subculture, is considered a male rather than a homosexual activity, and is considered to validate the penetrator’s masculinity” (Scarce, 39). The sacred act of sex that homosexual men engage in with one another is therefore being stripped down for the raw purpose of prisoner’s justifying fulfilling their bodily needs. From a homosexual’s perspective, “Gay male victims may also experience problems with their sexual orientation. When behavior that is formerly associated with consensual sexual activity becomes associated with violence, gay men can experience difficulty in defining their sexuality in a positive way” (Walker, Archer, and Davies, 496). For what I am sure is a long and confusing process for homosexual men in establishing their sexual identity, adding rape into the equation is something I am sure few want to think about or deal with. Maybe the homosexual society feels that the lack of reporting is somehow protecting the inroads they have made on the general public in accepting them for their sexual orientation, and these inroads are something they are not willing to give up.
Scarce, Michael. Male on Male Rape: The Hidden Toll of Stigma and Shame. New York: Insight, 1997. Print.
Walker, Jayne, John Archer, and Michelle Davies. “Effects of Rape on Men: A Descriptive Analysis.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 34.1 (2005): 69-80. Print.