Rape is never okay.

9 Jun

Unless you’re a violent criminal or a rapist yourself. Then you deserve it.

Do read on.

Browsing [a forum], I just came across a thread discussing a news event in Zimbabwe. A 19-year-old man had been abducted and his sperm had been forcibly “sucked” from him through a machine, 3 times a day for 7 days. Several adult women were involved in this. Basically, the man, or rather, the boy, was being sexually abused and held captive, for a week.
The vast majority of commenters on the news item were female, and they were making jokes. Some expressed disgust for the messy practice of forcible semen extraction rather than the fact of violent sexual abuse. The general feeling seemed to be that abducting and raping a man is funny. Especially when the culprits are females. Oh, so naughty. Not “vicious”, no, “naughty”.

Well, it’s not. I will now make a lot of enemies but I’ll say it anyway. While it must be noted that I am fervently against the sexual abuse of any gender or age, it is simply a fact that the younger you are, the more likely you are to grow out of all kinds of emotional memories. I am not remotely implying that it’s preferable to abuse a toddler rather than an adult. Never. All rapists should be tortured to death, and I will back this statement if push came to shove. However, the farther back an event lies, the more the memory of it is likely to fade. I don’t remember my 3rd birthday as well as I do my 27th. My first beating lies farther back temporally and emotionally, than does the last one. Time does heal wounds unless they are kept open in some way. That’s all I’m saying, realizing full well that there is no non-shocking way of saying it.
I was abused once when I was 7. I can’t say it traumatized me; I thought we were playing doctor and I didn’t really see the big difference between his penis and his hands. He inflicted no degree of pain on me, and there was no possibility of physical damage. Actually he had been the one to beg me to bite him “there” and I loved being allowed to bite someone. If my mother hadn’t brought it up 7 years later, I would not even have remembered it – let alone care about it. Obviously, this doesn’t make it okay. No violation of anybody’s physical or mental indemnity, is ever okay. But since the incident was isolated and is now 23 years in the past, I cannot say I have issues with or for it.

Now imagine any degree of abuse happening to a grown man. Not only are you old enough for your memory to store and categorize everything and brood it ten times over, you are a man. Society expects you to be strong and dominating. You rule, you are responsible. You are at  the top of the social food chain because you are physically stronger than women, and mentally riper than children. Or at least, so they say. So they demand.
What is sexual abuse? It doesn’t really matter. What matters, is what law, culture, and society make it. To me personally, it is no worse than other physical abuse – actually I’d rather be raped than have my face cut up or my skull bashed in. That’s just me though. And law, culture, and society make it something that is only horrible when it happens to children and females. Because children are classically associated with innocence and helplessness, and women with weakness and an inherent lack of responsibility. Women, like children, have gone through history being taken care of either by men, or by other women. Men are the caregivers, women are culturally assumed to be on the receiving end of such care, or authority, unless the care is directed at children, the elderly, or animals – basically anything that needs nursing is okay for a woman to care for. But who is the provider of food, shelter, and safety for the woman? The man.

How dare you, man, to get into a situation where you claim the innocence that was assigned to the child, or the weakness that was assigned to the woman? Here’s the problem, I think. Men are expected to be the do-ers, the strong ones, the ones who make force happen rather than have it happen to them. It’s absurd in the eyes of a man-run society, and the absurd is laughable. This is especially predominant in sexual force, since sex is typically associated with gender and gender roles – the male on top. What happens when a female turns the tables, or when a man is on top of a man? Even in consensual sexual relations, this is seen as “different”. Men are not expected to be submissive to women, and men are not expected to sexually submit other men.

To make things worse, men are assumed to be in the mood for any kind of sex at any given time, as long as homophobic men are spared homosexual encounters. So why would any heterosexual man complain about having his penis aggressed by females? Shouldn’t he enjoy it and tweet about it? “Getting gang-raped by hot black nymphos, lol”.
While this often works in womens’ disadvantage, social sexual expectations of women give them one advantage over men: women are expected to use their sexuality sparingly and deny sex to as many as possible. So if a woman is forced to give what she is not supposed to give, of course society will harshly condemns her rapist. And so it should.
But men? Society cares little for male virginity or “purity”, so a man being forced to give his body to a sexual encounter, is not viewed as as much of a victim as is the woman. Men are expected to stick it in everything, so they might as well have it stuck for them.

To sexually abuse a woman or a child is already a horrible crime and I would not protest public executions of rapists. But we women are raised with warnings and expectations of being sexually abused. Sexual abuse of women by men, is an integral part of our belief system, whether it happens to us or whether the media tell us about yet another case. As women, we know how real and likely it is to become a victim of sexual abuse. Similar conditions are true for children, though children are handled more carefully.
Men? Rape an adult man whose world views have been established and which he believes in. Rape a man who has grown out of the innocence of childhood, and into a big, strong testosterone silo men are made to believe they are, and often rightly so. Rape a man who has been led to believe by his culture, that he is a ruler for no more than being male.
Unlike a woman who has grown up being brainwashed into “knowing” that she, for being female, is a subject to this man’s world, and a potential victim of sexual abuse, the man’s world collapses far beyond the feeling of having been violated or betrayed. The man is confronted with something he was not prepared for – being a victim of sexual aggression, something much more typical for women and children. This atypical experiences may lead him to question his gender identity. His biological position. His whole world that was never once about men being sexual victims. Despite being a man, he was overpowered physically, and forced into what is “typically” the position of a female – getting fucked rather than fucking. Hebrew language distinguishes this very clearly. Women fuck in English just like men do, they fuck in German just like men do, but in Hebrew, women get fucked while men fuck and I have been corrected for saying “I fuck” many times.

Call me a sexist all you want, I am presenting things from a cultural point of view rather than my own. Women are supposed to get fucked, by men who are supposed to fuck. A man unwillingly getting fucked, “worse” even, by the typical get-fuckedster, a woman, is turning the world (as it is, perhaps not as it should be) upside-down. It does more than inflict physical pain/injury, and create the trauma of having had your sexual intimacy invaded. It un-creates your established mental manlihood. It un-creates your biological, sexual belief system. It un-creates your understanding of the world.

Yes, the understanding that women and children are the typical rape victims, is unfair. Nobody should be a victim, much less inherently categorized as such. But children, for their innocence and helplessness, for their inability to give informed consent or refusal, and women, for their physical weakness and their inherent biological “task” of being penetrated by the male, are “accepted” victims. This is not right, this is not ethical, but this is our culture. We sadly and desperately expect women and children to be abused, which is why we tell women and children to steer clear of male strangers, while we do not tell this to teenage boys or adult men. It hardly occurs to us that men, too, should be warned of this danger. We inherently expect them to either be off the menu of the sex predator, or to be strong enough, “man enough” to either defend against, end up enjoying, or get over it. This, to me, is just as sad as looking at a woman in a dark street and hoping she won’t be raped. This, to me, is just as sad as worrying that your child, on his way home from school, may be assaulted. Society has little worry for a male’s sexual safety if he is too big to be a “sweet, innocent child” – and a man becomes too big for this very quickly.

I’ve been sexually assaulted to various degrees at various ages. Mostly in my early 20s, only by males, not counting a disturbed 9-year-old girl who enjoyed dry-humping people. But while I find it awkward to talk about, and while I prefer not to recall any incident, I manage to shrug it off. Maybe I’m more hardened than other women, or maybe it is because I have grown up being warned of, and prepared for, the abuse for being a helpless female in a man’s world. With all the warnings to women and children, how can I not grow to expect and shrug at it when it happens to me? All of society keeps telling me: as a female, I can expect to get assaulted.

Since this predictability is not the case for men, for men not having been raised with the fear/expectation of being sexually abused, men lack the mental preparation that is latently present in women. For this lack of preparation, men have jolly little coping mechanisms, no ready-made phrases like “It’s not my fault” or “He’s just a woman hater”. Women have these phrases, women in most cultures and legal systems, have a support system that condemns their assaillants and defends their own innocence in the matter. Men have society tell them to be strong, man up, and stop being a whiny little bitch. Men have society belittle them and call them “homos” for “letting” another man assault them, men have society tell them to be grateful if a woman forces herself on them because hey, at least he got some…

Even children have better coping mechanisms. Since adults are an absolute authority in the minds of most children, a group of adults repeatedly telling them that they are not to blame, and that they will be okay, and that their assaillant was just a bad person, is likely to help tremendously. This can be parents, this can be therapists. Even if such support is offered to men, culture has taught them to feel much more awkward and ashamed about accepting or reaching out for help, than women or children.

For who doesn’t snort at the thought of sitting down with a grown man who got raped, hold his hand, wipe his tears, and tell him what they would tell a female or underage victim? I don’t snort, many other people don’t either, but I think we all know that as a whole, men get a lot less sympathy for being victims of sexual assault.

Yes, most victims are females and children, yes, most perpetrators are male. But gender or age should not determine how much of a victim you are or how much support or sympathy you get, or how horrible your assailant is. Personally, I don’t want to be beat up any more than I want to be raped; personally, I am no more disturbed by the incident when I was 7, than by the incident when I was 24, and personally I think a violent criminal, sexual or non-sexual, should hang from every street lamp.

I am not saying raping a woman or a child is preferable to raping a man. I am however saying that the latter is being downplayed unjustly when, due to cultural attitudes, the impact can actually be more severe for male victims. But how about not raping anyone? I think that would be good.

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One Response to “Rape is never okay.”

  1. a male feminist June 14, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    What you describe here is very real and anybody who thinks logically can see the problem with these social attitudes. I almost totally agree with you except on one little point in the beginning. Maybe your personal experience was not so bad, but children who are abused by adults do not have the emotional mechanisms to cope the same way as adults do, and while their memories might blur, it might also leave a much deeper impression/scar on them than an adult experience might.

    Your main point about the potential rape/sexual abuse of men and the total lack of social mechanisms to deal with it, is however completely true, and has to be seen as another pernicious byproduct of patriarchy where males are by default expected to be in positions of power like you point out. I remember reading somewhere that 10% of the victims of the rape epidemic in the Congo happen to be men. What greater way to break the morale of the enemy in wartime than to rape and humiliate the men?

    Anyway it was good to see your post.

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