“I never heard of, of rape and a man.”

Joe Paterno said that, admitting that even if he’d been given more detailed reports of the rapes at Penn State, he wouldn’t have known what to do. There’s a good article here, about widespread lack of understanding of the fact that men may be victims of rape. A nice example for those working on Miranda Fricker’s hermeneutical injustice. Also just something important to remember when teaching or writing about rape. Men are silenced too, and arguably more than women– it wasn’t until this year that the US federal statistics on rape began including male victims.

(Thanks, C!)

8 thoughts on ““I never heard of, of rape and a man.”

  1. Just to qualify the last part of the OP, there is at least one area where the federal government has been maintaining and tracking rape statistics for victims of both sexes for a while now, and that is prison rape (ever since G.W. Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 into law).

  2. Until 1997, the German Criminal Code listed rape as a crime that could only be committed against a woman. (Although “raping” a man could be punishable under other sections of the code, like assault or coercion.)

  3. I wonder if the rape of men outside of prisons is really a feminist issue. I would expect a victim’s gender to be pretty relevant in one’s recovery: women will be encouraged to believe that what happened is normal, that they are responsible and perhaps even deserved as much, while men are empowered by society and will tend toward the belief that the crime was an anomaly, or at least doesn’t reflect on them personally.

    In general, I’m supposing that men who are raped experience something qualitatively similar to being robbed or severely beaten due to there being no particular stigma associated with it, and that society is uniformly against such rapes (even if they aren’t always acknowledged as such).

  4. Jay, I would think that there’s a massive stigma associated with being a man who was raped. If we look, for example, to how the practice has been used to assert dominance over men by “feminizing” them (e.g., there’s lots of examples of this, but some obvious biblical ones leap to mind: the story of sodom and gomorrah, the story of the levite and his concubine, etc.) there seem to be some similarities between rape of men in general and rape of men within the prison system (asserting dominance and “maleness” by putting your victim in the position stereotypically associated with the feminine, making someone your “bitch”).

  5. Jay:

    Rape tends to be very traumatic for males.

    They find it difficult to talk about, because they often feel, as Kathyrn says, that it reflects on their masculinity (a “real” man would have fought his way out of it) or that others will think that it reflects on their masculinity even if they don’t see it that way.

  6. It’s only vaguely related to my original point, but here’s a response to the linked NYT article on some problems with appealing to the emasculating effects of rape:


    Quick snippet: “Femininity is not challenged at all when men rape women because femininity, and women’s sense of ourselves as patriarchally-constructed ‘woman’, are literally built on women being raped by men. That’s what femininity is.”

  7. Jay, after a quick reading of that, I actually think that supports what me and george were saying. Male rape is a feminist issue because the notions of emasculation, and traditional notions of femininity, are feminist issues. I get how appealing to these ideas may make it seem like one thinks the rape of males is worse than the rape of females, but that only holds if one ignores that the extra “x” there in the rape of men is a constant in most (all?) women’s lives.

  8. I presume that none of you have seen that film where a female rapes a man, and he takes the case to court. I can not locate it, but I must say, it is based on a true story.

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