Sex is often used as a source of power between people. Stereotypically, it is the man who is the dominant one in a sexual relationship. Men also have a higher statistic for rape against women. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to men. Even though the idea of a man being raped is not considered to be a stereotypical norm, men can be victims of this gendered violence for the gain of power.
One of my favorite TV shows to watch is Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. In this show, the Special Victims Unit is in charge of solving cases that involve rape. In an earlier season, they had an episode of male stripper being raped by three women at bachelorette party that he was working. The episode goes on to show how the male victim did not report his rape because he was a man and how he believed that no one would take him seriously based on his sex and profession. The alleged female rapists stated in the court hearing that “we paid him for his services, so it wasn’t rape”. While this was a fictional TV episode, it can happen in real life to men. Last year, The Huffington Post featured a story and a video interview of a former U.S. Marine, James Landrith, telling his story of how he was drugged and raped by a pregnant woman. He waited to share his story two decades later and stated “she had informed me that I better not be forceful, but just sit there and take it”. These two stories challenge the idea of what society thinks of rape. Both of these men weren’t even comfortable expressing their attacks to the authorities because of the ridicule they would face towards their masculinity. So why is that we can’t believe that men can be raped?
According to Dr. Julia Wood’s research, “one in thirty-three men will be raped in their lifetime” (294). While this is a lower statistic than women (which is one in six), the fact of the matter is, it’s still one too many. These gentlemen did not give informed consent to their female rapists in having sex with them. According to Wood, informed consent “can be given only by an adult who has normal mental capabilities…whose judgment is not impaired by alcohol, other drugs, or circumstances” (293). For example, Landrith was drugged when he was raped, which did not allow him to give consent Landrith’s rape resulted in the U.S. Department of Justice to change the definition of rape. The new definition states, “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Not only does it feature non gender bias, but it states the issue of consent. In society, we are all taught that men have a different perspective of rape. In fact, we’re usually told that they are the rapists. Even though women are more often the victims of rape, men still have to give consent to any sexual activity.
The issue that men can be raped often becomes neglected and can become a double standard. We accept that women can be raped, but not men? That seems unfair because society stresses how men and women are equal. So therefore, shouldn’t they both be treated equally when it comes to rape? With that in mind, it is important for all of us to remember that rape is rape. It is still gendered violence and therefore, should be prosecuted the same way regardless of sex and gender.
(2012 December 1). Women Raping Men: A Survivor Tells His Story To HuffPost Live. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on March 31, 2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/01/women-raping-men-a-surviv_n_2224204.html
Russo, T. (2012 January, 6). An Updated Definition of Rape. The United States Department of Justice. Retrieved on March 31, 2013 from http://blogs.justice.gov/main/archives/1801
Wood, J. (2011). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, & Culture (10th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.