Although I am pleased to see discussions surrounding the rape culture in America, I feel as though there is an important part missing in the discourse. How is it that one-in-six males being assaulted is overlooked in the conversation? To me, that should be an issue worth bringing into the conversation.
Women have been sexually assaulted since the beginning of time. But contrary to popular belief, so have men. I know that rape is a touchy subject for many, but it’s due to our lack of acknowledgment that many victims remain silent. However, just because we have this made up notion of masculinity does not imply that sexual assault is any less traumatic for male victims.
As hard as it is for women to bring their attackers to justice, it is equally difficult for men to do it. And there are many reasons for that.
Perhaps he is scared that he will not be taken seriously. Although we have laws in place in this country that include male sexual assault, it still is portrayed as a joke that it can happen to a man. Or how about the favorite excuse that all victims of rape really “wanted” it? Not every man wants sex from every woman (or man) he meets.
I do not find it funny at all. Women can be just as sexually deviant as men. We just have this idea in our head that the physical strength of a man can overpower the advances of a woman. This just is not so.
It is an awful injustice that we umbrella the term “rape” under violence. And I think that has a lot to do with how the media portrays rape as well as the myth that rape always guarantees a fight to the death. Oftentimes, the the response of the body is to go into shock… but we completely ignore that element. I do not care if men tend to be stronger than women; assault can happen to them and just because there is not a sign of a fight does not mean that there is not one. Men are often programmed to think that raising a hand to a woman, even in self defense, is wrong.
It is not a laughing matter when a man gets assaulted either by a man or a woman. The fact that we even put a comedic tone on it makes me sick. You are having innocent men being taken advantage of, and it is totally unfair that we treat males differently.
Men also seem to be taught that sexual advances made by women should always be accepted. I know we all love to point fingers at men for being the sexually aggressive ones, but this belief needs to stop. Men are just as much entitled to say no as a woman is.
We also need to instill in men that their masculinity is not on the line if they are victims of attack. If this is what we are telling men, then we are doing a disservice to their emotional and physical well-being. Helplessness and vulnerability, the last time I checked, did not include “female” in the definition.
The justice system needs to take this subject seriously. Yes they have laws in place for male victims, but are they really taken seriously? And how many men do not report it because they are scared that they will be laughed at or not be considered a man? As a society we treat it like a threat against masculinity. When was the last time you saw the news cover a rape case brought forward by a male victim? Even the media does not want to acknowledge the reality of the situation.
Sexual assault is not gendered and we need to stop treating it that way. It is not only unique to gay men or straight men; it happens across the board. If we are going to challenge the rape culture of this country, we need to begin by including everyone in the discussion.
Holly Mayer is a junior English major. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org