[I have been asked by the bloggers at Feminist Critics to join them as a co-blogger. I am honoured by the request and have accepted this opportunity to reach a wider audience. In practice this means that many, but probably not all, of my articles from now on will be published both on Feminist Critics and this blog. This is the first post published both places.]
Derailing And Hijacking Rape Discourse?
I’ve more than once experienced that bringing up the existence of male victims of rape and mentioning statistics about it when rape is discussed has led to people castigating me for derailing the discussion. One particularly egregious example was on a thread on a Feministing post titled The dangers of a gender essentialist approach to rape, where bringing up the statistics from the NISVS 2010 Report was called hijacking and derailing the thread by a commenter, and a ban was being called for. This was even more ironic considering the Feministing blogger (Jos) asserted that:
“Obviously, the feminist take on rape has much more to do with reality than the MRA take.”
The rest of this post is based on my response.
Bringing up the statistics on female-on-male rape, female-on-female rape, and any other combination not usually considered when discussing rape is not a derailment – it’s putting the train on track again after it’s been derailed for years by many, including Mary P. Koss, the CDC, and to a large degree men and women in general. The traditionalist perception of rape as a man-on-woman-only crime adopted by some feminists like Koss doesn’t change by itself. It’s only by bringing the subject up can we raise awareness about this blind spot in this important topic.
If more feminists had been on the ball when the NISVS 2010 Report came out and not been “blinded” by already-held beliefs, they wouldn’t have omitted and/or mischaracterized male victimization rates, and I might have believed that feminism has a better take on this aspect of rape than the MRA. Instead, the kicking and screaming of “no, it isn’t so” when the male victimization rates are mentioned reveals exactly how little gynocentric and mainstream feminists in general understand this issue.
I have seen almost no blog-posts/articles by orthodox feminists or in the mainstream media which seriously discuss what the last 12 months’ prevalence numbers for raped women and raped men ((Especially those men who were made to penetrate someone else, which as most of you know are not counted as rape victims in the NISVS 2010 report.)) means and if it should have any effect on how the discourse on rape should be handled going forward. This article by Abigail Rine is one exception. Has anyone seen any else? ((Outside of Feminist Critics, of course. Though ballgame identifies as a feminist, I think we can all agree that he’s not an ‘orthodox’ feminist.))
I’d love to see more discussion and acknowledgment of this issue from feminists, as they are a very influential voice in rape discourse, in the design and execution of anti-rape campaigns, and in rape policy-making. Feminism is the powerhouse when it comes to anti-rape research and policy-making.
Unfortunately, that also means that (gynocentric) feminism has become the establishment in that regard … an establishment which all too often seems unable to adapt to new facts going against commonly held beliefs. I have seen almost no mainstream feminist bloggers or article writers even mentioning the last 12 months prevalence numbers for male victims of rape reported in the NISVS 2010 Report ((I include “being made to penetrate someone else”)). They apparently don’t want to touch it with a 12 feet pole. Most have either ignored it completely or said they don’t trust the number (although the number for female victims in the NISVS 2010 are a-OK). I can’t help but wonder why. The responses one receives when those statistics are pointed out in comments etc. have been mostly defensive and dismissive.
Feminism And The Reality Of Males Being Raped
When I read feminists like Soraya Chemaly citing some statistics (but not that one) from the NISVS 2010 Report in the same article where she states that “only men can stop rape,” I find I can’t afford to put any stock in the general assertion that feminism has anything to do with reality when it comes to male rape victimization. When feminist academics like Mary P. Koss think it’s important that male rape victims aren’t counted as rape victims, I can’t put any trust in mainstream feminism on this subject. When I see very little or no push-back from orthodox feminists against Chemaly’s assertion that only men can stop rape or against Koss’s dismissal of male rape victims, I am disappointed. This is not to say that there aren’t any feminists who acknowledge the significance of the prevalence of male victims. I just wish I’d see and hear more from them and I am genuinely grateful when I do.
Telling a crowd of women which includes female victims of male rape that women can stop rape by men by dressing themselves more modestly is horrible and would rightfully prompt protest. Saying “only men can stop rape” to a crowd which includes male victims of female rapists is apparently not objectionable, according to many feminists. When it’s only male victims and MRAs who protest that, I again find Jos of Feministe’s assertion that feminists are more reality-oriented about male sexual victimization than MRAs to be pretty weak.
The larger feminist community has dropped the ball for many years by hurling “what about the menz” at men – including male victims bringing up the subject of male rape in the only arena where rape was discussed with what initially seemed to be empathy towards victims. “MRA!” seems to be the new invective replacing the “what about the menz.”
Why Does Male Sexual Victimization Belong In Discussions Of Rape?
I believe that educating women about respecting men’s boundaries and men about respecting their own boundaries doesn’t just help men, but helps women as well.
Rape prevention programs with a sincere equal representation on both axis of gender and orientation not only help teach people the sanctity of other’s consent and boundaries, but also the sanctity of their own consent and boundaries. From an early age, both men and women get countless messages that men’s consent and boundaries don’t really matter (“he wanted it” and so on). I believe that a person who perceives that their consent and boundaries don’t matter is less likely to respect the consent and boundaries of others. Or, to put it another way, someone who has been told that their consent matters and that others’ consent matters is more likely to care about consent from others than someone who has been told that their consent doesn’t and that others’ consent matters more.
Published simultaneously on Feminist Critics at: http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2014/02/09/on-derailment-noh/