Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cheerleading for rapists

Warning: Please note that the first and third links in this post lead to written descriptions of rape, and may be disturbing or upsetting. For those interested in this topic, a listing of all posts at The Superfluous Man concerning sexual violence and related issues can be found by clicking here.

Over at Pajamas Media, I had the bad fortune to encounter what is probably the most disgusting congregation of human vileness I have ever personally encountered on the internet, which is saying something. There are acts more despicable than ridiculing and belittling a rape survivor, but not many.

Helen Smith had an article about the little-discussed phenomenon of female-on-male rape. She recounted the story of the pseudonymous “Mike,” who was raped as a young man by a woman who mounted him while he slept, then extorted his submission by threatening to falsely accuse him of rape, likely sending him to prison, if he resisted.

“Mike” eventually spoke on his own behalf and identified himself in the comments as the very courageous libertarian writer James Landrith. You can read Mr. Landrith’s own thoughts about his experience here. There's also some good discussion of the issue at this Toy Soldiers post. I would also like to put in a good word for Wendy McElroy, who has been a very positive force in this area.

The public’s attitude towards men raped by other men (in prison or otherwise) is almost uniformly dreadful; raped men are either a punch line or objects of contempt, to the extent they are acknowledged at all. This is not surprising, since many supporters of both traditionalist/patriarchal sex roles and many supporters of feminism have an interest in ignoring, denying, or belittling the issue. Well, the attitude towards victims of female-on-male rape actually manages the difficult feat of being worse. To the extent that people were willing to even admit the possibility of such a thing, the response was ridicule or outright contempt and disgust for the victim. It’s interesting to note how much of the belittling of the importance of the rape described (and the character of its victim) boils down to one of these:

1. He must have wanted it, since he remained erect (I guess women being raped never experience lubrication, either), or he was somehow “asking for it” in one way or another, such as getting drunk or sharing a room. Any of this sound familiar?

2. Men, being on average the more sexually driven sex, don’t mind being raped and aren’t traumatized by the experience. Another parallel: Though less often said openly nowadays, one still sometimes hears it suggested that raping a promiscuous woman or a prostitute is in some sense a lesser crime than raping a “decent” woman, on the theory that it wouldn’t be as big a deal to the victim.

3. It serves him right for being such a weakling. The frequency which with this one was repeated is interesting because in traditionalist/patriarchal morality, strength/power is often considered the prime virtue of a man, just as chastity is considered the prime virtue of a woman. In other words, we have here a masculine parallel to “The slut had it coming.” Violate the expectations placed on your sex, and there will be no compassion for you.

Thus, we have a nearly perfect recapitulation of the traditional ways of denying, minimizing, or condoning the rape of women. In fact, there were a number of women in the comments saying stuff like this. That initially surprised me, but it shouldn't have.

It’s worth noting how people can suffer from positive stereotypes about their sex. Much of the indifference to crimes like this (By no means all- there are also “progressive” reasons not to care, which sometimes overlap), or to men being raped in prison, or to male victims of domestic violence, and so on, can be attributed to the traditional belief that men, who are supposed to be the strong, stoic sex, don’t let themselves be harmed or abused by others, don’t (or at least shouldn’t) feel pain the way women do, and certainly shouldn’t admit it to it if they do. A perusal of the comment thread at the linked article will certainly testify to that, as will observing attitudes on the issue of men being raped in prison. A crying woman inspires compassion; a crying man inspires contempt. It’s drilled (or beaten, as needed) into everyone from an early age. God only knows how much injustice and misery has happened through the years because of this mentality, and how much we’ll continue to see.

And I don’t think it’s ever going to end.

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Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely. We need to be supporting this man, not ridiculing or ignoring him.


Anonymous said...

So the feminists are right, then. gender essentialism sucks.
A woman crying also inspires contempt, by the by and P.S.

Anonymous said...

As a mother-son rape survivor, I am grateful for this post and for James Landrith's story. This is a big beginning for men/boys raped by women/girls. Thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

it sickens me that of all the thousands of women that are treated like shit by men, you guys are concentrating on the 1% of female rapists. which, by the way, is an AMAZING thing. i wish more women would beat men until they got what they want :) men usually do it to women, so what the fucks wrong with a woman doing it back to a man? NOTHING. its AMAZING, so FUCK YOU.

John Markley said...

Anonymous 5:16,

It continues to fascinate me that people who- at least superficially- express such vehement anger and outrage about rape, and about society's insufficient concern about it, can often be found in the ranks of the most vitriolic rape apologists. Feminism's answer to to all the right-wing politicians and clergy who rail against gays and then turn out be spending their free time consorting with male escorts or trolling public restrooms, I suppose.

You're sickened that, amongst the innumerable web sites, nonprofit organizations, political pressure groups, academics, media outlets, etc. focused on female rape victims, there's a blog post pointing out the existence of female rapists. Not surprising. You don't indicate your sex- I'd guess male from your relative lack of snark, the creepy fetishistic element, and your failure to use the word "dude"- so I'm not sure whether you're an entitled, spoiled little girl pitching a hissy fit at the prospect of not being the center of everyone's attention for once in her life, or one of the chivalrous turds who builds his status and self-image by stomping on men less privileged than himself to show the girls what an awesome guy he is, but it's not as if there's any shortage of either.

This is a solo blog, so there's no "you guys." I know your ilk tend to have trouble understanding the subtle differences between concepts like "men in general," "most men," "a few men," "this specific group of men," "this particular man," and "this other particular man who is a separate and distinct person from the previous particular man," but try to keep up. Unless you meant to include the previous commenters to the post under "you guys," in which it apparently "sickens" you that a male victim of childhood rape would have the temerity to spend three full sentences mentioning that fact.

Not that it really matters- I'm under no obligation to genuflect to Mommy before I mention the existence of something that might hurt her oh-so-precious feelings- but I have, in fact, written about men who rape women. It was quite long, and one of the most vicious things I've ever written. If anyone's curious, just Google my name and the title "Like Maggots to Carrion." There's also a shorter post from a few years ago about extortion and rape of prostitutes by police; search my name and "Rapists and their enablers." SPOILER ALERT : I say that rape is bad.

It's unclear what percentage of sexual violence is actually committed by women- though it's certainly a good bit more than one percent- because the disincentives to reporting are huge. (No links because I'm too tired to bother throwing pearls before shit at the moment.) That's due in no small part to folks like you, so congratulations.