Andrew Sullivan has been running a series of posts highlighting a problem that most people tend to ignore: rape of men. Andrew shares several stories that his readers sent in, and all of them are heartbreaking. The common theme is that many of the victims are afraid to report it, and those that do aren’t believed. A sample:
Ever hear someone jokingly say, “You can’t rape the willing”? I have, from almost every straight friend I have ever had. There is a general societal perception that men CANNOT be raped because men always want sex and real men can control their sexual encounters. A man who claims to have been raped is not really a man; either he’s lying to cover something up, or he deserved it (a common view in the more homophobic parts of the country) or he’s a pussy who can’t fight off another man and thus less of a person. Male-on-male sexual assault goes unreported because of this – men don’t get raped, men just have bad sex and move on. Add on top of this the usual negative views of homosexuality, and someone who has been attacked in such a way will find any excuse to deny it ever happened.
These stories broke my heart. These are men who are afraid to tell anyone about this, because they’re afraid of the reactions they’ll get. And all too often, those fears are justified. Our society has collectively decided that rape is something that only happens to women (or prison inmates), when in fact, anyone can be a victim. Sullivan’s thread terms this “gay rape,” but I agree with this reader:
I’m uncomfortable with the term “gay rape”. Men who identify as straight rape other men. Rape is at least as much about power as it is about sex.
It’s not “gay rape.” It’s not “male rape.” It’s “rape.” Men get raped too, and it’s just as traumatic for them as it is for women. It’s time society realized that men aren’t always the rapists; sometimes they’re the victims, too.