When a Man is the Victim: A Second Study in Rape Apology

by Cara on March 20, 2009

in media, paternalism, patriarchy, pop culture, race and racism, rape and sexual assault, violence against women and girls

I’ve previously done an in depth analysis of victim-blaming and rape denial, and how it varies and how it stays the same, in a case of rape where a man was the victim of a female assailant.   After seeing this video at Sociological Images, along with the questions Lisa poses about the attitudes towards sexual violence it reveals, I’m compelled to do a second one.  The results are a bit long and wandering.

Below, rapper Lil’ Wayne appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live and (starting at about 2:40) is asked by the host whether or not it’s true that he “lost his virginity” at 11.  After looking shocked and attempting to laugh it off, Lil’ Wayne tells his story, and it may be triggering to some of you.

I do not know what Lil’ Wayne would call his own experience, but though he does not use the word, the admittedly few details he provides do indeed portray this quite clearly as rape, for reasons that I hope are obvious to most readers here, and which will be delved into in more detail below.  Lil’ Wayne seems to me to be uncomfortable with the line of questioning, and yet Jimmy Kimmel and the other man on the show continue to laugh and joke around about it, even after Lil’ Wayne says very clearly that the experience was harmful to him.

It seems like a reasonable question, to ask what the hell is wrong with Jimmy Kimmel.  But the problem is, while not excusing his actions for a single second, that he has a whole culture (and audience) backing him up.

In the majority of sexual assault cases, where a woman is the victim of a man’s violence, rape apology is rooted primarily not in the denial that male violence exists, but in the denial that male violence means something and needs to be stopped.  Conversely, in cases where a man is the victim of a woman’s violence, rape apologism is strongly rooted in the denial that women’s actions can count as violence at all — and especially that their actions can count as sexual violence against men, who are routinely construed as incapable of being victims.

In cases of both of these two types of sexual violence (though hardly the only two that exist), the victim is accused of “wanting it.”  But while the female victim is also, when that reasoning fails, accused of deserving it, this seems to not be the case with men.  No, they just always wanted it.  (Again, talking only about male victims of women — gay male victims of other men are routinely portrayed as “deserving” it as well as “wanting” it.)  There are no sneers about what he should and shouldn’t have been doing.  Just jokes about how awesome the assault must have been for him.  Like we see Jimmy Kimmel engaging in above.

Over at Sociological Images, the assertion is made that if Lil’ Wayne was a white female, what was done to him would be seen as rape or sexual assault.  Seemingly, this assertion is made with certainty.

While I absolutely agree that if Lil’ Wayne were a white woman, Jimmy Kimmel would not be joking around on national television about the experience — because it wouldn’t be seen as “cool” — I remain unconvinced that it would necessarily be called rape by the majority of the viewing public.  As argued partially above, the tactics of rape apologism shift as need be — but with only a few extreme and/or notable exceptions, the intensity varies little.

I am unconvinced that many people who do not see Lil’ Wayne as a victim would see a woman with his same circumstances as one, because the fact that he was assaulted does not rely on age — which, while still subject to rape apologism, is one of the cases where you most commonly see sympathy for female victims.  While 14 is significantly older than 11 (since age differences matter more the younger you are), I’m not sure that the majority of people would be comfortable outright calling it rape based on that age difference.

If we were talking an 11-year-old girl and a 24-year-old man?  Most people, though of course certainly not all, would probably call that rape.  And I know for a fact that significantly fewer people would call it rape when we reverse those genders.

When watching this video, my mind was instantly drawn to another famous musician: Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I remember hearing long ago that he “lost his virginity” at the age of 12 to his father’s girlfriend, with the blessing of his father, and it always haunted me.  I’ve never heard him or anyone else refer to that as rape, even though this seems like an even “clearer cut” case by popular standards than Lil’ Wayne’s above.  In fact, it’s almost always told as though the story is “cool.”  If Anthony Kiedis was a woman who “lost her virginity” to her mother’s boyfriend at age 12, I think there’s little doubt that most people would see it as anything other than seriously fucked up at worst, and correctly as rape at best.

But it’s not the case here.  No, the (primary) reason that this was rape is because no affirmative, let alone enthusiastic, consent was obtained, and this would be the same even if both people were the exact same age.  Understanding that “surprising” someone with “sex” is in fact rape is required to understand that rape is what Lil’ Wayne seemingly endured, and far too many people don’t understand that.

So I ask, really, how many people of the sadly few people who are progressive and educated enough to see enthusiastic consent as a standard, are ignorant enough to think that it only applies to one gender?  I’m sure that they exist somewhere, but I doubt that they’re a large group.

On the other hand, there is a certain, entirely different group of people who would in fact see this as rape if it was done to a woman, but not see it as rape in the case of Lil’ Wayne.  These people are paternalist types.  Paternalist types who don’t oppose sexual violence because of a belief in bodily autonomy, sexual rights and social justice, but because they believe that women are delicate little flowers who need protecting, and that men are big boys who really need to suck it up.  They wouldn’t see this as rape if the victim was  a woman because they note the lack of enthusiastic consent — they’d see it as rape due to a combination of her age, the idea that girls are helpless, and that age-old and totally unhelpful believe that teenage boys “only want one thing.”  And they wouldn’t see it as rape if the victim was a man because boys are supposed to be tougher than that — and anyway, teenage boys “only want one thing,” and there you go, he got it, so why’s he complaining.

These people?  On their face, they might seem very slightly better than the kind of person who would also claim that the 11-year-old girl wanted it.  But they’re still not on our side.  Not even close.

The final consideration in analyzing the reaction to this story is the question of race.  Again, Sociological Images asserts that the reason people do not see this as rape is because Lil’ Wayne is not only male, but a black male.

It’s certainly true that black men are hyper-sexualized, and that anyone who is hyper-sexualized is instantly construed as unrapeable, all other considerations becoming irrelevant.  But at the same time, while Lil’ Wayne’s race surely plays a part not only in the failure to interpret his “virginity loss” as rape but also the prodding by the white males for him to brag about the assault he endured, I’m unsure that this would necessarily be interpreted as rape if a white male was the victim.  For an example of why, you can again see above.

Then again, Anthony Kiedis is also interpreted as hyper-sexual both due to the image that he has created for himself and by virtue of being a rock star.  Take that away and leave his situation with clearly older predators in tact, and you may have a situation where a white male would be seen as a victim, but a black male (or perhaps other male of color) would not be.  It’s not easy to say.  While we can say with certainty that racism plays a role in the reactions we see to the story that Lil’ Wayne recounts, we can’t say how exactly the reactions would be different when racism is taken out of the picture.

Again, rape apologism shifts according to its needs.  When racism helps its cause, racism is used.  When it doesn’t help, or actually hurts, new means are brought in to serve in its place.  Similarly, when stereotypes about masculinity serve rape apologism, those stereotypes are also used, and denied when they don’t.

That’s the thing about rape apologism.  Strangely enough, for a philosophy that relies entirely on lies and prejudice, it’s actually incredibly nuanced.   That’s why it can be so convincing to some people.  And it’s why it needs to be analyzed and picked apart.

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{ 39 comments }

1 Anon Ymous March 20, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Wow. I don’t see how anyone with any education could possibly see that as *not* rape… He said quite clearly he didn’t know what was happening, he was shocked when he discovered the girl forcefully taking his clothing off him was already naked, and he said that it affected him negatively. And, what’s more, he said all this in the company of people who didn’t expect him to see it negatively, where it would have been easier to just nod and smile and go “Yeah, yeah, it was great, huh?”

Having said all that, I’ve got to remember that it was only a few years ago that I honestly believed a man couldn’t be raped by a woman because you can’t force a guy to get an erection… Stupid argumment, and I know better now, but it’s what made me add the “educated” caveat… tiny bit of basic biology, and that dumb argument is out of the water.

2 Renee March 22, 2009 at 11:12 am

I hear you on this one loud and clear. What happens when it is a young boy, is that people have a tendency to try and change the situation and make it about male sexual conquest, while the whole time the boy in question rightly feels violated and abused. We only have a tendency to see it as rape when it involves a man/older boy and a younger boy. It is our social homophobia that allows us to see those events as a violation.

We need to socially acknowledge that a child of 11 or so cannot consent to sex with an older person. They have no idea what they are consenting to. This needs to be applicable to both genders. Just because males are socially understood as desiring and seeking sex at all times does not make it so and it is even less so in the case of young children.

We always say that sexism hurts males to and incidents like this are a prime example of this. The ways in which masculinity is understood means that when boys or men are victims it is not taken as seriously as it should be and there are few support networks for them. Trying to unpack gender is an uphill battle. Everything we see and do reifys these harmful ideas and creates an environment wherein victim status is either denied or the the victim is blamed for the actions of the abuser.

3 Eghead March 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

This is so dead-on. Prime example of why the patriarchy hurts men, too.

4 Eghead March 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Actually, now that I think about it, it’s not QUITE dead-on. Using the term ‘man’ here is disturbing and just plain inaccurate. I’ll call myself out on that, too: these were BOY victims, or at least male victims. The whole point of this is that they are not men.

5 Toysoldier March 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Speaking as someone who shares Lil Wayne’s experience, I commend you for empathizing with him and other male victims. It is generally uncommon for feminists to characterize sexual violence against boys and men as rape, let alone acknowledge that women are capable of and do commit sexual violence against them.

While “rape apologism” is a catchy phrase, the situation is a lot more complex and nuanced than that, and given that no one actually practices the “philosophy of rape apologism,” framing what occurs as such does victims just as a great disservice as having their experiences made light of.

There is another element at play in terms of why male victimization is dismissed, and that is that the support networks for victims generally do not reach to or even acknowledge male victims. It was not that long ago where it would have been expected for women to brush off rape if in a similar situation as Lil’ Wayne was in. As a result of advocacy in the last few decades those sentiments have changed. However, many of those advocates fail to include boys and men as potential victims, and people who bring that up as an issue are often shut down.

Sexual violence is framed as a women’s issue, and because of how pervasive that notion is in our society, it has a drastic effect on how people perceive male victimization.

Since I have been involved with male survivors, I have heard dozens of young men, particularly in my and Lil’ Wayne’s age group, state that they cannot have been raped because that is something that can only happen to girls. Inevitably this seems to stem from what they have been taught and heard. They have never heard anyone refer to males as potential victims, so they just assume that what happened could not possibly be raped, especially with the addition of the stereotypes and stigmas attached to male rape.

While this may not seem like an important aspect of why male victims refuse to use the term “rape” to describe their experiences, it does seem to be one of the major reasons driving that decision. So it is not just a matter of sexism in society, but also sexism within the support community that plays a role in what happened on Kimmel’s show.

6 Cara March 25, 2009 at 9:41 pm

It is generally uncommon for feminists to characterize sexual violence against boys and men as rape, let alone acknowledge that women are capable of and do commit sexual violence against them.

Though I’ll be the last person you’ll ever find denying that some feminists are assholes, I think that it’s far more common than you believe.

While “rape apologism” is a catchy phrase, the situation is a lot more complex and nuanced than that, and given that no one actually practices the “philosophy of rape apologism,” framing what occurs as such does victims just as a great disservice as having their experiences made light of.

Few people who are prejudiced actually label and own their own prejudice. Seeing as how rape apologism is exactly what you describe, I’d really love to hear what you’d call it. But I’d appreciate you not telling me on my own blog that the apologies that have been made for the rape that I endured were something else. Like you do above, and like you do here:

It was not that long ago where it would have been expected for women to brush off rape if in a similar situation as Lil’ Wayne was in. As a result of advocacy in the last few decades those sentiments have changed.

This is factually inaccurate. Do you know how long it took me to call my rape what it was, because I’d been told all my life that I couldn’t have possibly been raped because of X, Y and Z? Approximately 9 years.

No, I’ve just decided that I’m actually really pissed at you. I spent days writing this post, and making sure to accurately frame it in a way that respects the experiences of both male and female survivors, and explores how the experiences are different, and nuanced and varied, but in no way is one less serious than the other . . . and then you want to come waltz in here on a feminist blog, say that we don’t pay enough attention to men, and that the issue of the vast majority of sexual assaults, which are against women, are mainly solved anyway?

Thanks for sharing your experience, that is always, always, always welcome here, and for what small portions of your comment could be considered a genuine addition to this discussion, but for the most part? Please go take a shit all over your own blog next time, and trigger someone else with your bullshit about how women have already been taught to identify sexual violence committed against them.

7 The Opoponax March 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm

This reminds me a little bit of the way that, when I share experiences of street harassment (especially groping and other unwanted sexual advances by strangers in public places), a lot of men I know will talk about how a woman once did something similar to them, except it was incredibly sexy. I’ve wondered countless times whether it really was sexy, or whether it’s a confluence of the “men are total horndogs” trope and the “masculinity means never being intimidated by a woman” trope.

I suppose it’s just easier for men to see unwanted sexual advances from a woman as “hot” rather than creepy/annoying/victimizing. And the enforcement of that is not unlike what we see here.

8 Toysoldier March 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

Cara, I did not say that sexual violence against women is solved. I said that the sentiments Kimmel expressed, the idea that women ought to simply laugh off rape if it is mentioned publicly, is no longer allowed. No one would dare make light of female rape in the manner Kimmel did because of the advocacy in the last few decades. It is unfortunate that those who managed to make that change failed to include the treatment male victims because a lot boys and young men my age do not come forward and do not seek help as a result of that.

Likewise, I did not say that feminists do not pay enough attention to men, only that far more often they do not acknowledge male victimization or consider it as traumatic or as important an issue as female victimization. I assumed that you considered male victimization an equally important issue and the opinions of male victims equally valid, however, based on your response to me I suppose I was wrong. Apparently neither my experience or my opinion of it is valid.

I find your response interesting because I am a male survivor of female and male sexual abuse. I shared with you what my experience has been (in terms of victim advocacy and support services), only be told that I am attacking you and triggering you for sharing what I and many male survivors have been through. I also find it interesting that you viewed my comments as telling to you, as a woman, how you have been taught to identify sexual violence committed against you, yet you have no problem in your posts telling me, as a man, how I have been taught to identify with the sexual violence I experienced. I only offered another aspect that you, as a woman, were likely not aware of and would not have experienced. Again, I would think that you would be open to hearing the experiences of male victims, but instead you simply shut me down.

I apologize if you were offended. It is good that on some level you find sexual violence against males wrong. However, it is most unfortunate that you appear unwilling to listen to the male victims on whose behalf you feel free to speak. As it is your blog, I will do as you ask and keep silent about my experiences and rape the other males. It is unfortunate that you appear to believe no boy or man who has been abused should ever speak on his own behalf about his experience, particularly if his views contrasted with what you purport he experienced both in terms of his victimization and how society responds to his victimization.

9 Cara March 26, 2009 at 5:36 pm

So Toysoldiers not only misconstrued my comment, he also wrote a blog post further misconstruing it and saying that I just don’t want to listen to male survivors — rather than, I don’t want to listen to male survivors telling me about how female survivors have it easier.

So guess who just got banned? Damn, you all are good at this game!

This is why I’m taking a break from all things blogging for the weekend. I close the blog . . . NOW.

10 wiggles March 28, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Considering the fact that I’ve read so many news reports about men “having sex with” (and that is how it’s worded) girls as young as three, four, ten, twelve, and given little to no jail time because the girl didn’t put up a fight and/or had been raped by someone else before, in the rare situations I ever hear about men and boys being raped or sexually assaulted by women and girls, I always get cringey when it’s implied that if the sexes were reversed, people would take it seriously and call it what it is.

It seems for men and boys though, the only thing that people will even begin to consider calling rape is forcible anal penetration, in which case the victim had better not be gay.

Opoponax – I’ve known a couple guys who were assaulted by women – arbitrarily grabbed in the crotch. Both incidents were years and miles apart, neither guy had any knowledge of the other, and both guys’ reactions were weirdly mismatched. You could see in their facial expressions and body language that they felt disturbed and humiliated by the assault, but they both went straight to framing it in terms that salvaged their male superiority – how irresistible they were to women and what a slut that girl was.

11 FilthyGrandeur March 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm

i think the worst part is is that they’re treating that incident as more evidence of lil wayne’s being a “stud.” he’s so cool and so desirable by the ladies that he lost his virginity at twelve.

notice the language used too. we don’t say he was molested or raped–he lost his virginity, which implies consent, and it seems like he did not consent. which of course furthers this myth that men can’t be raped.

12 Anonymous March 30, 2009 at 3:07 pm

“It’s certainly true that black men are hyper-sexualized.”

Serious?
I’m wondering, do you mean that black men are hyper-sexualized?
- just hyper-sexualized beings?
- stereotypically hyper-sexualized
- hyper-sexualized in the media

—-
I saw this video a while back and was kind of shocked because he announced that he was raped as a child. He didn’t use the word, but I did sound uncomfortable even talking about that experience.

13 Cara March 30, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Anonymous — “hyper-sexual” would be the term that one would use if they thought that black men (or any group) were actually far more sexual than any other set of people. “Hyper-sexualized” is a term used to describe the act of making a person or group appear more sexual than they actually are. So when I say that black men certainly are hyper-sexualized, I mean that our culture sees them as hyper-sexual (which is a very offensive stereotype), not that I personally think they are hyper-sexual.

Is that more clear?

14 Cara April 6, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Very Strong Trigger Warning for this comment

So I received a comment this morning, which after some Twitter discussion (thanks Belledame, Sally, Jaclyn and Alexandria), I decided to delete.

The commenter was a woman who opened with “I raped a man once.” I believe that her overall point was that when she tells people this, they laugh at her and tell her that she did nothing wrong, even though she did. Which is important to know and confront. But while she expressed regret that she seemed to at least think was genuine, she also left a bunch of excuses, followed by repeated proclamations that they are “NOT excuses,” even though they looked a whole lot like excuses.

Also, I feel extremely conflicted on what role admitted rapists should have in these conversations (they deserve to have none, of course), and didn’t feel right posting said comment, which is extremely triggering to me at least (kept thinking “what if this was my rapist?” — answer not positive), when I haven’t even gotten that much sorted out in my own mind.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing this comment is merely to make a point: yes, as already argued in the post, women can be and are rapists. And even more importantly, even while supposedly taking responsibility for their actions, they can go through to same minimizing and excuse-making bullshit that the dude rapists do.

Sad, and scary. But true. And important.

15 Dori April 8, 2009 at 7:45 am

Hey Cara, the video is gone. Just thought you should know.

16 Cara April 8, 2009 at 8:14 am

Thanks Dori; it’s been replaced.

17 anonymous April 14, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Just wanted to say that I think you have been extremely unfair to toysoldier. Suppose I’ll probably get banned for that, but it needed to be said. (I’m a woman BTW)

18 Ismone April 15, 2009 at 1:25 am

To Anonymous,

I do not think she has been unfair at all. Even though feminists are the *only* people I’ve met who acknowledge that men can be raped (not saying others don’t exist, am saying that I’ve never met any in person), and that Cara was writing a blog post about men and rape, and that many commenters (including toy soldier, who I remember from other blogs) try to derail threads about women rape victims with “what about the men” arguments, I think it is deeply inappropriate of him to show up here and basically use the fact that Cara is writing a male-specific thread to blast feminists in general and her in particular, and pretend that victimization for female victims is a thing of the past. Not only that, but he flat out denies that rape apologism exists, even though it is something that Cara, and many rape victims have experienced directly.

He also denies that young women or girls who are rape victims are treated callously, which is simply untrue, and OUTSIDE OF HIS EXPERIENCE, since he is not one of them. That is pretty darn triggering.

So, basically, as sorry as I am that he suffered greatly, and that he has not received the support that he needs, that does not mean that he gets to shit on female victims, or launch generalizations at people who address the cause that he is suffering from.

The problem with his comments wasn’t that he was sharing a controversial personal experience, all of the problems with his comments stemmed from him shitting all over other victims. Which, in my opinion, he is not entitled to do, however sorry I am to know of his suffering.

-Ismone

19 Pops April 15, 2009 at 4:02 am

I also think that your response to Toysolder is unfounded, and it undermines the whole piece.

It seems to me that he was simply stating that men reporting rape are less likely to be taken seriously than women, which seems a confirmation of the point that you were attempting to make.

Shame.

20 Rayne April 15, 2009 at 5:07 am

I skipped all the raging comments, didn’t feel like getting into an argument on a page I doubt i would ever honestly look at again now that it is read. But I must say I agree with the sentiment with men and rape apology. Men want sex as viewed in our society (I’m typing as a young male out of university), but it is true what the author says. Men can be raped. I never have been personally but I have seen it in my friends before. All honesty if it ever happened to me I probably would never admit to it because our society would deem me a “pussy” cause I was complaining about getting laid. Twisted logic.

21 Cara April 15, 2009 at 8:06 am

Thank you, Ismone, great comment and way more coherent than my previous, angry ones were.

It seems to me that he was simply stating that men reporting rape are less likely to be taken seriously than women, which seems a confirmation of the point that you were attempting to make.

Then you completely, utterly, 100% misunderstood the post. Talk about a shame.

22 anonymous April 15, 2009 at 10:15 am

Ismone: Even so, it would have been more appropriate to say “I strongly disagree with you” than “Go take a shit on your own blog.” That is just too extreme and ruins Cara’s credibility. Notice also how toysoldier did not resort to such childish insults in his comments. I enjoyed reading the article but I have to say I think less of Cara after reading her comments, and will not be looking at her blog again.

23 Cara April 15, 2009 at 10:34 am

Yes, women standing up for themselves without a big old smile on our faces is always extreme.

*waves goodbye*

24 vertigo April 15, 2009 at 9:58 pm

thanks for the well thought out piece Cara.

Looking at the video is just painful, right from the very beginning. Kimmel asked one question (about Lil’ Wayne’s teeth) it went nowhere, he then went onto a court case it went nowhere, Kimmel just seemed to be trying to find a way to the end of the segment. He wasn’t interested in Lil’ Wayne. So he asks about rape, as an icebreaker.

I just don’t know how to respond to that: its breathtaking.

25 Pops April 16, 2009 at 5:45 am

Cara, you are right, that was not well written. I still have sympathy for Toysoldier though.

I think the point that I was trying to make was that, in my opinion, there are a large group of people who would not (immediately) see this as rape when a young boy is involved, but would be very uncomfortable if a young girl were.

I find it shocking that you do not believe that, if he were a [white] woman, the majority of people would not call it rape. I agree wholeheartedly with this paragraph:

If we were talking an 11-year-old girl and a 24-year-old man? Most people, though of course certainly not all, would probably call that rape. And I know for a fact that significantly fewer people would call it rape when we reverse those genders.

However I can’t help thinking that a lot of people would “see this as rape if it was done to a woman, but not see it as rape in the case of Lil’ Wayne”. I am not, of course, condoning that.

The introduction of race into your argument confuses me. I really don’t understand this sentence:

While we can say with certainty that racism plays a role in the reactions we see to the story that Lil’ Wayne recounts, we can’t say how exactly the reactions would be different when racism is taken out of the picture.

“Hyper-sexualization” maybe, but race?

26 Pops April 16, 2009 at 5:49 am

Why doesn’t my brain kick into gear until after I post? :)

I suppose, if black men are stereo-typed as “hyper-sexualized”, then it would follow that racism may be evident.

27 Pops April 16, 2009 at 6:06 am

Hey, me again.

Before I get myself banned I just thought it worth saying that, as a white male, watching that video made me feel very uncomfortable. I am astounded by Kimmel’s lack of empathy, or just the basic ability to notice when someone is really not comfortable with a subject.

Although I appear to be a long way from total understanding, I do thank you for enlightening me at least a little. It has been eye-opening.

28 Cara April 16, 2009 at 7:50 am

I find it shocking that you do not believe that, if he were a [white] woman, the majority of people would not call it rape.

That’s because I blog on these issues every day of my life and can back it up with articles were there are sentences about “sex with a 5-year-old,” not rape. And a story where a 24-year-old was called not a rapist by a judge, because he really cared about the 12-year-old he was raping, and she had “consented.” Etc. I could go on and on. Or better yet, you could just take a look at the archives.

I suppose, if black men are stereo-typed as “hyper-sexualized”, then it would follow that racism may be evident.

Yes, I agree that it’s evident, and I said as much, quite explicitly. I said that racism played a very clear role here. I also said that taking racism away, that doesn’t mean that people would automatically view it as rape. I said that the race question is there. We can’t take it away, and rape apologism always finds a way to make excuses. So we don’t know what would happen.

I’m starting to get the impression that you didn’t read the post very carefully.

29 Amy April 16, 2009 at 8:10 am

That was a wonderful blog post. I am very active in sexual violence awareness on my university campus, and this is a fantastic article for furthering discussions.

I really wish I hadn’t read the comments, however. Cara, your treatment of toysoldier was unbelievable. He wasn’t attacking you in any way, just offering up another opinion (which is something a good comments section always provides. What’s the use of a single view on complex issues?).

Your response completely changed my opinion of you, and this blog. It goes to show, even advocates for change have their blind spots.

30 Cara April 16, 2009 at 8:20 am

Dear Everyone Who is Sorry They Read the Comments: I’m not.

Why? Because if you’re going to get angry about the fact that on a feminist blog, I pushed back against a commenter who argued that rape apologism does not exist and that female rape victims have it easy, I’m glad we got that figured out right from the get go.

So really. I get that you really, really think that I was mean to toysoldier. Good for you. But your comments are not going to change my opinion on the matter.

31 mk April 16, 2009 at 8:38 am

Cara, thanks for this post, and for sticking to your guns. It’s so frustrating (and not surprising) that anyone would use your very thoughtful post about men as rape victims/survivors to sound off on how feminists don’t care about male rape victims/survivors. Wha? Seriously, is this bizarro-world and I just didn’t notice?

And finally, for anyone who’s upset about Cara’s response to toysoldier–seriously, when anyone–yes, even another survivor–tells a rape victim who has actively seen and felt the damage of rape apologism first-hand that there are no rape apologists and that everyone takes rape seriously when the victim is female–that is totally bannable behavior. Full stop.

32 Pops April 16, 2009 at 9:23 am

That’s because I blog on these issues every day of my life and can back it up with articles

I have no doubt that you can. It does not change the fact that it is shocking to me. In fact, the opposite.

Yes, I agree that it’s evident, and I said as much, quite explicitly. I said that racism played a very clear role here.

Please bear in mind that the text you quote was me (finally) coming to this realization.

I’m starting to get the impression that you didn’t read the post very carefully

And I get the impression that you like a good fight. ;)

Still, I thank you for your post, and your responses, which are truly commendable, however acidic they may be.

33 amandaw April 16, 2009 at 9:42 am

Here’s the thing. toysoldier didn’t come in here with a “different opinion.” He came in here with a comment stating that feminists don’t take male rape victims seriously and that female rape victims are ALWAYS taken seriously.

If you don’t get why Cara took that as a bit of an insult, it’s because she blogs primarily about sexual assault and rape apologism, cataloguing the many, many cases where female rape victims are anything but taken seriously.

She responded with anger. I get why that might be off-putting. But I deeply believe victims should be allowed to respond with anger — to shut down anger is to deny their experiences. Yeah, it was harsh. But it was harshness in response to harshness. At least recognize there were two sides to this exchange.

34 SunlessNick April 16, 2009 at 1:05 pm

He came in here with a comment stating that feminists don’t take male rape victims seriously

And chose a post where a feminist was doing exactly that.

35 Emma April 20, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I found this through random clicking over at Feministing. I want to say thank you for being willing to say that not all rape is “huge man + tiny woman + dark alley”. Some of us have been raped, or close friends with rape victims (regardless of gender), or both.

He didn’t consent (he couldn’t– he was a child!) therefore he was raped. I would think that wouldn’t be too difficult for people to see, but unfortunately we can’t always add that proverbial 2+2.

36 Alex June 9, 2009 at 2:20 am

I just read this article and, boy, it’s really powerful! Thank you for the good, interesting read, Cara. I ended up using this topic for my term paper in my International Issues with Child Protection course. I think it’s good to address male rape victims. :)

And then afterwards, I started reading the comments…

Though it’s not my place, I too am a little disgusted with toysoldier’s comments. While it’s sad to hear that he had a rape experience as well, it is quite clear to me that he either a)misunderstood Cara’s article or b)didn’t read it in its entirety (which is a big no-no).

Despite what others are saying, toysoldier did quite clearly bash feminists, as well as female victims, whether he intended to or not. And for that, I feel deeply annoyed.

Anyway, just wanted to express my opinion. Thank you for this good topic, Cara. The more it is made known, the better!

-Alex

37 thelady August 10, 2009 at 3:29 pm

This type of rape seems to be very common. I know of several young men who describe their first sexual experience as under the age of 11 and involving a baby sitter or some other adult or late teen female who was entrusted with their care. When I was upset by these stories they were very reluctant to describe it as rape probably because of all the rape apologism in our culture. Just like whenever one of these teachers is caught having sex with 13, 14 year old male students, the courts let them off with a light sentence as if it is no big deal.

38 drjm December 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

I applaud you for attempting to address this largely undiscussed issue (issues of gender and race with regards to rape). However, I find your comment “It’s certainly true that black men are hyper-sexualized.” Seriously? With that statement you’ve taken a scene out of the racist movie “Birth of a Nation”. And what evidence do you have to support this hypersexualized myth? As a progressive, Black, female graduate student you should know that that statement is demeaning, discriminatory, and inflammatory. The myth of the “hypersexualized” black male and female harkens the age of slavery and the widespread racist views held by the dominant society. And from comments such as yours and the still wideheld view of the lascivious nature of Black Americans (I know, I know, innumerable daytime TV shows about finding ones baby daddy, high rates of unintended pregnancy and STIs may allow you to skim over the widespread poverty, lack of resources, poor education, lack of access to quality health care in communities of color), but seriously. Get with it!!!! You should be ashamed!!!

39 Cara December 2, 2009 at 2:23 pm

DRJM,

Thank you for your comment. I addressed this when this post was cross-posted at Racialicious. The term I used was “hyper-sexualized,” not “hyper-sexual.” The term hyper-sexual describes what you describe up above. The term hyper-sexualized describes these attitudes being unfairly thrust upon another person. Thus, what was intended by the statement is not that black men are more sexual than men of any other race, but that they are portrayed that way. With these racist attitudes being so rampant, I should have been more careful, and written something along the lines of “it’s certainly true that black men are hyper-sexualized by our culture and media” instead. I apologize again for my unclear phrasing, and the distress that it has caused.

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