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Yes, Men Get Raped Too, And Let’s Not Ignore That

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By Anshul Tewari:

I in no way intend to divert the attention from the on going fight against the crimes that happen against women around the world. I have been an ardent fighter against all such crimes, and for me, the fight has always been against men who harass women, never the other way round. I believe that since centuries patriarchy and the ideas of men being the dominant sex have existed and have been the reason why we have a societal culture where men commit crimes against women.

distressThe reason why I write this post is only to tell about a reality that does exist. You can debate whether it needs attention right now or not. You can debate whether we need to even consider that fact or not, but let’s not forget this reality which might be happening at a minuscule percentage, but does take place. It might be tough to imagine this, or might sound completely ridiculous, but it is important for you to know this – because while we fight for an anti-rape bill, we fight too for a society where we do not treat any gender above the other, and all remain equal. In most cases men are raped by men, but in a minuscule percentage of cases, men are raped by women too.

Over a discussion with a few friends, I debated the fact that men can be raped too. The logic many people give is that to rape a man, the victim male must be erect, which would not be possible if the man being raped is not sexually stimulated, in which case it would not classify as rape. This is the biggest myth about men and their sexual organ. Much like any other mammal, the erectile response of males is involuntary, meaning that a man might not be aroused for his penis to be erect and be placed in a woman’s vagina. Mechanical stimulation is all that is necessary. Sometimes not even that.

A friend’s mother, a sexologist tells very clearly, “There are men who get an erect penis even due to temperature changes. It does not necessarily mean that he wants to have sex.”

Another popular myth around male rapes remains that if a man is being raped, he cannot ejaculate or orgasm. Firstly, we need to be careful to understand here is that orgasm and ejaculation are not the same thing. Erection (arousal) and ejaculation can occur without orgasm, and for a variety of reasons; any touching of the penis can stimulate arousal, being penetrated anally can place pressure on the prostrate gland producing erection and/or ejaculation, and the ‘fight or flight’ stress response also can cause erection and/or ejaculation.

The Rape Victims Advocacy Program website (read further) has this to say regarding the sexual arousal commonly experienced by (male) victims, “Male victims/survivors are often ashamed and confused when their body responds during an assault. Frequently, men who are sexually assaulted or raped have an involuntary or forced erection and/or ejaculation. Also, muscles in the anus often relax when a man is raped. This does not mean that the survivor wanted to be raped or sexually assaulted. Involuntary erections and ejaculations are normal reactions to physical stimulation even when sex is non-consensual”. (27th May 2008)

As the doctor puts it, “Ejaculation is a spinal level reflex; it can happen. I have seen it happen in people having seizures or read documented evidence that it happens during hanging too. It’s even a question asked on med boards often enough whether a tetraplegic can ejaculate.”

Moreover, it needs to be understood that rape does not only mean penile penetration. As the current law puts it, it is only when there is penile penetration. There is no account for oral penetration, violence on sexual organs, or any other form of violence or harassment perpetrated.

But again, the largest question is, do women rape men? In most cases – No! Most cases of male rapes are those perpetrated by men themselves, but a minuscule percentage of the total rapes on men, about 1.4% are those where women perpetrators have been accused.

1 out of 10 rape victims have been men. 1 in every 71 men have had some or the other case of being sexually harassed or assaulted, in most cases by a male perpetrator.

Chennai-based Vinodhan was gang raped by six men at the age of 18. The incident occurred 12 years back, but scars of the horrific incident is still fresh in his mind. In order to get rid of the trauma, the 30-year-old victim constantly writes. In another case, Krishna was sexually assaulted when he was 29, in a small town in Kerala. “I had got off a bus and was walking to my aunt’s house when I noticed a man following me.” “The gate was locked when I reached, and the moment he realized it, he pinned me down. The sheer shock and shame at what was happening left me with no voice”, says Krishna. (source)

Most cases of female-on-male rape have been registered in the United States. Cases of female-on-male rape get the comedic treatment they do not deserve. The police finds it hard to believe, and the false thoughts of “being a man” often disable the victim from coming out in the open and speaking up about it.

But there are cases that have come out. Former U.S. Marine James Landrith was raped by a pregnant woman decades ago. This story about him points out, female sexual predators are often depicted as objects of teenage fantasy in popular culture, but this ignores the fact that men can be victims of rape by women. In another case, a 20-year-old Ohio woman has been charged with raping a teenage boy at knife point.

In reality, we never hear about cases of men being raped. As a New York Times article perfectly puts it, “For many men, the subject is so discomfiting that it is rarely discussed – virtually taboo, experts say, because of societal notions about masculinity and the idea that men are invulnerable and can take care of themselves.

“We have a cultural blind spot about this,” said David Lisak, a clinical psychologist who has done research on interpersonal violence and sexual abuse and is a founding board member of 1in6, an organization that offers information and services to men who had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences as children.

“We recognize that male children are being abused,” Dr. Lisak said, “but then when boys cross some kind of threshold somewhere in adolescence and become what we perceive to be men, we no longer want to think about it in this way.”

Now the question is, while we strive hard to create safe spaces for women to come out and fight back against crimes perpetrated on them, shouldn’t we also focus on creating similar safe spaces for men? And why men alone, we need these spaces for transgenders, transsexuals and people who identify themselves as any sex. We need a gender neutral safe space.

The fight, rather than making it one against all men, should be against the idea of rape; should be one that challenges the ideology of a rapist.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sugam Singhal

    Hi Anshul.

    I found your article very interesting; it was an eye-opener and thought provoking too. We certainly need gender neutral safe spaces and a fight against rape, irrespective of anything else.

    However, I do have some questions for you.

    1. You wrote, “1 out of 10 rape victims have been men. 1 in every 71 men have had some or the other case of being sexually harassed or assaulted, in most cases by a male perpetrator.” Are these international statistics, or they are India-based, or a particular city?
    2. How many do you mean, when you write- “most”?
    3. On what do you base your numbers?
    4. How would you suggest we fight against it? What should be done? (Just seeking your insights)

  2. rajat

    hey Anshul, I never seen or heard about man rape before till I watched PULP FICTION, I was quite perplexed watching that scene(in movie) in which a black guy got gagged and fucked by a policeman.Apart from that, It is nice to read you posting this less discussed topic.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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