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The Stigma Of Being A ‘Man’: Why Is It So Hard For Us To Acknowledge Male Rape?

Posted on October 6, 2015 in Gender-Based Violence, Masculinity, Society, Taboos

By Ritica Ramesh

Human behavior is frequently the yielder of a plethora of repulsive, unimaginable, and ghastly harms. Each person will have known a survivor of these atrocities or might be a victim themselves. Probably the worst after murder and homicide, rapes are truly, and in every sense, sickening. In today’s world, the awareness of rapes, rapists, victims, and their anguish has been empathized with, and rape numbers have greatly plunged but are still ridiculously high for an educated 21st century.

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The Nirbhaya rape case in India was one such incident that unbolted avenues to sexual abuse awareness and sparked the fight to eradicate such cold-blooded behaviour. When the 23-year-old physiology intern was raped and abused in so many gut-wrenching ways, an entire nation demanded justice, and rightly so. But that also gets you thinking, how would the nation react if a man came out and said he was raped by a woman or man?

We live in a civilization that revels and romanticizes masculinity. Strong, independent and dominating men make women swoon and make fellow men green with envy. Young boys are raised to never shed a tear, are bred to never yell in pain and are compelled to perceive themselves in an irrational image of Hercules. We are moulding ourselves and our fellow beings to believe in the feminization of victims. And in the process, we’re turning a blind eye to the mere prospect that men can be raped and that woman can rape. And for that, we have nobody to hold liable but ourselves. Why is it that we admit and provide help to male victims of rape aged under 18, but the right of suffrage inevitably deems an adult man unable to be a victim?

There is an alarming lack of media coverage of male victims. The fact is that patriarchal communities have laid down a set of paradigms and prototypes for each sex that dictates their behaviour and characteristics. The expectation of bravery and strength from men can be attributed to this very patriarchal system. These stigmas are (quite unwisely) accepted almost worldwide and are very legitimate in the thought process of an average human being. Due to this, men are not usually “allowed” to be victims. Even when they do come out, they are faced with a myriad of unreasonable opponents and societal threats. Men are afraid of their families abandoning them, their children regarding them as “frail” and being accused of homosexuality.

Lack of sex education can also be greatly credited to the lack of public stories of rape victims. I recollect my teachers telling me in the fourth grade what kind of touching was considered inappropriate and what kind was not. Us girls were taught how not to be touched. But the only thing my fellow male classmates learnt was how not to touch. Is it really that impossible for a woman to be the perpetrator of a crime as heinous and this? Women pedophiles are seldom regarded to exist in society. Yes, male rapists occur in larger numbers and yes, women victims exist in larger numbers. But that does not mean it is our bequest to completely treat with disdain the possibility of these cases, especially when they are happening in thousands. Furthermore, more than 50% of male rapists have identified themselves as heterosexual This is proof enough to end the prejudice that male rape only occurs to gay people or that gay people are rapists. Like the popular saying goes, “your sexual orientation has no more relation with being raped than it does with being robbed.”

Some people argue that men become “aroused” during the abuse and hence cannot be classified as a victim of rape. Again, this owes to the utter lack of sex education. Erections and ejaculation are natural physiological and bodily responses to stimuli. Women rape victims are also subject to sexual arousal during rape. In no way can this be regarded as justification for the act. Just because your body and its hormones react in a way that is beyond your control, it doesn’t mean that you “asked for it.”

When rape laws in India were amended to become gender neutral for a short period, apparent feminists groups in India demolished the government with criticism, forcing them to make them female oriented once more. To all the feminazis, buckle up and pop out of your pretty little bubble, because what you are fighting for isn’t equality. By not having gender neutral laws, the justice system itself is telling us that a male victim isn’t important.

The struggle against rape is gender blind. It does not belong exclusively to a community; it needs to have each and every one of you rooting for it; gay, straight, man, woman, old, young, transgender or transsexual. The first step is acceptance. If a man ever tells you that he was raped, talk him through it, and do whatever you would’ve done had it been a woman. Remember, the fight against rape isn’t one against men, it is one against the horrendous, vile and abhorrent cavity in human nature.