If you do nothing else today, watch this video:
As difficult as it may be, you need to make it past the first 15 seconds to understand the video.
In recent months, there have been several high profile victims whom have courageously broken their silence, chilling exposés on the sad state of affairs for criminal prosecution of rape cases, and even our lawmakers have debated just who can be tried in cases of sexual assault. This discourse has been powerful and mainstream society has, although somewhat superficially, reflected on our understanding of sexual assault, coercion, and consent — at least when the victim is female.
As “Why Rape is Sincerely Hilarious” details, we love to chuckle at male victims of sexual assault.
It’s horrible when it happens to women but men getting raped… its hilarity! Adam’s Sandler’s comedy (That’s My Boy!), in Get Them to the Greek, Horrible Bosses, Wedding Crashers, Abu Grhaib prison. Mindy England was not a war criminal. She was a comic trailblazer.
Males as victims? What about the whole you had an erection during the intercourse thing? Or as Time Magazine put it, the “erectile aspect” of sex?
When one of the most reputable international news organizations asks a question that insinuates that males can’t be victims due to an erection, it shows the problematic environment that male victims of sexual assault are forced to navigate.
The American Psychological Association recently published a groundbreaking study which challenges popular understandings of sexual assault and gender. Researchers found that:
- 18% of young men surveyed reported sexual coercion by force
- 26% of young men surveyed had experienced “unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors”
- 31% of young men surveyed had been verbally coerced to have sex (vaginal, oral, or anal)
- 45% of young men surveyed experienced unwanted sexual coercion
It appears that men too experience sexual coercion by unwanted sexual advances, verbal coercion, and by force. To be clear, this report identified women as the perpetrators of the unwanted sexual coercion and assault in 95% of the cases — not other men.
This report is the first of its kind in many respects. Although the survey sample was relatively small, it indicates levels of abuse never before imagined by mainstream society. It illustrates a level of nuance that was previously unheard of in scientific literature and demonstrates that men too can fall prey to sexual assault.
The National Research Council has illustrated just how vastly underreported sexual assault incidents are by both females and males. Feelings of shame, disgust, guilt, embarrassment, fear of retribution, and the fear of being shamed as having enticed or deserved the assault often prevent individuals from coming forward and reporting their abuse.
It took me eight years to process and come to come to terms with the sexual abuse that I experienced as a child. I wasn’t able to admit to anyone what had happened to me because I am a man and men aren’t victims — or so I thought growing up. I was cautious to admit that I had been abused because identifying as a victim would have spurred a discussion on the then prominent and popular notion that homosexuality stems from childhood traumas and my sexuality, as well as my masculinity, would have been up for examination. I didn’t want to admit to being a victim of abuse because I thought that it was something that I was responsible for and that it was a reflection of some flaw within my personality.
We might be hesitant to discuss male victims of assault because we believe and are taught that men are hypersexual creatures and should be happy to get whatever we can get, undesired or not. We might be hesitant to discuss male victims of sexual assault because we just don’t understand that men too can be victims. We might be hesitant to discuss male victims of sexual assault because the notion that a male can be a victim challenges the underlying assumptions of masculinity in our society. We might be hesitant to discuss male victims of sexual assault because it’s uncomfortable and if men can be victims, along with women, that our entire culture is a rape culture where no one is safe.
Although the title of the video is the worst kind of click-bait, it is an important issue that needs to be shared and discussed. “Why Rape is Sincerely Hilarious” is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen and it so perfectly addresses the feelings and emotional journey that I, and countless others, have experienced. And we need to tell our stories — and more importantly, to have them be heard.