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Male Rape Research Paper

There are 525,600 minutes in a year; every 2 minutes a sexual assault occurs. That’s an average of 293,066 victims every year (Langton and Truman 2). Rape cases have made headlines in national newspapers, and have gone viral on social media. Recently, the public’s reactions to these stories have become a problem of its own. Campaigns have been established to help raise awareness of this backlash that rape victims experience. Some common responses from the public after an assault are, “She was asking for it. ” “She shouldn’t have been drinking.

Many people naturally associate the pronoun “she” with sexual assault. These campaigns focus on reduction backlash against females, but what about male victims? The reality is that rape is not gender specific, men are also victims of sexual assault. Male sexual assault is an issue that is essentially forgotten. It is almost never featured in the news, or in anti-rape campaigns. Rape is not just a woman’s issue, so why is male sexual assault pushed aside like it doesn’t happen? Out of the average reported sexual assault’s each year, 13% are male (Chapleau, Oswald, and Russell 601).

Male rape is not only forgotten but the victims are also treated differently. Male victims of sexual assault are viewed differently than female victims. Male sexual assault is perceived as outside of social norms. Stereotypes and social norms influence our population to believe in numerous myths about male rape. Male rape is perceived differently than women because of the social norms that are held by society. Social norms help construct society’s views and behaviors. People are expected to follow these norms. Men are expected to live up to the ideals of a “true man”.

According to social norms, men are supposed to be masculine, heterosexual, and heroic (Turchik and Edwards 215). They are expected to be able to fight and protect themselves and others from dangers, such as assault. Additionally, society believes that men are biologically engineered to want women, and to want sex with women (Chapleau, Oswald, and Russell 604). Countless numbers of people believe that male rape, by both male and female perpetrators, contradicts these norms. Victims fear that if they do not embody these norms they will be out casted by their friends, families, and community.

A common assumption about male rape is that it happens mostly in prisons. However, sexual assault happens at work, in homes, and when out with friends; places considered safe. Consequently, the issue of male rape doesn’t seem as important as female rape because statistically it is not a significant problem. According to Silent Suffering, an article about male rape survivors, only around 4% of sexual assault victims report their assaults (Badenuch 2). The pressure to be a “true man”; along with the negative stigma attached to male rape, leads to the lack of reporting.

Henceforth, the world does not see the extent of male sexual assault. To begin, one major social norm pressured on men is masculinity. Men are expected to be strong and tough. When a male is sexually assaulted many people, friends, co-workers and even family may blame the victim. They should have fought off the perpetrator. As a result, they can even ask themselves if they really are “True men”, “When men fail to achieve societies’ gender ideals, it can be harmful to their sense of self and identities as men” (Javaid).

Many men feel the need to conform into these gender ideals to be accepted by society. In the documentary, The Hunting Ground, a student, Andrew Brown explained the reactions he received from the public after his assault. Andrew quoted, “Men have to be Strong, men wouldn’t let this happen to them”. Public response, such as these, can make a male victim feel weak and almost feminine. Male rape victims feel as though they no longer fit into the ideal masculinity norms. Another norm forced upon men is the idea that a “true man” is heterosexual.

This norm can lead to male victims questioning their sexuality after an assault. When a woman rapes a man, society does not believe that it is “real rape. ” Men are pressured by society to always want sex, especially with women, they ask themselves why they didn’t want it (Chapleau, Oswald, and Russell 604). Every other man would of wanted it so why didn’t I? In the event that another man assaults a man it can lead to similar thoughts. Why did I let it happen if I don’t like men? I should have stopped it. Victims begin to blame themselves for letting the rape happen.

Wanting to maintain their character as a “true man”, victims tend to not report their assaults. In addition, with rape viewed as a woman’s issue, male victims do not want to admit that they had been sexually assaulted. Men do not want to be seen as weak, or feminine; two stigmas commonly used to characterize rape victims. Women are seen as weak and subordinate, to be overpowered by a woman and forced to do something contradicts social norms. In some places of the world, when a woman assaults a man some of the community may not consider it to be a crime; these victims have to face a more serve backlash.

Robbie Woodsum, a student at George Mason University, explained how men are less comfortable reporting their assaults because of the emphasis on the crime being only against females (The Hunting Ground). Another myth that is common to hear is “Men would not be traumatized by rape”. Sex is something that men are supposed to want, why would they be traumatized? In reality, most male rape victims experience the same, if not more, severe psychological effects than women (Turchik and Edwards 215).

After an assault, friends and coworkers may ask, “It wasn’t really rape, why are you traumatized? ”It was with a women, why wouldn’t you want that? ” Ultimately, rape is a crime, whether it was a man, or a woman who committed it. It should not matter the gender of the perpetrator; they committed a crime and should be put to jail. Unfortunately, most male rape goes unreported; men keep their assault to themselves, letting it haunt their minds. Robbie Woodsum admitted that after his assault, he became depressed and contemplated suicide (The Hunting Ground). After an assault, men start to question themselves, their sexuality, and their masculinity.

According to Jessica Turchik from Stanford Medical School and Katie Edwards from Ohio University, studies have shown that male victims are more like to have lower self-esteem and many psychological problems later on in life. Many male victims develop posttraumatic stress disorder. They experience flashbacks, panic attacks, insomnia, and nightmares (214). These effects may eventually go away, but being a victim of rape does not. The anniversary of the assault or things that remind them of the incident will cause these psychological effects to happen again. Victims will have to suffer with after-effects for the rest of their lives.

Five years ago a man, John Lennon, had been sexually assaulted in his own home. He shared his story with Brogan Driscoll of the Huffington Post. Lennon had been physically hurt from the attack, needing multiple surgeries, but that wasn’t the worst of his problems. Lennon, at first, like many others, did not tell the police that he had been sexually assaulted, his mother had to convince him to report it. Lennon felt like he didn’t know where to go to get help, he felt alone. Eventually, Lennon found a survivor’s counseling center and was able to confide in someone instead of isolating himself from the world, like he had been doing.

Lennon, like many other rape victims had a difficult time finding help, “There are far fewer specialized services for male survivors of sexual assault and rape, compared to those for women and girls” (Driscoll). Unlike one of the common assumptions about male rape, Lennon suffered psychological trauma. Psychological help needs to become more available to men. They need to feel like they are not alone and can get through this. Victims are more likely to report the assault to the police if they have received psychological help (Badenuch 3). After the assault, Lennon had a hard time trusting people.

He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which controlled a lot of aspects in his life. Lennon says that he felt like all of his dreams and ambitions had become unreachable, he has thought about suicide. To this day, five years later, Lennon still sees a therapist and cannot work a full time job because of his PTSD (Driscoll). Due to the lack of reporting, victims are not getting psychological help, leading to more serve after-effects. Sexual assault is a major problem in our world that needs to be addressed. The only way to help fix this issue is by fully recognizing that it is a problem.

Rape is not just a “women’s issue”, it can, and does happen to men. Social norms are the reason for the myth of male rape, “Society creates the stigma around rape, not me” (Driscoll). Society blames men more for being victims of rape than they blame females for being victims. Our society also needs to understand that when a man is raped it does not make them any less of a man. We need to support and help the victims of these tragic events. We need these survivors to feel supported; men should know that it is okay to get help if they have become a victim of sexual assault.

If we do not change our views on male rape, then the issue will never be fixed. Myths about Male Rape: A Literature Review concludes that “Rape myths not only perpetuate the occurrence of sexual violence, but also serve to conceal and minimize male rape, which has devastating consequences for the male victim” (Turchik and Edwards 214). Just like Lennon, many victims have a hard time getting their lives back to normal after an assault. However, without support from friends and family, that will be the reality for many victims. Men will continue to hide their stories and suffer psychological behind closed doors.

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