Grown men get raped too. For many people, they cannot even fathom the thought that it’s possible for a man to get raped. Some people think that if a man gets raped that he needed to get raped because he should have been man enough to prevent it. Of course, a man getting raped by another man or by a woman happens much less than a woman gets raped by a man. We still, however, need to engage in serious discourses about men who are raped. One of the dominant reasons why men who are raped is largely underreported to the authorities is shame. The shame that male victims of rape experience may be greater than the shame women face. When one thinks about the hypermasculine expectations that American society places on men, especially men in the African-American and Latino communities, the thought of a man who “lets himself get raped” is unacceptable. Men who are truly raped are not letting themselves get rapped—they are being victimized in the same ways as women who are raped.
We must create spaces where men who are victimized by rape can speak and where they can find support and refuge. Those of us who are committed to truth and justice need to include male victims of rape in the work that we do. There’s a true need to find real and innovative ways to counter the shame that men face when they are raped. Shame is keeping many men from coming forth or causing them not to immediately report the vicious sexual attacks on their body.
It’s important to give people some examples of how a grown man can be raped because many people don’t believe it’s possible. A grown man can be raped by a group of bi-sexual or down- low men who outnumber a man who is alone. You have to understand that sometimes a group of men will want to have sex with a man so bad that they will set him up to be sexually gang-banged. Moreover, a woman can use a date rape drug to rape a man. The date rape drug can render him powerless to her desire to rape him. Many men are too hypermasculine to see this as rape because they will see that he’s a man and he’s receiving something “good” out of the encounter. It’s rape! A gay man can overpower another gay man and rape him. It happens!
Just because you have never heard about a man getting raped does not mean that it has not and does not occur.
Rape is one of the most violent acts that can be inflicted on a person. Women are, of course, most often impacted by rape. We have to, however, become more sophisticated about the ways in which we discuss rape because men are not included in our popular discourses on rape. Since men are mainly the rapists, their relationship to rape is primarily as victimizers. There has to be an understanding that they are victims too when discussing rape. In no way am I trying to diminish the focus on the impact that rape has on women, but I want us to realize that men are being victimized by rape too.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison