Whenever women write about, march against, or mention rape, there is inevitably that one man who will show up and ask this. “What about the women who rape men? Why aren’t you standing up for them too? If feminism is really about equality between the genders, then why aren’t you talking about the men who are raped?”
Well, yes, sexual assault or rape of anybody is horrific. Obviously, I am just as much against the rape of men as I am against the rape of women.
However, why is it only when we speak of women being raped (one out of six in the U.S.) that men conveniently remind us that some women are rapists, too? Why do they only care about men being raped when they have the opportunity to talk over women?
Men, if you truly care, please start your own conversation about this. I encourage you to volunteer your time or money to fight the sexual abuse of men. I would love to see you actually standing up for the rights of men who are victimised. Unfortunately, the rape of men is too commonly used as just a talking point and a way to derail conversations about women’s rights.
With all of this being said, I must admit that the culture of violence surrounding women is pervasive and, fortunately, men as a whole really don’t experience the same. Women are told that they must be small, delicate, and skinny; otherwise, they are not “feminine.” In The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf hypothesizes that this mentality encourages women to obsess over the fact that they are not perfect, which makes them easier to control and more likely to consume beauty/diet products. This is true. It is also true that a weak, skinny woman is easier for a man to overpower.
Has a man ever wished that he were “hot enough to rape?” It sounds absurd – as it should. I’ve read countless messages Internet forums as well as eavesdropped on many real life conversations where women actually imply this – women who never get catcalled in the streets, women who don’t need to dodge creeps at bars. A while ago, there was a story about Rebel Wilson believing a man had tried to date rape her, and many men joked that “who would try to date rape HER?” When a large part of womanhood is defined by the fact that men feel entitled to you sexually, you feel like less of a woman if this isn’t the case. If women aren’t sexually harassing or abusing you, do you feel like less of a man?
Are men encouraged to be “pure”; do we place value on their virginity? Is there a popular dichotomy separating the virgin men from the “whores”? No. You must know that these things are true of women, and they are damaging because when an “impure” woman is raped, she is far less likely to be believed.
You may want to talk about the fact that often when men are raped, they are not believed because “men always want sex.” You may also want to talk about the fact that men are not supposed to show emotion or present themselves as weak. Please do. I think upon researching, you will find that these gender stereotypes are results of the culture that passively encourages violence against women. But please present this information outside of our own conversations or protests. Barging into our conversations just reminds us that you won’t stand with us against the men who rape and abuse us.