It Takes a Village to Raise These Rapists

Eyes closed photo by aturkus

Andrew Smiler discusses how seemingly good kids from Maryville, Steubenville, & Glen Ridge could end up accused of rape.

[Trigger warning: this article contains a graphic description of sexual assault]

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Once again, all eyes are focused on the (alleged) rape of a teenage girl by a high school athlete. This year, we’re talking about Maryville, MO. Last year —yes, it was only last year—it was Steubenville, OH. Once again, we’re left to wonder what’s wrong with some apparently upright boys in tight-knit communities.

There are many things that bother us about cases like these. One of them is that the rapists don’t fit our image of bad guys. They’re not bad guys jumping out from behind buildings randomly raping girls, nor are they the kids “we always knew” would get in serious trouble. These are (mostly) likable boys, guys who play for the high school team and are at least reasonably good at school. They also come from “good” families, families that are well known and respected. So we ask ourselves: how could these kids possibly be rapists?

♦◊♦

Let me tell you a story. The year is 1989. We’re Glen Ridge, NJ. It’s the kind of suburb you might have chosen if you were upper middle class. It was quiet, safe, and had good schools. Most of the adults were educated professionals who worked in fields like law and finance and voted for Reagan and Bush.

And then. And then a group of their boys lured a 16 year old mentally retarded* girl into one of the boys’ houses and sexually assaulted her. To be specific, she was coerced into performing oral sex and she was vaginally penetrated with a broom handle and a toy wooden baseball bat, about 18 inches long. The event was led by one of the captains of the football team. A dozen of his friends were there, most of whom were athletes; 6 left at some point during the events, but only one or two ever told the captain to stop. All the boys who stayed were football players.

The story didn’t come until a few weeks later. Although the girls’ mother knew something was wrong, she would only tell her story in small pieces before clamming up. The subsequent investigation gathered a lot of evidence, including eyewitness testimony from several of the boys. Three of the boys were subsequently convicted of sexual assault and a fourth was convicted of conspiracy. The investigation was shifted from the police department to the prosecutor’s office when the police department discovered that one of the detectives’ sons had been in the basement.

♦◊♦

Comparing the three events reveals some scarily similar lessons about how to raise—or not raise—a boy who thinks he can get away with rape. Most of the information about Maryville comes from an excellent piece of investigative journalism by Dugan Arnett of the Kansas City Star and the story of Glen Ridge was told in Bernard Lefkowitz’s book. Steubenville was well-documented online.

To raise a seemingly nice, upstanding boy who could rape a girl that’s not capable of giving consent due to her IQ or state of inebriation, you need to start at home.

1. Teach him the rules don’t apply at home. In Glen Ridge and Steubenville, it became clear that the boys were rarely punished at home or punishments weren’t actually enforced. Whether that’s because the parents weren’t around, the boys always managed to talk their way out of it, or the parents wrote off misbehavior as “boys being boys” doesn’t really matter. Punishment at home was rare and when it did happen, it was easily subverted.

2. Teach him the rules don’t apply at school. The boys didn’t really get punished at school either. Sure, they may have gotten bad grades—Cs, for example—but they were routinely not written up for other infractions like smoking or harassing other students. In effect, they always got the benefit of the doubt and they never had to serve detention or suspension, even when a teacher or administrator had just given another kid a detention for that same offense 2 minutes earlier and it was all happening in front of witnesses. The boys didn’t have to flaunt their family connections or status, everyone knew who they were. On the rare occasion when a teacher would try to enforce the same rules for everyone, another teacher or administrator would undo the penalty and perhaps explain the lay of the land to that teacher.

3. Teach him the rules don’t apply with peers. Lefkowitz talks about a group of girls known as the “Little Mothers” who took care of the boys on the team. They literally cleaned up after the boys by cleaning houses after parties, made sure the boys got home when they were too drunk to walk, and actively protected the boys’ reputations at schools. Several also performed oral – and occasionally agreed to vaginal – sex with the boys. The boys were clear that they did not date the Little Mothers and referred to those blow jobs as “hoovering” (because they sucked like vacuum cleaners). Today, harassing the victims at school and online is relatively effortless and wholly sufficient.

4. Feed his narcissism. If everyone is on plan for numbers 1, 2, and 3, then our boy will learn that he’s above the rules and gets special treatment. He’ll also figure out that whatever he wants to do and however he’s feeling is more important than what anyone else wants or what anyone else is feeling. In other words, it’s all about him. Perhaps more to the point, he won’t learn to be empathic or respond to other people’s feelings because he won’t need to; other people will do the emotional work to smooth things over, although our boy might need to say he’s, y’know, sorry.

5. The parents should have good social standing. These kinds of “favors” don’t get given to anyone, just kids from the “right” families, kids whose parents the teachers, school administrators, or sheriff might socialize with. Or might want to socialize with or curry their own favors from in return. In Maryville, the boy’s grandfather was a longtime member of the Missouri House of Representatives.

6. The kids should have good social standing among their peers. That can be the result of having money for the “right” clothes, a cool car, or having the house to yourself with a stocked liquor cabinet. Or it can be from being the star of the football or basketball team, as was true in all 3 cases. However it happens, he’ll need to be one of the guys that “everyone” wants to know and hang out with. And because everyone wants this guy to like him, they’ll be happy to stick up for the guy and denigrate the girl. Heck, maybe they’ll even burn her house down.

7. Raise him to believe in “traditional” gender and sexual roles. It’ll be especially important to call him girly or a sissy so he learns not to be feminine and has no doubt that girls are inferior. It’s also important that he learn all the misinformation we spew about sex in general and male sexuality in particular, as well as the stud-slut double standard. Encouraging a “take no prisoners” mentality and that it’s perfectly acceptable to pick on people who are different will also help. And because teens (and adults) tend to befriend folks who share their beliefs, those beliefs will get reflected back and reinforced by his buddies.

8. The victim should have little or no status. Choose a teen target who has low status and few friends. Like the retarded* kid (in Glen Ridge). Or the new girl who just moved into Maryville.

That’s all it takes. Well, mostly. Even if you do all these things, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll end up with a self-absorbed son who has little respect for you, the rules, or anyone else. In addition to the opportunity, he’ll still need to decide he’s willing to violate someone at that level. In Steubenville and Glen Ridge, there were lots of guys who had the opportunity but chose not to rape the girl.

*In 1989 it was still mental retardation, not developmental delay.

 

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About Andrew Smiler

Andrew Smiler, PhD is a therapist, evaluator, author, and speaker residing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (USA). He is the author of “Challenging Casanova: Beyond the stereotype of promiscuous young male sexuality” and co-author, with Chris Kilmartin, of “The Masculine Self (5th edition)”. He is a past president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity and has taught at Wake Forest University and SUNY Oswego. Dr. Smiler's research focuses on definitions of masculinity. He also studies normative aspects of sexual development, such as age and perception of first kiss, first “serious” relationship, and first intercourse among 15-25 year olds. Follow him @AndrewSmiler.

Comments

  1. wellokaythen says:

    “They’re not bad guys jumping out from behind buildings are randomly raping girls, nor are they the kids “we always knew” would get in serious trouble. These are (mostly) likable boys, guys who play for the high school team and are at least reasonably good at school. They also come from “good” families, families that are well known and respected. So we ask ourselves: how could these kids possibly be rapists?”

    Spot on. This is a good description of the blinders people carry around about rape. This is probably my own stereotype, but I suspect those “good boys” are actually MORE likely to be rapists than others. And what the heck does “good family” even mean? It’s snobby, elitist, “not our sort” ideas like this that create some of the space for rape to happen. Seriously, what does a family’s reputation REALLY have to do with the likelihood that their kids will commit crimes? Less than people think. More likely they’ll get away with those crimes, maybe.

    I don’t know where people got the idea that “good student” means good person. Some of the most reprehensible people I know were straight-A students.

    • Andrew Smiler says:

      Thanks.
      d
      and yeah, I don’t understand why “good student” = “good person” with little understanding that there are lots of exceptions.

  2. 7. Raise him to believe in “traditional” gender and sexual roles. It’ll be especially important to call him girly or a sissy so he learns not to be feminine and has no doubt that girls are inferior. It’s also important that he learn all the misinformation we spew about sex in general and male sexuality in particular, as well as the stud-slut double standard. Encouraging a “take no prisoners” mentality and that it’s perfectly acceptable to pick on people who are different will also help. And because teens (and adults) tend to befriend folks who share their beliefs, those beliefs will get reflected back and reinforced by his buddies.
    I’d say that the stud/loser dichotomy also plays a big roll in this as well (if not moreso that the much quoted stud/slut double standard) . And there’s probably a bit of knight/beast going on as well.

    Maybe I’m just reiterating what you have linked in that paragraph but it seems that in your part here about traditional roles you are mainly focusing on things directly harmful to girls. While those harms do exist the traditional role of gender are directly harmful to guys as well (none of this “its not that its harmful to males ts that its harmful to females and through that it harms males” bit that seems to come up so often). I think those are what need to at the forefront of the conversation.

    Perhaps its just me but a lot of the drilling I got over being a “real man” over the years wasn’t about “you’re either a man or a girl” but “you’re either a man or you’re nothing”.

    The dynamic between male/female is not in and over itself the cause behind why masculinity is used as a bludgeon to hammer guys to fit the traditional roles (and saying so is like saying the real reason Al-Queda is dangerous is not because of their ideals but because they have access to weapons).

    I’m of the mind that even if there wasn’t “do it….or else you’re a just a little girl” wasn’t looming over guys heads there was still be an issue of there being some concept of a “real man” that guys would be expected to live up, regardless of how dangerous it is.

    • Andrew Smiler says:

      Hi Danny,

      Good point. In my head that’s part of “status”/good social standing (#6), but there’s definitely room & need for further discussion of the “real man” stuff.

  3. I think that you left out a big one: Teach him to view women as objects.

    If the girl isn’t really a person, empathy will never even come into play. People can be empathetic to their friends and family and be utterly cruel to the people they have sex with because, deep down, they don’t see them as 100% human. There are some men who seem incapable of respecting someone and being sexually attracted to them at the same time. For them sex is something that you do to something, not do with someone. There are a lot of men who treat women horribly, even if they do not go as far as rape.

    • Andrew Smiler says:

      Hi Wylee,

      I agree with you and I think you’ve said it more directly than I did. For me, that’s the result of the narcissism in combination with the negative messages about girls/femininity.

  4. Thank you for writing this article. I wish it to be printed in all the important newspapers. Spot on and critical for the poor parenting to stop. Why I don’t want to raise my children in the US. Depressing how the fabric of out culture is falling apart due to lack of good values, community, honesty, kindness, love. Sigh :(

  5. An insidious aspect to victim-blaming that I don’t often see mentioned (wish I could find the source article where I found this point raised) is the way it indirectly models sexual behavior and expectations that are conducive to rape — i.e., the implicit message is, “Gals who dress provocatively or drink to excess [etc.] should expect aggressive sexual attention.” Consequently, some gals may at least subconsciously interpret that as an instruction do those very things when they do want sexual attention, and some guys may assume that gals who proceed do those things despite the warnings must be doing so for that very reason. This feeds into the “she was asking for it” narrative, because some guys may see those behaviors as nonverbal signals literally “asking” for sexual attention.

    This is one reason why seemingly “good boys” who went on to rape often later say in interviews (such as in the source article I can’t find now) they did so not because they hadn’t been taught that rape is bad, or knew it was bad and didn’t care or thought they could get away with it, but rather because they didn’t realize what they were doing was “rape” at all — they say the victim had been doing the very things that gals are told not to do if they don’t want sexual attention, ergo they assumed she must have been doing those things because she “wanted it”, ergo they thought consent was implied. The fine point so often lost here is that even if she did want and was seeking sexual attention by behaving accordingly (just as she’d been “taught” by victim-blaming admonitions), that didn’t mean she wanted sex with just anyone or with them in particular, nor did it mean that she waived her right to put a stop to things at any point she deemed fit.

    I don’t mean to “excuse” any rapists’ behavior — quite the contrary — but rather just explain how victim-blaming approaches to curtail rape can actually be quite counterproductive, and to illustrate how we really need to be doing better at informing young folks, guys and gals alike, about just what “rape” actually entails and the many forms it may take.

    • We also need to be doing better at fostering clear and open expression of both interest and consent, rather than shaming or shunning it and thereby driving that social negotiation into the murky realm of defensively-mixed signals, plausible deniability, and interpretive guesswork that it largely currently occupies.

      • Jayseajay says:

        Tyson – I agree with much of your post, particularly the point about educating people to be better and more open when talking about sexual interest and consent. However, I think there is something very important to note about victim blaming. You say that it’s counterproductive. Which might be true, but only if we assume that victim-blaming is actually intended to reduce the incidence of rape. This is questionable. A culture of victim blaming shifts the responsibility for rape away from perpetrators onto victims, and even if it does not lead young men to actually think wearing a short skirt equals consent, it lets them know that if a woman was doing any one of a number of things (drinking, looking attractive, being out at night while having had any previous sexual experience, just being out anywhere alone) then there is a good chance he will not be held fully accountable for his actions. Victim blaming is therefore an important part of a set of cultural messages which actually allow rape levels to continue as they are.

  6. Excellent article! :)

  7. John Anderson says:

    Nor does it seem that the village stops at just raising these rapists as this comment from Alyssa on GMP’s article “Chris Brown and a Nation of aped Boys” illustrates.

    “I think the term “rape” itself is being thrown around far too easily here. By definition, it is sex against one partner’s will. It does not sound like Chris Brown was resisting his sexual experience. And while his partner was older than him, she was still a minor and not legally accountable for sexual crimes anyway. To me this seems like an uncomfortable but common case of children experimenting with their sexuality. It’s unpleasant for us to hear/talk about, but it’s common. And it’s very different from forced sex or exploitation by an adult.”

    A 14 year old raping an 8 year old and Andrew it seems the prerequisites are a whole lot easier to achieve. It starts at home. Teach them boys always consent or don’t need to and be a girl.

  8. @ Andrew You make a decent argument, however,there are some inconsistencies in your logic. If one accepts your implied premise that rapists are bred exclusively by certain cultures-like sports-then your analysis makes sense.Sort of.Without facts to support the theory,it doesn’t make sense.Its just your opinion.You wrote,”Once again,which implies great frequency outside norms-all eyes are focused on an (alleged) rape of a teen age girl by a high school (male) athlete.” Not true.All eyes are not focused on this case.The process by which stories are chosen for national exposure by the news media is hardly democratic or meritorious.Just because something is in news doesn’t make it important. This story was chosen,I think,because stories of athletes being bad sell.So,one must accept without facts but through implication that high school athletes(male) and sport culture produces rapists with alarming frequency.In my mind, that would be irresponsible,intellectually and morally. Are you an athlete?Have you played team sports in high school or college? if you haven’t, your knowledge is based on theory and second hand info. Every culture on every team is different. I have coached high school athletes for ten years.Yes,the spoiled overindulged,entitled, athlete is a part of the mix.High schools are chock full of overindulged,entitled,teenagers who don’t play sports at all.Biff the high school football star and all around jerk is an overworked cliche and scapegoat.You suggest an interest in reducing incidents of rape..but you are pretty selective.If boys rape because they are boys why do others rape too? From what I understand the clinical reasons for rape are not significantly different among rapists.Some people become racist without much motivation.Some are sexist,some are not.Some believe in God,some don’t.

    • There was a time in this country (actually, only a few decades ago) when bad behavior by school athletes was ignored by the media and just about everyone else. Even tolerated at times. For justice’s sake I want the coverups of crimes to be exposed. This sort of investigative reporting is only a recent development.

      The worst enemies of school sports are not the critics of the culture gone wrong, but the enablers among the fans.

    • Another point: Yes, rapes happen every day. But the newsworthy element in these cases is that a coverup was staged each time. Also, the rape victims were mistreated in one way or another after the crime by many in the community. In Steubenville the 16-year-old victim received death threats after the verdict. That is the real scandal. Not just the rape itself.

      Everyone should read Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz, which is about the Glen Ridge scandal. A sad commentary on our society.

      • John Anderson says:

        @ Bill

        Churches have covered up rapes. Schools have covered up rapes and not just of it’s sports teams. The military has covered up rapes. A lot of these victims have faced retaliation for speaking out.

        • That is true. I’ve been following the Catholic scandals since the 1990s. The despicable religious hypocrisy is astounding.

    • I respect your initial point, that the author is focusing specifically on male athletes as opposed to rapists at large & that this is perhaps unfair (though the author is by no means saying all athletes are rapists or all rapists or athletes, the rape cases that are currently receiving media attention have been perpetrated by athletes so…). I hear that you’re feeling stereotyped as an athlete & a bit defensive of something that you value & is important to you. Totally understandable. That being said there are a few things that I’m having a very hard time understanding & feel I must respond to in your comment.

      To begin with, the author specifically states that it “begins at home.” Every example given talks about the entire larger social environment that the boys are in: parents, peer groups, teachers. In fact the only time sports culture is referenced is in a specific example offered in #3 which the author has sourced from outside material by Bernard Lefkowitz about the Glen Ridge story.

      “All eyes are not focused on this case. The process by which stories are chosen for national exposure by the news media is hardly democratic or meritorious.” Its totally true that the news is a biased & selective perspective on what is occurring in the world at any given moment in time. This does not negate the fact that most people still get their information from this source & are therefore focused where it tells them to be. The fact that the media is an incredibly pervasive social entity & that you can say the word Steubenville or Maryville to someone & they will likely know exactly what you’re talking about without you having to offer any explanation means that yes, generally speaking, all eyes are indeed focused on this case. The fact that the author need not go into detail about either of these cases & nowhere in the comments has anyone asked for more information or shown any sense of not being aware of what he’s talking about also reinforces this point.

      “Just because something is in news doesn’t make it important.”
      The implication here is that the rape of, & subsequent retaliation against, multiple teenage girls is not important. It is always important when someone has been raped regardless of who was raped, who did the raping, how many people know or any other factor related to the case. It is ALWAYS important. I wonder if you would have written this the same way had it been your daughter, niece, sister. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt in assuming that this is not what you were intending to say, but I must point out that it is what’s being communicated.

      “If boys rape because they are boys why do others rape too?”
      Who are the “others” you are referring to? Statistically the vast majority of rape perpetrators are men, regardless of the gender of the person who is raped so the only answer I can think of to that question is that they have the same reasons because the boys who rape become men who rape. They’re not different people, just different ages.

      “From what I understand the clinical reasons for rape are not significantly different among rapists.”
      I am very unclear about what meaning is intended in the phrase “clinical reasons for rape,” & specifically what constitutes a “clinical” reason. From my understanding rape is an action & therefore a decision so the reason why is fundamentally always the same; the only difference between a rapist & a non-rapist is that the rapist said yes to raping while the non-rapist said no. There are many people who receive the same social conditioning, messaging & peer pressure as rapists, what makes these people non-rapists? The decision to say no; I will not rape. What makes the rapists rapists? The decision to say yes, I will rape.

      “Some people become racist without much motivation. Some are sexist, some are not. Some believe in God, some don’t.” When you are raised in a racist environment you are constantly encouraged to be racist; the motivation is not EXPLICIT because its EXPECTED. What takes motivation then is to NOT be racist. As per the content of the article this is easily re-framed for sexism: when you are are raised in a sexist environment the EXPECTATION is sexist beliefs & behavior. People become whatever “ism” they embody through social conditioning & cultural training. People who are not sexist have worked really hard to achieve that state whereas people who are sexist have not. Again, its about a personal decision to say yes or no to the expectations set for you.

      When someone who was raised catholic decides that they are actually agnostic, or atheist, or buddhist or pastafarian, whatever it is, they have made a decision to be different from what is considered normal in the context of their lives. The authors point is thus that these boys, who statistically speaking had they gone without being accused would then likely become men who rape, lived out the expectations their environment set for them.

      • John Anderson says:

        @ Jihan

        “Statistically the vast majority of rape perpetrators are men, regardless of the gender of the person who is raped.”

        Unless you believe that 55% or 60% constitute a VAST majority, you are wrong. In fact in certain specific situations like juvenile detention the vast majority, over 80% of sexual assaults / rapes, are committed by women / girls. Among staff rapes about 95% are committed by female staff against male inmates. Female staff commit about 40% of all rapes in adult prison.

        • wellokaythen says:

          I can see how the percentages maybe matter in terms of large-scale policy or legislation, but ultimately on the local, individual level, what difference does it really make who’s in the majority or how big the majority is?

          Even at the *lowest* estimate of male victims, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people! Millions of rapes.

          Are people out there really suggesting some sort of magical percentage cut off for justice? “Sorry, your victimization is only 8.2% of the total, which is below the 15% needed for anyone to care.”

          I don’t see how telling people that they’re in a tiny minority is really any kind of argument against them when it comes to basic human rights. Imagine if I tried to dismiss gay bashing because “it’s really just about a tiny minority of people, so we shouldn’t let them derail the real conversation.” Or dismissing Native American concerns because they’re just a tiny percentage of the population. That would be obscene.

      • Who are the “others” you are referring to? Statistically the vast majority of rape perpetrators are men, regardless of the gender of the person who is raped so the only answer I can think of to that question is that they have the same reasons because the boys who rape become men who rape. They’re not different people, just different ages.

        What do you mean by vast? Some antonyms of vast is insignificant, trivial, unimportant, tiny.

        Women make up about 20-25% of rapists according to some surveys (CDC’s NISVS 2010, http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1748355 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9382908 and more).

        I wouldn’t call that trivial, unimportant nor insignificant.

        • @Tamen and Jihan The others are lesbians and straight women and bisexuals and transpersons and gay men. Statistically speaking, all of these groups have the same percentage of rapists as straight males..Thererfore, the reason more straight men are rapists is the sheer volume of numbers of their population.This is a very diferent thing than saying that men are more predisposed to raping than others.Comoaratively, rape is the same among all,of the groups I mentioned.Given this,it makes sense to me at least, attempt to look for some common links,beyond gender,class,status,sexual orientation,etc. .

          Considering the prevalence of rape throughout culture it seems wise to explore more than one rigid philosophical approach to identifying causes.Frankly, I believe that American culture is a violent and domineering culture.If one looks at American culture, we revere power and those who have it.We are proud of the fact that America is the most powerful country in the history of the world.I think history provides ample evidence of these facts.

          Folks who analyze rape from your limited persepective-feminist in origin- are predisposed to forgone conclusions about all manner of issues. I ask you where is the independence of thought?It must be nice having all of the answers to the test questions even before the tests is organized. It’s like political catechism. The feminist analysis of rape and dv makes a mockery of critical thinking.
          Clinically speaking rape is about acquiring power not sex. Therefore lesbians and others who abuse do it for the same reason,to have power over another person.Rape has nothing to do with gender.The point,that rape has nothing to do with gender but has to do with the darkness of humanity ,frightens folks who espouse your philosophy about rape,which is divisive and illogical.They fear,among other things, that the philosophy that they have defined themselves by is false. Grants, careers, funding and reputations were built upon the idea that women were not capable of violence and would never rape or abuse another woman.I have raised two sons and a daughter.All three played multiple sports and were quite good.making the newspaper several times. Neither my sons or daughter are rapists.I managed to acheve this without employing any of the tactics the author reccomended.Just lucky I guess.

          • You misrepresented what Andrew Smiler was saying. He was not saying that participating in a sport causes rape. He expresses sound moral principles that have a broad application.

            (By the way, it seems to me that those who say attention is not paid to the rape of boys are more likely to point out female-on-male rape than they are male-on-male rape. I wonder why that is. Politics, perhaps?)

            Your claim that the motivation for the news media reporting Steubenville and Maryville type coverups is to make money because the reports are good sell is outrageous. The fact is that such reports are unpopular, especially among sports fans such as yourself. You seem to be more concerned about the image of high-school football players (who, incidentally, are not exactly marginalized youth) than you are about the plight of these young rape victims, who have been traumatized and are being subjected to re-victimization by others, including rape enablers in the media.

            I expect as a former high-school coach you think student athletes are better than nonathletic students. It certainly was a common attitude among the junior high and high school P.E. coaches in my school district. I feared the football players at my high school because most of them seemed to be boorish or unpleasant. Bullying was rampant throughout the district because it was tolerated by the coaches and principals. A friend of mine who had played football at one of the other high schools in the district recently told me that most of his teammates had looked down on all the nonathletic guys at their school. You might appreciate this as a black man: Several decades before in the fall of 1968, he told me that many of his teammates supported the segregationist candidate George Wallace in the upcoming presidential election. In other words, they were racist bigots. Fine group of kids! Of course, none of the local sports columnists would have ever pointed out these facts. After all, you know what sells.

            As a white boy in Texas, I grew up under Jim Crow and saw heartrending evidence of how terrible and evil it was; so, you and I would agree on that issue at least.

            I have no more to say here. I’d just be wasting my time and everyone else’s.

            • (By the way, it seems to me that those who say attention is not paid to the rape of boys are more likely to point out female-on-male rape than they are male-on-male rape. I wonder why that is. Politics, perhaps?)
              My guess is that male against male rape is more readily acknowledged than female against male rape. From what I’ve seen this seems to be the case because a male against male rape case still fits the “its something males do….” even if the “…..to females” part doesn’t fit.

              Even as we see that female against male rape happens a lot more than we have been led to believe (number one roadblock being that lots of law books and studies do not include “male penetrating a female against his will” in the definition of rape) there is still a drive to keep the conversation on rape centered around male perps and female victims.

              Sure we can point out that most rapes are committed by men against women but if female against male rape is just now being counted (although the very people that have no problem not counting female against male rape have no problem pointing out that male against female rape is undercounted) then maybe there actually is more to rape than it being an issue of masculinity.

              (And no this is not an endorsement to say that masculinity has nothing to do with rape however I do think that the fixiation on rape having something to do with masculinity has clouded our vision on rapes which the perp is not male.)

            • John Anderson says:

              @ Danny

              I think clearly gender has something to do with rape. Most make rapists choose female victims and most female rapists choose male victims. When you look at murder though most men choose male victims and most women choose male victims. Having your life viewed as being not valuable or less valuable might be a view society holds of men.

            • John Anderson says:

              @ Bill

              “By the way, it seems to me that those who say attention is not paid to the rape of boys are more likely to point out female-on-male rape than they are male-on-male rape. I wonder why that is. Politics, perhaps?”

              Or perhaps it has something to do with the VAST MAJORITY (defined as over 80% estimated) rapes of men / boys had a female assailant.

          • Just in case I wasn’t clear in my comment which ogwriter replied to: I do know who the others are. I was protesting Jihan’s implication that there weren’t any other rapist (of any significance) beside male rapists..

        • Hi Tamen
          You seem to be well informed about this issue.
          I have one question to you. Why do women rape men?

          A psychiatrist at the university in Oslo told me the usual explanation for why men rape women is to hurt other MEN. I think he was talking about men in the West,and not those that in war zones, or with experience themselves of rape against them self of their family in war.

          If this is one of the good explanations, that men rape women to hurt other men, then what are good analyses of why women rape men?

          • @Iben Hello there. I thought this might interest you. According to a US DOJ report, 2008-2009,95% of ALL youth who were incarserated,reporting staff sexual misconduct, were victimized by female staff.
            95%!

          • Hi Iben,

            I really wish you could cite your assertions better as it sure would be interesting to read the underlying research upon which that psychiatrist based that assertion. I’ve only seen that reason mentioned as a possible/contributing cause for conflict-rape where attackers rape the women of a conquered village in order to humiliate the surviving men. I haven’t seen it as an explanation for why men rape women in a non-conflict situation (which is what I assume you mean by “in the West”). Unless I see some support for this I think it’s just as far-fetched as Susan Brownmiller’s statement about rape:

            “rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear”

            There appear to be quite a bit of research into why men rape and a quick review reveals none that put forth that the major cause is that the rapist who rape a woman do so because he wants to punish another man/men:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_sexual_violence
            http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X%2813%2970069-X/fulltext

            Personally I think the single most common reason) is sexual entitlement. That is also the most common reason given by male rapists in the Asia and Pacific survey which I linked to in the Lancet link above.

            I can’t recall right now having read some research on why women rape men. I know there are some research on women who sexually abuse male children (http://www.female-offenders.com/bibliography.html provides a comprehensive bibliography of research done on female sexual offenders). I strongly suspect that there doesn’t exist any reason given by a male rapists which haven’t also been given by a female rapists and that sexual entitlement is the most common reason for female rapists as well.

            • Hi Tamen

              The professor told me this in a therapy session .
              Thinking back on it, I am sure he did what he could to not make me more anxious about rape than I already was. In my thirties , the way some men looked at in street triggered panick attack and I was afraid of rape. ( the male gaze is no minor issue for some ). Maybe women also have gaze like that.

              Wikipedia on causes of sexual violence give many theories, but only write about men raping women.
              You should update Wikipedia Tamen, they need help.
              en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_sexual_violence
              Or maybe they have articles about it, but I have not found it yet.

            • Apparently I messed up the blockquoting. The Brownmiller quote ends after “a state of fear”” – the remaining text is written by men and shouldn’t be in a quote.

      • @Bill Wait-a-minute.You mean to tell me that there were racists athletes in the South during the sixties? The earth is round and some kids where their trousers wayyyy too low.Just so you remember there were also plenty of nonviolent,wholesome,nonthreatening,wouldn’t harm a fly southern belles spewing racist venom during this period.Should we discuss racism among northern progressive women too?The football players I coach are marginalized.You have mistakenly lumped all male sports culture into the same stadium,just like the author.Racism in sports has been covered quite closely in this country.In fact,sports has been decades ahead of the rest of society in eradicating racism in it’s culture. You’ve heard of Jackie Robinson,right.Feminists could learn something from male sports culture about addressing bigotry.Let me be honest.I do tend to pay less attention to male on female rape.I have been forced to choose sides and I prefer to be upfront about that.Women have their fair share of advocates.I wonder…of all of the rapes deemed newsworthy enough to report what percentage are of single,white, middle class women?

  9. Rule one for talking to boys about rape – don’t ignore or invalidate their experience as victims. If you want to have an impact on the number of males abusing females, prevent those males from being abused in the first place. This means recognizing that females also abuse males. Until we can accept that all people can be victims or abusers we will continue to be trapped in sexist stereotypes.

    We need to get past the idea that men and boys always want sex, that they should feel thankful if an older woman “initiates them into sex”, than errection equals consent, that male bodies ugly, that boys do not have a right bodily integrity and that it is acceptable to cut their genitals into a shape that is more pleasing to their parents or potential future sexual partners, and that boys are less entitled to privacy than girls.

    In short, many boys do not know how to respect another person’s body or sexuality as no respect has been shown for their bodies or sexuality. We will never solve the problem of violence and abuse until we are willing to help all people, regardless of gender.

    • John Anderson says:

      “Rule one for talking to boys about rape – don’t ignore or invalidate their experience as victims.”

      If someone doesn’t respect their own no, why would they respect anyone else’s?

    • Rule one for talking to boys about rape – don’t ignore or invalidate their experience as victims. If you want to have an impact on the number of males abusing females, prevent those males from being abused in the first place. This means recognizing that females also abuse males. Until we can accept that all people can be victims or abusers we will continue to be trapped in sexist stereotypes.
      Agreed. For all the talk we see of sympathy/empathy/compassion there seems to be an awful short supply of it for males (whether they are victims of crimes or not it seems).

      Basically as it stands we are telling males that the crimes committed against them are not that big of a deal but the crimes they commit against females are a major issue that needs to be assaulted.

      • “Basically as it stands we are telling males that the crimes committed against them are not that big of a deal but the crimes they commit against females are a major issue that needs to be assaulted.”

        not saying that the crimes against males aren’t a big of a deal, but, rather, that crimes against females are influenced by patriarchal thinking — that is, when we challenge the crimes done against females, we challenge patriarchal and gendered ideologies, objectification, and socialisation of an individual and a society on how to view females. of course, there is also that sense when we talk of, say, rape of little boys by adults: in this situation, we see how an adult practices his/her power over the child. (in fact, this is a view i share: that rape is a matter of powerplay. when we talk of rape being “masculine,” it is because we view males and masculinity as “powerful,” and females and femininity as “less powerful.”)

        because, as it stands now, when we view crimes done to males by other males (with the exception of crimes done by adult males to younger males in terms of stages of development), we view them as isolated and individual incidents not influenced by a larger body of thought, like culture or socialisation (although there is still that concept of “power,” and this is where i think the dichotomy of stud/loser when it comes to male identification comes into play).

        • Hi Renee,

          I had a bit of trouble following your comment, but I think you are essentially saying that we view crimes against females as more significant because females are “like children” and less able to defend themselves and therefore a crime against a female is more of a moral outrage. (Just to be clear, this is not what I believe)

          While the above patriarchal perspective benefits women, and many women enjoy this privilege (yes it is part of the female privilege package), it is still sexist and it still erodes women’s autonomy. For our society to be equal a crime against a woman must not be considered more heinous than a crime against a man. So long as women are considered “special” they will never be equal.

          • I was taking renee’s comment to say that its not that male against female crimes are taken more seriously than female against male crimes but that male against female crimes are a part of some patriarchal thinking.

            If that is the case I’m still at a bit of a loss as to how we can simultaneously say that all rape is a serious issue and downplay any variation of rape that is not male against female.

            For instance events like the Stuebenville case where major news outlets expressed compassion and sympathy for the guys that got convicted as proof that male against female rape isn’t being taken seriously. Well at the same time those very same media outlets won’t even call it rape when it female against male. It becomes “sexual assault” or maybe “aggravated sexual assault”.

            At best “patriarchal thinking” will say that this is the result of male victims being seen as less than because being raped is “something that happens to women”. But even that would only speak to why the male victim would be dismissed and shamed. It doesn’t really go into why, just like a male rapist that attacks a female, female rapists have their actions downplayed and why they are not held responsible for their actions or why media outlets will show compassion for her over the male victim.

            Or for another example look at law books and studies. In a lot of jurisdictions a female quite literally cannot be charged with raping a male. Some often quoted studies exclude “being forced to penetrate against one’s will” from the definition of rape. When its been legally defined away and ignored when it comes time to count it is it any wonder why female against male rape suddenly “doesn’t happen very often”?

            I just think that trying to fit all of rape into the lens of patriarchal thinking is not the way to go, especially if the ultimate goal is have all rape treated the same regardless of the gender of those involved.

            • Danny,

              I re-read Renee’s comment and I can see you might be right.

              Personally, I don’t believe in the existence of a patriarchy, let alone as some sort of oppressive cult. The elite of societies now and in the past have always organized themselves around retaining power and money within their families, not within their gender. To believe in a patriarchy one must ignore the fact that the majorities of those who are on the loosing end of life are male – suicides, prisoners, homeless, and drug addicted. While it is true that most leaders in the past were male, they represent a fleetingly small percentage of people, where as the dregs of society, representing a much larger portion are male.

              As I said, elite families are more apt to pass their wealth and power on to family, even females, than some male from outside the family. For example Queens Victoria and Elizabeth I. These women had no issue using power and violence either.

              Like many of the ideas of feminist theory, the idea of a patriarchy seems to have been accepted more out of fear of feminist anger than any objective observations about how society works. Many 19th century coal miners likely envied the life of the mine owner’s wife, well until they died in another mine collapse.

            • Going off topic here I know but I have to say this.

              Is there a complex system in place that perpetuates itself by limiting people to restrictive gender roles? I think there is.

              Should this system be named after a select few who really only make up the upper echelons of men but are propped up as representation of the whole (and even then only the supposed positive parts of that select few)? No.

              When it comes to gender things are a complex mess and I think that simply trying to label it with a man name misses a lot of what’s really going on.

              But anyway this goes back to what I think is a problem with looking at rape through an extremely limited lens and it seems now instead of recognizing that the lens was not getting the entire picture the plan is to try to force the entire picture through the lens instead of adjusting the lens.

            • @Danny The stubborn belief in the patriarchy in the face of credible contrary evidence,I think can be explained this way. Consider for a moment how advantageous it is to be able to blame an entire class of people as the source of all significant wrongdoing. How would that improve your status? I believe we overthink this stuff. Usually,if one is looking for the hidden motivation behind certain behavior,look at who benefits. We are base animals motivated by a handful of emotions.Our guile,cunning and denial sufficiently obscures this truth.So we manufacture elaborate theories and the like that allow us hide our beast out in the open.I ask you,how difficult is it really to accept that men and women do bad things? Women stand to lose a good deal of power if they are percieved as capable of the same violence as men.The refusal to accept this is actually a bid to retain leverage and power.

            • “…try to force the entire picture through the lens instead of adjusting the lens.” It is fair to say that the-blame-the patriarchy-for-every-problem lens offers a great number of people an easily digestable,understandable,BLAMEFREE,answer for all the of uncomfortable, complexities and hardcore conundrums of life.This formula,which provides people easy answers that blame others for all of their significant problems, is as tried and true as a carpenter’s straight edge.This dynamic has been present in Rome,in Germany,the US and hundreds of other civilizations throughout history. and This has been consistently exploited by clever leaders.This approach allows Joe and Jane,who are easily swayed if certain conditions are met, to explain complex, multilayered, relationships in two words,the patriarchy.One cannot critique the wisdom of this methodology and divorce human nature from the equation.Human nature is the constant.Morality aside,fundamentally what does this say about us?What does this say about our penchant for wanting and using easy answers for solving complex problems, giftwrapped by an idealogue Santa? Then,after we realize we were duped,we lament how we were fooled,betrayed by the people we blindly followed.This is precisely what happened after the infamous Jim Jones,said during a sermon that HE was Jesus Christ?!At which point my 15 years old eyes and ears perked up as I scanned the room looking for dissenters besides myself.I had grown up with these people,gone to school and summer camps with their kids,I thought I knew them.Not one person raised a hand in protest.You see,he had already seduced these people into believing that he alone had all of the answers they had been searching for.They didn’t have to think critically anymore,just believe in the hype.

        • It is interesting that when men are the victims of crime they are viewed as individual incidents unrelated to anything else happening in society. However, when a crime is committed against a women it is seen as one more case report supporting the existence of an “oppressive patriarchy”.

          A better understanding of interpersonal violence would be achieved if we let the data lead us to conclusions rather than trying to make the data support our predetermined ideas.

  10. John Anderson says:

    I’m just going to put this out there. I haven’t really thought about the implications yet.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/lacesout/the-10-most-disliked-nfl-players/

    I noticed Ben Roethlisberger was on the list so maybe things are changing. You also don’t know what the polling was in Pittsburgh. I also don’t know what to make of most guys being quarterbacks and of course Mark Sanchez was just behind Ben Roethlisberger, which I suspect is because he hasn’t played well that might indicate that people perceive performance to be as important as character.

  11. Hi Ogwriter

    Is it sexual exploitation ?
    Or do these women also want to destroy and damage the men’s sense of self,dignity and make them suffer for life? Is it done to humiliate them?

    I try to understand what motivated a woman to rape a man, but I can not understand it.

    • I suspect, that like male rapist, many of them are seeking to regain power by stealing it form someone else because they had power taken from them earlier in life. The cycle of violence continues.

    • John Anderson says:

      Hi Iben,

      “Is it sexual exploitation ?
      Or do these women also want to destroy and damage the men’s sense of self,dignity and make them suffer for life? Is it done to humiliate them?”

      I don’t even think this is the purpose of male rapists. I think that is the method used. I think there may be some variation in goals among rapists. Some men may fear women won’t want to sleep with them so they take advantage of a situation. Some may feel that the woman has cheated him by with holding sex so he takes it. I’ve heard that when employees don’t feel that they are compensated fairly they try to “equalize” the situation. For the most part, I think the goal of most rapists of any gander is gratification by exerting power over another. Many times they may feel powerless themselves. It may be a more extreme form of bullying, which I believe most of the extreme cases of street harassment are. A person feels powerful or in control by degrading another.

      • Hi John

        I tried to Google and find out why women rape men.

        Wikipedia
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_rape

        I browsed through this and it looks like they only describe theories of why men rape women, but not why women rape men.

        They give many different causes,that I think are similar for men and women in many instances. Anyone on GMP that want to update Wikipedia ?

        • I don’t think there has been much research into the topic. There is only now just a few people willing to even consider that women are capable of raping others, male or female. We need to accept that women are capable of rape before a real understanding of the motives can begin. Too many people are still stuck on the idea that men cannot be raped, that an errection = consent.

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