Gender and Sexual Violence: Manufacturing Victimhood, Marginalizing Victims

Typhonblue takes a look at the statistics and finds that the conventional gender narrative of sexual violence doesn’t really hold up.

Toxic victim-consciousness is the process by which women are made into class “acted upon” by emphasizing a disproportionate victimhood where none actually exists or isn’t proven.

In “Women Do Not Benefit: The Science“, I outlined how toxic victimhood limits women and socializes them to undermine their own achievements. Toxic victimhood promotes the perception that women are “acted upon” rather than actors. When a society is promoting toxic victimhood, there is no need to limit women overtly through legal, financial or social restrictions. Instead women will limit themselves through their own mental foot-binding.

Here I will look at a recent and very successful effort to manufacture toxic female victimhood whole-cloth, the CDC’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

The much publicized figure on rape from this survey is that 1 in 5 women versus 1 in 71 men are victims of rape in their lifetime. (If the rate men are raped is reported on at all.)

Let’s see exactly how the female-as-victim juggernaught churned this nugget out.

Question: When is Rape Not Rape? Answer: When a Rapist Uses Her Vagina

The first thing to note is that the NIPSVS decided that men being forced to have sex with women isn’t rape. Let’s think about this again. The NIPSVS finds that men are the majority perpetrators of rape. 98% of female rape victims and 93% of male rape victims had a male perpetrator. A woman shoving her fingers up a man’s anus is rape, but a woman shoving her vagina down on his penis is not. The latter is not classified as rape, but as “made to penetrate” and is placed in the category of “other sexual violence”.

Logically, if you define rape as penetration, but not envelopment, you are going to end up with an arbitrarily large number of male rapists compared to female rapists.

Rape could easily be redefined as forced envelopment, which is exactly as arbitrary as the NIPSVS’s redefinition of rape. In that case we would find that 80+% of rapists are female. Which is as fatuous a finding as the reverse.

So why are significantly more men than women rapists and significantly more women raped than men? Because when women rape using their vaginas it’s not rape, it’s “other sexual violence”.

Men are the vast majority of rapists and women are the vast majority of victims because rape was defined in such a way to make sure that this was so.

The Real Risk of Rape in the Last Twelve Months

It should be noted the NIPSVS presents no statistics on male victims of rape through penetration for the last 12 months. This is interesting because the 2000 National Violence Against Women Survey found that 0.3 percent of women and 0.1 percent of men surveyed said they were raped via penetration in the previous 12 months.

The NIPSVS says: “The estimates for male victims raped by other types of perpetrators were based upon numbers too small to calculate a reliable estimate and therefore are not reported.”

The NIPSVS surveyed 18,000 people; The NVAWS surveyed 16,000. Did the risk of rape of men by other men take a nose-dive between the NVAW survey and the NIPSVS survey?

Luckily the NIPSVS did track the risk of “made to penetrate” for men in the last year. It was 1.1%, identical to the 1.1% of women “made to envelop”.

If the act of forced envelopment is correctly classified as rape—namely a woman forcing a man to have sex using her vagina, the vagina being one of the two most commonly used instruments of sex—then you get an equal risk of rape between men and women in the last twelve months.

An equal risk of rape between men and women in the last twelve months.

Why then, is the lifetime risk of rape so different?

Men Rape; Women Are Raped

Researchers into the field of traumatic memory recovery note that the longer the period of time a person is asked recall a traumatic event, the less likely they are to remember it. How this works is that surveys that ask about a traumatic event in the last six months get less false negatives than those that ask about a traumatic event in the last twelve months which, itself, gets considerably fewer false negatives than lifetime prevalence.

For men this effect is even more pronounced.

16% of men with documented cases of sexual abuse considered their early childhood experiences sexual abuse, compared with 64% of women with documented cases of sexual abuse. These gender differences may reflect inadequate measurement techniques or an unwillingness on the part of men to disclose this information (Widom and Morris 1997).

Only 16% of men with documented case histories of child sexual abuse disclosed that abuse on a survey intended to capture child sexual abuse. Sixteen percent of men compared to sixty-four percent of women.

That amounts to a disclosure rate of child sexual abuse four times higher in women than in men.

Is it any wonder that the CDC’s 2010 survey (correcting for their mis-categorization of female-on-male rape) found that 18.3% of women and 6.2% of men were victimized over their lifetimes?

Comparing the lifetime rate of sexual abuse for men and women is misleading in determining their relative risk of sexual violence, simply because men disclose childhood sexual abuse four times less often than women.

There may be many reasons for this. It’s unlikely that it’s due to sexual abuse being less impactful on men because studies have shown that sexual abuse does have a profound impact on men, and this includes female-on-male sexual abuse. For instance, the link between sexual abuse and suicide attempts is stronger in boys (Rhodes et al. 2001) and sexually abused boys are twice as likely to commit suicide (Molnar et al. 2001) than sexually abused girls. In addition to that, there is a risk factor for sexually abused men to sexually abuse others is if their abuser was female (Salter et al. 2003.)

One possible reason for men not disclosing, or even “forgetting”, is quite simple: our social narrative does not allow for, nor does it depict, the sexual abuse of males. To a degree it allows for the sexual abuse of boys by men, but not boys by women or adult men by anyone.

In a study on the effects of retention interval and gender on the perception of violence, Ahola et al. (2009) found that eyewitnesses rated female perpetrators less violent than male when reporting after an interval of one to three weeks as opposed to ten minutes. Ahola et al. (2009) proposed that over time eyewitnesses reinterpreted the behavior of perpetrators in order to conform to gender stereotypes regarding violence.

Widom and Morris (1997) propose that a similar process is occurring with male victims of sexual abuse (particularly by females) as, over time, they reinterpret their victimization to conform with the dominant social narrative regarding sexual abuse: that it happens to women and is perpetrated by men. They will do this by reframing their abuse as consensual or as a rite of passage or less violent than it was or by “forgetting” it completely. The more time passes, the more our memories conform to the dominant social narrative.

Gender differences in reporting and in perceptions of early childhood experiences may reflect early socialization experiences in which men learn to view these behaviors as non-predatory and non-abusive. Many of the sexual experiences considered to be sexual abuse (showing/touching sex organs, kissing in a sexual way) may be seen as developmental rites of passage, part of a learning process (Widom and Morris 1997.)

Note that this “forgetting” does not mean that there is no psychological effect; only that the source of that effect is buried, becoming a silent trigger for self-destructive behavior.

The Real Ratio of Male to Female Rapists

If we look at the more reliable statistic, the risk of rape in the last twelve months, and we fix the NIPSVS’s mistake in classifying forced envelopment as “other sexual assault” and not rape, we find that 80% of men report a female rapist and 98% of women report a male rapist. (This estimate is based on the sex of reported perpetrators for sexual assault over a lifetime. There is no reason to think the number of female perpetrators for ‘forced envelopment’ would decline between the lifetime and last year reports: if anything they would increase)

Since there were roughly equal numbers of men (forced to penetrate) and women(forced to envelop) raped in the last year, if we look at a population of 100 rape victims, 50 of which are male and 50 of which are female and apply the statistic that 80% of the male victims were raped by a woman, we get 40 male victims raped by a woman.

That works out to about 40% of rapists being female and 60% being male. A far cry from 95+% of rapists being male.[1]

Instant Female Victimhood, Just Add Media

The cautious and least sensationalistic position to take based on the NIPSVS’s findings is that men and women are most likely at an equal risk of rape and that the proportion of male to female rapists is not significantly gendered. [2]

But this is obviously not what anyone really wants to hear. Instead, the NIPSVS manufactured a non-existant female victimhood by first redefining rape to exclude the vast majority of female-on-male victimization. Then mainstream media (and other parties interested in female victimhood) followed up by selecting the statistic most likely to be fraught with reporting error while completely ignoring the more reliable statistic that suggests parity and further ignoring the ratio of female to male abusers (40/60).[3]

And so from a survey that strongly suggests that neither rape victimization nor rape perpetration is significantly gendered, we get a resounding shout of ‘MEN RAPE/WOMEN ARE RAPED!’

Men act, women are acted upon.

And the juggernaut rumbles on.

References

Ahola A. S., Justice needs a blindfold: Effects of defendants’ gender and attractiveness on judicial evaluation. 2010.

Black M., Basile K. C., Breiding M. J. , Smith S. G. , Walters M. L. , Merrick M. T, Chen J. and Steven M. R., The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey(NIPSVS): 2010 Summary Report , National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2011

Rhodes A. E, Boyle M. H. , Tonmyr L., Wekerle C., Goodman D., Leslie B., Mironova P., Bethell J., and Manion I., Sex Differences in Childhood Sexual Abuse and Suicide-Related Behaviors, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 41(3) June 2011

Molnar B. E., Berkman L. F. and Buka S. L., Psychopathology, childhood sexual abuse and other childhood adversities : relative links to subsequent suicidal behaviour in the US, Psychological Medicine, 2001, 31, 965–977.

Molnar B. E., Berkman L. F. and Buka S. L., Psychopathology, childhood sexual abuse and other childhood adversities : relative links to subsequent suicidal behaviour in the US, Psychological Medicine, 2001, 31, 965–977.

Salter D., McMillan D., Richards M., Talbot T., Hodges J., Bentovim A., Hastings R., Stevenson J., Skuse D., Development of sexually abusive behaviour in sexually victimized males: a longitudinal study, The Lancet, Vol. 361, February 8, 2003

Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N. , Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey(NVAWS), Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, November 2000

Widom C. S. and Morris S., Accuracy of Adult Recollections of Childhood Victimization: Part 2. Childhood Sexual Abuse, Psychological Assessment, Vol. 9, No. l, 34-46, 1997

[1] When same-sex rape is excluded the ratio becomes 44/56 male/female rapists. One reason why same-sex rape should be excluded for an accurate picture of the gender proportions of rapists is because male-on-male rape may be inflated relative to female-on-female rape due to the large population of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men. The greater rate of male-on-male rape may be a byproduct of more men cycling through society’s rape-camps (otherwise known as ‘prisons’) at a greater rate then women.

[2] The moderate skew in favor of male rapists may just be an artifact of using female interviewers. We won’t know for sure until a survey is done that doesn’t require male victims of female aggressors to disclose their victimization to a female interviewer. Likely the NIPSVS used female interviewers preferentially in order to capture as much female victimization as possible; the logic being that women would be more likely to disclose to another woman.

[3] The 80% rate of female perpetration of forced envelopment is based on the lifetime risk numbers. However, it’s likely that the ratio of male to female rapists who forced envelopment on a man does not change significantly between the twelve month and lifetime time frame. If there is any change, asking men to report sexual abuse by females over their lifetime likely undercounts the proportion of female rapists since female-on-male rape is not congruent with our social stereotypes regarding rape and gender. Additional data on this issue is provided by Predictors of Sexual Coersion. Although Predictors only studied college populations, it found a similar parity in rape victimization risk between men and women in the last twelve months. 2.3% of women and 3.0% of men reported forced sex, which gives a ratio of 57/43 female/male rapists.

—Photo Cia de Foto/Flickr

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About Typhonblue

Typhonblue is a Canadian in her thirties. She writes about the state of decay in the relationship between the genders in our culture with a focus on men’s vulnerability and women’s agency. She blogs at www.genderratic.com.

Comments

  1. “98% of female rape victims and 93% of male rape victims had a male perpetrator. ”

    When people use this stat to say we live in a sexist culture it is so incredibly frustrating. What is even more bizarre are the occasions where you point out that being forced to penetrate doesn’t count as rape in the stats they quote and it still doesn’t change their opinion. They still believe the stats as a valid indicator.

    “Of course rape is about penetration.”

    At that point i don’t know what to say anymore.

  2. One possible reason for men not disclosing, or even “forgetting”, is quite simple: our social narrative does not allow for, nor does it depict, the sexual abuse of males. To a degree it allows for the sexual abuse of boys by men, but not boys by women or adult men by anyone.

    Bang On The Money!

    The same applies across all areas of society. It took nearly 20 years in the UK to get both Government and Law enforcement to recognise Male Rape By Male Perps – and then we still have the ongoing issues of Domestic Violence against Males by Female Perps – and the delays are primarily caused by Social narratives and Stereotypes.

    I even know of one case of sexual predation and abuse of Disabled People – In institutions – by a Husband and Wife – He committed suicide to avoid prosecution – The Court was presented with multiple charges against “Her” of Sexual Assault/Rape – and the Court decided to let the charges lie on file (Not Deal With Them In Court and Pursue the Prosecution) – but they can be prosecuted at a later date, if the court should decide to so so. After 10 years it’s still all hush hush and she is walking the streets – free!

    “Longcare Survivors – The Biography Of A Care Scandal” – one Journalist’s 17 year journey into “One” Institutional scandal – at least 10 years of failure by police, authorities and so many others – and at least 40 recorded victims of what was reported in the UK National news as “..raped, kicked, punched, drugged, starved and neglected the adults with learning difficulties who lived in his residential homes in south Buckinghamshire.” – and all ignored due to “Social Narrative” that says Disabled people are angelic, and no- one abuses Angels!

    You also only have to look at the US figures for rape and sexual assault against males in juvenile detention to be shocked – as 90% of the sexual assaults and rapes are perpetrated by Women – more than are committed by other Juveniles in detention and male warders. The “Bureau of Justice Statistics – SPECIAL REPORT – Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09” is fascinating, especially page 13,

    Most perpetrators of staff sexual misconduct were female

    Approximately 95% of all youth reporting staff sexual misconduct said they had been victimized by female facility staff…

    …In 2008, 42% of staff in juvenile facilities under state jurisdiction were female.

    The same figure features in the Press Releases

    There is the odd claim which goes with it all – “Males were more likely than females to report sexual activity with facility staff (10.8 percent compared to 4.7 percent), but less likely than females to report forced sexual activity with another youth…”

    Now does that mean that the Male Youths were not reporting being raped/sexually assaulted – or was/is there an Institutional Bias and attitude that just Dismisses such reports by males – because “…social narrative does not allow for, nor does it depict, the sexual abuse of males.”.

    Maybe there is an underlying issue around legal liability – rape by an employee gets Big Bucks In Court, so managers are worried about the bottom line. But, rape of an inmate by an inmate is less likely to end up with a Major Compensation Payout – so it’s of less interest and worry for the Bean Counters!

    … ah – but Institutional rape and sexual abuse is not the real thing – it’s to be expected – and it even gets Joked about with “Don’t Drop The Soap” – such an odd Social Narrative making rape of men by anyone a joke and ever so funny.

    It’s Called Rape Culture – and I have found it fascinating exploring the Number of Online pages that can supposedly tell you what you “Prison Bitch Name” will be, should you end up incarcerated. A Number of the pages even have guest books – which provide names and even email addresses to Students in American Colleges and Universities. Most surprising are the number of female students who find the names generated for Boyfriends, Fellow Male Students and even Employees of the institution ever so funny, whilst also wishing these men to be in prison and subjected to Rape! It’s Hilarious!

    It would seem that some “Social Narratives” have a very skewed perception and application. Oddly, recent media hype around events and incidents at colleges don’t stop the humour by female students!

    Eduction just aint what it used to be – especially when you are giving out an email address and your name which shows who you are – and which college or university you are studying at! FAIL!

    • As a victim of female assult this articles sataistics is a slap in the face!

    • Random_Stranger says:

      Something odd about the results of that Bureau of Justice study. The reality of correctional facilities is that female officers are given far greater access to prisoners and correctional functions in male facilities than their male counterparts in female facilities. I think the response of these male jvs is their emotional internalization of being forced to disrobe before women who are doing their “job”. The situation is the logical extrapolation of a society that is deeply suspicious of any desire by men to exclude women, even from their own bodies, while in turn, giving vast deference and legitimacy to womens’ presumed fear of men.

  3. Great article, Typhon. I think it is important for people who want to help victims of sexual violence to take the in-depth look at the numbers that you did because things are often not as clear-cut as they seem. Had the researchers looked at their data in this why, I think they might have changed their conclusion. It seems obvious that there may be an issue with the amount of reports coming from men and with how the researchers defined certain acts.

  4. Anthony Zarat says:

    Thank you for this article Typhon. As always, an inspiration.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    When a group is seen as victimized, it accumulates moral authority. That’s like money in the bank. Sometimes it’s really money in the bank. http://www.angryharry.com/reUCDrapefiguresdontmatch.htm
    When members of a group are seen to victimize, that’s a withdrawal from the account–the moral authority account.
    That’s why everybody’s heard of Matthew Shepard but Jesse Dirkhising is a “who?” Everybody knows about the Duke laxers but Katie Rouse is a “who?” Everybody’s heard of Abu Ghraib but Menchaca and Tucker are “who?”
    Everybody knows about James Byrd, but the Knoxville Horror….

    • All the cases you’ve mentioned there are horrifying, but there’s other explanations for the disparity in coverage than that the liberal media was loathe to report on minority-on-majority crime. Sheppard was a hate crime done to Sheppard because he was gay. Dirkhising was a horrible case of child molestation. It’s apples and oranges. James Byrd was killed because he was black. The victims of the Knoxville Horror case do not appear to have been selected out of racial hatred. If the media chose not to report on two gay men who killed a guy for being straight, or a group of black men who raped a killed a white couple after having decided to go hunting for white people (as the killers of James Byrd did that night) then there would be more cause for concern about disparate reporting. Also, as far as Abu Ghraib, I think the fascination with the case came from horror that Americans would conduct themselves thus. We all saw the contractors dead on the bridge in Fallujah. We had seen the beheading of Daniel Pearl. We knew what to expect from the enemy. The horros of the enemy’s conduct do not seem to me to have been underreported.

      That said, this is a good and thoughtful piece. I’m a woman, and prejudice that results in us being given a pass serves us not at all. It strips us of our power. What does it say when we can’t be drafted? We are weak? We have nothing to offer? We’re not suited for the business of war? Too delicate? I’m not happy with any of those perceptions, and dont’ believe them to be true at all.

      And when couples are busted for drugs, but women are routinely allowed to escape prosecution for those drug crimes in they served as partners but for which their husbands or boyfriends are sentenced for much longer terms because men are the ones perceived as having agency, I have to object.

      When women are not prosecuted for domestic violence, because they aren’t perceived as presenting a real threat, or considered a force to be taken seriously, I also object. Not only because it paints my gender in an inaccurate light, but because I happen to like justice.

      When women are granted child custody nearly automatically because they are seen as fundamentally better suited to parent and also the partner most suited for economic dependence on the other, I also object. That puts us in the house, in the kitchen, and powerless all over again, while ignoring the reality that fathers are just as likely to be excellent parents.

      All of these are examples of ways in which women are not served by stereotypes that appear to serve them on the surface. Ignoring sexual violence on the part of women is one of many such unhealthy tendencies.

      Women fought long and hard for justice for themselves, with the support of many awesome men. Now men are going to have to do the same, and there will be many of us in support.

      • Keep it up. It sounds more convincing when it comes from a woman because people perceive as arguing against interest, even though you know better. It may be lonely for now, but I am hearing what you are saying from more and more women. You are beginning to turn the tide.

      • What you are saying becomes more poiant when the woman is insane. My ex-wife was a victim and an abuser. In spite of the fact that I was abused by her and my son was sexually abused she was given custody. In his case it was state sanctioned sexual abuse of a minor.

        Everytime I tried to bring it up to the social workers involved with the case they said if I brought it up in court I could be thrown in jail because I would be considered the active agent.

        I know that I am not an isolated case because I have met other men over the years that the courts treated the same way.

  6. Typhon,

    Great article, and thanks for breaking down the stats!

    Now if only we can do something about it ; )

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    mightypog.
    Couple of items. I note you didn’t reference Katie Rouse.
    I was watching comments on a blog about Shepard. One commenter made a good case that, given the reports, Shepard was killed by some meth heads for his money, not as a matter of gay bashing. He was called a homophobe. The gay community needs that deposit in its account and isn’t going to give it up easily.
    I don’t know that the Knoxville perps weren’t hunting white people. I guess your point would be that they’d have grabbed a black couple if they were the first convenient victims?
    A white cabbie and his white passenger in NYC were pulled from the vehicle by a mob of blacks who beat them, while yelling anti-white slurs. The powers that be declined to label that a hate crime. It would have been a withdrawal from the account. The powers that be don’t want to see a withdrawal. Had the line up been different, the label would have been different. How about Kenneth Tillery, btw?
    The line up determines whether the thing is a hate crime, legally or as generally presumed. As I said about the Duke/Lombard case, the line up is all victim-class folks and nobody has a clue as to what to do or say about it. Colliding narratives.

  8. “Rape could easily be redefined as forced envelopment, which is exactly as arbitrary as the NIPSVS’s redefinition of rape. In that case we would find that 80+% of rapists are female. Which is as fatuous a finding as the reverse.”

    You provide zero evidence to back this up. You made up a statistic and attempted to bury it in the middle thinking we’d not notice…

  9. You know what the NIPSVS study also said:

    “Male rape victims and male victims of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences reported predominantly male perpetrators.” -Direct quote from the Summary

    This pretty much goes against what you’re trying to finagle here. Nice try, however.

    • When you define rape as ‘forced penetration’ but not ‘forced envelopment–in other words you take forced sex and arbitrarily divide it into ‘rape’ if the rapist is forcing penetration and ‘not rape’ if the rapist is forcing envelopment–you get a majority of male rapists.

      If you define rape as ‘forced envelopment’ but not ‘forced penetration–in other words you take forced sex and arbitrarily divide it into ‘rape’ if the rapist is forcing envelopment and ‘not rape’ if the rapist is forcing penetration–you get a majority of female rapists.

      The point is that the survey _defined_ rape in such a way as to make the majority of rapists _MALE_, simply by not allowing that a vagina can be used as a instrument of rape.

      Of course most rapists will be male if you don’t think vaginas can be used to rape!

      • ??? is a troll, or someone with blind bias who needs to read the CDC report more carefully. It’s amazing how easily the bias in the report can be believed, people see that catch term RAPE and don’t understand that it doesn’t cover forced to penetrate.

        An excellent article typhon_uncensored and I truly hope more people read it. Thanks.

  10. Boy you really tried hard with this one- but you still lost. I agree with ???.

    • ??? got stuck on the definition of rape by the study which didnt include many male victims, it didn’t include the males forced to penetrate. So by the CDC defintion, yes ??? was right but by the common understanding of rape as forced sex ??? was wrong. It’s very very easy to see if you read the report from about page 17 onwards.

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