Hard-Hitting Piece On Male Rape At Feministe

I’m often frustrated by some of the issue coverage at Feministe, though I also envy some of the excellent writing they’ve got. This piece by Jill, however, is an unequivocal condemnation of the rape of men in the U.S. prison system, and framed in terms designed to speak to the kind of feminist who hasn’t really given a lot of thought to men’s issues.

One overlap, though, between prison rape of men and non-prison rape of women is the way American society views both as an inevitability. That plays out in different ways, but there’s a sense that incarceration must naturally lead to rape (see, e.g., “don’t drop the soap!” jokes), and that femaleness is inherently sexually tempting and therefore also leads to rape if you’re not vigilant about preventing it (see, e.g., every rape prevention tactic that focuses on what women should or should not do — don’t walk home alone, don’t wear revealing clothing, etc etc). At the same time, inevitability is tempered by the perceived ability to prevent rape if you just do things “right” — don’t commit a crime so that you end up in jail, don’t break any of the Rape Avoidance Rules For Ladies. It’s a convenient way to conceptualize assault — if you just behave yourself, you won’t be a victim.

Now, I think she could maybe take a little more time to look at rape of men in the general population, but the point she’s making is about prison rape and its function in the culture, so that’s what she focuses on. Also, as much as I’ve sometimes griped about intersectionality issues, it’s nice to see someone nail it with a heavy-hitting paragraph like this:

It’s also impossible to separate this issue out from racism, classism, ableism and homophobia. The U.S. prison population (including ICE immigration holding facilities) is disproportionately black and Latin@. Prisoners disproportionately come from low-income backgrounds. Prison populations also include many individuals with intellectual disabilities and untreated mental health issues, as well as histories of violent victimization which can lead to mental and physical health issues. And we’re imprisoning millions of people who are not actually violent and aren’t actually dangerous. Among non-incarcerated victims of sexual violence, women with disabilities are far more likely to be targeted for sexual abuse than women who are able-bodied and/or don’t have developmental disabilities. Native women have the highest sexual assault rates of any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Stats for trans women and men are slightly more difficult to come by, since as far as I can tell they aren’t noted in the DOJ surveys, but every reputable study I’ve seen indicates that trans people experience sexual assault at significantly higher rates that cis people. Black trans folks in the prison system are assaulted at particularly astounding rates — around 30% report being assaulted while in jail or police custody.

I’ve known a couple trans folks who’ve been arrested in their time, and… yeah, it ain’t good.

Anyway, go read the whole thing. It’s worth a good long look.

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About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is an Editor-at-Large at Good Men Project, and possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.

Comments

  1. Daisy, are you SERIOUS? Yes, no means no. That’s like, basic Second Wave feminism.

    In general, on the Almost Famous thing– the movie is clearly under the impression the sex is consensual. That’s the problem. Because having sex with someone who has said “no”– without even a “hey, you okay with this?” check-in– is NOT OKAY. But because he’s a male, because he’s a teenager, because it’s group sex, because they’re attractive women, the movie basically assumes he’s okay with it– even when the circumstances could just as well be an overwhelmed kid who doesn’t really want the sex but doesn’t know how to express that he doesn’t.

    Mod Voice time. Daisy, Jesus, cut it with the personal attacks. Anyone who posts something from now on that can even be interpreted as “no doesn’t mean no” gets spamfiltered. That is against the comment policy.

  2. No, Mr Nice Guy, the Capt Kirk examples are both laughable… he falls in love with both of them later in the show. (One of them is shown as being on a planet in which the women are in charge, so um, that was sort of the point.) Yes, sorry it was Tamen, not Lamech… but it was not an example I would have chosen.

    Of the examples given, this one, “Disclosure” and the Star Trek shows are the only ones I had seen.

    ***
    Ozy, I assume he is “okay with it” because the author SAID SO. I am not inferring, I am going by the authors WORDS. Have you read the whole thread?

    I did not bring up the example, although I am the one who posted the clip… which I foolishly thought would clarify the situation~!

    Like any sexual activity, I go by what the participants SAY. But here, we see people saying the participant doesn’t know his own mind, even if he wrote it to convey what he recalls as a positive experience.

    And ALL of them are kids, not just him.

    But hey, I shall defer to all the people here with superior sexual sensibilities, politics and experience. After all, I am just a dumb redneck, I realize. I am that before I am anything, including Second Wave.

    (speaking of which, what is “meta value” again?)

  3. jesus_marley says:

    @Ozy – You have my Mea Culpa. I allowed myself to get drawn into a pissing contest. won’t happen again. Hopefully…

  4. I agree with jesus_marley that. it’s rape. No means no. That’s it, that’s all. And I’m about as non-puritan as can be, too.

    I was raised to mostly say fuck you to religion and be sex-positive. I’m pro-BDSM myself. I still don’t think you should go against the stated wishes of someone.

  5. A sage whose name you would all recognize just offered me the wisdom that me and Cameron Crowe are the same age (within two months!) and that is why we tend to view this situation the same way.

    Hm, maybe this blog is intended for people under 40? Is there anyone here over 40? Over 50? Am I the only person posting here, who is from the actual era portrayed in the film?

    I guess you all will understand when mores change yet again (and they will), and everyone decides that *you* have nothing worthwhile to contribute, and even your own word for something that is your own story, is not to be believed…. and you will understand how ageist and arrogant that is.

    Schala, I listen to the man’s whose actual biography it is. I don’t impose my meanings on his biography, just as I don’t think radical feminists should impose their meanings on YOUR life.

  6. “Schala, I listen to the man’s whose actual biography it is. I don’t impose my meanings on his biography, just as I don’t think radical feminists should impose their meanings on YOUR life.”

    No means no = Objective standard of consent. And one I can agree with more than Yes means yes (given there’s always the question of who needs to get the positive consent).

    Rationalize it all you want, it’s still shitty.

    I can say all I want that the bullying and beatings I had while young were “good things that helped forge my character”, it doesn’t change the fact that they fucking were assault.

  7. Daisy:

    Like any sexual activity, I go by what the participants SAY.

    That’s good. The women in that film did NOT go by what the participants said in the first part of that sexual activity (undressing someone after telling them that you’re going to have sex with them (deflower in this case) is in my view a sexual activity).

    As I pointed out in an earlier comment, Cameron Crow did not recall this experience – it’s fictional and diverges from his real experience by one key fact. The groupie who offered him sex when he was 15 accepted his excuse for not taking her up on the offer and she did not press the issue.

    However, if Almost Famous doesn’t quite match up to your standard of what is problematic behaviour around consent between women and men then perhaps this remainder of this clip from the show Oz is unambiguously enough for you:
    *TRIGGER WARNING: This clip shows threats, violence and non-consentual sex*
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=975GAvHBb34#t=366s

  8. I thought the link inluded the timemark – I guess that dissapeared when it got linked inline. The most pertinent portion is from appr. 5:28 and the rest of the clip.

  9. jesus_marley says:

    @ Daisy – “I guess you all will understand when mores change yet again (and they will), and everyone decides that *you* have nothing worthwhile to contribute, and even your own word for something that is your own story, is not to be believed…. and you will understand how ageist and arrogant that is.”

    As times change so must we all. So long as what is expected of us is reasonable and just, there is no reason to rail against necessary change. To claim that you are from a different era where things were different is an excuse. You are no longer in that era. what may have been acceptable long ago is no longer. That is the way it is for all of us.

  10. @Tamen : The clip show exactly what is a female rapist. This is what we should discuss.

    @Schala : The guy in the movie changed his mind. Do you agree that people can change their mind ?

  11. Tamen: As I pointed out in an earlier comment, Cameron Crow did not recall this experience – it’s fictional and diverges from his real experience by one key fact. The groupie who offered him sex when he was 15 accepted his excuse for not taking her up on the offer and she did not press the issue.

    I am going by this interview: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/crowe1.html

    (And he gave several others at the time of the film’s release).

    Q: And the scene in which his stand-in William is “deflowered” by a flock of “band-aids”?

    A: “…is true. We were in Portland, and I was writing about Lee Michaels. [The groupies] were sitting around and decided this was boring and they needed to liven things up…It was terrifying! These girls controlled everything. They controlled the rockers. Then of course you’re hanging with the rockers and they’re in glorious states of denial. And it’s like, what happened to grand nobility of the muses that control the artist?”

    He thinks it was terrifying, but he also liked being in the same class as the band, being with the same women the band was with. He also believes the groupies should have been treated better, as band-muses. That’s pretty amazing talk about his rapists, if you ask me.

    If Crowe claimed it was fictional before 1976 (as you stated), then he was still living in his mother’s house and living under her rules… as we learn in the movie, his mother is strict. He would NEVER have copped to the story, knowing his mother would read it. I started writing fairly early, and I left plenty out too if I thought my mother was going to read it. :)

    Other interviews talk about how he wanted them to look like a merry-go-round or carousel. (He wanted to catch the reflections of their scarves in Williams’s eye.) Director stuff.

    But … hey I get it, grandma (particularly redneck grandma) is stupid. Yall know best! I don’t know anything. I am DUMB.AS.DIRT.

    DD, properly put in her place, exiting thread.

  12. “@Schala : The guy in the movie changed his mind. Do you agree that people can change their mind ?”

    Wether I change my mind and tell someone to go ahead and punch me, it won’t hurt me, after they’ve already punched me…is immaterial. It’s still assault.

    Sounds like freezing to me, by the way. If you want to convince a recalcitrant person, you don’t force them into the act and then deduce that they let you win, so they want it. No, you don’t do that if you value the person.

  13. I’ve not merely stated that. I’ve provided links to Rolling Stones articles written by Cameron Crowe re-published on Cameron Crowes own official web site “The Uncool” in this comment: http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/hard-hitting-piece-on-male-rape-at-feministe/#comment-31102

    As well as a link to an interview from 1992 where he confirms that he lost his virginity to a divorced mother of a girl they knew.

    If one is afraid of copping any sexual story to your mother – and in particular a story about having sex with several women your age or a few years older I would think one would not write this at he end of that same article she’s sure to read:

    “Remember Josie Wade?”

    “Sure.” Josie Wade was the attractive divorcee mother of a girl we both knew.

    “She likes you. She wants you to call her up.” Neal pressed her scribbled phone number into my pocket.

    “You really should give her a call, though.” He laughed and fished out of his bag a promotional picture of Keith Reid holding a silver platter. “Josie’s right there for you, on a silver platter. Just like Keith Reid.”

    “Gimme a dime, I gotta use the bathroom.” I left the bar and looked for the nearest pay phone.

    because that would really pass under the radar of any mother.

  14. @Tamen

    *This is off-topic, but I’m not sure how I can draw Tamen’s attention to the open thread. No worries if you need to delete this.

    I’m curious as to why you’re named as you are. I’ve been studying Mandarin Chinese for a while now, and your name is how you write “they” in pinyin (a system, utilizing the roman alphabet, which you use to understand how to pronounce words). It’s lacking the accent mark over the “ta”, but that doesn’t keeping me from going “They what?!?!?” every time I read your name.

    他们 … male script

    她们 … female script

    它们 … “it” script (kind of)

    All pronounced the same. Anyhow, just curious.

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