Trigger warning for rape, abuse, sexual violence, and stalking.
The CDC has recently released the results of a new, national, methodologically sound study about the prevalance of sexual violence and rape.
Statistics, commentary, and angry ranting below.
Finally, finally, FINALLY we have a national study talking about how common rape by envelopment is. Of course, they don’t call it rape by envelopment, they call it “being forced to sexually penetrate someone,” because everyone knows that kinds of rape that tend to happen to dudes are not as real as kinds of rape that tend to happen to chicks.
18.3% of women have been survivors of rape (defined as completed or attempted forced penetration or alcohol and/or drug-assisted penetration). 1.4% of men have been survivors of penetrative rape and 4.8% of men have been survivors of rape by envelopment. Although we don’t know the overlap between the two groups, which is a serious flaw, we do know that roughly six percent of men are rape survivors.
Men who are raped are not a negligible group. Approximately a fourth of rape survivors in the United States are male! Given how many rapes occur in correctional facilities, to people who are obviously not available for a telephone interview, the percentage of rape survivors who are male may be even higher. There is no excuse for continuing to exclude male survivors from the discussion about rape culture and rape prevention.
Certain other categories of rape have even closer gender parity. Nearly a third of all survivors of coercive rape are male (6% vs. 13%); similarly, nearly a third of all survivors of unwanted sexual contact are male (11.7% vs. 27.2%). Is even a third of the conversation about coercion and unwanted sexual contact about men? Thought not. Men are hypersexual beasts, don’t you know? They always want sex!
The single thing that most startled me about this report is that men and women are equally likely to be emotionally abused. This isn’t one of those “men make up a significant proportion of victims” things; this is one of those “the difference between the number of men and women who have been emotionally abused is literally .4%” things. There is functionally no difference.
Maybe I expect too much from American culture, but I figured that if literally half of the people getting emotionally abused are male, that we would mention that men can get emotionally abused, um, ever. We could run a few PSAs? Maybe talk about it in health class? Perhaps mention to women that they are capable of committing emotional abuse? Something?
Also, feminism? Can we stop saying that committing emotional abuse is a male privilege thing now? Because I am pretty sure, looking at these stats, that is not. Seriously, the next person who talks about (for instance) gaslighting as if it were a thing that only happens to women (glare) will be fed to the laser-headed sharks.
Roughly 44% of domestic violence survivors are male: 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner, such as being hit with a fist or something hard, beaten, or slammed against something; a little more than a third of survivors of severe physical violence from an intimate partner are male.
Men are less likely to experience domestic violence than women, particularly severe domestic violence. They are also less likely to be injured from domestic violence, as several other studies have attested (although some of that is because men tend to be larger and stronger than women). However, the assumption that survivors of severe domestic violence are necessarily female is bullshit. Our policies on domestic violence must work from a position of gender equality: it is a moral necessity to end domestic violence shelters that don’t provide services for male survivors, PSA campaigns that don’t include a single male survivor or female perpetrator, and awareness campaigns that assume that men must be taught not to abuse and women to identify abuse, instead of teaching everyone both.
Male survivors may be the minority, but they are not insignificant, and we must stop treating them like they are.
16.2% of women are survivors of stalking and 5.2% of men, which means that roughly a quarter of stalking survivors are male; while both were likely to be stalked by an intimate partner, women were more likely than men to be stalked by a former intimate partner, and men by an acquaintance. Women survivors were more likely than male survivors to be stalked for the first time under the age of 25.
Guess what? Except for rape by penetration, non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, and stalking, the majority of perpetrators of every type of sexual and intimate partner violence against males are female. Turns out estrogen is not the magic protection against being an abusive fuckhead we thought it was! Oops. Guess we’ll have to change the name of Men Can Stop Rape now.
I personally think there is a massive lack of awareness among women that they are even capable of committing abuse. If a man hits a woman, it’s abuse, but if a woman hits a man, it’s a hilarious joke. (Don’t even talk about queers. We don’t exist.) Emotional abuse is shamefully ignored for all genders, but particularly for men: if a woman verbally abuses a man, either he’s a pussy or pussy-whipped (and hence it’s all the fault of his lack of masculinity), or he did something wrong to deserve it.
Women are not perfect creatures of sweetness and light. Women can be abusers too. If we want to end abuse, we have to teach everyone not to abuse and not to accept abuse, not fall into an outdated and inaccurate gender paradigm.