Sexual Violence and the Myth of the Sex Addicted Man

men rape

The term “double standards” often forms the basis for feminist discourse; while we tend to assess social issues unilaterally due to the imbalanced nature of social norms and gendering, it can’t be overlooked that such issues sometimes spill into the ether and affect all genders similarly.

Recently, Buzzfeed published a second collection of images from Project Unbreakable, a campaign fuelled by sexual violence victims dedicated to raising awareness of sexual assault issues and promoting healing through art therapy. The collection features 26 male survivors, each holding signs quoting their attackers at the time of the assault. The piece ran as a companion to a previous work that featured a selection of women also holding signage for the project.

There is a lot that could be said about this project, about victim-blaming and harassment as an addendum to women’s rights, but the companion piece weighed heavy on my soul and reminded me that we’re not the only ones struggling for our voices to be heard. Many of the male quotes were skewed toward the belief that men are incapable of being sexually violated, which is mistakenly given credence by assuming that any stimuli capable of arousing his penis automatically translates to desire. Men are marginalized as insatiable sex machines and as a result, a biological and otherwise uncontrollable response is “asking for it.”

The dehumanization of sexual violence victims is a widespread phenomenon that is not inherently restricted to the female gender. To deny that sexual assault can happen to a man invalidates the individual’s experiences based on inaccurate assumptions that are the default for victim-blaming. It ascribes to binary gender roles (men are predatory; women are weak) that not only suggest women are incapable of being sexual creatures, but that men must adhere to a standard of masculinity that is not open to interpretation and that all sexual encounters are welcome. It’s no surprise then that male victims only accounts for 10% of all reported assault cases. These numbers are skewed—in much the same way female rape statistics are skewed—thanks to a culture that shames victims for speaking out against sexual violence. Across all genders, many victims cite threats from aggressors and embarrassment from peers as factors keeping them from bringing their cases forward and as many as 54% of cases go unreported per year.

It’s not often present in mainstream activism that we see male inclusiveness in anti-sexual assault initiatives; it’s much more predominantly focused on women, and more recently, anti-slut-shaming. Statistics and PSAs are eager to expose shocking information relevant to assaults on females, but many forget to include data on males.

Sexual objectification and violence are problems suffered by all genders. So while we fight against rape culture and rally our voices to demand an end to slut-shaming, victim-blaming, and street harassment, we must remember that we’re not the only ones capable of being assaulted, shamed into silence, and objectified.

 By: Amanda Duncil, Blog Editor 

Amanda contributes to various online publications and writes about every thought that crosses her mind on her blog, Simple Syrup. You can chat with her on Twitter, too!
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