A Word for the Silenced

Late night, 1990 – James Landrith, an adult male, was raped by a woman.

He didn’t register the fact that he had been raped until after he had processed what had happened, because of the societal norm that “men always want sex.” James never came forward about his experience to authorities, but continues to share his story with other victims today.

Whether we allow ourselves to recognize it or not, the truth still stands – men can be victims of sexual assault, too.

In fact, one in ten rape victims are men and as of 1998, 2.78 million men have experienced some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. However, these victims are more than just statistics. They are men living side by side with us in our community, silenced by the societal pressures confining them with this backwards idea of masculinity.

It is reported that 1 in 71 men are raped in their lifetime, but this measure is likely significantly higher than this because the majority of male sexual assault cases are not reported.

Society has created this impression that men simply cannot be sexually harassed because of this toxic mentality that men are sex-crazed and therefore take any sexual encounter willingly. However, this is false and greatly accounts for the reason that the majority of male rape survivors do not come forward.

Many survivors do not even register the fact that they have been sexually assaulted because they are told by society that it is simply impossible for men to be victims of sexual crimes. However, this ideology extends past just unspoken social norms – it is institutionalized, as well.

Until the year 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defined rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” This invalidates the genuine experiences of many men in America today.

Along with this, the majority of victims also do not come forward because of the enforced standards of masculinity placed upon men in society. This is not only in practice in the United States, but worldwide. There is an underlying expectation of men to be able to protect themselves from danger and the idea of a woman threatening a man’s security is practically unheard of under this ideology.

In general, the American judicial system does not usually incarcerate rapists. Only six out of every one thousand rape cases result in the rapist receiving imprisonment, regardless of gender. Due to this, both male and female victims are less compelled to come forward about their encounters, but especially males because of these added pressures.

In the face of these binding stigmas, we should simply ask ourselves, “Why?”

Why do we need to confine ourselves and each other to these limiting expectations? Why can’t we seem to stand together as a community behind victims, regardless of gender? Why can’t we stand up against oppression, wherever we may see it?

Rape is rape. Sex without consent is always rape.

To all of the sexual assault survivors who are unjustly silenced –

We see you. We hear you. We stand behind you.


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