Guess What: Rape's Not Funny When the Victim is a Man, Either

[Content note: sexual assault]

I know Jezebel is low-hanging fruit, but I can’t resist picking apart their new “Sexytime Dilemmas” column and its endorsement of sexual assault, which apparently is okay when the target is a man.

One of the letter-writers wants to know how to get a guy to try anal play. Jezebel’s “sexpert” responds (TW for sexual assault):

If you want this to work you’re going to have to be very delicate, and take things slowly. No one wants a dry finger shoved up their butt at random. In my experience, guys are generally more open to new concepts, and trying out new things, when you have their dick in your mouth. (This is because fellatio slows their brain down to a point of temporary retardation, which means their guard is down.)

…So, while you’re sucking, start playing with his balls and then slowly move moving your fingers back in the desired direction. Be conscious of how he’s responding to your touch. If he flinches as soon as you start poking around in that area, that’s not a good sign, but don’t give up hope just yet. Wait a minute or so, then do something fancy with your tongue to distract him and try again, rubbing lightly around the outside of the hole, as not to scare it….Basically, never give up and remember that with a little perseverance you can do anything you put your mind to, Susie!

I’ll say it several times since apparently people still don’t get it:

This is sexual assault.

This is sexual assault.

This is sexual assault.

I’ll let the much-more-talented Rebecca Watson explain this further, along with the many other ways in which that Jezebel post is horrible. For now, I want to address the assertion–which I’ve seen a few self-identified feminists make–that this piece is somehow “funny” because “humor” and “satire” and “lol rape against men.”

First of all, blindly regurgitating problematic crap is not satire, and it’s not any other kind of humor, either. Just as it wasn’t funny when Daniel Tosh said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now?”, it’s not funny to be like, “LOLOL JUST STICK A FINGER UP HIS ASS WITHOUT CONSENT LOL.” And that’s basically what this piece is saying.

Now, if sexual assault of men were extremely rare, to the point of being unheard of, I can see how this might be funny. Sometimes, creating a satirical world–in which something that seems ludicrous in real life is commonplace–is humorous. That sort of role reversal inspired a play I saw recently, Venus Envy, which depicted a world in which men, not women, were the “weaker sex.” This type of satire points out problems in our society that are so entrenched that we take them for granted.

But this is not the case for sexual assault of men. Men are less likely than women to be raped, yes, but it’s not that rare. Men also face unique barriers in admitting and prosecuting sexual assault–from the perception that they “can’t” be raped to the victim-blamey belief that they ought to be able to defend themselves. Knowing that the hypothetical man in the article would receive very little support from others if he accused his female partner of violating him–knowing, in fact, that he may have internalized the “men can’t get raped” myth to the point that he wouldn’t even have the words to talk about what had happened–it’s just not funny to me.

As another (much better) Jezebel article once pointed out, it’s quite possible to joke about rape. Since the article was in response to the Tosh incident, it’s mostly talking about standup comedy, but it’s still relevant:

So, comics. This doesn’t mean that everyone is obligated to be the savior of mankind. You can be edgy and creepy and offensive and trivial and, yes, you can talk about rape. Doing comedy in front of a silent room is scary, and shocking people is a really easy way to get a reaction. But if you want people to not hate you (and wanting to not be hated is not the same thing as wanting to be liked), you should probably try and do it in a responsible, thoughtful way. Easy shortcut: DO NOT MAKE RAPE VICTIMS THE BUTT OF THE JOKE.

Do not make rape victims the butt of the joke.

It’s not funny when they’re female, and it’s equally not-funny when they’re male.

After I read the Sexytime Dilemmas article, I participated in a few online discussions about it and I found numerous (female) feminists who found it funny–and who openly admitted that they wouldn’t find it funny if the genders were flipped. And I felt sickened.

Yes, women are more likely than men to be sexually assaulted. But how on earth does that statistical fact make it any less tragic when a man is assaulted? Is the fact that it’s less likely supposed to make it more palatable somehow?

I don’t think so.

I am reminded of this wonderful post in which the author screams, “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit!”

My feminism will concern itself with all rape victims or it will be bullshit.

My feminism will care about the ways in which men are harmed by patriarchy or it will be bullshit.

My feminism may not devote equal time to men’s issues as it does to women’s issues, but it will show compassion for all genders, or it will be bullshit.

Oh, and for heaven’s sake: if you want to try something sexual with someone, communicate and get consent.

Guess What: Rape's Not Funny When the Victim is a Man, Either

8 thoughts on “Guess What: Rape's Not Funny When the Victim is a Man, Either

  1. 1

    Really, really good post there.

    Any time anyone is coerced or forced to do something sexual against their a) better judgment, b) personal beliefs, or c) personal space rules, whether the other person is forcing, using guilt, or just slowly moving in on that territory by inches, it’s rape. Period. When the ‘no’ is verbal or physical or both, it’s rape to ignore it and plunge forward. It doesn’t matter which body part is violated or being used.

    To make this more understandable: a straight man in prison is raped. no one argues with that. A little boy or girl is raped by an adult, gender non specific. No one argues witth that. But when a man is forced into doing or accepting something he dislikes or causes pain or emotional trauma from a woman, it’s considered not-rape and somehow funny. Wrong. There is a huge bucket of hostility going on (some of it understandable, some just ridiculous) between women and men which goes way beyond sex, as we are taught about female rape. “It isn’t about sex, it’s about anger”. Yep.
    (Consider this: what earthly pleasure can a woman have in actually poking her finger into a guy’s butt anyway. Oh, gross. )

  2. 3

    Good post. Interesting how many of the people laughing are actually feminists, I am glad as a feminist you are not. In regards to who gets raped more the stats show it is pretty equal and maybe even leaning more to men.

  3. 5

    YES!! This is ABSOLUTELY what I thought when I saw this post on Jezebel and I’m really bloody glad there are other people out there agreeing with me!

    Will absolutely be sharing this gem to the world.

  4. 7

    The men can’t be raped, or that it’s funny… oddly I’m not terribly enraged hearing about it this time around.

    One male Marine I knew was raped by another male Marine. He was straight, he reported it. He was shortly thereafter kicked out for being gay. Not sure what happened to the other guy, I *hope* his punishment was much harsher, though it was probably the same.

    This sort of shit does not help.

  5. 8

    Yes. I feel the same discomfort with the increasing objectification of men in the media. I love looking at hot guys, and common wisdom is that “objectification is different for guys because it shows they’re powerful.” But when a celebrity appears on a talk show in front of an audience full of women screaming “Take it off,” I can’t help but think what this would look like if the genders were reversed.

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