I am a male survivor of sexual abuse. Now, for the love of God, can we stop blaming feminism?

TW: Sexual violence, abuse, rape. 

The sad fact of my life is that I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I am also male. I’m one of those people we don’t tend to talk about as a society, and when we do, we get it wrong. What I’m going to try and do by writing this, largely on a whim, is make the case for why we need to seriously rethink that conversation.

I have been sexually abused twice in my life. The first time was as a child, by an older man. I was raised in a strict Catholic family, so you can work the rest out yourself. The second time was at University, and my abuser was female, someone I was romantically involved with.

In the first case, an act of physical coercion was used, by a person in a position of authority on a younger vulnerable person. In the second case, a more emotional aspect was used. I was unable to say no to sexual acts. The first time I had a sexual experience cannot be called consensual.

To this day, I have had a problematic relationship with intimacy. I enjoy sex, but I have to suppress a strong undeniable feeling of revulsion at being a sexual being. Suppression is the key word here — in this, as with most of the other trauma in my life, I essentially use a form of mini-meditation to ward off being triggered. Only by completely emptying myself of emotional connection to the world am I able to function. I am doing this right now, as I type this. I feel nothing. I remember each incident of sexual abuse clearly, as if observing a photo-realistic painting. But, as with the distance of a painting, such images are without the original feelings. The experiences are a reproduction of the original, and I have separated my feelings of both physical and emotional pain from them. Some would call this bottling up. I don’t — bottling up implies that eventually everything will explode out, like a bottle of fizzy drink that has been shaken up and then opened. I don’t feel this at all. What I do feel is a sense of emptiness, and that is far easier to deal with.

But I digress. I’m trying to make a point here, which is that we need to reshape and reconfigure the discourse myths about male rape. The same rape myths which say that women bring rape upon themselves because of the way they dress, because of how much they drink, and so on, reinforce a gendered narrative around sexual violence. Men are the perpetrators, women, the victims. Where we do as a society think about sexual violence where a man is the victim, we tend to do so in the institutionalised settings — the prison, the church, and so on. The deeply held patriarchal myth about rape, used to stigmatised female sexuality has the back hand effect of meaning that men like me essentially do not fit into society.

It is true to say that the majority of rape survivors are female — according to the Guardian, in 2013 69,000 cases of rape were recorded where the victim was female. 9,000 were recorded where the victim was male. Support for male survivors of rape is nearly non-existent. I tried to explore some of the issues with one of the many counsellors I had tried and failed to form a meaningful, pastoral relationship with. The counsellor seemed completely caught off guard when I told her what had happened. She even went as far as to say she hadn’t expected it. I don’t blame her. She was not an inexperienced or bad therapist, but simply one who had never really looked at the issue from all angles.

Why talk about this now? Two reasons, really. The first is that I do not really care to keep a secret anymore. It has no practical purpose for me, anymore. I can’t see the point in hiding it. I suppose if I speak out, then others might feel able to do so, though one can cynically speculate how many people will read this post, or if I will even publish it. Secondly, I want to address something which has bothered me consistently — which is the fact that male rape is often blamed on feminism.

This ludicrous accusation is found predominantly in the darkest corners of the internet colonised by Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs). The online movement is surprisingly pervasive. Groups like “A Voice for Men” have tried to adopt the disguise of caring about “male” issues, and have scapegoated feminism, women’s rights movements, etc, for the relative silence on male sexual abuse. MRAs can be thought of as the gender equivalent of UKIP — whipping up popular anger about a complex issue by blaming an caricature enemy. Where, for UKIP, this is immigrants, for MRAs, this is feminism.

I am a feminist, and as a male survivor, I don’t see anything that feminism had done to make my situation any worse. Feminism, if anything, has begun a conversation about the dynamics and prejudices which inform prevailing myths of sexual violence, and, as noted above, these have helped me on a personal level reconcile myself to what happened to me. Really, the MRAs do nothing more than use survivors like myself in an attempt to wage ideological war on a perceived misandrist movement. I would ask them to stop it, or drop it. Mens Rights groups do not provide support for male survivors. I browsed a few MRA forums on reddit when I was contemplating writing this piece. I wouldn’t recommend it. I came across one, on a thread now deleted, in which a man did admit to being a rape survivor, only to have his masculinity and sexuality called into question. He was mocked for “being such a pussy.” The MRA movement does a gross insult to me and mine, and needs to stop it. End of. You do not speak for me.

Being a male survivor has left me isolated, and lonely. My experiences are some great unsaid, which I now say, probably to silence, or a retweet if I am lucky. Ultimately what I suppose I’m saying is that if we want to live in a society that does not ignore me and mine, we need to tackle head on shameful myths around rape, the responsibility for rape, and who can and cannot be raped. The wonderful bell hooks has a quote which comes to my mind:

“Men do oppress women. People are hurt by rigid sexist role patterns. These two realities coexist.”

Patriarchy attitudes towards sexual violence have been what has kept me silent for so long, and these needs to be opposed and combated. This may or may not happen in my life, but at least I have tried to make some small contribution towards it.

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64 thoughts on “I am a male survivor of sexual abuse. Now, for the love of God, can we stop blaming feminism?

  1. This post is full of vile generalisation and has no evidence or research behind it. I call bullshit on this misandrist crap.

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  2. Are you seriously trying to justify the comments made here? Because if so that tells me that the movement you represent cares nothing for actual people suffering. You just care about scoring points in a game no one but you is playing.

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  3. You have fundamentally missed the point of what the initial commenter was saying.

    They expressed support and appreciation for the author of this post and voiced a desire to see support for male victims of sexual abuse.

    You expressed derision, completely ignored the original offer of the piece and generally offered nothing helpful to this discussion

    Please scurry back to the pit from whence you came

    Like

  4. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    You wrote: ” Really, the MRAs do nothing more than use survivors like myself in an attempt to wage ideological war on a perceived misandrist movement.”

    If you're interested in doing more to help men, boys, and their children who are victims of sexual assault and discrimination, please consider joining me in seeking justice using the following action opportunities for the United Kingdom:

    Action Opportunity: Urge the UK not to systematically discriminate against boys, men, and LGBT victims of domestic violence

    http://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/2ob686/action_opportunity_urge_the_uk_not_to/

    Action Opportunity: Urge EU and UK to End the Systematic Violations of the Rights Boys, Men, and their Children in the UK

    http://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/2k2ikd/action_opportunity_urge_eu_and_uk_to_end_the/

    Action Opportunity: Tell the EU and Scotland to Stop Violating the Rights of Boy and Man DV Victims

    http://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/2frpxp/action_opportunity_tell_the_eu_and_scotland_to/

    I wish you the best of luck in your search for justice.

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  5. The fact is, the MRA was necessary to move the dialogue from the assumption that only girls and women need help recovering from abuse, to an acknowledgement that men and boys also need help. Even now, there are very few resources available to Mr. Page, especially in comparison to the amount that would be available if he'd been, or identified now, as female. There is a small collection of services available, though, and linked on the sidebar of the mensrights reddit.

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  6. There are some MRA trolls and sick fucks hiding behind their internet anonymity, acting tough. Chris, you're a brave individual for speaking up and sharing your story.

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  7. Don't be a cunt mate. We don't want this feminazi in our movement. Stop trying to reach out to this limp dick. #notinmyname

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  8. Feminists have been saying that men and boys also need help for years. And feminists aren't the ones commenting on this post insulting the author, telling him to 'man up' because real men don't let this happen to them and showing complete lack of empathy. Those are MRA's and their views are what are harmful here. We are offering support, you are trying to make this all about you and your 'movement' when it is them who are responsible for all the disgusting negativity on this page. So could you do every a huge favour and actually try and focus on what's important or go somewhere else?

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  9. Oh for god's sake. Does someone getting comfort from reading this bother you so much that you have to try and make them feel bad for it? Are you that unhappy in your own life? Do you have that little going for you that you feel the need to crush any modicum of peace or happiness for others? I hope you get the help you need mate, it sounds like you need it

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  10. Each of those threads had 3, 8 and 14 comments on them respectively.

    Here are some other posts

    Men in the U.S. special ops forces are skeptical that women can meet the physical and mental demands of the job; they fear lowered standards for women – (proven baseless time and again) = 252 comments

    Replacing “Cis/het/white/male” with “Jew” in SJW posts – (hmm maybe a spot of false equivalence lads?) = 194 comments

    Chivalry Isn't Dead: Why Feminists Still Want A Gentleman – (really?) = 104 comments

    This UK gym charges men 60% more than women for membership (found on r/unitedkingdom) – (an extra 5 pounds to go to the gym? FEMINISTS DAMMIT) = 87 comments

    Woman gains 65 pounds after getting married, forces husband to get Viagra after he is no longer attracted to her (ever the poster admits this in unconfirmed…) = 378 comments

    But y'know your movement is obviously deeply concerned with helping male victims of sexual assault as we can see from

    Are boy and girl sexual abuse victims viewed the same? = 4 comments

    Starting a Movement to Establish a Men's Resource Center on my college campus = 4 comments

    NCFM invites you to participate in the “Bubbles of Love Campaign” to end parental alienation = 0 comments

    Yes it is obvious what your movement cares about and it sure as hell isn't actual victims of abuse

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  11. As a teenager, I never had a clear understanding of what feminism meant. In English, when we started reading Pride and Prejudice, I was asked if I was a feminist. I said that I believed in equal rights, and thats the only way I felt I could respond.

    Since then, I have recognised myself as feminist. I have endeavoured to become as informed as possible about what it means to be a feminist, and what it means to believe in equal rights. The hate and ignorance that is spread about feminism disgusts me, and I know that the strongest weapon against that hate is knowledge. Young minds need to be informed.

    Your contribution has been felt, and is truly appreciated. You have taught me. You have informed me. For this I am greatful. Keep doing what you do.

    Alex

    Like

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