Real men don’t cry: Mixed messages and myths about male sexual assault
Lakeidra Chavis/Sun Star Editor-in-Chief
Oct. 15, 2013
When I was in seventh grade, we discussed sexual assault in class and my teacher gave statistics of sexual assault prevalence by gender. My male friend laughed and told me that they included the statistics about men to make women feel better.
His assertion clearly outlines a common held assumption that the majority of our culture accepts and sometimes blindly perpetuates: only women can be victims.
Ten percent of sexual assault victims are male, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
One in 71 men are victims of sexual assault in the United States, according to a 2010 Center for Disease Control’s Division of Violence national study on American adults. Male victims are less likely to report the crime, especially when it is female-on-male rape, according to the CDC.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”
In 1990, 19-year-old James Landrith was raped by a pregnant woman after driving her home and getting a hotel room, according to a CNN article published last Thursday. Landrith was intoxicated and never consent.
Since his assault almost two decades ago, Landrith has spoken about crimes committed by women against men.
“I want people to understand that it’s not about how physically strong you are,” Landrith told CNN. “We [men] are conditioned to believe that we cannot be victimized in such a way.”
Landrith is right. We currently live in a culture in which discussions about gender ethnic violence issues, are automatically assumed to be female, minority violence issue. This completely excludes men from the discussion. If our current cultural model only presents men as perpetrators and women as victims, who benefits?
It wasn’t until last year that the FBI changed the definition of rape to include all genders. The past definition, which hadn’t been updated since 1927, defined sexual assault as,”the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” The psychological and physical effects sexual assault can have on victims is tremendous, and they can last for decades.
Victims who experience sexual trauma can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, depression and other serious disorders.
There are a lot of places in Fairbanks that help victims regardless of gender.
The Student Health and Counseling Center offers six free counseling sessions each academic year for students are taking at least six credits. The Women’s Center offers support to all victims by providing pamphlets and information about reporting the crime.
If a victim decides to report the crime to the police, the University Police Department, located right next to the counseling center, is available and trained to handle the crimes. The Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living is also available, providing a safe space for victims.
Sexual assault isn’t a women’s issue or a men’s issue. It’s a cultural issue that can only be fixed if we take collective efforts to end it.
It doesn’t matter what the victim is wearing, who they were with, who they’ve been with, where they were or what they drank.
It is never the victim’s fault.