OK. Please can we talk about women raping men?

(338 Posts)
curlew Wed 04-Sep-13 10:53:38

It's a key part of the MRA agenda. Some MRA even say that men are as often victims of rape by women as women are of rape by men.

I absolutely agree that sex should always be consensual,and if a man has been forced, by either physical or psychological means into sex, then he has been raped and deserved of course to be taken seriously, and for the perpetrator to be charged and ,nif found guilty, convicted. And I know that an erection is a physiological response, and does not necessarily mean that a man actually wants to have sex.

But the MRA are full of stories of men waking up after falling asleep drunk at parties to find women on top of them. And vqriations on th them of being forced to penetrate against their will. And, it might just be my misandry showing, but really? Does this happen a lot? Is it a really serious problem that needs to be addressed, and have equivilant resources given to it?

mathanxiety Thu 30-Jan-14 19:12:45

It does not get us anywhere to keep on talking about rape in the context of systematic oppression. That does not bother men enough. A possible change in the criminal code that would accomplish the effect of focusing society's attention on rape as a means of oppression is to add prosecution for a hate crime to every charge of rape.

mathanxiety Thu 30-Jan-14 19:06:49

Yes, it would be strange to hear an individual accused of burglary stand up in court and try to claim the door was left open, or that he was invited in as a guest.

mathanxiety Thu 30-Jan-14 19:04:52

The reason to have lack of consent key to rape is that otherwise the legal system has nothing to offer women as a cause of action beyond ABH or GBH and often those elements are missing. Impregnation has always been seen as acceptable because the risk is only to the woman, and even now with consent a key element, the idea that women are 'always up for sex no matter what they claim afterwards' seems to prevail.

FloraFox Thu 30-Jan-14 18:38:05

Anywhere not sure if that response was to me. If it was, I don't agree that the key factor is the lack of consent. Lack of consent is common to lots of crimes so all consent-based crimes could equally be called rape, if that's the way you look at it.

Yes I do believe that, woeful as the conviction rate is, it could be worse.

The Canadian approach was degendering by another means. There are other approaches I would prefer to take to deal with conviction rates that do not involve pretending that this is not a gendered crime that is part of a broader culture of oppression of women. For example, I think that if a man accused of rape claims it was consensual, he should be obliged to take the stand and give his evidence, rather than hide behind his barrister tearing apart the woman giving evidence. He should be obliged to state the reasonable steps he took to ascertain consent and the positive way in which the woman indicated her consent. We often hear rape trials described as "he said / she said" but actually it is usually "his barrister said / she said" as the accused often does not take the stand.

mathanxiety Thu 30-Jan-14 18:20:31

The sheer physical strength of men in the aggregate as opposed to what women in general can put up also goes far - the potential of being physically outclassed from puberty on is something we all live with. Domestic violence alone, without rape thrown in, is a specter we could all deal with, and in fact huge numbers of women live with the memory of some incident or other. All women fly by the seat of our pants. Rape is the icing on the cake in many respects. (So to speak.)

From the Canadian experience (which involved renaming rape, and not extending the definition to cover assault of men by women) and from what I have read and heard first hand from other countries, there is a logjam when it comes to prosecution, no matter what laws are on the books and no matter how rape is defined. Currently in the UK, even with the definition that is operating, rates of reporting, prosecuting and success of cases in the courts are disgraceful. Women's knowledge of this means we end up putting up with it. Men's knowledge of it means rapists are not afraid. They also know that police and courts try to avoid ruining the life or reputation of the accused and are likely to give rapists the benefit of the smallest doubt, an aim where courts and police are concerned that simply does not figure in any other class of crime, and skews the focus of the prosecution process towards the interests of the accused, to the terrible detriment of the right of the victim. No matter how it is named, when it comes to prosecution, a rape charge gets transformed into an unfair burden for the accused.

When it comes to rape I feel a sense of despair that we are actually going backwards and not forwards and that there is an immovable and unshakeable opinion that resists all logic and appeals to a sense of common humanity. I am tempted to admit that women can't win for losing, but I do hold out hope that the baloney about mixed signals that serves to fudge the matter of consent and ruin so many cases for so many women once they go head to head with the 'courts of justice' would be seen for what it is when men stood up in court and told judges they had not given consent, purely because we are seen as a separate species that does not even speak the same language but men could not suffer this disadvantage.

.................
From the Canadian article:
"Ottawa lawyer Michael Edelson says there is so much nuance to sexual liaisons that men can genuinely mistake signals they receive.

“I see a lot of false complaints,” he says. “One of the big factors is that a lot of people are using drugs and drinking. They have sex and, at the end of the day, there are regrets. But it’s not sexual assault.” "
This is a shocking assertion, because there has clearly not been consent if someone is off their head or unconscious. I think it shows exactly what we are up against though. Ditto for the 'friends and family discount' alluded to. Something has got to change.

I don't agree with those Canadians quoted that the word 'rape' ever had any power to shock, the reasons being that it is something done by men to women, and that men tend to keep it to themselves when men do it to them. The bottom line is that men do not want to talk about rape. Men do not want to deal with rape. They do not want to feel the pain of victims and they do not want to examine whatever it is inside themselves that makes them rapists. As long as that situation obtains, women are basically talking to ourselves.

But what the anniversary of this legislation may point to is also that law alone is not enough. Women still feel shame and guilt about sexual assault – and are treated as shameful and guilty by some police and judges, and by peers and assailants. Sentencing too often minimizes the intimate violation of sex crimes, the horror of what Nicholas D. Kristof has called the body as “crime scene.” Changing all that may require a bigger revolution indeed.
(from the Canadian article)

I agree with this.

AnywhereOverTheRainbow Thu 30-Jan-14 17:54:42

I don't agree that de-gendering rape would have a negative impact on rape convictions.. Let's be honest, less than 6-7% i.e. The percentage we have now? hmm

Because as you clearly stated the key factor is the lack of consent, I guess that degendering rape wouldn't have any effect at all.
Unfortunately it would be necessary to de-fear the rape reporting.
Until fear of further harm is decreasing, you will always have less reports and only a few convictions.

@sillylass I am sorry I had completely misunderstood your post.

FloraFox Thu 30-Jan-14 17:20:32

math the looseness is in saying that the key factor of rape is lack of consent. As beach says, that is only part of it. The penetration with a penis is what distinguishes this from other types of sexual assault. Otherwise, all sexual assaults or non-sexual assaults or robberies could also be called rape.

There is no doubt that there can be very serious sexual assaults that do not involve penetration with a penis or penetration of any sort but that is not a reason to ignore the specifically gendered nature of rape and its role in the oppression of women as a class.

The Canadian experience is interesting and although I see where you are coming from math, I believe de-gendering rape will have a negative impact on women and on rape convictions.

mathanxiety Thu 30-Jan-14 16:59:52

*just as silence on the part of women emboldens rapists

I do not mean to imply that we are the authors of our own victimisation here.

mathanxiety Thu 30-Jan-14 16:58:35

Beach, yes, that is the direction I am going in in my reflections here.

I know it is a big chance to take and could backfire on women -- Murphy's Law seems to apply more to women than to men. But I also think rape is seen as a women's issue and therefore not one for broader society. We are a long way from even the point where all women accept that any of us could be raped.

I do not understand to what purpose; what exactly do you think would be achieved, and how? Women having sex with men who do not consent to it is already a sexual offence.

Maybe it is too much of a chance to take, but what if men felt themselves empowered to stand up and say they had been raped in these circumstances? The silence about man on man rape goes a long way to encourage this particular crime just as silence on the part of women emboldens rapists, and I would hope by empowering men to speak out about being victims -- just to accept that they are victims, which seems to be very difficult for men to do -- there would be a spillover effect and they would start speaking out about being raped by other men too. Recent exposure of historical sexual and physical abuse of boys in children's 'homes' and other institutions by adult men gives me hope that this is possible.

I also find myself nodding to Sillylass's Thu 30-Jan-14 12:48:56 post.

However, as a comment to the Thu 30-Jan-14 14:11:33 post, I think society does see penetration with a penis as less serious a crime than say, with a hairbrush or coke can or knife. Or at least rape(with a penis) is seen as something more understandable or human or explainable, and when prosecution time comes around, far easier to prove the victim didn't consent in the case of foreign object penetration. I don't know if there are statistics to bear out my hunch here, but it would be interesting to see if sentencing reflects that. Custodial sentences for rape (as currently defined) are a joke.

I think it is important that we have a 'rape is rape is rape' frame, as it is not for an outsider to decide, whether another individual found it more or less traumatic, to be raped by someone they know or by a stranger.
I think outsiders do in fact take it upon themselves to judge the level of trauma, if rape by an acquaintance or a date or a husband happens, and we do have a de facto hierarchy of rape categories because the trauma of experiencing the effect of 'intent to intimately hurt' that Sillylass speaks of is not clearly understood to be present in each case.

Getting this sort of crime to the point of prosecution is difficult thanks to the consent issue which is really difficult one to prove, and really easy to get the benefit of the doubt if no ABH or GBH was involved in order to coerce.

Sillylass79 Thu 30-Jan-14 14:11:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beachcomber Thu 30-Jan-14 13:11:07

Legally, in the UK, penetrating someone with a knife (or any other object) is not rape.

It is assault by penetration

In the legislation it is not seen as less serious than rape or 'only' assault. It carries the same liability as rape.

(4)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.

Sillylass79 Thu 30-Jan-14 12:54:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sillylass79 Thu 30-Jan-14 12:48:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AnywhereOverTheRainbow Thu 30-Jan-14 12:24:31

Raping someone you know is not OK and I don't think we need to be sending the message to boys and men that it is (anymore than we already do via various rape myths). Especially considering that most rapists are known to their victims.

85% of rapists are either a husband/boyfriend/friend/relative of the victims, Scotland's statistics though.
My ex bf was my abuser and rapist. Therefore, it is less rape if you're raped multiple times by the same 'monster' only because you knew him? Just because you stand everything because you know he's armed to the teeth and he could kill you? I couldn't leave until I had the financial means to disappear, change name, address and life.

Sorry but a rape is a rape, yes. Not just the one perpetrated by strangers in dark alleys.

Rape is seen as more serious and traumatic precisely because of narratives around the importance of penises in defining the meaning of sex.

A woman posting on a survivors' forum was gang-raped by her husband's 'mates' with a knife. Wasn't that rape because it didn't involve a penis? Your logic escapes me a bit here......

Sillylass79 Thu 30-Jan-14 11:53:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beachcomber Thu 30-Jan-14 10:35:51

Ninjago1978, I'm very sorry to hear of both your experiences of sexual attack.

Thankfully the law does differentiate between rape without additional violence (the rape itself is already considered an act of violence) and rape with additional violence. The additional violence is not covered under the Sexual Offences Act as that piece of legislation deals with the specifically sexual nature of an offence. Additional violence is covered under "Offences Against the Person" - a rape charge that involves an injury or beating will involve other charges such as common assault, ABH, GBH, etc depending on the severity of the violence and the injuries sustained by the victim.

I think it is important that we have a 'rape is rape is rape' frame, as it is not for an outsider to decide, whether another individual found it more or less traumatic, to be raped by someone they know or by a stranger. If we are going to do that, we might as well bring back being married as a defense for rape within marriage. Raping someone you know is not OK and I don't think we need to be sending the message to boys and men that it is (anymore than we already do via various rape myths). Especially considering that most rapists are known to their victims.

The idea that it is less traumatic to be raped by someone you know is dangerous for women IMO and implies that a woman's right to bodily integrity is conditional.

Ninjago1978 Thu 30-Jan-14 09:57:50

I think wrangling over legal terminology or making comments on Redline's punctuation of his trauma is really not on. It's one thing to discuss the reality that males perpetrate the overwhelming majority of sexual violence, another to discount a personal account of trauma because it doesn't fit a neat overarching cultural narrative.

I had a very traumatic lesbian experience in my early teens which was violent, intended to humiliate and destroy me. The fact this may be rare etc is really immaterial in the context of my life. It happened. It had a huge effect on me. I also had a man drunkenly penetrate me while I slept at a party e.g 'rape' me in my mid-20's but it was nowhere near as violent or shaming as the earlier experience and I really do view it as about this man being totally socially inept and sexually unskilled and thinking he had consent because I showed up in his house. Like Twibble above it disgusted and irritated me he would take this liberty with my body but there is just no comparison with what went on in my other experience which was wholly about abuse and the perpetration of pain through overpowering me. I can't even give details of that, I can barely think about it.

Half the problem with current definitions of rape is that no, it's not the same to wake up with a man penetrating you at a party as it is to be subject to a violent attack. The shame and trauma of the former is largely a cultural construction. I don't think men should go round ignoring others' physical boundaries and sticking their dicks where they feel like it because they can but I don't agree that it helps that we have a 'rape is rape is rape' line either, that drunken penetration at a party is in the same category as any assault that is intended as an act of violence, that is intended to wound.

I know practically it is impossible to really define the parameters where the intention for an assault can be legally proven and so we have these crude but operational definitions. However, I would say that trauma related to assault arises out of the intention regardless of gender... It's about subjugation, humiliation, destruction. Yes many many more men partake in this and culturally there's a huge issue that needs addressing but it diminishes for me what really causes severe and sustained human distress in these situations, which is not necessarily gender specific. It's the threat and fear of violence (physical or psychological) and shame that really defines 'rape' for me.

Beachcomber Thu 30-Jan-14 09:13:42

Yes, meant to say, apologies for the ghastly stuff about the poor young menz needing to learn how to hold their alcohol in case it makes them rape someone and the implication that drugged women only have themselves to blame and are fair game.

I think we can see that doing away with rape has not done away with victim blaming, misogyny, etc...

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 30-Jan-14 09:00:59

Bloody hell, beach, there some awful stuff in that article.

Beachcomber Thu 30-Jan-14 08:44:55

mathanxiety, I think I understand the sentiment behind your view. That if rape is something that happens to boys and men too, it will be taken more seriously than if it is just something that happens to girls and women.

Except, that is currently the case anyway, boys and men can be victims of rape - I don't know a great deal about how seriously male on male rape is taken, but I don't see male on female rape being taken seriously by society, despite rape being something men can be victims of.

I don't see how changing law, to say that women can be the perpetrators of rape too, will change this. How exactly would a woman rape a man or another woman? Currently rape is defined as two elements; penetration with a penis without consent . If you say that women can rape, you are taking away 1 of those two elements.

I do not understand to what purpose; what exactly do you think would be achieved, and how? Women having sex with men who do not consent to it is already a sexual offence.

Acts that women (as well as men) can commit are covered in the 2003 Sexual Offences Act as assault by penetration or sexual assault or Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent

Consent, or lack of, or inability to give, is an element to all of these sexual offences, as is the element that the perpetrator "does not reasonably believe that B consents".

Rape is a distinct category of sexual offence because it involves a penis. If you change the definition to be something that women can do too, all you do is disappear rape, it doesn't exist anymore.

This has been the case in Canada, for example, and there doesn't seem to be an improvement for women WRT to the matter of unwanted penetration with a penis - something they now call sexual assault. Indeed, this change in the law has made things worse, and it has done nothing to change societal attitudes, rape culture, male supremacy, women's safety or anything else. www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/how-canadas-sex-assault-laws-violate-rape-victims/article14705289/?page=all

mathanxiety Thu 30-Jan-14 03:26:55

I don't know if your assertion 'More men are likely to say they would love it if they were raped' is one you can prove.

I also would prefer for men to recognise that women are human and their penises are not weapons. I don't think that's too much to ask.

I agree with this, though I think the power play is done by men to men too, and for the same reason it is done to women.

There is nothing loose about the idea that consent is at the heart of rape. Hence the hours and hours spent in courtrooms arguing about it, decisions to go ahead with prosecution or not based on how clear it was that lack of consent was present and how hard it would be to prove, historical reliance on the character and reputation of victims to back up assertions that consent wasn't given, and the debate over the concept of rape within marriage. before the law was changed, marriage was a defence to a criminal charge of rape. The law recognised the act of rape against a married woman but provided a defence to the husband based on the marriage. Of course those women were raped. They were raped because they did not give consent every single time. This law highlighted the concepts that women are not property of their husbands, and that they are capable of withholding or giving consent even after marriage.

"Defining rape as something that women can do to men has political ramifications for women as it invisiblizes background power structures and the system of social organisation that places men as higher status than women via the construct of sex."

Maintaining the current definition only serves to marginalise the crime precisely because women are silenced in our society, and 'women's issues' are filed under 'Ignore - invisible - irrelevant'. I think changing the definition would result in exposing the power dynamic inherent to the very hierarchical nature of male society (in which the majority of men themselves are losers.) I think it might help us all acknowledge our shared humanity.

FloraFox Thu 30-Jan-14 00:51:35

If you use words so loosely, anything could be rape, any sexual assault on a woman could be rape. Is that what you had in mind?

olathelawyer05 Wed 29-Jan-14 23:45:06

"...what is taken in the context of rape?"

Your choice/right to consent or otherwise to what is happening to you.

You don't have to agree with Redline but his use of the term is factually correct, if not legally so under English law.

FloraFox Wed 29-Jan-14 22:37:04

ola redline can describe what happened to him any way he wants. He can't demand that everyone else agrees with that description.

what is taken in the context of rape?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 29-Jan-14 19:15:42

All sexual assault is sexual contact without consent; tape is a specific form of such assault.

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