Quick update on CDC sexual victimisation stats


Regular readers will be well aware of the sexual victimisation statistics – the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. This is (to the best of my knowledge) the world’s second largest sexual victimisation survey after the sexual violence modules in the Crime Survey of England and Wales. However it has the advantage of asking some specific questions that CSEW does not.

It was the 2010 CDC survey which famously found that the annual prevalence of rape of women was identical to the annual prevalence of men being forced to penetrate (mostly) women. Puzzlingly, the lifetime prevalence of rape of women was much higher than the equivalent statistic for men being made to penetrate. So the new statistics are out, and there’s not much to say except that the exact same findings have emerged again. The only difference is that all the relevant statistics are slightly higher this time than they were last time, although in all cases that is within the margin of error. So for the sake of record, they are:

………………………………………..2011 ………………Lifetime

Women raped    ……………… 1.6% …………………19.3%

Men forced to penetrate …..1.7% ………………….6.7%

 

I thought it was worth a quick post just to say that this would help to answer doubts about the accuracy of the stats first time around. We are stuck with the puzzling matter of why there is such a gulf between the male and female lifetime prevalence rates when there is no gulf between the annual rates.

There’s a popular theory that men are more likely to wipe from their mind things that happened many years ago, and so are significantly less likely to report their abuse in a telephone survey.

There may be something in that, but I’m more inclined to put it down to the precipitous decline in annual rates of rapes in the US.

NCVS-trends-336x328

If I’m right, I’d expect the lifetime rates for the older groups of women to be vastly higher than those for the youngest groups – even though people are much more likely to be raped when they are younger. While the average is that one women in five will have been raped in her lifetime, this would be disproportionately concentrated among women who were in their teens and 20s in the 1970s and 1980s

I’ve yet to track down the data to confirm whether this is true, but if anyone else has any clues, I’m all ears.

Comments

  1. george says

    Only reading this reminds me that this happened to me,only I and many men would not see this through a victimological point of view,she jumped onto me,when i was ill from a bad stomach,needless to say,my performance was not great.
    she stormed off,then came and apologized later,to my disappointment,thought i was well rid of her!
    I just saw it as a performance issue,and I’m sure many men would look at it the same,It’s mainly women who consent at the time
    then retrospectively withdraw that same consent.

  2. says

    Ally, thanks for this. We’re currently researching this area for our election manifesto. Just had a FoI response from the Ministry of Justice, which speaks volumes about the gender bias of the justice system in this area (a problem compounded, to be fair, by men’s reluctance to acknowledge they’ve been sexually assaulted, then their reluctance to report it, especially when the assaults are from women). Reminding ourselves that slightly more men are ‘forced to penetrate’ than women are raped – in the US, anyway – let’s have a look at England & Wales stats for 2013:

    RAPE CONVICTIONS
    Men – 980 (924 sentenced to immediate custodial sentences)
    Women – 5 (all sentenced…)

    ATTMEPTED RAPE CONVICTIONS
    Men – 134 (122 sentenced…)
    Women – 2 (both sentenced…)

    SEXUAL ASSAULT, INCLUDING INDECENT ASSAULT CONVICTIONS
    Men – 2,352 (1,210 sentenced…)
    Women – 28 (11 sentenced…)

  3. Marduk says

    I think both hypotheses are reasonable. Its very hard to find the appropriate words for this but I suspect you’d need to think about offences towards children and the fact that rape vs. ‘being forced to penetrate’ aren’t symmetrical questions.

    That said, thank you for noticing the base rate changed and the relevance of this to any statistic that has a lifetime variability. Rising blood pressure now robs me of words but if the editorial staff of the Graun are ever taken hostage by a madman who delivers a one hour stats lecture and then runs away, that’ll be me. The most common, irritating example of this is our friend the paygap. Einstein said time exists only to stop everything from happening at once, it seems like some people haven’t got the memo. Drives me nuts.

    Has anyone seen a proper analysis of the pay gap allowing for cohort effects? I don’t even think it (the analysis) exists anywhere.

  4. Hj Hornbeck says

    It was the 2010 CDC survey which famously found that the annual prevalence of rape of women was identical to the annual prevalence of men being forced to penetrate (mostly) women.

    Strange, I’ll have to track that one down. The best survey I previously knew of found that 6.6% of male victims of assault were forced to penetrate men, while 5.9% were forced to penetrate women.[1] So I can see roughly equal numbers, but “mostly” is a bit surprising to me.

    As for the lifetime prevalence puzzle, here’s another theory: the US has an unusually large prison population, which has expanded greatly in recent decades thanks to privatization, and rape is endemic within American prisons.

    [1] Isely, Paul J., and David Gehrenbeck‐Shim. “Sexual assault of men in the community.” Journal of Community Psychology 25.2 (1997): 159-166.

  5. says

    @HjH (4)

    From p.24 of the 2010 NIPSV Surveywww.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf

    Sex of Perpetrator in Lifetime Reports of Sexual Violence
    Most perpetrators of all forms of sexual violence against women were male. For female rape victims, 98.1% reported only male perpetrators. Additionally, 92.5% of female victims of sexual violence other than rape reported only male perpetrators. For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%). For non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, approximately half of male victims (49.0%) reported only male perpetrators and more than one-third (37.7%) reported only female perpetrators (data not shown).

  6. Paul says

    Interesting Ally.And i suspect you’ll be heading for another shitstorm if you pursue this in any meaningful way.

    Did these stats include same-sex rape/forced penetration ? And if so did the overwhelming majority of cases involve people in heterosexual activity ? The reason i ask is that some people have interpreted the male victimization rates for dv as including a large number of same-sex couples ? And they’ve done this without a shred of evidence to back it up.So i’m wondering whether they’ll attempt to do the same with these stats on males who’ve been forced to penetrate .

    I must admit that whilst i accept women can sexually abuse men i’ve struggled to take seriously those who claim that a woman is as likely to sexually abuse a man as vice versa. However as a matter of principle i believe that equality between the sexes must be seen to cut both ways.And that women can’t be allowed to get away with any form of behaviour that’s deemed to be unacceptable from men.Especially as feminists have rightly been extremely vocal in challenging any double standard-eg boys will be boys-which seeks to excuse unacceptable behaviour from males.So male victims of forced penetration need to be taken every bit as seriously as females -and males- who’ve been forcibly penetrated.

    Anyway good luck with this one and be prepared to take flak from all sides.

  7. mildlymagnificent says

    There may be something in that, but I’m more inclined to put it down to the precipitous decline in annual rates of rapes in the US.

    So am I. One thing to remember is that most rape occurs fairly early in life. So a change in the incidence takes a long, long time to show up in lifetime victimisation studies.

    20+ years ago my kids’ primary school introduced an updated form of their sex education / safety program. There was virtually no mention of the old-fashioned stranger danger that used to be the main theme. The new emphasis was on the child being in control of their own body and the difference between good and bad secrets.

    One thing that really struck me at the time was the program’s director pointing out that previous programs had obviously been quite successful. Their research showed that men under 30 reported half or less the rate of sexual abuse as a child that men over 60 reported. If anyone had done the same study for all sexual abuse of that population, not just as an adolescent/adult, you’d finish up with the same discrepancy between recent incidence and lifetime victimisation.

    I’d say it was sensible to work on the basis that that would also affect the youngest of the next age groups. Of course, it would benefit everybody if all researchers had always used the same age ranges for bracketing child, adolescent, young adult age groups, but we can’t have everything.

  8. Archy says

    My guess is that it’s a mix of men forgetting more (I’ve forgotten a lot of violence in my life) and probably something to do with increased binge drinking in the last 10-20 years maybe? From what I’ve seen of sexual violence, alcohol is involved a lot and it’s also heavily skewed to college age or younger people last I saw.

    I also saw a theory that over time men are more likely to rationalize sexual abuse against them by women and culture would play a heavy role in this with the tropes like “men always want sex”, etc.

  9. Darren Ball says

    Isn’t the third possibility that men who are forced to penetrate are more likely to be repeat victims?

    There seems to be an implicit assumption here that forced-to-penetrate and being raped are equivalents, but that’s not a conclusion I would jump to. Forced-to-penetrate requires an erection which in turn normally requires arousal. I’m not saying that a man with an erection is necessarily consenting and it’s okay to hop on, but if a man was taken advantage off in this way, I suspect he would not suffer the same emotional damage as he would if he were forcibly penetrated.

    I acknowledge that Ally hasn’t claimed that the two acts are directly comparable, but if they’re not, why compare them?

  10. says

    @ Paul 6

    Paul, on the issue of the gender of the perpetrators of men ‘being made to penetrate’, I refer you to my comment #5. 79.2% of men’s lifetime reports of ‘being made to penetrate’ report female perpetrators.

  11. says

    @ Darren 9

    Darren, it seems to me the assertion ‘…he would not suffer the same emotional damage…’ reflects the cultural paradigm that women are ‘acted upon’ (victims) and men are ‘actors’ (perpetrators). Alison Tieman produced a short but powerful video on the matter http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/mens-rights-versus-feminism-explained-using-magnets/. Look at the gendered stats I put in comment #2. If anyone doubts that women commit sexual offences far more frequently than is generally believed, I refer them to a website dedicated to the subject of female offenders http://www.femalesexoffenders.org.

    Of course it’s not just men who are damaged by female sex offenders, even leaving aside the latter’s female victims. A British study – Petrovich & Templar (1984) – reported that 59% of incarcerated (male) rapists had been sexually abused when they were children, by one or more women, usually their mothers. Details and a little associated commentary here http://j4mb.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/women-who-sexually-abuse-children/

  12. Ally Fogg says

    @Darren Ball (9) and everyone

    I should really have included a link to previous blogs about this, will update now. This post in particular discusses the issue of equivalence at length. I didn’t go into it again here because I we’d already been over that.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/09/04/the-startling-facts-on-female-sexual-aggression/

    But in brief, you make a very pertinent point. I think rape and forced penetration should be understood as different experiences and are not directly equivalent to each other in many ways. On the other hand we have to be very cautious in ranking sexual assaults in order of seriousness or severity or whatever, because the range of individual responses and outcomes is so vast and that line of reasoning quickly lands in a place where we are telling sexual assault victims that their experiences are no big deal.

  13. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 12
    I like your suggestion that this is likely to be a matter of rape rates (of women) declining. It would make sense, and it is good news.

    But, regardless, you cannot avoid discussing how serious various acts are, on the average. People’s personal feelings and experiences are their own, and not for other people to explain away. But we judge actions on the normal effects and on normal vulnerability. If there is Salmonella in the chicken salad and one of my dinner guests gets sick, the cause is all mine – Salmonella does not belong in food. If there are peanuts in the desert and one of my guests gets sick, the cause is mainly with the guest. Peanuts are a normal food ingredient, she just happens to be allergic to it.

    It does not make sense to say, as some here do, that sexual assault is by definition awful, and so the men who shrug it off are necessarily wrong. You could say, of course, that the things that happen to women are by nature much worse than the things that happen to men – or that women are by nature or nurture more vulnerable. But you could equally well notice that the two sexes seem to react rather differently – on the average – to fairly similar experiences of sexual coercion. Which would lead you to discussing whether men should become more like women, suffer and go to the police more, or women should become more like men, and make less of a fuss about it.

    To avoid this exploding all over the place, I should say that I am thinking about episodes like “you are drunk, you are alone together, the other one is very insistent, and in the end you cannot mobilise the anger necessary to keep saying no, and just let it happen“. Or “You do not quite remember, and you sure never had any plans on having sex with NN, but here he/she is, on your pillow in the morning.”. Without going too far into what this kind of thing ‘really’ is (that is exactly not the point), I would say that these descriptions would look about the same for either a male->female of female->male interaction, and that your average male would tend to take them rather less seriously than the average female. Which reaction should we say is the ‘right’ one?

  14. says

    I’ve written a bit more about the NISVS 2011 on my blog: http://tamenwrote.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/nisvs-2011-released-increased-male-victimization-and-rape-is-still-not-rape/

    Darren Ball @9:

    Forced-to-penetrate requires an erection which in turn normally requires arousal.

    Forced to penetrate does not require an erection since forced to penetrate also include fellatio as well as cunnilingus.

    Erections does not require arousal. Nocturnal penile tumescence is one example.

    Anxiety/fear actually increase the chance that a man will react to sexual stimuli with an erection: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/16364653_Anxiety_increases_sexual_arousal

    Arousal means reacting to stimuli. Your implied argument that arousal (having an erection due to stimuli and being fucked without his consent) would make the victim less damaged emotionally is an ignorant assumption.

    Many women who have been raped have experienced vaginal lubrication and even orgasm. This paper found that 4-5% of rape victims (defined as being penetrated) reported having an orgasm during the rape.

    This dissonance between not wanting being raped and having your body react to it with arousal and even an orgasm is often described by victims as their body betraying them. I don’t think one should brush off the emotional harm this dissonance may do.

    Ally: I’ll just point out that CDC also categorize rape attempt as rape as well as alcohol or drug facilitated rapes. I think that “being made to penetrate” as defined by the CDC is more properly categorized as a sub-category of rape (as it involves forced sexual intercourse) rather than bundled together with sexual coercion (nagging, lying etc for sex), unwanted sexual touching (groping) and unwanted non-contact sexual experiences (sexually harassed). One thing is how the CDC categorization has the effect that male victimization is overlooked by media reporting on the NISVS 2011 another thing is how this makes it even more easy for CDC to explicitly overlook male victimization by women in CDC’s discussion on what impact the NISVS findings should have on prevention efforts.

  15. says

    Tanen @14

    Thanks for all that, very interesting. The 2010 NISVS states:

    • Being made to penetrate someone else includes times when the victim was made to, or there was an attempt to make them, sexually penetrate someone without the victim’s consent because the victim was physically forced (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threatened with physical harm, or when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.
    –Among women, this behavior reflects a female being made to orally penetrate another female’s vagina or anus.
    –Among men, being made to penetrate someone else could have occurred in multiple ways: being made to vaginally penetrate a female using one’s own penis; orally penetrating a female’s vagina or anus; anally penetrating a male or female; or being made to receive oral sex from a male or female. It also includes female perpetrators attempting to force male victims to penetrate them, though it did not happen.

  16. says

    Ally:

    although in all cases that is within the margin of error.

    Being made to penetrate lifetime numbers increased from 4.8% to 6.7% from 2010 to 2011. The 95% confidence interval for the 2011 number is (5.7–7.8). Unfortunately the NISVS 2010 doesn’t specify the confidence intervals, but that survey had a somwhat smaller sample (12.727 vs 16,507 completed interviews) so I would expect a smaller confidence interval for the 2010 numbers. If so, then there would be no overlap or a minimal overlap in confidence intervals and we are probably looking at a real increase in male victimization from 2010 to 2011.

    The lifetime number for female rape in 2010 (18.3%) falls overlap with the confidence interval of the 2011 number (

    If anyone is interested in looking at the sources;
    NISVS 2010 Summary Report: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf
    NISVS 2011 Summary Report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6308.pdf

  17. Marduk says

    You’d really need to know the onset, or at least the median.
    There are lots of mental health studies like this in the epidemiology lit, so we know what it would look like to do the full analysis. You’d then want to group people into cohorts and use those as dummy variables in a survival analysis.

    Fun fact: once got moderated from the Graun for suggesting a survival analysis because they thought I meant “questioning survivors” as the person who ranted at me in a reply and doubtless reported the post thought…. groan.

  18. says

    Marduk:
    Am I understanding you correctly if I think you are saying that we cannot say anything about whether we have an actual increase from 2010 to 2011 even if the 2010 number is lower than the lower bound of the 95% CI for the 2011 number?

    If so people should ignore the pertinent part of my previous comment.

    Or are you saying that if we knew the onset or the median we would know with more certainty whether there has been an actual increase or not?

  19. Ally Fogg says

    Tamen – there are several possibilities as to why all the numbers have risen. Some of them relate to the vagaries of statistical confidence etc,

    However it is striking to me that the lifetime prevalence has risen for both men and women, and done so to a reasonably pronounced extent. That is not something that should happen in reality. For obvious reasons, lifetime prevalences should change very slowly over decades, not jump about from year to year.

    That would suggest to me that the people doing the survey have either got a bit better with how they sample or (perhaps more llkely) got a bit better with how they ask the questions. It could even be something as trivial as having a team of telephone survey workers who have been given a bit better training in raising the topic or they’ve found a way to introduce sensitive questions that make it more likely people will answer them.

    So I would be wary of assuming that any of the apparent rises reflect a genuine trend.

  20. mildlymagnificent says

    So I would be wary of assuming that any of the apparent rises reflect a genuine trend.

    Just looking at the language used in surveys should give cause for pause. It’s only fairly recently that researchers and statisticians have consistently avoided using the dreaded rape word and used descriptions of sexual behaviour/ situations instead.

    If there are any trends in any direction for any group or for any particular behaviour, we’d need to see them repeated or validated by further reports with data gathered on the same basis before we treat them as anything more than outlines of an incomplete picture.

  21. george says

    I would say,men can’t be victims the same way as women,to understand this,you need to acknowledge the difference between
    men and women.Even in today’s victimological hysteria,they don’t look at a 14yo boy with a hot teacher the same as the other way around!

  22. mildlymagnificent says

    Oh dear. One thing that didn’t occur to me explicitly. (I could be a smart aleck and claim that this issue was implicit in my earlier comment, but it honestly didn’t occur to me.)

    A possible explanation for the apparent oddity is that the figures for women are understated. Significantly.
    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119364/cdcs-report-one-five-women-raped-other-statistics-disagree?

    The argument that the various surveys are looking for different things is important. We really can’t argue that the FBI should be looking for the same information as the CDC or other organisations interested in sexual assault as a health issue, but there has to be some way to ensure that the numbers are usable for people with a general interest in the subject. I suppose it’d be too much to ask for the law enforcement focused surveys to have a disclaimer that they weren’t trying to identify how many people had been assaulted, just how many cases had been reported and then prosecuted or dropped.

  23. mildlymagnificent says

    Schala

    And you’ll understand that “men can’t be victims the same as women” is toxic shit (and completely learned), not the reality.

    Thank you for that.

  24. Archy says

    To those arguing rape and forced to penetrate aren’t equivalent….are you trying to suggest rape is worse than forced to penetrate? (as in forced penetration?)….if so then that is messed up. It’s often said the damage isn’t the physical act itself but the violation, otherwise rape of unconscious people would be argued to be far less a crime than rape of a conscious person.

    Rape is rape is rape, physical element aside, the mental trauma alone is significant regardless of how it is done.

  25. mildlymagnificent says

    Rape is rape is rape, physical element aside, the mental trauma alone is significant regardless of how it is done.

    Exactly.

    The classic cases of violation without “forcible rape” are those where a rapist assaults a woman in her own bed who is expecting her partner/husband. The fact that the rape occurs without any verbal or physical coercion doesn’t change the fact that it’s a gross violation – rape – of that woman.

  26. Darren Ball says

    @Mike Buchanan 11

    “Darren, it seems to me the assertion ‘…he would not suffer the same emotional damage…’ reflects the cultural paradigm that women are ‘acted upon’ (victims) and men are ‘actors’ (perpetrators).”

    No Mike, I’m with you on that point so that would not be my reasoning. Also, I’m in no doubt that female sex offenders are much more prevalent than normally acknowledged, so that’s not my reasoning either.

    My reasoning was that being forced to penetrate somebody with one’s penis requires that at least your Old Man is willing, even if your brain isn’t. If that happened to me I suspect I would feel angry perhaps, but not violated.

    Since my post others have pointed out that penetration can include one’s tongue and that a penis can become erect for reasons other than sexual arousal. I’m not really convinced about the morning glory argument: okay, sometimes that could be abusive, but as a general comment, that would normally be a very satisfactory way for a man to wakeup. Other explanations for involuntary erections have also been given that I hope to find the time to investigate. Being forced to penetrate somebody with one’s tongue could be extremely traumatic, perhaps similar to being raped.

  27. Ally Fogg says

    mildlymagnificent (23)

    A possible explanation for the apparent oddity is that the figures for women are understated. Significantly.
    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119364/cdcs-report-one-five-women-raped-other-statistics-disagree?

    I don’t think so. That explains the disparity between the NCVS figures and the CDC figures. The last time I saw it, the NCVS was finding that about 0.3% of women respondents had been raped that year, as compared to 1.6% in the CDC figures.

    The CDC uses a methodology broadly favoured by most sexual violence researchers these days, which is to avoid legal terms like ‘rape’ and instead describe the incidents in terms like “forced you to have sex when you didn’t wantsg to.”

    So that would suggest the NCVS figures are an underestimate but it there is no reason to believe that the trend identified by the NCVS is untrue – because the problems with it today were also there back then. So (terrifying though it may seem) in the late 80s, when the NCVS was finding around 3% of women were raped every year the true figure back then may have been much, much higher than that – perhaps as much as three to five times higher.

    It doesn’t address the question of disparities within this year’s CDC figures.

  28. Ally Fogg says

    Darren

    My reasoning was that being forced to penetrate somebody with one’s penis requires that at least your Old Man is willing, even if your brain isn’t. If that happened to me I suspect I would feel angry perhaps, but not violated.

    OK, this is something that gets mentioned every time we have a discussion like this, so I’m going to write a blog post just about this. Watch this space.

  29. says

    Darren Ball @27:

    I’m not really convinced about the morning glory argument: okay, sometimes that could be abusive, but as a general comment, that would normally be a very satisfactory way for a man to wakeup.

    Do you think it would be equally satisfactory for a woman to wake up to a man penetrating her? More or less so if her body reacts to the physical stimuli by lubricating her vagina?

    On AskReddit someone asked men who had been raped by women to tell their stories. This resulted in a thread with over 8,000 comments where several hundreds male victims told their stories of how they were raped by a woman.Reading some of those would be a great start to get a better understanding of how this happen and how it can affect the victims: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/2eqre7/serious_nsfw_men_who_have_been_raped_by_a_woman/

  30. Darren Ball says

    Tamen 30. I wouldn’t presume to answer for any individual. You would have to ask each person how they felt . What you describe is what Julian Assuage is accused of and I’ve heard women say that they would have enjoyed that very much. Other women have said that they would have felt violated.
    We now have a legal definition of rape in which it is demonstrably true to say that under some circumstances some women would enjoy thier rape. How can that be helpful? Even for those who would feel violated, how many would regard their experience (in this particular scenario) as one of the worst things that could have possibly happened to them and similar to a brutal non-sexual violent assault?

  31. says

    Darren Ball @31;

    I wouldn’t presume to answer for any individual. You would have to ask each person how they felt . What you describe is what Julian Assuage is accused of and I’ve heard women say that they would have enjoyed that very much. Other women have said that they would have felt violated.

    It seems we agree that impact is highly individual and one cannot generalize who is, isn’t, should or shouldn’t feel violated when they someone had sex with them without their consent.
    Yet when it was about men you were a more prescriptive suggesting that it would be abnormal for a man to not think waking up in such a way was very satisfactory:

    …that would normally be a very satisfactory way for a man to wake up

    I do think it’s not too much of a requirement to require those who would enjoy being woken up with sex to tell their partner in advance that they would like to be woken up by sex.

    We now have a legal definition of rape in which it is demonstrably true to say that under some circumstances some women would enjoy thier rape. How can that be helpful?

    This isn’t unique for rape. Some people enjoy riding a motorcycle without a helmet and that is illegal. Some people enjoy being wounded and exposed to bodily harm as part of BDSM. That is illegal in the UK. The BDSM thing is a bit special since not even expressed consent by the injured person makes it legal.

  32. Archy says

    “My reasoning was that being forced to penetrate somebody with one’s penis requires that at least your Old Man is willing, even if your brain isn’t. If that happened to me I suspect I would feel angry perhaps, but not violated. ”

    There is trauma from feeling like your body has betrayed you by becoming aroused, whilst you were in terror. I get erections when my bladder is full, when I am tired, when I wakeup and none are these are because I want sex. Hell one of my pills usually gives me an erection when it first kicks in.

    “okay, sometimes that could be abusive, but as a general comment, that would normally be a very satisfactory way for a man to wakeup.”

    By a loving partner maybe, but a stranger? If I wokeup tomorrow getting a bj I would probably punch first, ask questions later because I am not in a sexual relationship and it’d be a gross violation. If I was in a relationship and we discussed it then it’d be ok, but not without my consent. Even if they are extremely attractive and I would normally consent AFTER I HAD SEEN them, got to know them, etc I would still feel violated if some stranger just did that.

  33. sonofrojblake says

    some women would enjoy their rape. How can that be helpful?

    Very simple: it is your responsibility, as a partner in an encounter, to establish, in advance and to your satisfaction, whether your prospective partner would “enjoy their rape”. And if you’re satisfied and certain you’ve got, y’know, consent, bang on. And if not – if you suspect even for a second that the woman you’re about to penetrate might be the type to consider it rape later and get you into trouble… don’t do it. That’s the brilliant bit, you see – you have ultimate power in this scenario. You have the power to choose to NOT penetrate her when you’re not absolutely sure you’ve got enthusiastic consent. If you choose not to, and it turns out she’d have enjoyed it if you had, and hadn’t adequately communicated that fact to you in advance – well, that is her loss. Isn’t it?

  34. StillGjenganger says

    @Darren 30
    You got that one bang on. It is individual what makes people feel violated, but our laws and customs must apply to what people do, not on how the other party ends up feeling. Any reasonable choice of rules will mean that some people can still feel violated by behaviour that the rules consider acceptable. Underage sex is a good example. Any age limit is arbitrary, some below the limit will be able to manage their own sex life, and some older ones will not. But the law still relies on an age limit, and indeed that is the only possible system.

    When we talk about more or less coercive sex, when consent is implicit and when it must be said out loud, etc., we have to do the same thing – agree on some set of rules, and accept that they will be too restrictive for some, and too lax for others. It is clear that men generally accept laxer rules than women do – also then they are the ‘victims’ – and some kind of harmonisation would be in order. The general MRA approach is a kind of feminism envy: “If they have it, we must have it too!”. Basically they want the rules for what can be done to men to be as tight as the rules for what can be done to women. I would propose going the other way: Is everything that these surveys count as (attempted) rape, assault etc. equally serious, or should some of it be downgraded, maybe to ‘bad bed manners’?

    This argument could end up in different ways. The one sure thing is that saying ‘rape is rape is rape’ is a useless way of dodging the discussion, which is about where the limits should go

  35. Darren Ball says

    For those commenting on my recent post, I’m not advocating what Julian Assuage is accused of. I’m saying that, if that is rape, then there are circumstances when people are raped and enjoy their experience. Perhaps that sort of behaviour should be a different offence in which more nuances can be considered?
    Women’s groups will argue that rape is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a woman and that there is only one type of rape – penettation without continous enthusiastic consent. Well, that’s not correct, is it. You cannot reconcile all of these statements.

  36. Darren Ball says

    Tamen @ 32

    I happen to believe that not everything is directly gender-transferable, and this is one of them. Men can certainly be sexually abused and suffer great trauma as a result, but that is not to say that something that women would normally find abusive would also be considered abusive by most men. Men have much less biologically invested in casual sexual encounters. The law may have changed much of that imbalance in practice, but not such that our innate sexuality will have adapted to suit.

    Archy @ 33.

    Usually morning glories are either solitary affairs or ones in the company of your chosen bed-partner. If you don’t want a passing stranger to gum on yours, don’t have it out in public.

    StillGjenganger @ 35

    Agreed on all of that. Especially on MRA: too often they’re just aping feminism for men.

  37. Marduk says

    Darren.

    Hanged corpses occasionally get stiffies, it means nothing. Interestingly there is a whole genre of religious art in Vatican vaults as artists in the past more familiar with what executions actually looked like in practice would occasionally portray the crucified Christ as sporting an erection. We can witter about eros and thanos but the truth is its just something attributable to the spinal cord.

    The issue of feelings of arousal (a physiological reaction to stimuli is not the same as “enjoying” anything) during sexual assault is hardly a new one, its just that it isn’t talked about because it can be a very difficult experience to deal with, morons would misapply that information and applies to men and women. It is talked about A LOT with therapists, counsellors and psychiatrists treating victims though.

  38. Hj Hornbeck says

    Mike Buchanan @4:

    From p.24 of the 2010 NIPSV Surveywww.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf

    Ah, merci. The difference between the numbers is almost certainly due to methodology.

    Thirteen hundred agencies across the United States, servicing sexual assault victims (Webster, 1989), were mailed a brief survey assessing the extent and nature of their contact with adult male sexual assault victims.
    [Isely Gehrenbeck-Shim 1997]

    NISVS is an ongoing nationally representative random-digit–dial telephone survey of the noninstitutionalized English- and Spanish-speaking U.S. population aged ≥18 years. NISVS uses a dual-frame sampling strategy that includes both landline and cellular telephones and is conducted in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    The study I posted was heavily biased towards men who were traumatized by what had happened to them, while the NISVS is aiming for general prevalence, independent of trauma. In a culture where men are pictured as always ready and obsessed with sex, it’s no wonder they wouldn’t think of getting help for that form of sexual assault; they wanted sex, they got it, so how could there be any trauma?

    It also suggests prison assault plays only a minor role in males forced to penetrate, as the stat where women dominate is more representative of the general population. Ah well, it was a theory worth floating.

  39. says

    @HjH40

    You’re welcome. Not long ago I heard a Women’s Aid spokeswoman claim in an interview with Glen Poole that a large proportion (I think those were her words, I can check them out) of men who were the victims of IPV had suffered at the hands of their male partners. It seemed highly unlikely to me – partly BECAUSE it’s a common feminist claim – so I checked it out. Hardly surprisingly, it turned out only a small minority of all abused men are abused by male partners. The claim was just one of seven lies and/or misleading statements she made that day.

  40. Holms says

    #36 Darren
    Women’s groups will argue that rape is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a woman and that there is only one type of rape – penettation without continous enthusiastic consent. Well, that’s not correct, is it. You cannot reconcile all of these statements.

    From what I’ve seen, they don’t argue that at all; rather, there are various things that can collectively be termed rape, and that ‘penetrative sex without continuous enthusiastic consent’ is not the only one. Sex with a minor is one example, regardless of whether there appears to be consent, enthusiastic or otherwise.

    So no, you haven’t come across a contradition there at all.

    Also a nitpick: the guy you referred to earlier is Julian Assange rather than Assuage.

    #38
    I happen to believe that not everything is directly gender-transferable, and this is one of them. Men can certainly be sexually abused and suffer great trauma as a result, but that is not to say that something that women would normally find abusive would also be considered abusive by most men.

    Provisionally, it may be that there is a tendency for men to be less traumatised by rape – though I would certainly want to see data saying so before seriously suggesting that it is true – however, the law cannot take the position that rape is less criminal when done to men, lest it make the lives of those men worse by becoming obstructive to their legal recourse, or even dismissive of their experience.

    #41 Mike
    Hardly surprisingly, it turned out only a small minority of all abused men are abused by male partners.

    That is primarily because gay men are a minority amongst men in general; however, when normalising for their reduced proportion of the population, it was discovered that gay males are more likely to be the victims of abuse then straight males. Presumably, because their partners also being men means there is less physical disparity between them.

  41. Darren Ball says

    Marduk 39

    “Hanged corpses occasionally get stiffies, it means nothing…its just something attributable to the spinal cord”

    It means nothing unless you want to force somebody to penetrate you with their penis, in which case you have to catch them on the off-chance that they’re having an nonelective boner. You can see why that’s going to be a bit tricky.

    Holmes 42.

    I’m very sorry but women’s groups certainly do describe rape as one of the worst things that can happen to a women and that there’s only one type of rape. Do I really need to find you references? Sex with a minor is statutory rape because they cannot legally consent.

    “Also a nitpick: the guy you referred to earlier is Julian Assange rather than Assuage.”

    I was writing from a smartphone so give me a break.

    I’m not saying that men are less traumatised by rape: I’m questioning whether being forced to penetrate someone with their penis is a traumatic as rape.

  42. says

    #42 Holms

    You’re quite right of course that the reason a small proportion of abused men are gay is because of the proportion of gay men in the population. But I repeat the point that feminists in general – and representatives of women’s refuge organisations in particular – have a long inglorious tradition of claiming that most abused men are abused by other men.

    The same sexuality issue plays for women too. A much higher proportion of lesbians than heterosexual women are abused, indeed the most abused group (of either sex) is lesbians. Another indicator that the male control theory of IPV is baloney, despite being the paradigm that underpins every significant women’s refuge organisation, to the best of my knowledge.

  43. says

    Ally @28:

    So that would suggest the NCVS figures are an underestimate

    Indeed.

    Due to NCVS being considered to have several weaknesses when measuring rape and sexual assault the National Research Council was tasked to create a panel. The panel was called “The Panel on Measuring Rape and Sexual Assault in Bureau of Justice Statistics Household Surveys” and their task was to analyze how the NCVS survey measures and to provide recommendations for changes. They published a report 266 pages long earlier this year. Unfortunately all of the improvement focused on measuring female victims while the problem of under reporting from male victims wasn’t addressed at all – neither was there any suggestion to measure “being made to penetrate” or include that act in the definition of rape. I read the report and wrote a post about it here: http://tamenwrote.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/male-victims-ignored-again-estimating-the-incidence-of-rape-and-sexual-assault-by-the-national-research-council/

  44. Marduk says

    Darren Ball

    “in which case you have to catch them on the off-chance that they’re having an nonelective boner”

    You’re missing the point here.

  45. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 42
    Darren is right on this.
    The overall feminist position is that rape is always, uniformly terrible, that it is wrong to make distinctions between different kinds of rape (‘rape is rape is rape’), and that “penetration without continous enthusiastic consent is rape by definition. Even if there are things outside this definition that also count as rape, that does not invalidate Darrens point. Once you notice that some acts that fall within the official definition of rape are (sometimes) enjoyed by both participants, you have a contradiction.

  46. Schala says

    The general MRA approach is a kind of feminism envy: “If they have it, we must have it too!”

    It’s called equality. No calling it “envy”. It’s wanting fair shit. Just shit.

    I’m not saying that men are less traumatised by rape: I’m questioning whether being forced to penetrate someone with their penis is a traumatic as rape.

    I’m not saying the sky is blue, I’m saying it’s cyan…see, not quite blue…

    Force to penetrate IS RAPE. Get that in your head.

  47. Darren Ball says

    Schala @48

    “Force to penetrate IS RAPE. Get that in your head.”

    Erm, no it demonstrably is NOT rape, so on this occasion I shall decline your instruction to place your erroneous thinking into my head.

  48. Anton Mates says

    @Tamen,

    Unfortunately the NISVS 2010 doesn’t specify the confidence intervals, but that survey had a somwhat smaller sample (12.727 vs 16,507 completed interviews) so I would expect a smaller confidence interval for the 2010 numbers.

    I presume you meant to write that the 2010 survey had a somewhat larger sample, therefore should have a smaller confidence interval? All other things being equal that’s true, but we don’t know that all other things are equal in this case. The 2011 CI is much larger than you’d get with a simple binomial model, implying that predictive accuracy is being severely reduced by the usual culprits (sampling bias, a stratified population, non-responses, etc.) It may be that those factors would have affected the 2010 CI even more dramatically; one would hope that the researchers’ methodology improved from one year to the next!

    Marduk:
Am I understanding you correctly if I think you are saying that we cannot say anything about whether we have an actual increase from 2010 to 2011 even if the 2010 number is lower than the lower bound of the 95% CI for the 2011 number?

    Generally speaking, nope, we cannot say anything about it. If the 2010 CI had been reported and its upper bound was lower than the lower bound of the the 2011 CI, we could say there was a significant increase. But if the CI’s overlap, there might not be a significant increase even though the 2010 point estimate lies outside the 2011 CI.
    But of course the major issue is what Ally mentioned: even if there was a significant increase, it wouldn’t necessarily reflect an actual rise in sexual violence against males, as opposed to a rise in the number of males willing to report such violence to interviewers, or a change in the way their responses were interpreted.
    @Ally,

    It could even be something as trivial as having a team of telephone survey workers who have been given a bit better training in raising the topic or they’ve found a way to introduce sensitive questions that make it more likely people will answer them.

    In fact, this is almost certainly the case. The 2011 report says:
    “Several of the sexual violence and stalking questions were modified between the 2010 and 2011 survey. Specifically, questions from 2010 regarding rape and being made to penetrate a perpetrator that combined several behaviors were split into separate questions in 2011.”
    So yeah, the relevant questions changed considerably, and that probably affected the pattern of responses.
    @Holms,

    Provisionally, it may be that there is a tendency for men to be less traumatised by rape – though I would certainly want to see data saying so before seriously suggesting that it is true

    I’m no expert, but here are a few results from studies on this and related topics, that I’ve been able to dig up.

    When targeted by “low-level” sexual harassment (ranging from verbal taunts to being kissed against your will), high school boys are less likely to perceive it as harmful than girls are, and they display less discomfort and negative outcomes (behavioral, educational, emotional) than girls. This is particularly true of physical harassment like being cornered, groped or kissed against your will.

    The big, glaring exception to this is that boys generally find it far more upsetting to be called gay than girls do. In fact, boys tend to rank that as worse than any other kind of harassment, including physical groping.

    [Jeanne Z. Hand and Laura Sanchez. Badgering or Bantering?: Gender Differences in Experience of, and Reactions to, Sexual Harassment among U.S. High School Students. Gender and Society, Vol. 14, No. 6 (Dec., 2000), pp. 718-746]

    Adolescent boys who have experienced sexual assault are much more likely than girls to express their trauma behaviorally: through drug use, aggressive behavior, fits of violence, self-harm and suicide attempts. Girls are somewhat more likely to express it consciously or emotionally, through nightmares, depression and somatoform disorders. And if abused girls do show suicidal or self-injurious behavior, this is fully predicted by their level of depression, hopelessness and family dysfunction, whereas abused boys are likely to engage in such behavior independently of those factors.

    [Darves-Bornoz á M. Choquet á S. Ledoux I. Gasquet á R. Manfredi. Gender differences in symptoms of adolescents reporting sexual assault. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (1998) 33: 111-117]

    [Martin, G., Bergen, H. A., Richardson, A. S., Roeger, L., & Allison, S. (2004). Sexual abuse and suicidality: gender differences in a large community sample of adolescents. Child abuse & neglect, 28(5), 491-503.]

    One study found that adult women are more likely than men to develop PTSD in response to a physical or sexual assault. However, another study found that male adult victims of sexual assault reported significantly higher levels of distress and sexual dysfunction than females did. I’m not sure what accounts for the discrepancy, but the authors of the second study appear to imply (but don’t actually state) that they were working mostly with men who were assaulted by other men.

    [Breslau, N., Chilcoat, H. D., Kessler, R. C., Peterson, E. L., & Lucia, V. C. (1999). Vulnerability to assaultive violence: further specification of the sex difference in post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychological medicine, 29(04), 813-821.]

    [Elliott, D. M., Mok, D. S., & Briere, J. (2004). Adult sexual assault: Prevalence, symptomatology, and sex differences in the general population. Journal of traumatic stress, 17(3), 203-211.]

    If you accept all these results, we might put them together and tentatively conclude (as the various authors did):

    1) Men, or at least adolescent boys, are more resilient to “low-level” sexual harassment, possibly because they’re more accustomed to a more aggressive social style where inflicting and receiving such harassment is just part of everyday interaction with your acquaintances. This does not seem to be true for more severe sexual assaults, however.

    2) Men, or at least adolescent boys, are more likely to react behaviorally to sexual assault, but girls/women are more likely to react with conscious, verbalized distress and emotional problems. For this reason, you’ll probably underestimate the traumatic impact of sexual assault on men if all you do is ask them how they’re feeling about it.

    3) In the West, most boys and men are particularly traumatized by sexual harassment or assault that targets their orientation–e.g. being called gay, or being assaulted by another man. This is possibly because they have specific coping mechanisms for heterosexual assault. In other words, a man who’s assaulted by a woman can explain away the experience in a halfway positive manner–he’s such a stud that he seduced her without even meaning to! Given time, he may be able to convince himself that he did mean to, because men always want sex with women, right? But a man who’s assaulted by another man can’t tell himself that he was being seductive and desirable, or that would make him gay/feminine; and if he admits to himself that he was not being seductive and his attacker simply dominated him, that makes him a weakling. Either way, his self-image takes a huge hit.

    That said, if there’s one bulletproof study that really nails down these points, I don’t personally know about it.

    – however, the law cannot take the position that rape is less criminal when done to men, lest it make the lives of those men worse by becoming obstructive to their legal recourse, or even dismissive of their experience.

    Agreed. It is not helpful to base conviction or sentencing on whether the victim of a crime was really, properly, traumatized about it. That way lies endless arguments about whether a rape victim really wanted it, or is a bad girl/boy so they can’t have suffered the way a good girl/boy would have. Neither female nor male victims should have to go through that…although of course they very often do.

  49. Schala says

    The big, glaring exception to this is that boys generally find it far more upsetting to be called gay than girls do. In fact, boys tend to rank that as worse than any other kind of harassment, including physical groping.

    My explanation:

    Boys are raised to expect horseplay, lack of boundaries and respect of personal space, insult and even being punched, but being called gay implies being unmasculine (by it being tied to effeminacy), thus being a non-man (failing at being a “proper man”). It degenders, and that hurts most people, not just trans people.

    Degendering cis women is much harder since they don’t have to prove anything except owning a vagina to qualify for womanhood (and this is presumed without proof, most of the time).

  50. Schala says

    But a man who’s assaulted by another man can’t tell himself that he was being seductive and desirable, or that would make him gay/feminine

    If a guy doesn’t see himself as seductive to women, he doesn’t see himself as seductive to men either, likely. Though he likely underestimates his seductiveness by the level of feedback he receives about it (none from women, and gay men are a small minority and they’re unlikely to be overt if they don’t know orientation of the recipient).

    Thus it’s not femmephobia, it’s saying “nope, impossible, anyone who thinks I’m handsome must have something fucked in their brain”.

  51. Lucy says

    Being forced to penetrate and being forcibly penetrated are not the same thing. Never has been, never will be. Being forced to do something by somebody weaker than yourself is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody stronger than yourself. Being forced to do something by somebody with malevolent intentions is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody with benign intentions.

    That’s why a lot of men forget it and no women do.

  52. Darren Ball says

    Lucy 54
    Although I agree that forced-to-penetrate is not necessarily the same as being raped (but I’m open to persuasion on this), your explanations are the daftest contribution to this whole thread so far.

    “Being forced to do something by somebody weaker than yourself is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody stronger than yourself.”

    In order for the man to be forced to penetrate he must be in the weaker position. Perhaps she has a weapon, or friends to help, or perhaps she just happens to be stronger than he is. Whatever it is, the one doing the forcing must be in the stronger position.

    “Being forced to do something by somebody with malevolent intentions is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody with benign intentions.”

    What makes you think her intentions are benign ,or indeed any different from those of a male rapist? Forcing somebody to perform a sexual act against their will is NEVER benign.

  53. Archy says

    “Being forced to penetrate and being forcibly penetrated are not the same thing. Never has been, never will be. Being forced to do something by somebody weaker than yourself is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody stronger than yourself. Being forced to do something by somebody with malevolent intentions is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody with benign intentions.

    That’s why a lot of men forget it and no women do.”

    Your belief is beyond offensive. Being forced to do something against your will is bad, no matter what. Do you think it’s less bad when women are raped unconcscious too?

    “benign intentions.”

    Yes, because rapists have benign intentions right? “Sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I just wanted something you didn’t wanna do for me.”…..

    Ugh.

  54. StillGjenganger says

    @AntonMates
    Very good and informative contribution. Thanks.

    It is not helpful to base conviction or sentencing on whether the victim of a crime was really, properly, traumatized about it.

    That is true, but only as far as regards the individual case. When we decide on laws, behaviour rules, and appropriate punishments, it is not only reasonable but necessary to consider how traumatised people in general are by the behaviour we are looking at.

    If men are much more used to dealing in ‘low-level’ harassment’ – and much less traumatised by it – than women are, the appropriate level of condemnation, criminalisation, and punishment is lower for men than for women. We then have to decide whether to have rules that depend on the gender of the victim (why not – if they have different vulnerabilities on the average?), or whether to set the rules so that they fit men or women better or are equally unsatisfactory for both. We should not do what a lot of MRAs seem to advocate, which is to accept a set of rules that is tailored to female sensibilities and insist unthinkingly that they should apply to men too.

  55. Holms says

    @47
    No I disagree. The point being made is that enjoyment or araousal is not equivalent to consent, as it is a purely physiological response with no conscious decsion on the part of the owner of said penis. Thus, Darren Ball’s comment at #27 “My reasoning was that being forced to penetrate somebody with one’s penis requires that at least your Old Man is willing, even if your brain isn’t.” is still a description of rape, regardless of arousal.

    #54
    Being forced to penetrate and being forcibly penetrated are not the same thing. Never has been, never will be. Being forced to do something by somebody weaker than yourself is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody stronger than yourself. Being forced to do something by somebody with malevolent intentions is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody with benign intentions.

    – You assume that physically overpowering someone through strength is the only way to rape.
    – You assume that men are always stronger than their partner.
    – You assume that all male rapists have malevolent intentions.*
    – Amazingly, you even assume that all female rapists have benign intentions what the fuck.

    Dear god, what a concentrated burst of damaging assumptions.

    *If we are talking about the physical act of forcing oneself onto another, then I think we can assume this to be malevolent by definition, which then applies to female rapists as well as male.. If instead we are talking about the internal thoughts of the attacker rather than the outward act, then the possibilty of benign intent applies to male rapists as well as female.

  56. Schala says

    We then have to decide whether to have rules that depend on the gender of the victim (why not – if they have different vulnerabilities on the average?), or whether to set the rules so that they fit men or women better or are equally unsatisfactory for both. We should not do what a lot of MRAs seem to advocate, which is to accept a set of rules that is tailored to female sensibilities and insist unthinkingly that they should apply to men too.

    Murder, assault, rape against men is *already* punished less often and less severely than the same against women.

    Murder assault, rape, by men, is *already* punished more often and more severely than the same by women.

    We also punish white people less, but punish people who commit crimes against white people more.

    We also punish rich people less, but punish people who commit crimes against rich people more.

    You’re basically asking people to write into law a bias that is already institutionalized. Even MORE in favor of women.

    That’s like putting into law that killing the poor is not as bad.

  57. Schala says

    Lucy is a notorious misandrist, who says deliberately provocative things, for no other reason than to troll (certainly not to debate or inform). Debating Lucy is like debating Carnation, or dirtywhiteboi. Talk to a wall, more chances to be listened. Also less dismissal from the wall.

  58. StillGjenganger says

    @Schala 59
    Well, men and women equally agree that murder is bad, so presumably would agree equally that it should be punished. Societies made of only white people or black people, of only rich people or poor people, would agree about what crime is, care equally about it, and punish it equally hard. So to the extent that there are inequalities here they are wrong and should be changed.

    But, following Anton Mates above, a purely male society would not see ‘low-level harassment’ as a particularly big deal, whereas a purely female society would see it as much more serious. I am not just talking about social norms here – according to Anton Mates, young men suffer less under ‘low-level harassment’ than young women do, apart from being more likely to dish it out. So single-sex societies would quite legitimately make different trade-offs between protecting victims and leaving people free to act, and would come up with laws that treated our ‘low-level harassment’ quite differently. A mixed-sex society then has to decide how to reconcile the different priorities that the two sexes have. There are various ways to do that – all I am saying is that the best system for one sex is not necessarily the best system for the other, and that we need to 1) agree what system is best for men, 2) negotiate to get as much of that as we can, instead of taking for granted that what feminism wants for women is what we should want for men as well.

    BTW, I am deliberately sticking to ‘low-level harassment’ to make my point and avoiding ‘assault’ and ‘rape’. Those terms are too loaded for dispassionate debate, and the contradiction that Darren Ball pointed out above makes it hard to keep track whether you are talking about a terrible and devastating experience (that may or may not be reflected accurately in some specific definition), or whatever falls within your definition (but may or may not be particularly devastating for each individual).

  59. mildlymagnificent says

    Lucy

    Being forced to penetrate and being forcibly penetrated are not the same thing. Never has been, never will be. Being forced to do something by somebody weaker than yourself is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody stronger than yourself. Being forced to do something by somebody with malevolent intentions is not the same as being forced to do something by somebody with benign intentions.

    Benign?

    I’d accept that not all women who force men to penetrate would qualify as the devil incarnate. Buuuuut, equally we surely would be completely wrong to presume that their intentions to force this person to do something they don’t want to do arise from the same benign origins as a conscientious parent insisting on sunscreen before playing outside or on eating veggies before you have any sweet treats. And let’s face it, there are some women, only a few but that’s a good thing, who are beyond the pale, absolutely horrible, manipulative, even violent, people that any man, woman or child would do well to stay away from.

    And just as in the the case of men, they may be a small proportion of the whole population of women, but they are a worry and often dangerous to the safety of the unfortunate people who get mixed up with them. Some of them seriously intend to demean, humiliate, and harm the men they treat this way.

    (One of the problems of being a feminist in this century is that we no longer make the claims of a century ago that women are innately better and more moral than men. Some women are quite capable of being absolutely awful, just as some men are.)

    StillGjenganger

    … a purely male society would not see ‘low-level harassment’ as a particularly big deal, whereas a purely female society would see it as much more serious. I am not just talking about social norms here – according to Anton Mates, young men suffer less under ‘low-level harassment’ than young women do, apart from being more likely to dish it out.

    I’m not so sure about that. Let’s presume for the sake of argument that men and women could generally agree on what was and wasn’t “low level harassment”. Having done that, let’s look at what women complain of when they’re talking about such incidents. You might have to re-sort your memories and perceptions of what women have said to do this. What you’ll find is that, regardless of where any particular woman has drawn the line between “low-level” and other more serious, disgusting or threatening, incidents, the worst of it is the repeated, relentless, constant all day every day, anywhere and everywhere, inescapable nature of it.

    If you managed somehow or other to get men, young or otherwise, to see what it’s like to deal with or ignore or fend off several such “low-level” incidents each and every time they left the house for a week or a fortnight they might change their views. It’s a bit like not being able to relax while you can hear a tap dripping or a mosquito or fly buzzing. It recedes into the background from time to time but whenever you turn a page of your book or resettle yourself more comfortably in your chair, there it is again, still there, still annoying. Same for the street, bus, train, workplace harassment. You learn to keep your eyes down on a book when you’re sitting, then to keep constantly alert when you’re walking, to avoid certain places at various times, and still someone can always manage to get your attention or grab at you or tell you to smile or brush up against you ‘accidentally’ as you board or leave public transport or walk through a shop or an office.

    It’s a bit like the classic theme of water torture. Nobody cares much about a single drip of water down a collar or on the face. Constant drip … drip … drip and just as you think you’ve got used to it or away from it, drip, drip again. That’s a different matter entirely.

  60. StillGjenganger says

    @Schala 60
    Not so. Lucy is a consistent and constructive debater who defends her opinions honestly (most of the time). She just has an unusual ideology, viz. that men and women are inherently different groups, and that women have been suppressed pretty much since homo erectus and can and should develop a specific women-only culture for themselves alone. (If I am misrepresenting you, Lucy, please correct me). Needless to say I disagree with most things she says, but it is good to have her point of view represented on the forum. And she is both more polite and more straightforward to debate with than some others I could mention.

  61. Darren Ball says

    mildlymagnificent @62

    “I’d accept that not all women who force men to penetrate would qualify as the devil incarnate.”

    Forcing somebody against their will to perform a sexual act is always pretty bad though, wouldn’t you say?

  62. StillGjenganger says

    @Mildly 62
    I think we are talking at cross-purposes.
    As I read Anton Mates post he is saying that men tend to view as fairly normal and bearable many of the same behaviours that women view as harassment and unacceptable. Which fits with my vague and general thinking, let us say. That means, exactly, that men and women could not ‘agree about what constitutes low-level harassment’ – because that would imply that they judge the behaviour in the same way. As I understand you, you are saying that men and women agree about what behaviour is acceptable – but women just get much higher doses of the bad stuff. I doubt that is how things are.

    I cannot speak for harassment-like interaction – I move in very genteel circles where people do not read page 3 – but (according to my guru, Tannen), there are some things that many women find a continuous trial, that to me are so normal I do not even notice them. Things like always challenging each other a bit, competing for status in who get listened to, who tells the jokes, how much respect you claim and how much you are accorded, … I think that for a number of other things the difference is not that men get so much less, but that they find a lot of it so normal that they do not even notice, let alone make a big deal about it.

    Can I give you anecdote?
    Sharing a lift with a group of mostly female colleagues in a research-heavy company.
    Female colleague [nice person with a rather provocative style] “Well we were discussing whether women could rape men, so maybe we should try to rape you”?
    Me [deadpan]: “OK, go ahead.”
    Colleague: [Slightly bemused pause]. “But I thought you were married?”
    Me: “Yes, but I said you could try. I did not say I would cooperate”.
    [Lift opens, people disperse smiling.]
    As I see it, I won that round of banter. But it is all one-upmanship anyway – it is clear that nobody is going to rape anybody, and you are just sending the ball back and forth across the net. If I had been left at loss for words, having to say “please don’t!”, or (with irritation) “Hey, it is getting a bit too intense here!” I would feel I had lost the round, but I would still not be getting raped. It could get trying, of course, but you could deal with a lot before it became a problem.
    OK, I would not have appreciated that one from my boss, but then she was a weirdo anyway.

  63. mildlymagnificent says

    As I understand you, you are saying that men and women agree about what behaviour is acceptable – but women just get much higher doses of the bad stuff. I doubt that is how things are.

    Not quite. (I thought I’d have problems putting this notion into words.)

    What I’m saying is that even if men and women can agree on quality of harassment – what individual incidents of harassment would count as trivial, low-level, insubstantial or whatever, the problem for women would still remain. The sheer quantity of those trivial incidents – the relentless repetition and the inescapable knowledge that today is going to be just like yesterday and the hundreds of days before that.

    The classic example is “Smile!” Anyone and everyone might agree that someone urging you to “Smile!” on the street or the bus is, in and of itself, a trivial interruption to a walk or a journey. (By the way I don’t agree. You have no way of knowing whether a stranger is unwell or upset or their car needs expensive repairs or their dog just died or their BFF is moving overseas – or fifteen people in the last hour have already told them to “Smile!”.) But I’ll pretend to agree for the purpose of the discussion. Could this theoretical group of men and women who’ve agreed up to this point then agree on a further point?

    How many times per week, per day, per hour, per shift at work, per journey would interruptions and harassments of a trivial, low-level quality need to be repeated to add up to a problem because of the quantity?
    3 times in a week. OK. This is tedious, but I’ll survive.
    3 times in a day. Oh God, not again.
    3 times in an hour. What’s wrong with people?
    3 times in a journey. That’s it! I need another way to get to work.

    It’s not just the worse effects of the bad stuff. It’s the constant feed of the trivial stuff.

    Remember, the dose makes the poison.

  64. StllGjenganger says

    @Mildly 66
    That does sound maddening, but I cannot connect to what you say because I cannot conceive how it could happen at all. Where I live nobody ever talks to strangers. The only way I can imagine this is as an extreme example of cultural mismatch. As in this kind of high-interference style is normal where you live (and those Americans are even more bloody invasive than the stereotypes say). If so, the people who grew up there would be used to it and treat this kind of episode on autopilot – and quite likely feel snubbed if everybody ignored them. The only ones who would suffer are those who grew up under a different system, and those very few people whose peculiar personality just cannot adapt to that particular style. If that were the case, emigrating to England should solve the problem – on a London commuter train nobody ever comes up and says ‘smile!’.

    Is this actually a real example? Because I suspect I am not getting it.

  65. Ange2 says

    @StllGjenganger 67

    ” If that were the case, emigrating to England should solve the problem – on a London commuter train nobody ever comes up and says ‘smile!’”

    I think you don’t notice it because it doesn’t happen to you – I live in London, and this happens to me (I’m female). I don’t get it as much now – my guess being because I am older and fatter now – but there was a point in my teens and 20s where I got told to “smile” pretty much every day. Or had people touch my hair without asking, or once had some guy I’d never seen before kiss me on the cheek.

    So you are entirely wrong when you say that this doesn’t happen in England – it most certainly does. (And not just to me either. I could probably get similar stories from almost any woman I know).

  66. mildlymagnificent says

    I’m not American, I’m Australian – and it’s happened to me. Not often, but it has happened.

    I used the Smile! example because there are some folks who do it to lots of people, mostly women, plenty of adolescents/children and to men as well. It’s also – for the purposes of the discussion I was envisaging – pretty innocuous to onlookers. (Even though one of the times it happened to me, I was really tired/upset by something and it nearly provoked me into tears on the street. Hence my refusal to consider it innocuous.)

    The other “low-level” harassments were more along the catcalling, leering, looming, smirking, talking to the breasts, grabbing, groping and rubbing – explicitly sexual things where it might be more difficult to draw the classification lines between:-
    1. Trivial, tolerable. 2. Annoying, irritating. 3. Threatening, intimidating. 4. Disgusting.

    And I’ve deliberately omitted the insults and bad temper escalations when you’re uppity enough to tell the offender to put a sock in it, when something that you might have ignored yesterday or tomorrow has grated too much because This Time Is Once Too Often. Then, all of a sudden, you’re in real danger of some form of assault.

    As for this sort of thing not being so common in England? I can’t find the item/comment now but I read someone yesterday talking about groping on the London underground. It was so common that it became a social convention. Woman grabs a hand that’s on her bottom/leg/whatever, raises it in the air, shouts Groper! … and the rest of the carriage slow claps and whistles in appreciation. How common do you think it got before women generally felt safe and supported in doing that in a carriage full of strangers? Speaking from my own experience, groping in public places always left me speechless and immobilised.

  67. says

    Woman grabs a hand that’s on her bottom/leg/whatever, raises it in the air, shouts Groper! … and the rest of the carriage slow claps and whistles in appreciation. How common do you think it got before women generally felt safe and supported in doing that in a carriage full of strangers? Speaking from my own experience, groping in public places always left me speechless and immobilised.

    I am not sure whether how commong groping is has any effect on how safe women feel calling out the groper as in your example. Could you explain your line of thought on this?

  68. mildlymagnificent says

    For me, and for many others I’ve read online, freezing in slack-jawed disbelief is a very common reaction to groping.

    It’s a bit like thinking of the exact pithy response that might have sealed an argument – but half an hour later when you needed it in 30 seconds or less. Same thing for the groping. It takes a good 10 mins or more for the initial shock to wear off – and it’s only then that you can start to think of what you might have said or done as an effective response. It’s usually a quick and/or concealed thing. In a crowded train or on a crowded footpath, it’s often near impossible to work out who did what anyway.

    What I was getting at with that socially mediated process is that there must have been A Lot Of Discussion among women, and presumably some men, so that more women didn’t have the freeze-in-shock reaction and also were ready, willing and able to go through with a predetermined reaction that they’d heard about from others.

    Personally, I’d be a bit reluctant to call out a groper in some circumstances, but in a train or bus full of commuters where the problem and the response was already well-known – I’d be willing to risk it. Thinking of other times where I was targeted, I’m pretty certain of at least one where I wouldn’t dare.

    He was a big bloke who worked in the same office but not actually with me. He had a bad reputation for violence against men – but never in the office. I and another bloke had actually worked out one day just how many people we knew of from our, admittedly large, several hundred strong, office that he’d actually punched – we quit when we got to 13. I couldn’t be sure that he wouldn’t hit me, and if I’d told any of the others in our mostly men group and they took it up with him, I was fairly sure that he _would_ hit them and/or make life more difficult for me in dealing with him in the future. Getting back to the group and pretending it never happened was the least worst option available.

    When it comes to bars and parties when people are drinking (and Australians of my age have a well-earned reputation for drinking a lot) if anyone grabbed or groped me I’d just avoid them for the rest of the evening rather than risk escalating. (I usually mean breasts/upper body for grabbing and groin/leg area for groping.)

  69. Schala says

    A mixed-sex society then has to decide how to reconcile the different priorities that the two sexes have. There are various ways to do that – all I am saying is that the best system for one sex is not necessarily the best system for the other, and that we need to 1) agree what system is best for men, 2) negotiate to get as much of that as we can, instead of taking for granted that what feminism wants for women is what we should want for men as well.

    I would suggest using the higher standard (ie until it starts bothering men), or we get Donglegate, and it will inevitably be happening because of a woman being offended, possibly at something innocuous.

    Why does my suggestion make sense? Because otherwise people will be more wary of hiring women, and *really* get a “boy’s club” in tech because of it. Nobody wants to hire someone who will make the climate go from casual to 1984.

  70. george says

    lucy

    lucy made my point….she jumped onto me,I failed to perform,or please her..so she stormed off,I was the stronger one,so I’m hardly gona see it as “force” I just saw it as failure to perform due to feeling ill that day,and i don’t see it any different today.

  71. StillGjenganger says

    @Ange2, Mildly

    OK, I stand corrected. I am a little curious how the phenomenon works exactly, seeing as It is so against normal UK rules and seems to be limited to some groups. Pickup/conversation opener? The personal space of children and youngsters not being respected like that of mature adults? But that is getting off topic.

    For the rest, it depends on what we are taking about. There is clearly a cline here, from innocuous (if sometimes irritating) through insensitive and obnoxious to illegal.At the lower levels 1) it is a matter of mores and manners, not morality; 2) saying ‘smile’ is either wrong or acceptable – you cannot know beforehand how the target will feel about it. And banning it completely because a few people some of the time find it objectionable is not proportionate.

  72. mildlymagnificent says

    StillGjenganger

    2) saying ‘smile’ is either wrong or acceptable – you cannot know beforehand how the target will feel about it. And banning it completely because a few people some of the time find it objectionable is not proportionate.

    1. Nobody’s talking about a “ban”. The issue is whether this sort of behaviour, unsolicited remarks and other actions, is or isn’t a polite, respectful thing to do. If it isn’t polite or respectful, what makes it acceptable.

    2. Do you think the consideration I was talking about – the dose makes the poison – should affect the way men think about doing these things? Quite apart from not knowing how any given person might feel about a “Smile!” or a “Pretty girl” or a “Woo hoo” in isolation, not knowing how many times today, this week, this hour a woman has already been on the receiving end of unsolicited remarks or leering looks should influence everyone’s behaviour. Or shouldn’t it?

  73. says

    mildlymagnificent:

    Thank you for explaining your line of thoughts for me. I certainly do see and agree with your point about how a certain amount of discourse/awareness is needed for more people to overcome the initial freeze reaction. I have experienced that personally and hence that is one of the reasons why I think rising awareness of male rape is important and why I write as much about it as I do.

    An increase in discussion is a good thing as you point out, but the increase in discussion doesn’t necessarily come from an increase in groping incidents as you hint at with:

    How common do you think it got before women generally felt safe and supported in doing that…

    I suspect it is important to identify the reasons why discussions about these issues are more common. If we know that we can foster them more and thus empowering even more women and men to not just accept what happens to them.

  74. Adiabat says

    Mildlymagnificent (75):

    The issue is whether this sort of behaviour, unsolicited remarks and other actions, is or isn’t a polite, respectful thing to do.

    It’s not polite or respectful, but it’s not impolite and disrespectful either. Some people enjoy striking up a conversation with strangers, others don’t. Neither is right or wrong.

    not knowing how many times today, this week, this hour a woman has already been on the receiving end of unsolicited remarks… should influence everyone’s behaviour.

    I don’t really see how that is practicable. If only we had something, such as commonly recognised conversation starters, which people can say indicating a wish to strike up a conversation and the other person can respond to in similarly commonly recognised ways to indicate whether they wish to have that conversation. If only.

  75. StillGjenganger says

    @Mildly 75
    1) ‘Ban’ was sloppy language, sorry. I only meant to distinguish whether these things should be seen as in principle acceptable or unacceptable. Though I guess I am a bit hypersensitive that once some things are on the books as unacceptable, they are going to be classed as sexual harassment, campaigned against, be made grounds for firing, etc. etc.

    2) Unfortunately I disagree. Adiabat 77 gets it exactly right, I think. Whether we are talking about talking to strangers, hate speech, gender stereotypes, or whatever, the social rules will tend to suit the majority. People whose sensibilities are very different will be at a disadvantage, but beyond a certain point they cannot expect that the rules must be adapted specifically to them. In general, any social or legal rule comes with a trade-off: the aggravation to everybody it costs to enforce it, against the aggravation, maybe more serious but to fewer people, it costs to not have it.There are costs on both sides. My Italian wife already thinks the English are cold, rude, standoffish and weird – making it even more taboo to interact with strangers will make her feel even less at home here.

  76. mildlymagnificent says

    I know we were discussing CDC stats, but I thought this report about the dire inaccuracies and omissions of the FBI data is worth noting. http://www.thenation.com/article/180441/how-did-fbi-miss-over-1-million-rapes

    The most important feature of the “missing” rapes is that the researchers deliberately stayed with the original FBI 1927 rape definition. So rape involving drugs or alcohol is excluded, as is rape of men, as is any non “forcible” rape. And they still found that a million of that very restricted range of rapes were very likely reported but were not correctly recorded or were completely eliminated from any records at all. Maybe clearing that 400000 backlog of rape kits might get some new thinking and some real action on this.

  77. says

    @MM

    I believe you’re mistaken in a couple of areas. From the NISVS, which we’re reviewing for material for our election manifesto:

    “• Rape is defined as any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent. Rape is separated into three types, completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration and completed alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.
    –Among women, rape includes vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes vaginal or anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.
    –Among men, rape includes oral or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.”

  78. Nathanael says

    Very interesting. The drop in rape rates starts in 1992, which is right around when the children born in 1974 are turning 18. If we assume most rapists are adults, I would hypothesize that feminist childrearing (which largely started in the 1970s in the US) seems to have vastly reduced the number of men who rape women.

    Good.

    Now we’re left with, well, what I can call a *different* rape problem from the one in the early 1970s and before. If most rapists are now using alcohol or drugs to knock out their victims (as they appear to be, from studies) there’s no particular reason to think that men would be less likely to get raped, or that women would be less likely to commit rape…. unfortunately. Drug knockout is a pretty gender-neutral tool.

    From the comments, mildlymagnificent wrote: “If you managed somehow or other to get men, young or otherwise, to see what it’s like to deal with or ignore or fend off several such “low-level” incidents each and every time they left the house for a week or a fortnight they might change their views.”
    Been there, dealt with that in middle school.

    I have zero tolerance for *harassment* of any sort. Harassment is, specifically, bothering the same person *repeatedly* (go look it up in an old dictionary if you don’t believe me).

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *