The author then notes some controversy that erupted about yet another TV show that featured ‘grey rape’ of a woman character and the ensuing feminist caterwauling that took place about consent, rape culture, and sexual violence. Popular magazines then hurried to put ink on the page in support of arguments in favour of it being viewed as rape, and against it being seen as rape – there was no shortage of voices in the mosh pit of public opinion.
An official survey of the office here elicited quick initial affirmations that a guy can be raped by a woman. When it was presented that the woman was the one being penetrated by the unwilling male, and with the question of arousal a necessary precondition for penetration, the affirmations began to waver, especially in light of my obvious intent to reverse the scenario – then there was waffling and uncertainty. An argument emerged along the lines that you can become reluctantly ‘willing’ via persuasion, persistence, stroking, touching etc – in spite of initially saying no, but if you are aroused enough to get an erection, then it is no longer unwilling – right? Then an example from a fictional movie titled Thursday was presented where a married man was captive, tied up, and the woman elicited an erection, via fellatio, and then proceeded to climb on top and achieved penetration – that was agreed as being rape because it seems that male arousal, in that situation was not consensual, it was a part of the autonomic nervous system. It was involuntary arousal, and that was it, that’s what I was looking for, it’s possible for a man to be brought to an erection and ejaculation against his will because of our autonomic response system. Thus the view of rape as an act of penetration is erroneous, and naively misguided in spite of its legal convenience.
But the gist of the argument presented in the Atlantic article was about the lack of reaction to the rape, and the failure by the media and social commentators to see the event as rape. What teenage hetrosexual guy doesn’t want to have sex right? Part of the explanation provided was because it wasn’t graphic enough, which is telling, because unless something is extreme then society isn’t able to focus on an event – but that’s another issue in its own right. A lot of it has to do with perspective, expressly that only men can be rapists, which is simply not true.
Another interesting point made in the article was the dubious, yet official definition of rape as “limited to being penetrated [which] rests on the assumption that only feminine bodies are raped, and, conversely, only masculine bodies commit rape.” The author, Abigail Rine, pointed out a society wide preconception, “that in order to be raped, a person must be forced into the feminine position of being penetrated, and in order to commit a rape, a person must have either a penis or a penis proxy.” Rine cites statistics that in the last 12 months 1.1% of men had been forced to penetrate, which is the same percentage of women that were estimated to have been raped in the same period. Wow. Rine argues for a different definition of rape, from being penetrated, to being forced to have sex against one’s will. She points out that fictional entertainment characters helps to, “highlight how troubling gender myths influence our awareness of sexual violence and often render male victims invisible. In our culture, male sexuality is overwhelmingly depicted as powerful, dominant, invulnerable, and sexually insatiable.”
I would also point out the same type of mentality is evident in violence against men by women. It is portrayed as funny, a cheap laugh, whether it’s Penny kicking a guy in the balls on Big Bang Theory, or Robert De Niro getting punched in the face by his wife, and then his ex-wife in the 2013 movie The Wedding. If the scenario was reversed with Penny getting kicked in the vagina would it be as funny? If Robert De Niro punched his fictional wife and then later in the movie he punched his ex-wife in the face – would it get the same laughs and giggles? Doubtful – what it would get is vociferous reaction, and the knowing nods of condemnation from wider society.
Funny isn’t it?