A man's account, alleging sexual assault at hands of two perpetrators in a public restroom has raised some very important questions. Why are cases of male rape not treated with similar seriousness as that of the opposite gender? Why is it difficult for men to report and speak about rape than it is for women? And more importantly, does the social idea of masculinity lead men to gas-light themselves, and blur out their horrifying ordeals from their conscience?
- A man’s account of being allegedly raped in a public restroom raises so many questions.
- Why is it more difficult for men to speak up about facing sexual assault?
- Why do men see rape as loss of their masculinity?
- In a country where women have a hard time speaking up about sexual crimes, is it a surprise that men chose to remain mum about it?
Does the social idea of masculinity lead men to gas-light themselves, and blur out their horrifying ordeals from their conscience?
But the most heartbreaking part of his account is when he writes about his cluelessness regarding whether what happened to him was rape or not. Though in a country where it is hard for girls and women to speak up about sexual assault, does it come as a surprise that this boy is struggling to tell his ordeal and approach the police? This is the patriarchal society people worship, which doesn’t stand by either its favoured gender not the one it considers secondary, when it comes to sexual crimes? Who is responsible if a male victim of rape keeps quite or refuses to take legal action against his perpetrators, as it would hurt his masculine image in the society and lead to social shaming?
Though in a country where it is hard for girls and women to speak up about sexual assault, does it come as a surprise that this boy is struggling to tell his ordeal and approach the police?
While we need to have more conversations around sexual crimes faced by women, it is equally true that we don’t even properly address the fact that men get raped too. Rape is not just about gender, it is about predatory behaviour, which thrives on power dynamics between two people. The reverence of toxic masculinity has led men to believe that women get raped because they are physically weak. How can it happen to them, the stronger gender then? This also leads to the association of rape with not just loss of dignity but masculinity. In some weirdly contorted interpretation of gender stereotypes, people believe that a man who is a survivor of sexual crime is less masculine.
These stigmas keep men from speaking up about sexual assaults. There is a reason why we haven’t heard a single male voice in past one year under the #MeToo Movement in India. Men have a much harder time not just speaking up about rape, but gaining attention and support from those around them. Do we realise the kind of impact such a struggle can have on someone’s mental health? How they may have to carry the baggage of assault for a lifetime and constantly battle their own conscience, against their stereotypical conditioning, when it comes to accepting that what happened to them was a sexual assault?
I sincerely hope that this man's account gives many more male survivors the courage to speak up and seek justice. That is the only way we can normalise any conversation around male rape. After all acceptance of the fact that rape can happen to men too is the first step to help survivors heal and get justice.
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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.