My first real post, guys!! Hopefully it isn't my last OH GOD. THIS IS SO SCARY.
I don't know if you guys have read this Jez article yet (http://jezebel.com/men-are-victim…), but it's GT and it's been up for more than 20 minutes so let's all assume we're all refreshing the mainpage and this page like crazy by now, looking for new materials.
There's a thread at the top going on concerning whether focus on male sexual assault victims comes at any price to female sexual assault victims, and it's one I find interesting. My instinct is to say "NAAAAHHH." because all rape is horrible, we want (as feminists) to treat male sexual assault victims with the equal protection we would extend to female assault victims, of course. The original commenter on this thread seems to take the same stance, though he/she may have suffered for a second from "hot posting", which is when you get heated about a detail and decide it's worth a post, only to have to defend everything you stand for later to a group of commenters calling you out. I think the main issue though, is male sexual assault covered well-enough? Could it be adopted as an issue for MRA's to use against female sexual assault victims? Those issues are worth discussing (so please do!)
What's surprising is the number of people in that thread who seem to creep out of nowhere (Jezebel nowhere, that is...maybe they're coming from the Esquire comment threads?) all, "Hey! I totally agree! Down with coverage of male sexual assault victims!"
It's funny because my friend saw The Invisible War a while back, a great and heartbreaking documentary about sexual assault in the military, and we basically got into an argument because he said this was the gravest civil rights issue of our time (rape) and I said the civil rights issues of previous times were still the biggest civil rights issues of our times, especially since people who suffer terribly from systematic racism are also subject to abuses like sexual assault, so it's kind of more of an umbrella issue (another post for another time, but in the meantime, anyone read The New Jim Crow? fuck, that book changed my LIFE). However, I also, very strangely, started to get kind of mad at this guy because I have always kind of railed on and on about sexual assault as a civilian issue, and hadn't gotten much of a response. This felt like fair-weather advocacy (I realize now that any advocacy is great, but it was 2:00 am and we were drunk so irrational anger was easy to summon). He kept talking about "Women in the military this, women who are assaulted by officers that, and those WOMEN who need the help of an independent agency capable of investigating the court cases so as to avoid bias and cover-ups". I heard women 1,000 times in that conversation, and not once did I hear "men".
I got mad. I asked him about the rates of sexual assault for men vs. women as presented by the documentary. We both knew more men were assaulted in absolute values, but the chances of women being assaulted were much higher (higher rates for women). I asked him then about the number of women interviewed for the documentary who were victims , and number of family members/witnesses who knew female victims. It was higher, undeniably. I accused him, and this is the pretty shameful part, of "paternalizing the issue of rape in the military" (yikes, me). Basically, I felt like he was trying to make it into a women's issue rather than one of straightforward abuse, which would definitely not only lend credence to the argument that women can't pragmatically serve but also seems to at least somewhat push the pain and suffering of male victims to the peripherals. I hate when people try to compare trauma by saying one group is inherently more vulnerable than another. The logic works for a population like prisoners, because being in prison, members of this group have much less access to help from the help-giving institutions of society as well as the members of society themselves, and often these victims elicit a lot less sympathy/understanding in general. But it almost felt like this friend of mine wanted to say that being a woman in the military was akin to being stuck in a prison- that women would need help from outsiders (let'sberealMEN) in order to get the help they deserve. This drove me nuts, as the issue has been an issue throughout the history of all militaries, most of which were traditionally 100% comprised of men. Why was it only the women who were being assaulted who needed the help of outsiders? Why wasn't a committee to address this issue made until after women had joined and become part of the systematic abuse?
Now of course, there are practical reasons for this; men were highly stigmatized by the assault, to the point that they wouldn't report at all. Women entering the military might reflect an opening in the minds of the members and higher-ranking officials of the military, making it an environment in which the report of rape becomes more likely. Women deal with this fucking shit on a day-to-day basis pretty much all the time, so having to face another institutional stop-gap wasn't really going to prevent at least some reports. All in all, my friend and I both agreed by the end that we all need to worry about all rape, the kind that happens to every person, of every gender, and every color, in every situation (read: ALL RAPE MATTERS EQUALLY). However, I do think that this could be a touchy issue when it starts being integrated into media conversation (i.e. when The Atlantic posts its male-rape piece and Anne-Marie Slaughter chimes in about not being able to handle motherhood and rape advocacy and a whole new slew of feminist terms are invented...SPOILERS FOR MAD MEN IN THAT ARTICLE, BTW!!!!) What do you guys think? Sorry this was so long!!!
For good measure:
Military Sexual Trauma Facts: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/m…
National Help Hotline for victims: http://www.rainn.org/get-help/natio…
General rape stats: http://www.rainn.org/statistics
<3 y'all, GT!