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The Rape of Men
July 17, 2011 3:48 AM   Subscribe

"I don't want to tell him," says Jean Paul. "I fear he will say: 'Now, my brother is not a man.'" A report on a harrowing but little known tool of war - Male rape.
posted by AzzaMcKazza (46 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's heartbreaking that these men have nowhere to go for support or even to talk about what happened to them.

Often, she says, wives who discover their husbands have been raped decide to leave them. "They ask me: 'So now how am I going to live with him? As what? Is this still a husband? Is it a wife?' They ask, 'If he can be raped, who is protecting me?'

I suppose the perception that the victim is "not a man" and unable to protect his family is one of the reasons that rape is such a devastating tool of war. I'd be interested to know if a similar shame is attached to the female victims of rape as well -- perhaps not of being "less than a woman," but of being impure, dishonored, etc.

Atim has now seen so many male survivors that, frequently, she can spot them the moment they sit down. "They tend to lean forward and will often sit on one buttock," she tells me. "When they cough, they grab their lower regions. At times, they will stand up and there's blood on the chair. And they often have some kind of smell."

My God.
posted by DLWM at 5:00 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd be interested to know if a similar shame is attached to the female victims of rape as well -- perhaps not of being "less than a woman," but of being impure, dishonored, etc.


The short answer to this is yes, see this UN produced report (PDF). Of course regressive attitudes to rape are hardly restricted to African societies. However, there is also a genocidal aspect to the use of the rape of women as a weapon of war. This has been most discussed in relation to Darfur. Amnesty produced a report, a casesheet, and a leaflet on this in 2004 (listed in descending order of length). Over and above its traumatising and stigmatising effects, the distinguishing feature of genocidal rape is the intent to impregnate, leading to the birth of mixed-race children. This has its own stigma for the woman who has been rapes, but can also have effects on community cohesion more generally.
posted by howfar at 5:47 AM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


*who have been raped
posted by howfar at 5:56 AM on July 17, 2011


Geez...this is terrifying.
posted by Evernix at 5:58 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, couldn't finish that.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:05 AM on July 17, 2011


The part of genocidal rape of either gender not frequently discussed is that in the case of either gender rape, especially gang rape or the rape of very young people can make the reproductive future go away. In a young enough girl it can literally destroy her reproductive organs.
Another unstated issue in this article is that of AIDS. Male or female this is an issue.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:12 AM on July 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd be interested to know if a similar shame is attached to the female victims of rape as well -- perhaps not of being "less than a woman," but of being impure, dishonored, etc.
Yeah, definitely. But that's something that is widely discussed, and which people are trying to address, because it's widely acknowledged that rape of women is a common tool of war.
posted by craichead at 6:15 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was a good article about a group in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that helps victims of torture, and a lot of them also were raped (from what i've seen, adding the rape tends to have an additional level of trauma too, obviously), and the ones who reported it and have evidence were from all over. The ones doing it were also from everywhere, even our troops. This is a worrying trend, that every time i raised this with people who "know soldiers", they pull the "I know these people, and they would never do this." The denial and cover up is damaging to truth and stopping this. Every side in power feels justified to treat others this way, for some insane reason.

His captors raped him, three times a day, every day for three years. And he wasn't the only one. He watched as man after man was taken and raped. The wounds of one were so grievous that he died in the cell in front of him.

Jesus... This part really stood out to me. How many of us can even imagine that? I've had a couple years of abuse, not daily, and it messed me up. My best friend was gang raped for days, and it lead to her suicide. Three years, three times a day. How he made it that long i have no idea, but i hope he gets the help he needs and if possible some sense of justice or peace some day.
posted by usagizero at 6:24 AM on July 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


.
posted by jb at 6:58 AM on July 17, 2011


Simply horrific.
posted by arcticseal at 7:15 AM on July 17, 2011


And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
posted by punkfloyd at 7:36 AM on July 17, 2011


It's not really even about war, and it certainly isn't unknown in our own country. It wasn't that long ago that cops in the US were sodomizing arrested men with broomstick handles.

It's all just so horrible and angering. Truly the basest part of our brutal collective psyche made manifest.
posted by hippybear at 7:41 AM on July 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


What kills me is that the same systemic rape and torture of men happens every single day inside American prisons.

And yet, we not only don't react with the same horror (I don't mean MeFi, necessarily, but society), we let our television writers make jokes about it near-constantly when a police detective is interviewing a male suspect. It sickens me that we refuse to acknowledge and correct this "barbarous and widespread aspect of American culture".
posted by pineapple at 7:46 AM on July 17, 2011 [45 favorites]


I'm glad that this is receiving attention, though horrified to hear it. But then it doesn't really surprise me. Male rape in prisons is well-known, after all. Hardly surprising that prisoners of war would endure it too. And torturers are not known for holding back from anything that will hurt their victims.
posted by emjaybee at 7:47 AM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


This was eye opening and disturbing.

You know, sometimes I wish aliens would invade Earth so we could all stop fighting among ourselves and work together for once. It seems the human capacity for violence against fellow humans is unlimited.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:48 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yet again, I feel sick at heart and wonder why people rape. I think killing is actually more understandable to me than rape. Although I personally believe all cruelties are soul destroying, at least I can comprehend how someone could use a gun or bomb to destroy others at a remove. But rape is up close and personal.

I will add from my many years of dealing with rape and other sexual assault in the criminal justice system that typically the rapists I've met use one of two types of thought distortion -- denial or an insistence that the victim really wanted/consented to the assault. But how could either of these defenses work for wartime rapists?
posted by bearwife at 8:23 AM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think, bearwife, that these are typically instances in which there are a lot of other horrific abuses going on. The perpetrators just want to hurt and terrorize the victims using any method at their disposal. Rape is a subset of torture, basically, which is chosen because the perpetrators know that the victims and their communities will find it particularly degrading. So the question is really why people do terrible things to civilians and POWs during war, and I'm not going to pretend to have an answer to that.
posted by craichead at 8:52 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the question is really why people do terrible things to civilians and POWs during war, and I'm not going to pretend to have an answer to that.

I think the why is easy: they are soldiers and they're commanded to do these things. These kinds of atrocities don't happen without organized military and political forces behind them.

The question I find difficult is how do soldiers do terrible things to civilians. How is it that normal people can be turned into soldiers that will do such things?

I think alot of it has to do with socialization within various military groups: the normalization of killing, the emphasis on group cohesion, the submersion of identity into formalized role. And too, once a line has been crossed: the potent bonds of complicity and the sense of no return.

Also, I think there's something to be said for the role the stigmatization of the victim plays in the mitigation of guilt or responsibility on a psychological level. If the victim has suffered a "social death" and no longer exists in the relevant moral universe of the perpetrator then in many ways the crime no longer exists as well.
posted by jammy at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


How is it that normal people can be turned into soldiers that will do such things?

I found the follow-up interviews on the Stanford Experiment enlightening on this question. These were college kids who quickly — over the course of days — became abusive prison wardens. Now imagine years of cultural messaging about the military and political forces, and the rights of the dictators.
posted by pineapple at 9:24 AM on July 17, 2011


Thank you for the links howfar. And Katjusa Roquette, after reading those documents, I don't think it's quite fair to say that the extreme physical trauma resulting from war rape (both in terms of reproductive ability and spread of disease) is "unstated." It seems that those working to fight war rape are quite cognizant of and vocal about those issues.

Yeah, definitely. But that's something that is widely discussed, and which people are trying to address, because it's widely acknowledged that rape of women is a common tool of war.

I've certainly seen reports of the shaming of female rape victims in North Africa, the Middle East and Central/South Asia. I didn't realize it occurred in sub-Saharan Africa as well.

The original article seems to imply that the reason male rape victims are unable to receive any support or care is because of society-wide shaming and denial. In a culture that also shames female rape victims, how is it that the issue of war rape of female victims has become so widely-acknowledged? Is it because of the sheer magnitude of war rape of women and girls compared to that of men and boys? Or because of efforts of international institutions (such as the UN, Amnesty, etc.) which focus more on female victims?

I'm just a bit shocked that I'd never heard reports of what seems to be such a large-scale issue.
posted by DLWM at 10:15 AM on July 17, 2011


We need a gom jabbar to test *everyone* ... this is the rot at the foundation of our societies.
posted by midnightscout at 10:23 AM on July 17, 2011


The question I find difficult is how do soldiers do terrible things to civilians. How is it that normal people can be turned into soldiers that will do such things?

Well, the comment above about "denial" points the way; basically it's related to "othering" i.e., mentally putting a group (prisoners, civilian enemies) in a group of "not us" or even "not human." It's a terrible mechanism in that it allows humans to turn off their empathy, to see the suffering of others and either disbelieve it (they're just looking for sympathy! They don't have feelings the way we do! She really wanted me to have sex with her!) or else think it's not important (they deserve to suffer for what they did! It's the only way we will humiliate them enough to ensure they will stop fighting!)

Once you have decided that another human being isn't quite as human as you, you open the door to brutality.
posted by emjaybee at 10:39 AM on July 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


For those who couldn't make it to the end you missed this:

Ignoring male rape not only neglects men, it also harms women by reinforcing a viewpoint that equates 'female' with 'victim', thus hampering our ability to see women as strong and empowered. In the same way, silence about male victims reinforces unhealthy expectations about men and their supposed invulnerability."
posted by salvia at 10:56 AM on July 17, 2011 [17 favorites]


This is just plain awful.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:13 PM on July 17, 2011


DLWM, in the DRC and elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, rape is entirely common and the number of husbands/families that refuse to allow a woman who has been raped back into their home, let alone to resume life as normal, has reached such epidemic levels that there are entire charities set up to try to convince these people to accept their raped family member. It's absolutely horrifying. There is a book, which is fiction but deals with the topic, called Who Fears Death - I recommend it.

Pineapple, you're right to remind us that this takes place here every day. I read the article without linking it together...and my family has first-hand experience with the abuse which runs rife in the prison system. I think the level of distance many of us have allows prison rape jokes to go unchecked and it is disgusting. Hell, even Family Guy has a character obsessed by child rape (not that FG is necessarily the high-water mark of good taste)...

I love Africa. I've lived there. But the things that happen there scare me.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:59 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


These kinds of atrocities don't happen without organized military and political forces behind them.

I don't believe this is true, depending on what you mean by "organized".
posted by Justinian at 5:39 PM on July 17, 2011


Rape (including gang-rape) happens within and across genders. Throughout history. Across cultures and locations. In species other than human. Between species other than human.

The drive underneath it is as primal as life. The way the drive is expressed, what is acceptable and what is not, may be culturally dictated. But rules and laws exist because norms continue to be violated.

I would like to say that, with love and learning, we can overcome these problems, but taken to an extreme that turns into 'barbarians need to be educated'.

But we are animals, and the potential for these behaviors exists within most of us. To consider them as part of some culture, or social structure, or physical location, is to place them outside of ourselves. There are consequences to that.

Chimps have been observed to gang-kill, with weapons, former members of their troop that had hived off into another troop. Those former members had become outsiders, 'not-us'. Making another an outsider, and commiting atrocities on them, is not a trait solely human.

To not treat someone from our own group as an outsider could be one of our finest qualities as humans. To have compassion.

To dehumanize those who dehumanize others may trap their victims by association. This is a concern, or opinion, that I offer with no real proof. But if it is true, the more vitriol we extend to those who offend, the less likely their victims will be able to find a way to heal.

Thank you for your patience in working through a very difficult subject.
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:01 PM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


edit: To not treat someone from outside our own group as an outsider
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:27 PM on July 17, 2011


Rape (including gang-rape) happens within and across genders.

Citations? I'd be interested to hear about these instances--"throughout history. Across cultures and locations", yet!--of groups of women raping men or other women.
posted by jokeefe at 10:02 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


How is it that normal people can be turned into soldiers that will do such things?

I don't even think they need to be turned into soldiers.

Over history, people merely need to be told other groups of people are pieces of shit that are evil, immoral, or subhuman in some way.

People seem gladly willing to do terrible things to people they are told are "terrible."
posted by The ____ of Justice at 11:09 PM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


"groups of women raping men or other women."

What do you define as rape? Penetration with a penis is obviously impossible, but woman-on-woman sexual assault via penetration with a foreign object is hardly unknown in war zones.
posted by jaduncan at 6:45 AM on July 18, 2011


woman-on-woman sexual assault via penetration with a foreign object is hardly unknown in war zones

Or hazing in private school cheerleading squads.
posted by phunniemee at 7:23 AM on July 18, 2011


Jokeef, this again would be mainly as a weapon of torture. Do you think female interrogators hold back on things that they know damage women, or that they don't appreciate that male prisoners will be especially traumatised when penetrated with a foreign object and/or otherwise sexually molested by a woman if they are religiously devout males who believe that mere contact with women not in their family makes them impure and traumatises them (see the use of menstrual fluid here, also)?

The Pentagon use this through admitted tactics like all female RIF squads at Gitmo (also see sexual assaults at Abu Ghraib, obviously, and that's the only place where people were dumb enough to leak their torture pics); I assume that you wouldn't think that Mossad don't talk to them about techniques, or that other US extraordinary rendition partners aren't prepared to go further than that. Or the ISI when breaking people. Etc, etc. When the weapon is rendered more powerful by the fact that women perform it, women tend to be the ones employed to do it.

It's less of a roam around grabbing people thing though, yes.
posted by jaduncan at 7:34 AM on July 18, 2011


Citations? I'd be interested to hear about these instances--"throughout history. Across cultures and locations", yet!--of groups of women raping men or other women.

This post is worthy of serious consideration, and I was concerned enough about a derail that I posted a question in Metatalk. The answer was a conditional go-ahead to comment here. Please understand that my specificity is a defense mechanism, a different way of dealing with my emotional reaction to the post.

More to follow.
posted by dragonsi55 at 7:38 AM on July 18, 2011


"throughout history. Across cultures and locations", yet!--

You are correct that this parses poorly. Let me make a couple of adjustments.

Rape (including gang-rape) happens. Within and across genders.

The branching of groups can be inferred; it makes no sense to talk about "Between species other than human" and "Across cultures" as having conjunctive meaning.

Also:
To consider them exclusively as part of some culture, or social structure, or physical location, is to place them outside of ourselves.

There are cultural differences; my meaning is that to attribute those behaviors solely to culture, society, etc., is insufficient.
posted by dragonsi55 at 7:50 AM on July 18, 2011


The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of United States rape victims were female and 9% were male, with 99% of the offenders being male and 1% of the offenders being female.

This, coupled with lack of reporting, make citations difficult for all the cases I stated.

Rape of females by males, and gang-rape of females by males, is all-too-well known through the news. Mass rape was usually a part of sacking a city in history; for example, see the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Gang-rape of males by males is the subject of this posting.

Gang-rape by females is more difficult to source. Working on HIV-AIDS education in prisons, these were alluded to but not made explicit. A quick Google search reveals two examples:

Female-on-male: Zimbabwe women raping men for ritual purposes.

Female-on-female: This article.

These are examples so show this does happen, but the search is killing my soul, so no more.
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:39 AM on July 18, 2011


NSFS

Other species:

Human-on-other (ancient)

Other-on-other
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:55 AM on July 18, 2011


What do you define as rape?

Another other-species-on-other I know of was a personal communication of a duck on a hen. The hen gave distress signals and attempted to escape; I interpret that as rape.

Also, other times and cultures have different interpretations. The Bible describes behaviors which would have people instantly arrested today.

we let our television writers make jokes about it

Humor is a way of dealing with incongruity and fear. Inappropriate is a near-synonym to incongruous, so humor is often about inappropriate behavior (see 'The Aristocrats'). Also, when we are afraid, the amygdala is highly active and can decrease the ability of the forebrain to attend to content. This is why, in mediation, we ask people to not yell; that overtly angry face is has priority of attention to the person being yelled at. While they assess the primary threat, the content of the communication is not attended to, so the person just knows the yeller is angry, but is less likely to understand why.

So humor, like categorizing the offender as an outsider (and like over-analyzing a situation, as I am doing), is another way to try to calm the emotions and let the forebrain come up with some objective way of handling the situation.
posted by dragonsi55 at 9:17 AM on July 18, 2011


The 'NSFS' above is meant 'Not Safe For Sanity'.

Finally, experiment on rat crowding show 'sexually deviant' behavior, where deviance is not considered as a moral definition, but rather as a behavior of a statistical minority. This includes male-on-male sexual behavior, and what could be considered gang-rapes. The primary source of these studies is:

Calhoun JB. Population density and social pathology. Sci Am. 1962;306:139–48.
posted by dragonsi55 at 9:51 AM on July 18, 2011


This article was written by the same journalist as the recent Morgellons piece. Also: the journalist is one of my younger brothers. He was over in PDX for the weekend and we spent the past couple of days talking about the the article, how he's been coping with it, and more.

If anyone's interested, The Guardian edited out a good chunk of the original article. The original version is being published in the next edition of Australian GQ. I hope when I see it that I have the courage to re-read the article. There's many parts of it that will stay with me for a long time.
posted by TheDonF at 9:54 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


!

Please let you brother know... his courage is appreciated.
posted by dragonsi55 at 10:00 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Humor is a way of dealing with incongruity and fear. Inappropriate is a near-synonym to incongruous, so humor is often about inappropriate behavior (see 'The Aristocrats'). Also, when we are afraid, the amygdala is highly active and can decrease the ability of the forebrain to attend to content. This is why, in mediation, we ask people to not yell; that overtly angry face is has priority of attention to the person being yelled at. While they assess the primary threat, the content of the communication is not attended to, so the person just knows the yeller is angry, but is less likely to understand why.

So humor, like categorizing the offender as an outsider (and like over-analyzing a situation, as I am doing), is another way to try to calm the emotions and let the forebrain come up with some objective way of handling the situation.
I appreciate that some people over-analyze as a way to process, dragonsi55. And I appreciate your thoughtful contributions here.

I also understand the use of gallows humor as a way for a threatened person to ameliorate the effect of the threatening.

But I don't believe that it is truly used for humorous effect, in these crime shows. Nor do I believe we are witnessing a case of a fearful person trying to grasp any way to calm his emotions about a terrifying situation.

Nor would I accept either as a justifiable excuse for why teasing a suspect with the specter of prison rape is so common on American television as to be a cliché. I wish a civil rights group would organize a letter campaign. It's especially egregious to me when it occurs on a show such as Law & Order: SVU which purports to be sensitive to sex crimes. Hollywood obviously buys into the myth that sexual assault is only a problem when it happens to women and children.
posted by pineapple at 12:17 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


dragonsi55 Thanks. Will do.
posted by TheDonF at 1:52 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


How is it that normal people can be turned into soldiers that will do such things?

The scariest, and most disappointing, truth you will ever discover about humankind, and even yourself, is that we are all capable of great evil given the right circumstances and given the "right" social "education".

Humanity is a mixed blessing.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:54 PM on July 18, 2011


Humanity is a construct.
posted by Bonzai at 2:53 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The scariest, and most disappointing, truth you will ever discover about humankind, and even yourself, is that we are all capable of great evil given the right circumstances and given the "right" social "education".

yes. but then, surely it follows that the most affirming, and most wonderful, truth that you will ever discover about humankind, and even yourself, is that we are all capable of great good given the right circumstances and given the "right" social "education", no?

unless, of course, we are to go along with that all-too-common communal betrayal wherein we only grant evil likelihood and substance, where good is only understood as some fluffy abstraction with no real purchase in the world.

some good reading on this subject: A Paradise Built in Hell
posted by jammy at 12:19 PM on July 31, 2011


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