The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions We assessed 12-month prevalence and incidence data on sexual victimization in 5 federal surveys that the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted independently in 2010 through 2012. We used these data to examine the prevailing assumption that men rarely experience sexual victimization. We concluded that federal surveys detect a high prevalence of sexual victimization among men—in many circumstances similar to the prevalence found among women. We identified factors that perpetuate misperceptions about men’s sexual victimization: reliance on traditional gender stereotypes, outdated and inconsistent definitions, and methodological sampling biases that exclude inmates. We recommend changes that move beyond regressive gender assumptions, which can harm both women and men.
For the last few decades, the prevailing approach to sexual violence in international human rights instruments has focused virtually exclusively on the abuse of women and girls. In the meantime, sexual violence against males continues to flourish in prison and other forms of detention. Men have been abused and sexually humiliated during situations of armed conflict, such as the highly publicized Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq. Childhood sexual abuse of boys is alarmingly common; in fact, the vast majority of those abused at the hands of Roman Catholic clergy in the United States were boys. And sexual assault against gay men remains unchecked due to assumptions that, as was once commonly assumed about women, gay men who have been raped must have “asked for it.”National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
In Part I of this Article, I discuss the phenomenon of male rape, summarizing research data about the problem and exploring various contexts in which it occurs. In Part II, I show that numerous instruments in the human rights canon, including U.N. treaties, resolutions, consensus documents, and general comments address sexual violence while explicitly excluding male victims. I argue that the female-specific approach is best understood in the political context in which these instruments were developed: women’s issues were historically ignored in international law, and violence against women emerged as the salient issue around which attention to women’s human rights would revolve. I posit in Part III, however, that to continue this approach to sexual violence in light of evidence that males constitute a small but sizable percentage of victims has problematic theoretical implications: it reifies hierarchies that treat some victims as more sympathetic than others, perpetuates norms that essentialize women as victims, and imposes unhealthy expectations about masculinity on men and boys. I also outline why, paradoxically, neglecting male rape is bad for women and girls. In Part IV, I discuss the impact the female-specific approach to rape has in practice, and I point to other rights frameworks and areas of international law that hold potential for more inclusive approaches to the problem.
It is worth noting that in my treatment of this topic I distinguish the use of a gender analysis, which can be as important for understanding the rape of men as it is of women, from a female-specific approach, which explicitly excludes all male victims from efforts to remedy sexual violence, and as such, should no longer continue.
NCVS is the nation's primary source of information on criminal victimization. Each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of about 90,000 households, comprising nearly 160,000 persons, on the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States. Each household is interviewed twice during the year. The survey enables BJS to estimate the likelihood of victimization by rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, theft, household burglary, and motor vehicle theft for the population as a whole as well as for segments of the population such as women, the elderly, members of various racial or ethnic groups, city dwellers, and other groups. The NCVS provides the largest national forum for victims to describe the impact of crime and characteristics of violent offenders.2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey is an ongoing, nationally representative random digit dial (RDD) telephone survey that collects information about experiences of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence among non-institutionalized English and/ or Spanish-speaking women and men aged 18 or older in the United States. NISVS provides detailed information on the magnitude and characteristics of these forms of violence for the nation and for individual states. This report presents information related to several types of violence that have not previously been measured in a national population- based survey, including types of sexual violence other than rape; expressive psychological aggression and coercive control, and control of reproductive or sexual health. This report also provides the first ever simultaneous national and state-level prevalence estimates of violence for all states. The findings presented in this report are for 2010, the first year of data collection, and are based on complete interviews. Complete interviews were obtained from 16,507 adults (9,086 women and 7,421 men). The relative standard error (RSE), which is a measure of an estimate’s reliability, was calculated for all estimates in this report. If the RSE was greater than 30%, the estimate was deemed unreliable and is not reported. Consideration was also given to the case count. If the estimate was based on a numerator ≤20, the estimate is also not reported. Estimates for certain types of violence reported by subgroups of men such as rape victimization by racial/ethnic group are not shown because the number of men in these subgroups reporting rape was too small to calculate a reliable estimate. These tables are included in the report so that the reader can easily determine what was assessed and where gaps remain.
This post was deleted for the following reason: Sorry for the delay on this, but I've been working through the links and trying to see if the critical material is actually available for people to refer to, and this seems to be the problem: at this point it appears that only the few people who have access to the actual paywalled study can discuss the figures and methodology of some of the most surprising claims, while others sort of stand by or express doubt or support of the Slate interpretation. Blasdelb, it's a fascinating topic, and maybe you can rework this and repost in a way that will work a little better. Thanks. -- taz
« Older "At 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, Dartmouth professor Joh... | Taking photos from an airplane... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments