Male survivors charge that feminists see rape as a “man vs. woman” issue… The distinction is that while many women, and some men, are victimized by rape, all women are oppressed by it, and any victimization of women occurs in a context of oppression most men simply do not understand.
For myself, I don’t need for rape to be gender neutral to feel validated as a male survivor. And I certainly don’t need to denigrate women, or to attack feminists, to explain why I was abused by the (male) police, ridiculed by my (male) friends, and marginalized by the (male dominated) society around me. It is precisely because we have been “reduced” to the status of women that other men find us so difficult to deal with. It was obvious to me at the police station that I was held in contempt because I was a victim- feminine, hence perceived as less masculine. Had I been an accused criminal, even a rapist, chances are I would have been treated with more respect, because I would have been seen as more of a man. To cross that line, to become victims of the violence which works to circumscribe the lives of women, marks us somehow as traitors to our gender. Being a male rape survivor means I no longer fit our culture’s neat but spacious definition of masculinity, as one empowered, one always in control. Rather than continue to deny our experience, male survivors need to challenge that definition.