Dear Male Rape Survivor,
Your timing sucks.
There’s nothing wrong in your message. Whether we like it or not, no matter how we try to ignore/downplay it, men get raped too (click here to read my story). It is an uncomfortable reality; one even some other males refuse to accept. However, speaking up ONLY when another female rape case is breaking makes you look bad.
It really is in bad taste.
I do understand it. I understand how it feels; to have your pain and torment and shame made light of – just because you’re some way. Something has to happen to a woman for it to be taken seriously, to get public attention/outcry – or at least for it to trend on social media. Men and their plight are largely ignored – unless they’re doing something wrong.
I’ll tell you something in case you didn’t know; men get sexually harassed ALL THE TIME. Men get propositioned frequently. From the attendant at the filling station to the cashier at the supermarket to the cashier at the bank to the customer care person to colleagues, co-workers, groupies; literary or otherwise – trust me. Sex is hurled at men with the frequency of power outage.
You don’t want to see some of the unsolicited messages in some men’s inboxes. I promise.
Unfortunately however, it’s not supposed to be a big deal. Men ARE SUPPOSED TO LIKE IT. After all, ‘men think about sex every nine seconds’ (I wonder how they arrived at those figures – tie a man down, activate a stopwatch and said, ‘every time you think about sex raise your hand’?!). Men LIVE, BREATH, SING, EAT, SHIT, DIGEST sex – or so ‘they’ say.
Men don’t think about anything else. Frankly, men don’t have the time to think about anything else. Not according to ‘statistics’.
So men smile. And laugh. And suck it up. After all, it’s not anybody’s fault you’re a man, is it? And that’s what men do – suck it up because complaining, whining, crying about – of all things – sex and attention; even when unwanted – is shameful and weak.
Because; as much as we think we know in this day and age, the idea of a man turning down sex is preposterous – almost blasphemy. Such a thing is unheard of.
‘So how is it ‘rape’ if you wanted it, anyway? Are you not a man? Don’t men like sex?’
No. Not all the time they don’t. Just like women.
But that’s beside the point.
I understand ‘men get raped too’ because it seems like it’s the only time ANY ATTENTION can be given to the unfortunate, oft-ignored minority – the male abuse/rape victim. It feels like, ‘shebi I shared my rape story and nobody said anything? How is her rape story different?’
It’s not. However, snatching the microphone from her and pulling a Kanye is not the best way to plead your case. Trying to downplay a rape story because ‘men get raped too’ is not the best way to get people to listen. It is not a competition. Nobody’s measuring dick length by who gets raped the most.
We should learn to talk about male rape whenever we can – not just when the story of a 14-year old raped to death breaks. It makes us look selfish and insensitive – even though we mean well.
Rape is a shitty, horrible thing for anyone to go through, and we should all talk against it. Please, okay? Can’t we all just get along for the good of all?
Not all the time gender war, biko.
Rape and the Man Child
Close your eyes.
Or don’t. You need them open to read this after all.
You’re fourteen. You know about girls – well; you’ve seen movies, read James Hadley Chase and Danielle Steele among others. You have elder brothers who always have an errand for you to run whenever their female friends are around – and they are around a lot. You know to disappear when Daddy starts touching Mummy one kind. You know your way around girls as long as you’re not touching them. You’ve never actually seen a porn movie, but of all your friends you’re the only one – so you say you have. You’re curious – but not exactly in a hurry.
There’s a woman you have a crush on – you and almost every male in the neighborhood, weight and size regardless. She’s almost three times your age but it doesn’t matter. She’s that hot.
But you tell yourself it’s just a childish crush. Besides, she’s friends with your mother. You go to her house on errands sometimes and she smiles at you. Touches your head; your hair. Smiles at you some more.
But you tell yourself it doesn’t matter. She’s friends with your mother.
And then one day, everything changes.
There was something about auntie that afternoon that made you hot and bothered. She was nicer than usual, her hand lingered just a bit longer than usual on your chest; thigh – but it didn’t matter. When she asked if you wanted something to drink you nodded and when you saw the bottle, instead of protesting you saw a chance to impress her. So you poured 60 percent proof rum down your innocent throat, bringing involuntary tears to your eyes.
But you didn’t cough. You became dull – almost lethargic, but you didn’t cough.
So when auntie started to throw your clothes off, caution was somewhere in the back of your throat steaming in rum. You pawed her just as eagerly – and when you saw her breasts – breasts that looked nothing like you imagined – you were ruined.
And thus went your innocence.
You fell asleep on auntie’s bed – but before you left that day you ate a big Sweet Sensation meal and had ‘sweet sensations’ with auntie two more times. When you walked home later that evening, your shoulders were square; your head was high. You had eaten something men three times your age wanted to but couldn’t.
As you neared your house, you saw your mum waiting and the smile that had lightened your features disappeared. Your face darkened as you remembered auntie’s warning; Don’t tell anybody.
What you did must have been wrong.
Who could you tell anyway? You’re the black sheep of the family. No matter what happened it was your fault; always. So you shut your mouth and kept going, acting like everything was okay. But every time you went to auntie’s house, something inside you got smaller and smaller and smaller…
Until you went away to boarding school.
Years later, you still cannot shake the feeling of guilt. Men cannot be raped after all, and since men think about sex every nine seconds you must have somehow enjoyed it.
You must have, right?
But if that was what it was, how come you feel shame every time you think about it? How come you still have not told anyone about it? Why do you find it difficult to be entirely intimate with someone – with anyone? You think back on it; and while it wasn’t too bad as far sexual experiences go, you hate(d) that you didn’t have any choice in the matter. Something was taken from you without your consent.
You were little better than the cap of a bottle; the nylon wrapping of a new book – something to be used and discarded. You were meat.
Now close your eyes and walk in those shoes for a while.
It saddens me when people say stuff like ‘men can’t be raped’. ‘Men like sex so much they take it whenever wherever and however they can get it’. These are examples of the kind of thinking that makes people become weird, strange and alone – because something happened to them and you help them think it’s their fault.
As ‘boring’ as the concept of virginity is made to seem nowadays, I would have liked to hold on to mine; at least a bit longer than I actually did. But that was a choice that was taken from me at a time I could do little about it – and that is something I cannot get past no matter how I try. I felt – I still feel taken advantage of by someone I liked and looked up to – in a manner of speaking. I’m still all fucked up about it. I’m afraid of being vulnerable.
I’m a man. And yet, the shame I feel every time I think about it is almost physical. At times I drift and realize I cannot form deep bonds with people because I’m afraid of being taken advantage of again. That’s why I write a lot of the things I write; somewhere in here there’s a little boy still running around trying to figure out why what happened to him happened.
In a manner of speaking, I’m still trying to find closure.
We get raped too. We get taken advantage of, lied to and used by people we thought the world of. It’s bad because when as a man you say; ‘I was raped’ some people think you’re joking, some think you’re crazy for hating it and some say ‘so? Are you not a man?’
To think some people still think there’s no such thing as rape.
Don’t get it confused. This is not meant to make light of women’s pain; neither is it trying to compete or compare my/our pain to theirs.
Men get raped too. And it hurts too.