(Hey, I also wrote an article about this for the Volante, so read that too.)
You guys remember how I went public about my depression about two years ago on here? I’ve decided to open up about something else, because I have lost too much sleep over this. A lot of people reading this won’t believe me. Others will feel shame in me. I don’t particularly care. Okay, maybe I do. I’d much prefer my family not disown me, but the pain is greater than the fear. It’s a scar. You can take me or leave me.
Hello, my name is Jordan Smith and I am a survivor of female-on-male rape.
A few years ago I also wrote a post about under-represented male issues, and in there I brought up the frequent skepticism that men can be raped, so I won’t talk about it too much. Suffice it to say I can count the number of people I’ve previously told on one hand.
Here’s the hardest part of this, in spite of the mass proliferation of information and support with the internet, there really aren’t many resources out there. Go ahead, do a Google (or Yahoo if you’re weird) search for male rape support. You’ll find a couple general purpose things, but the vast majority of results are for those who suffered from another man or just redirect you to general results for rape support, which would be fine, but it is heavily catered to women.
I’m not saying it isn’t understandable. Most victims of rape are women, and most perpetrators are men. Numerically, it makes sense that there would be more information for those individuals, but it doesn’t mean materials for people like me shouldn’t be more widely available. But that doesn’t excuse popular conception from questioning if it can even happen. Not just the usual victim blaming of people arguing whatever crap comes to mind, but a basic question if it is possible.
Remember when Shia LaBeouf was in the middle of a performance art piece and was violently raped and everyone was convinced it couldn’t happen because they didn’t think that could happen to a man who was unwilling? I do, and, quick note, that’s not how biology works. Why was that even a question? Maybe because this stigma is so widespread that even the FBI defnition limits rape to a man forcing penetration? There’s this insistence because of how awful traditional masculinity is men are universally seen as perpetrators and women are victims.
It is impossible to describe the loneliness that comes from this survival. Of course there’s scarce a survivor of any gender who doesn’t suffer from some form of trauma. Maybe I’m wrong. I can’t know what being anything but a heterosexual man feels like, so I apologize for any misunderstanding. But at least there is some amount of support structure available. There’s certainly challenges for women to find people to believe them and a stigma attached with something that isn’t your fault. Beyond the trauma, the societal reaction to women after assault is deplorable. Still, if nothing else everyone’s first personal advisory, Google, will bring useful results without much digging. Regardless, I feel like it’s different for men.
Many probably noticed earlier that I described masculinity as “toxic.” I stand by that. Men are supposed to be unfailingly strong pillars, not allowed to, or even capable of being, vulnerable. We are supposed to want sex at any given moment with any woman whose pants we can wiggle into. To admit that you had sex against your infinite masculine willpower and in spite of your limitless sex drive is preposterous. To not have another conquest to add to your list would be preposterous. And how can a man be overcome by a woman? I’ll tell you.
Rape doesn’t necessitate physical force. It can also just be a threat or manipulation through other means. I was coerced and manipulated as if I wasn’t human. I’m not going to share many details. Why? I don’t have to. I’m not pressing charges, I’m just trying to heal myself and, if I’m lucky, help others. If you don’t think I provide enough detail, sorry, I don’t feel like hurting myself like that again. Do you know how hard that is? Or just the pain that comes from being a survivor too scared to say anything? If you do, I’m sorry, and please get in touch with me. Not just so I can help you, but I think that talking is the best way to recover. Everyone else, just understand that it is the most emotionally scaring thing you (or at least I) can imagine.
That’s the worst part of rape, it’s a crime against who you are as a human being. What makes us human? Most philosophers and religions would agree that it is our ability to act as rational beings capable of choosing our own path and ruling over our bodies and the world surrounding them.That’s what separates us from beasts. Of course, just asking someone to do something isn’t any remarkable evil, but I work hard to make sure I don’t force anyone to do anything, no matter how small. I never want to violate another person’s sovereignty.
We talk about the objectification of human beings through the media (particularly women, because the male gaze sucks). I see rape as the logical, perverted conclusion of objectification. It’s not just bad because of the manipulation and pain, it’s the blatant disregard for your humanity. You are literally a tool. Not a person. Just a means of satisfying an urge. That’s the part that keeps me up at night. Not the memories of coercion and force but the demeaning nature of it all. The seizure of my control has haunted me ever since.
When you have trouble getting someone to even consider the possibility that you could be treated that way, it can feel like you’re having your heart ripped right out of your chest. I remember sitting at my eighth grade lunch table, when I was still figuring out what sex was, and being surrounded by a conversation about how men couldn’t be raped. I remember the abstinence oriented youth conference I attended in Chicago. I remember every time rape and sexual assault ever came up in the news or school and there was never a man who had suffered. I internalized that. All of it. It’s what kept me quiet for so long.
Now I don’t even know if I can trust what I think. You know that logic experiment from Descartes that concludes with “I think, therefor I am.” I used to find a beauty in that simplicity, but it isn’t that simple any more. If we are the sum of our experiences, then what happens from the traumas? We might want to move past those experiences, and return to our natural state, but how? How do we return to a portion of a natural state that we can’t remember. I don’t know how I would feel about sex and women without that experience in my past, so how can I know who I really am? Was I ever something special?
It’s not all so bad. There is an evolving climate. As feminism continues to enter the mainstream it isn’t just empowering women, it is also becoming more acceptable for men to be vulnerable. Furthermore, by making femininity not inherently associated with weakness, it is becoming okay for men to do female things, both positive and negative. I should also mention that my girlfriend knows, and she has been nothing but supportive of me. This blog wouldn’t exist without her giving me the emotional support to write my pain out.
I’m rambling, but, once again, I don’t really care. This is stream of consciousness. This is what’s haunted me for too long. During my orientation at Mines, we had an absolutely incredible speaker, Angela Rose with PAVE who ran our Title IX training and I started counseling to get to the point where I was strong enough to open up. This is an act of courage on my part. This is terrifying. When I opened up about depression, I knew people would believe me, the worst that could happen was a stigma. I have no doubt at least one person will read this and laugh, thinking I’m making this up for attention. My pastor could see this and think I’m now bound for hell. If anyone finds out that I was hurt and stop loving me, maybe I’m better off. If anyone doesn’t want me around because I was hurt, then I’d really rather not be around.
John Wayne, the picture of masculinity, once said, “Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.” Well, I’m sure scared. So, here we go. Riding right into the storm with the hope that it will be less painful for other people to follow. If courage is manly, then I now know that I am truly a man.. A man, and a survivor. To all my brothers, you don’t need to say anything. More than anything, I just wanted to tell you that you aren’t alone. For me, this is seizing back my humanity. She no longer controls my body, or my voice.