Last week, actor Shia LaBeouf revealed that he was raped earlier this year during an art performance. The veracity of these claims is not going to be discussed in this article; instead, the general response by media and the community alike to his claim–and claims made by male rape victims in general–will be.
Shortly after the news of LaBeouf’s claims became public, Piers Morgan took to Twitter to discuss his disgust with the subject. Never one to mince words, Piers Morgan was quick to denounce his story. He claimed that Shia LaBeouf “invented” the story of his rape for “cheap PR.” He claimed LaBeouf is “one of the toughest” Hollywood actors and he should have “physically stopped” his rape. He continued, saying “[b]ut he didn’t. He just let it all happen.” Piers then urged LaBeouf to “apologise” and for his defenders to be “ashamed of themselves.” So why are comments like this so harmful to society?
A new National Crime Victimization Survey revealed that 38% of rapes and acts of sexual violence were against men. This is a shocking revelation, because in years prior it was believed that only around 5-14% of victims were men. Why this sudden increase in male victims? For starters, the FBI crime definition of rape didn’t even allow men to be victims. Before, the FBI defined rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” However, in 2012, the FBI revised this definition and focused on penetration, without mention of gender or force.
Despite these new changes, cultural acceptance of male rape victims is slow to change. Debate.org has a topic asking the public if men being raped is even a possibility, and some of the responses are as troubling as you can imagine. “Men can be raped by other men but you cant [sic] force a man to get an erection, a woman cannot rape a man; so unless he was turned on there is no way a man can be raped by a woman.” Of course this statement is false. It has been scientifically proven that both men and women can have physiological sexual symptoms despite the lack of willingness to participate. Another poster claims that “[i]f a man is being raped, his mind will be put into overdrive. The pressure to get erect will cause an adverse affect. The man will be way too scared to perform. If he is not scared, then he is willing.” While this complete lack of biological knowledge is disturbing on its own, it also perpetuates a culture that demeans male victims.
The idea of a “rape culture” has been quite popular lately. One of feminists’ favorite suggestions for attacking rape culture is to “teach men not to rape.” Not only is this suggestion sexist, but it also lets female perpetrators of male rape off the hook. Why is the suggestion of teaching men not to rape sexist? As previously stated, 38% of rape and sexual assaults have male victims, and of those victims 46% reported having a female perpetrator. Even more shocking, 43% of high school and college males report having an unwanted sexual encounter, and 95% report it occurring with a female. The idea of “teaching men not to rape” completely ignores the large number of male victims who were raped by females. Furthermore, men who are victims of sexual violence in prison aren’t counted in the nation’s crime statistics!
Many of the same insults thrown at Shia LaBeouf are the very things feminists blame the “rape culture” of doing to female victims. Piers Morgan blamed LaBeouf for “letting it happen” and not fighting back. He also claimed his rape story was meant to seek attention. Furthermore, Shia was told that he needs to apologize.
As shocking as this may seem to feminists, teaching men not to rape would not have prevented this crime, as the perpetrator was a female.