Some thoughts on double standards, sexuality, and male sexual abuse victims

 

This morning, I read an article on Huffington Post, and it’s been bothering me ever since. It reports of a female teacher’s arrest for allegedly performing oral sex on a male eighth grader. She’s out on bail.

Here’s what’s bothering me. If reader comments are any indication, there is a double standard regarding male and female sexuality in our society. (Thankfully, these type of comments were in the minority, but they were still there.)

First, there were comments that essentially gave the boy a high-five. He’s gaining “sexual experience” and being “serviced” by the teacher, they claim, not being victimized or taken advantage of by an adult.

If the genders were reversed, would these same readers feel that an eighth grade girl was gaining experience if she reported having oral sex with a male teacher? I doubt it. In these comments, there was the assumption that the underaged male was “consenting” in this inappropriate relationship. I bet that most people wouldn’t make that assumption if the underaged person was female.

Second, at least one reader said that it was “less traumatic” for a male to be sexually victimized or assaulted than it would be for a female. Excuse me?!

Okay, I’ve never been sexually abused or assaulted, so I’m not speaking from experience; I’ll try to be sensitive to that fact. But I’ve had people close to me, male and female, who have been. I’ve seen the devastating consequences. And sexual assault is devastating for both genders.

There are both women and men carrying the burden of past sexual abuse. Some may have worked through the pain and gotten to a place of freedom, peace, and healing; others may still feel raw inside, bound by the chains of silence and shame. Some may have gained a healthy view of human sexuality. Others may have a flawed view of it, one that carries over into their relationships with people of both genders, whether that’s a romantic partner or friends or children.

To say that it’s somehow “less traumatic” for men betrays a flawed misconception about human sexuality. It implies that, for males, sex is always something casual, something to be achieved or performed, in contrast to the emotionally weighty, not-to-be-taken-lightly sexual encounters females have.

If a guy decides to have sex (the thinking goes), then what’s the big deal? No emotions, no strings attached, it doesn’t mean diddly-squat to him beyond a few minutes of pleasure. Whereas if a girl has sex, it’s a much, much bigger deal; she’s “giving” herself to someone (or having someone “take” her virginity away), as if it was a valuable commodity. I don’t usually hear the give/take terms used when a male has sex for the first time; his virginity is something he “loses”, like his car keys or the remote control or an unwanted burden.

Bullcrap. Males have emotions, just like females. They may be expressed differently, true, but they are felt just as deeply. There’s no reason to think a male wouldn’t be as traumatized as a female by an unwanted sexual encounter.

My point is this: victims of sexual assault need support and understanding. The victim’s gender is irrelevant in this regard. The predator’s gender is also irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if it’s male on female, female on male, or some other combination: sexual abuse is wrong.

We shouldn’t ignore one gender to favor the other, nor should we downplay the consequences based upon a double standard that views female sexuality in higher regard than male sexuality. That’s wrong.

Any thoughts?

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Some thoughts on double standards, sexuality, and male sexual abuse victims

  1. I agree with you on this. I have never understood why there is such a double standard when it regards sex and sexuality. I’ve experienced years of sexual abuse myself and several of my friends (of both genders) have gone through the same experiences and it is not something to make light of or to act congratulatory about. Assault is assault, no matter the gender, and it is extremely traumatizing either way.

    • Emily, I am so sorry that you have gone through sexual abuse. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that you find healing from your pain. Laura

  2. I just happened to come across your posting, but I have to agree with your premise that a male sexual assault victim is as much a victim as a female sexual assault victim.

    Granted, I do believe there are differences in gender sexuality, simply because of the “acts” involved, but there is something truly horrendous about any person in a position of trust victimizing a child. Now, how would everyone acted if the teacher was male and the student was male? How would they have reacted if the student was female and the teacher was female? For some odd reason, the idea that a male can be victimized by a female is always a taboo subject.

    In essence, it maintains the idea that women are the “weaker” sex, if you ask me; and that is obviously not true.

    • It is strange that the female-on-male scenario is taboo. I think you’re right: it implies that women are the “weaker” sex. Likewise, while I’ve read several novels about domestic violence with the female as the victim, I’ve never run across a book about men who are victims of domestic violence. It’s another taboo subject.

      • Sexual assault and DV where men are the victims are far less reported. There is a bit of a social stigma attached to a man that has admitted to being a victim.

      • I wonder if there’s less reported instances because of the stigma, or if it truly is less common. Either way, it’s horrible.

  3. As an ex-cop, I can tell you, it’s less reported. IT happens much more often then we realize. Think about it, when a woman shows up for work and has a black eye. Everyone can pretty much guess what happened when she lies about it, but there will be people willing to console her and give her advice on what to do. If a guy shows up to work with sratch marks on his face and/or a black eye and he tells his buddies, “Yeah, my wife hit me…” the responses will range from “hit her back” to “quit being a p^$$y”. It’s a far different level of “support” that guys will receive…

    Granted, I do realize there are some worries that women have, as well, and I’m certainly not trying to minimize it, but it is different being a guy and being a victim.

  4. I’ve had a few cases in my courtroom where adult women have had sex with boys. The reports on how it affected the boys show real damage.

  5. Adam

    Emotional abuse in a marriage is another double standard. Men get ridiculed for being on the receiving end of an abusive female. A male on the receiving end of it is left to suffer with it. There are no support groups. There is no way out. With children in the mix, they just pray that they live long enough to shelter the children from the anger and abuse till the kids go off to college or move out.

    • I’ve heard so many women ridicule their husbands over the years, and it’s always disturbed me. Most of the time, the ridicule isn’t outright abusive, more sarcastic than anything, but if taken to its logical extreme, it would be emotional abuse.

      I really wish that there were support groups for men in these situations, and that society recognized the importance of supporting victims of abuse, of both genders.

  6. This type of double standard just makes me cringe. How hard it must be for victims to come forward when they are belittled etc.

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