“Nymphomaniac” and “Grey Rape” in Entertainment


There is no rape in Nymphomaniac: Volume I. Except there is. Or at least, one could read that into it. While I don’t completely subscribe to the “Death of the Author” theory, I do believe that it’s possible to read an interpretation into a piece of work besides that which the creator has in mind for it. When Lars von Trier wrote Nymphomaniac: Volume I, I don’t believe he thought of one particular episode of the story as depicting rape. Nor did he think of it as such when directing that scene. Nor, I think, did any of the actors involved. But it can be seen as a rape, regardless of the intent.

The incident in question takes place around a half hour into the film. At this point the protagonist, Joe (Stacy Martin), is in the throes of overwhelming youthful lust. She and her similarly horny best friend B (Sophie Kennedy Clark) enjoy playing a “game” on train rides. They compete to see who can seduce more male passengers into sexual encounters before reaching the final destination. The winner earns a bag of chocolate sweets. During this sequence, Joe discovers the power she has over men: how the right look and question can draw seemingly anyone in. Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), the intellectual to whom a present-day Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) narrates her life, compares the game to fly fishing. That’s how strong these girls’ allure is – they don’t even have to hunt for men, just dangle some bait.

But there is one man who seems impervious to their advances. A middle-aged passenger (Jens Albinus) helps the girls out of a bind when they’re caught without tickets, paying for both their fares. But he rebuffs their offers to “thank” him afterward. B proposes to give Joe, lagging behind in points, an automatic win for the trip if she can land him. Joe begins by doing something she hasn’t with any of her other conquests: she gets to know him. She learns that the man is trying to conceive a child with his wife, and that he’s rushing home to meet her, since she’s ovulating. Joe assumes that this is why he didn’t have sex with her and B. He responds that, “It isn’t because [he] didn’t want to,” though whether this is an affirmation that he would otherwise have been responsive to their advances or simply a statement that “wanting” it doesn’t really factor into his decision to not have sex with strangers on a train isn’t clear.

Joe draws closer to him, despite his visible discomfort. As she brushes aside his newspaper, touches him, and undoes his pants, he repeatedly says “no,” “please don’t” and other protestations. At one point, he attempts to push her hands away, but she brushes him aside, and eventually performs oral sex on him. He looks anguished rather than pleasured throughout, though he does not resist her. It’s all over within a minute, and after lingering on the aftermath for a few moments, there’s a cut to B handing the bag of chocolates over to a triumphant Joe.

The intended meaning of the scene is clear. It demonstrates Joe’s nigh-on-supernatural influence on men. She conquers this man despite his drastic resistance. His mind doesn’t want it, but he succumbs to his body. For Joe, there seems to be no separation between physical desires and conscious reasoning. Present-day Joe considers this story an example of how, from a young age, she was willing to hurt others for the sake of her own satisfaction. Seligman denies this, though, suggesting that “relieving [the man] of his load” might even have helped him conceive a child.

But while Joe’s only sin in dispute is the temptation of a man away from fidelity to his wife, neither of them consider the idea that having sex with someone who doesn’t want it is in fact rape. Which isn’t surprising, since very few viewers seem to think so as well. Of the many conversations that have sprung up around the film, few of them have discussed the train sequence as anything other than what I have already expounded on as to its meaning.With research, I have found only one article that identifies what happens in this one scene as rape.

As that article points out, anyone who viewed a hypothetically reversed version of the scene, in which a middle-aged man forced himself on a young woman, would unhesitantly call it a rape. But of course, different power and gender dynamics would be in play in such a scenario, so it isn’t a perfect explanation. What if only the genders were switched, but the situation remained the same, with a virile young man approaching a middle-aged woman? Still, that would likely send outrage throughout the movie-viewing community.

Von Trier is familiar with such rumblings, given that several of his previous films have dealt with the rape of women. But this is, again, a different beast. You could ask why the man, who is probably physically stronger than Joe, simply doesn’t push her away. I’d argue that Joe has psychologically dominated him, and indeed, he seems almost petrified throughout the scene, but that’s my subjective take on it. But again, it’s not a question anyone would ask in the case of the opposite scenario… unless they were a Republican policymaker.


I should make it clear that I don’t believe that anyone who doesn’t see this as rape is “wrong.” Indeed, such viewers are really processing the scene as von Trier (presumably) wanted them to. Like much of the sex depicted in the movie, Joe’s encounter with the man is matter-of-fact and distinctly un-erotic. Whether you view his experience as rape or not, it causes obvious distress in the man, and is not portrayed in a positive light. What I find interesting is that it apparently never occurred to anyone making the film that it was rape, and that so few critics and other audience members have seen it as such. And I think that speaks to a common perception of what rape is.

There’s an ugly presupposition in mainstream culture that men can’t be raped by women. The phenomenon is indeed rare, and obviously far less common than the rape of women by men or of men by other men, but it does occur. According to a CDC study, “one in 21 [men] said they had been forced to penetrate an acquaintance or a partner, usually a woman; had been the victim of an attempt to force penetration; or had been made to receive oral sex.” But such scenarios are almost never seen in fiction, and when they are, they are either accidental or played for laughs.

There’s Wedding Crashers, in which Vince Vaughn’s character awakens to discover that Isla Fisher’s character has bound and gagged him while he slept, and she proceeds to have sex with him. He even calls it a rape the next day, but has fallen in love with her by the end of the film. Horrible Bosses uses as a recurring joke Jennifer Aniston’s unwanted advances towards Charlie Day. She drugs him and takes pictures of them in compromising positions at one point as blackmail. In 40 Days and 40 Nights, Josh Hartnett’s ex-girlfriend jumps on him while he’s restrained and has sex with him over his protests so that she can win a bet that he’ll break his no-sex-for-lent rule. In an episode of Desperate Housewives, a woman drugs a man with Viagra and sleeping pills so that he can use her to impregnate herself, and the entire scene is one big joke.

Hell, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we learn that Logan’s girlfriend, Kayla Silverfox, is a mutant with the power to make anyone she touches do what she says, and that she purposefully drew him into a relationship on orders from the main villain. Their relationship was sexual, but no one ever considers that since he never really had a choice in the matter, their encounters were against his will. One could argue that Logan would gladly have had sex with her anyway, but his free will was not in play.

And that’s at the core of this attitude: the idea that no man would really turn down sex, given the option. It’s an incredibly backwards mindset, one that reduces men to their libidos. That and a pervasive culture of suck-it-up machismo are why it’s difficult for male victims of rape to come forward about their trauma. You see it every time a news story pops up about a female teacher having sex with a male student – jokes about how men wish they had teachers like that when they were in school, ho ho ho. Unintentionally, entertainment that use rape as such a punchline or simply don’t fully think through its implications props up this toxic environment.

Regrettably, the most vocal advocates for male rape victims tend to be Men’s Rights Activists, who erroneously lay the blame for this hostile cultural attitude at the feet of feminists. But this is a side effect of patriarchal values through and through. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that women have it much worse.

Consider Revenge of the Nerds, in which a girl is having sex with whom she believes to be her boyfriend, only to discover halfway through that it’s actually one of the eponymous nerds, making a revenge play against said boyfriend. But she shrugs it off because apparently he’s just such a good lover. That’s just a completely anti-human response. Worse is Sixteen Candles, in which the main love interest hands his girlfriend over to a nerd while she’s passed out drunk, inviting him to “be [his guest]” with her. It’s not upsetting, though, because she’s a bitch. And afterwards, while she states that she doesn’t remember what happened that night, she thinks she liked it. So that makes it okay, right?

It’s not a new trend, either. In Gone With the Wind, Rhett roughly seizes Scarlett, forcibly kisses her, and then carries her up the stairs to their bedroom, saying that, “this is one night you’re not turning me out.” The next morning Scarlett awakens in bliss. The “It’s not rape if she enjoyed it” trope crops up in other media, from High Plains Drifter (the first thing Clint Eastwood does in town is force himself on a woman) to The Fountainhead (“If it is rape, then it is rape by engraved invitation”). For anyone not familiar with the term, this is what feminists are talking about when they refer to “rape culture.” It’s been ingrained in us for a long time, but that doesn’t mean it’s in any way acceptable.

But bring it back around to Nymphomaniac, which at the very least isn’t treating rape lightly, whether or not you agree that it’s there at all. I referred to this ambiguity as “grey rape” in the title of this article. It isn’t quite an accurate use of the term (which, by the way, refers to a myth – rape is pretty cut-and-dry), but it was the closest one I could think of. Importantly, I think that this view still fits comfortably with the themes at play in the rest of the movie, though it may be incongruous with von Trier’s aim for the scene. It shows how sexually aggressive Joe is, after all, and the lengths she’ll go to in filling her cravings.

What I’m asking is that viewers be more alert in their viewing habits. It’s not that there are reams of sex scenes in entertainment that are asking to be reinterpreted as rape. But I believe that viewers should be more proactive in calling out rape when it happens, even if (especially if, actually) the filmmakers don’t see it as rape. If audiences make that kind of push, then they could shape the culture in a positive way, even if it’s just a little bit.

  • http://convercinema.tumblr.com Miles Maker

    Is it rape if you can prevent it from happening, yet deliberately in your right mind choose not to? I would call that seduction.

    • Andy Crump

      It’s rape if there’s no consent, and there’s no consent in the particular scene being discussed. At all.

      • Tyler Foster

        Plus, when you’re talking about a movie, “if you can prevent it from happening, yet deliberately and in your right mind choose not to” is really hard to determine, and I think it’s, at the very least, a slippery slope to discount conscious choices (his vocal resistance) for interpreted ones (the fact that he doesn’t push her away). In the absence of knowing what he actually thought or felt, you have to go on the elements in the scene.

    • Sarah Stuart

      A woman forces herself on you. You are bigger and stronger, so can physically stop it if words and firm restraint don’t work. BUT if you do, you’ll probably be arrested for violent assault. What do you do?

      • edtastic

        You are applying a gender stereotype. The fact someone is bigger and stronger does not make the obligated to put up a fight. The use of force by the perpetrator is all that matters here. Often men are intoxicated or fearful that their resistance will land them in jail. Let’s not pretend that men don’t have the option of assaulting women at will because when the police come they will be the ones going to jail, not their female rapist.

  • Kristen Sales

    Thank you for this.

  • tamen

    Did the author even read that Nerve article she linked to?
    The author described it as the only other article they could find acknowledging this as rape, but upon reading it I found it to basically be a feminist male adult film performer saying it wasn’t rape because he(read: men) gets off watching it.

    • Andy Crump

      He doesn’t really say one way or another, but it DOES at least concede the possibility that it’s rape.

    • http://danschindel.com Dan Schindel

      Did you even read THIS article? I’m a dude.

      (As to answering your query – Andy already did, basically. That article is extremely muddled)

      • tamen

        I wrote a comment earlier apologizing for misreading your name in the byline and consequently misgendering you, but that comment disappeared for some reason so I’ll try again.

        • http://danschindel.com Dan Schindel

          It’s okay. I wasn’t mad about it or anything.

  • edtastic

    “Regrettably, the most vocal advocates for male rape victims tend to be Men’s Rights Activists, who erroneously lay the blame for this hostile cultural attitude at the feet of feminists. ”

    Regrettably feminists like yourself attack men’s rights activists relentlessly for calling out the blatant bias in feminists advocacy when it comes to the male victimization in sexual and domestic violence. That is apparent in your own use of low ball numbers to current male victimization rates that are according to the same CDC NISVS 2010 survey EQUAL TO THAT OF WOMEN OVER 12 MONTHS!

    ” According to a CDC study, “one in 21 [men] said they had been forced to penetrate an acquaintance or a partner, usually a woman”

    Here you use the lifetime victimization rates which are inherently faulty due to men normalizing abusive events involving women over time. This is a common problem when looking at male survivors of childhood sexual abuse by women. Since the culture doesn’t teach men to process their victimization as abuse they often don’t recall it in those terms much Chris Browns admission of being raped by a 14 year old girl at the age of 8 which he never called rape or abuse.

    The 12 month victimization rats for men are equal or higher than that of women for both ‘forced sex’ and ‘unwanted sexual contact.’ Your attempt to dilute the significance of these events impacting men is evident in this pronouncment:

    “As that article points out, anyone who viewed a hypothetically reversed version of the scene, in which a middle-aged man forced himself on a young woman, would unhesitantly call it a rape. But of course, different power and gender dynamics would be in play in such a scenario, so it isn’t a perfect explanation.”

    These ‘gender power dynamics’ advanced by feminists are nothing but a rotting bag of outdated stereotypes that should serve as a basis for determining the nature of interaction between human beings in our modern egalitarian society. Continuing to prop up this nonsensical propaganda has the devastating affect of pushing male victims into the shadows and downplaying our compassion for them. It is now a construct on which systemic sexism against males is being based.

    The use of force is pretty simple. You make someone do something against their will by physically forcing them to do so with no expectation that they must resist in some extreme way to qualify as being forced. In this light gender power dynamics by way of physical strength are irrelevant. A women being raped may not put up a great fight nor a man. I’ve read many accounts of men being so inebriated that they could not resist just like women in the same situation. We need to get our head out of the stereotypes and the last thing you should be doing is attacking Men’s Rights activist who are helping people do just that.

    • Tyler Foster

      Spotlighting female rape victims will only help spotlight male rape victims as well. Feminists don’t ONLY care about women who are raped. Just because your problems are not dominant or equal in the conversation doesn’t mean you’re being belittled or that there’s a bias against you. The end.

      • Linus

        “Spotlighting female rape victims will only help spotlight male rape victims as well”??

        Seriously? Drawing attention to one faction of an issue invariably takes attention away from the other facets.

        • Andy Crump

          That’s…not even remotely true. Listen to conversations about bigotry of one shade, and invariably bigotry of other shades will become a part of the dialogue.

          • tamen

            If that’s not even remotely true, then why does men (and this includes male victims) who try to bring up the issue of male rape in feminist spaces get yelled at for “what about the menz”-ery? Feminists track record on this is unfortunately appalling.

            Feminists outnumber and “outplatform” MRAs and the easy way to fix your worry that MRA are the one advocating the most for male rape victims are for feminists to start doing more advocacy for male victims. Tyler Foster seem to argue against this
            and rather to keep on relying on a “trickle down”-effect (how reaganite). Which is fair enough, feminists can do what they like, but it makes the lamenting over MRAs being the most vocal advocates sound hollow and more like posturing.

            The problem though isn’t so much the low attention given to male rape by feminists, but rather when they directly work against them, here are some examples:
            When the NISVS 2010 Report and it’s finding that in the last 12 months 1.1% of men reported being made to penetrate and 1.1% of women reported rape in the last 12 months is brought up I have to wonder why almost all feminists I’ve encountered have tried in some ways to dismiss this finding?

            When Soraya Chemaly writes “only men can stop rape” in an article it really stings as a victim of a female rapist that I should’ve stopped my rape because my rapist apparently couldn’t.

            When feminists professor Adèle Mercier, in an attempt to “clarify” the statistics on sexual abuse of male juveniles by female staff, stated that the number of female guards in juvenile detention having sex with male juveniles in their care were a reflection of the fact that even people in detention like sex. and furthermore that the fact that the majority of staff having sex with male youths in detention were female were just a reflection of the proportion of sexual orientation among the youth in detention.

            When famous researcher on sexual violence and feminist Mary P. Koss stating that it’s inappropriate to call it rape when a man is having unwanted intercourse with a woman I call it out and finds it increasingly harder to trust feminsts stating that feminism helps male combat male rape.

            I haven’t found one published feminist criticism of Mary P Koss or Soraya Chemaly on this issue and I have only found two feminists even mentioning the “last 12 months” numbers of the NISVS 2010 Report in an article/blogpost they’ve written.

            I wish feminists would advocate more for male rape victims because it’s crystal clear that it’s going to take a large effort to change the current cultural view on male rape

          • Andy Crump

            If that’s not even remotely true, then why does men (and this includes male victims) who try to bring up the issue of male rape in feminist spaces get yelled at for “what about the menz”-ery?

            Precisely because of phrasing. I mean, just think about it for two seconds.

            And I’m sort of sick of this idea that feminists do not at all care about being inclusive when it comes to male rape victims. It’s propagandic nonsense.

          • tamen

            Some feminists do not care about being inclusive when it comes to male victims. I mentioned some of them; Mary P Koss, Soraya Chemaly and Adele Mercier.

            Some do care. Unfortunately they aren’t loud enough or too busy trying to excuse those that aren’t. If enough feminists cared and let male rape (and female perpetration) become part of the general discussion on rape (rather than keep insisting it’s gendered and that ” the act and idea of rape are used to perpetuate a patriarchal gender hierarchy.”) then Dan Schindel wouldn’t have to lament that MRAs are the most vocal advocates for male rape victims.

          • Andy Crump

            I guess I would just respond by saying that pointing fingers at the Adele Merciers and Soraya Chemalys of the world while demanding attention for male victims of sexual assault creates a further division between genders instead of bringing them together. The overarching dialogue should be inclusive, and both male and female victims of rape should be able to rely on each other, support each other, and stand up for each other in the fight against rape and rape culture.

            When you approach the issue from the angle of “what about us”, you’re actually not furthering the cause and spreading advocacy for male rape victims. You’re making the issue into a matter of “us vs them”, and railing against the non-inclusive types while adding to the non-inclusive tone. That’s not how you help bring attention to sex crimes perpetrated on men/boys. If you want to do that, then, well, do that! Don’t make criticism of non-inclusive types the centerpiece of your platform. Talk about the actual problems, and why those problems matter.

            It’s important to contextualize those problems, of course, and that inevitably means discussing the opposition, but that shouldn’t be at the forefront of discourse.

          • tamen

            “Talk about the actual problems, and why those problems matter.”

            The imminent actual problem is the near complete lack of acknowledgement that this is a problem. The belief that it doesn’t harm a man to have sex without his consent – particularly if the perpetrator is a woman. And it’s exactly those problems people like Koss and Chemaly perpetuate by denying the existence of many male victims. That some people identifies themselves so much with the label feminist that they perceive criticism of these peoples feminism as attacks on themselves is not a compelling enough reason for me to silence my criticism.

            I am not especially against non-inclusiveness as in people focusing on one issue (I do it myself), I am against people denying/minimizing the existence of other aspects of the issue of rape. Saying “only men can stop rape” isn’t focusing on female victims, it’s denying the existence of many male victims. It’s the same as Todd Akin saying it’s not legitimate rape if it results in a pregnancy as that to erases female victims of rape that got pregnant. The same goes for Koss’ assertions which colors her research on rape – research that is widely cited. She also has designed SES – a widely known instrument for measuring prevalence of sexual violence. Did you know that Koss also have consulted for the CDC on the issue of sexual violence? She’s not just a hack writing on some comment fields on an obscure blog.

            Shouldn’t women have spoken against Todd Akin when he spewed forth his “legitimate rape” crap? Shouldn’t female victims of rape demand attention to their issue (for instance the huge back-log of unprocessed rape-kits)?

            So I have to wonder: Why the hell shouldn’t male victims of rape point fingers at people
            denying their existence/experience and why the hell shouldn’t male
            victims of rape demand attention to their issue?

          • Andy Crump

            Because that doesn’t help rape victims of either gender, and turns discourse into nothing more than a finger-pointing contest.

            I don’t see a problem with arguing over Koss’ and Chemaly’s perspectives, really (although the most notorious claim Chemaly has made is that men don’t have to worry about being raped on a daily basis like women do, which is such an accurate statement that I can’t understand being upset about it). What I find problematic is the way that those arguments become the centerpiece of discussions on rape culture, particularly those that revolve around male victims of sexual assault. That kind of tangential stuff just perpetuates the “near complete lack of acknowledgment” you perceive in American society of the very real problems faced by male rape survivors.

            I’d also challenge the notion in quotation marks, too, because if you do a Google search – a lowly, simple Google search – you’ll find a lot of material about the topic that has nothing to do with denial. I don’t think that this is an issue of feminism at large denying the real trauma of male rape victims or pretending that men can’t be raped; it’s more a matter of specific feminists espousing beliefs that downplay both.

          • tamen

            Soraya Chemaly wrote an article on rape culture published on The Good Men Project a while back. I don’t know if links are allowed in Disqus, but it is easily found by googling for “soraya chemaly rape culture good men project”.

            In this article she writes:

            “Sexual assault of children, girls and boys, are part of rape culture,
            which is defined by its cultivation of specific, violent, male sexual

            How does female rapists fit in here? They doesn’t as she makes clear later on:

            “There is a qualitative difference between saying men rape women and
            women rape men and that difference gets eliminated when you tell
            individual stories without context.”

            A qualitative difference? Telling the story of my rape would eliminate this difference – it’s hard to read this as telling male victims of female perpetrators to shut up.

            “Boys and men don’t have to think about being the victims of rape on a regular basis.”

            Not even the boys and men who are victims of rape?

            “Raising the specter of women raping boys implies a false equivalence and
            doesn’t help us understand and change a culture where rape—the power,
            the crime, the threat, and the jokes—is acceptable.”

            The message is getting through loud and clear – do not talk about female perpetrators.

            To hammer her point home here is her coup de grâce:

            “Only men can stop rape”

            So, sorry, I do not think the most obnoxious thing Chemaly has written is that men don’t have to worry about being raped in daily basis as women does.

            Even when looking at lifetime figures from the NISVS 2010 about every 5th victim of rape is a man (and that’s excluding men in prison as well as men and women in the army (where about 50% of sexual assault victims are men)), If we take another issue with the reverse gender ratio like sucicide where about every 4th person who commit suicide is a woman. Imagine if the discourse on suicide had the dynamic of the discourse on rape.

          • Andy Crump

            See, I’m reading what she wrote, and reading your interpretations of what she wrote, and I’m seeing such a massive divide between the two that I almost feel like you’re willfully misreading her words to suit your need to express outrage over something. Either that or you’re just replying to them with non sequiturs.

            Basically, if you read that and take the essay as a feminist attempt to quash all discussion of male victims of rape, you’re doing it on purpose.

          • Tyler Foster

            Just because women don’t talk about men for two seconds when they’re talking about female rape victims — possibly telling their own stories — it doesn’t mean they don’t care.

            Why do you even need to bring up the issue of male rape in feminist spaces? Perhaps the reason you guys receive a chilly reception to your valid concerns is because you bust into areas where women are discussing their own traumas and try to make it equally about you. Just because the end point of feminism is gender equality and not advantage doesn’t mean women have to humor men (or vice versa) in every internet nook and cranny. I also suspect the old story about how when women had equal say in a conversation that was half women and half men, the men felt overwhelmed and outnumbered applies in spades to this scenario; since women have never had an equal say, I think it’s just an unfamiliarity with something approaching actual equality setting people off.

            On top of THAT, if all you do is spend your time arguing up the significance of male rape in feminist spaces, of course you’re going to feel like feminists “outnumber and outplatform MRAs.” When one to ten MRAs walk into what could essentially be a meeting hall for feminists and start making a stink, you’re only forcing that feeling of being overwhelmed.

            Someone asked why it’s a shame MRAs are the face of male rape. This is the reason. Every single stance MRAs take in regards to male rape is basically a rebuttal of feminists. It practically seems as if you guys are taking advantage of male rape to try and silence a group you think has wronged you. If you care about this issue, and not what feminists are saying, even if you genuinely believe they’re working against you (you named, wow, three of them; that’s certainly the kind of opposition in any field that would prevent someone from championing something they believed in), you would continue to promote your cause, not go around engaging every feminist on the internet you can pick a fight with.

          • tamen

            First off, I generally only bring up the issue of male rape in feminist discussions when someone have minimized, erased or otherwise misrepresented the existence of male rape victims as well as female perpetrators. I don’t butt in on feminist discussion when specific rapes with female victims. like for instance the Steubenville rape, is discussed. However, if rape is discussed in general terms without explicitly qualifying that the discussion is limited to the perspective of female victims then male victims and well as related statistics certainly belong to the discussion in my view as male rape is also rape. Male survivor James Landrith wrote an article about his rape in The Good Men Project. Some women who were also victims commented telling how they also had been victimized. He didn’t chase them away with accusations of “what about the womenz”. He thanked them for their stories and told them that they were all victims in this together.

            I do note that you try to ridicule me speaking out against Mary P Koss’ stance that male rape isn’t rape unless the man was penetrated. Should I take that as an admission that you do not think she matters, that her influence in inconsequential to what research and resources are going towards male victims? If you hadn’t been pretty clear in other comments that you think the situation described in this article to be rape I’d wondered if you agreed with Koss’ stance on what should count as male rape. And I would’ve challenged that just as much as I suspect you would’ve challenged me if I had said something stupid and wrong like for instance Todd Akin’s legitimate rape comment.

            It’s also interesting that here we are in the comment fields of an article specifically about an instance (albeit fictional) of male rape. And yet even here we are being policed on where we should talk about male rape.

            “Someone asked why it’s a shame MRAs are the face of male rape. This is
            the reason. Every single stance MRAs take in regards to male rape is
            basically a rebuttal of feminists. It practically seems as if you guys
            are taking advantage of male rape to try and silence a group you think
            has wronged you.”

            No, the real shame about MRAs being the most vocal advocate on male rape is that that means that other people aren’t advocating for male rape. The fix to that isn’t that MRAs should advocate less for male rape, but rather that other people advocate more. The main points about male rape I’ve seen from advocates (them being MRAs or others) are that it exists, that it is a problem, that it is harmful and pointing out newer prevalence studies like the NISVS 2010 Report to support their argument. That you feel this is a rebuttal of feminists really is telling about the stance of those feminists.

          • Andy Crump

            No, the real shame about MRAs being the most vocal advocate on male rape is that that means that other people aren’t advocating for male rape.

            Which is a shame because MRAs are horrible advocates for male victims of sexual assault.

        • Tyler Foster

          Decreasing the under-reporting of rape as a crime and bringing awareness to rape culture will have a positive effect on all rape victims who are afraid to come forward. Just like feminism is not the promotion of women over men, but about equality, and tearing down gender roles and stereotypes helps both genders.

      • gwallan

        A month ago in Australia a government qango released a report ostensibly exploring female perpetration of child sexual abuse which significantly minimised both the extent and impact of such abuse. Their motivation was a concern that exposure of female committed abuse was damaging to their position on domestic violence which is, at best, only peripheral to the matter of child sexual abuse. The end.

    • Andy Crump

      While I don’t necessarily disagree with some (some) of your points regarding cultural views on male rape, your approach to discussing them lacks proper back-up, and this whole “competition of suffering” thing is noxious and awful. You make it sound like nobody at all cares about male rape, but even a cursory glance through RAINN’s homepage proves that this isn’t really correct. Male rape is a very real problem, it’s just not as dominant as female rape.

      If you want to draw attention to the very serious issues faced by male victims of sexual assault (whether perpetrated by another man or by a woman), it makes no sense to do so at the expense of other victims. If anything, rape survivors of all genders should be able to support and stand by each other, though that doesn’t really strike me as your attitude.

      • iliketurtlez

        “it’s just not as dominant as female rape.”

        So let’s not talk about it at all, because outside the MRM, that’s exactly what happens. If you disapprove with the existence of the MRM, and have no problems with the feminist double standards that would be called sexism if we did it, you are not an egalitarian.

        If I said something like that downplaying a woman’s issue, you would accuse me of being sexist, and rightfully so. Drop the oppression olympics. Sure, female genital mutilation is more drastic, but male genital mutilation is still freaking legal. Sure, women are under represented in STEM and I support there being more female scholarships to help with that, but what’s being done about men being under represented in childcare, teaching, nursing, graduating high school, and graduating college? Even in female dominated majors, female only scholarships abound.

        All MRAs want is for people to care. We want a right to our bodies too. We want our gender roles ended too. We want a fair shot in custody court. We want to be able to call 911 when we’re a DV victim, and not be the one put into cuffs by default. We want shelters and safe spaces too. A Google search of shelters in my area finds 6, and they’re all women only. Between the lack of support, the quarterly “sexual harassment in the workplace” powerpoints that say only women can be victims, and the legal definition of rape… I just… I get honestly depressed when I see feminists question the existence of the MRM, when they’re the reason we exist.

        • Andy Crump

          Am I saying let’s not talk about it at all? I’m not. It should all be part of the same umbrella conversation. And yes, if you downplayed rape culture and its widespread impact on women, I would call you…well, maybe not sexist, but certainly fucking delusional, because it has a demonstrably widespread impact on women. Downplaying that would be stupid.

          Also: I’m not the one playing the Oppression Olympics here, friendo.

          • Reality Check

            Do you think RAINN is fucking stupid and delusional for not buying into the rape culture myth?

          • Andy Crump

            I find their denouncement of rape culture head-scratching and, yes, delusional, but let me check your “gotcha” tactics with this.

            That denouncement doesn’t change the fact that they’re one of the most important organizations dedicated to combating rape in this country. Given their track record in fighting rape, I’m willing to consider their perspective with more charity than, say, virulent misogynists on the Internet (not anyone in this particular thread, mind). At the end of the day they’re still out to prevent rape and help rape victims, not deny that rape is a problem.

      • gwallan

        Just what do you mean by “male rape”? Or “female rape”? Is it the victims you are referring to or the perpetrators? Is this a bit like “reverse sexism” when in reality there is only actually “sexism”?

        This need to separate victims into categories suggests to me a desire to treat or view those victims differently. You could consider modifying your language to avoid giving this impression.

        • Andy Crump

          As in “male victims of rape”. And nice try. Whatever the categorization suggests to you, the purpose behind my language here is pretty clearly a reaction to the posts I’ve been responding to. I agree that “rape is rape”, but when you’re talking about why X group of rape victims get more attention than Y group, designation becomes important.

          • gwallan

            So you DO want individual victims treated differently depending upon a class or category you can shove them into rather than their own individual circumstances.

            Thankyou for being honest.

          • Andy Crump

            No. Like I said, rape is rape. So every rape victim should be treated with the same care regardless of gender. The gender distinctions being used here are explicitly due to the nature of the thread and the discussion itself. Thanks for being dishonest.

      • tamen

        A look at RAINN’s homepage reveals the problem of them relying on old statistics that excludes a large subset of male rape victims by using a very gendered definition of rape. This makes the problem of male rape seem much smaller than it in reality is and that has real consequences. They for instance state that 9 out of 10 victims were women in 2003 – citing U.S. Department of Justice. 2003 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2003.

        The definition of raped used by the NCVS survey:
        “For the NCVS, rape means forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion, as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the offender(s).”
        I trust you can see the problem here. The corresponding findings for 2010 for the NISVS 2010 Report if one uses a definition of rape that includes “made to penetrate” would be “Every second victim of rape and attempted rape i 2010 were women”.

        There has been an e-mail campaign directed at RAINN asking them to change this and replies to that campaign from RAINN have indicated that work are underway to update their homepage. It’ll be interesting to see what emerge from that work.

        I’ve also had FBI clarify that the current definition of rape (operational from January 2013) indeed does include “made to penetrate” (or “rape by envelopment” as it’s also called) in the definition of rape. I see no reasons why CDC shouldn’t do the same and why RAINN’s homepage shouldn’t point this out more clearly.

      • tamen

        Andy Crump: “this whole “competition of suffering” thing is noxious and awful.”

        Yet you apparently didn’t notice how this “competition” was done by the original article by explicitly mentioning the proper hierarchy of victims:

        “And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that women have it much worse.”

        • Andy Crump

          Ignoring the fact that the competition didn’t begin until MRAs wandered in here and started making the conversation about them for no reason, you really have no business of even half-accusing other people of the sort of competition you apparently are unaware you’ve been engaging in throughout this entire thread. Maybe you’ve suffered a stroke and were unaware of just how richly ironic your comment is, but either way, it’s pretty galling that you think you have a leg to stand on, and tells me a lot about what kind of an asshole you are.

  • Michael Mirasol

    Men’s Rights Activists. What will they think of next?

  • iliketurtlez

    The real rape culture is how common it is that people advocate men dropping the soap in prison. I’ve never once seen someone advocate women being systemically raped, but people endorse men being raped in prison as though it should be part of the punishment.

    As for your comment on MRAs… would it make sense for an atheist to join a group that wants to enact a theocracy in America? That’s why MRAs exist. Many of use used to be feminists. I joined feminism because I believe in equality, and left it for the same reason. Way too many double standards. Way too little empathy. The empathy gap is why our most prominent members are women, and why the most active people campaigning against male genital mutilation are mother’s groups. When a man brings up these issues, feminists virgin shame him and accuse him of being a fedora wearing neckbeard.

    I find the MRM far more egalitarian than Feminism. You will never hear us downplaying female issues with rhetoric like “check your privilege” or “patriarchy hurts men too”, which is what they do to us. We agree with feminism that gender roles need to end, except from our perspective, they only want to end female gender roles. Men are still fair game, from being pushed into labor to systemically losing in custody court. It would seem that feminists want to keep that part of patriarchy.

  • http://markley.weebly.com/index.html John Drew Markley

    “Regrettably, the most vocal advocates for male rape victims tend to be Men’s Rights Activists,”

    Feminists have always been, and still are, free to take that distinction from us at any time. Pity they’ve never wanted it.

  • Николай Тодоров

    Geez. I have a news for you: It’s called seduction and women are doing it at least from a million years. That guy you’ve mentioned in the train could’ve easily declined her proposal – change place, call in some train security and report the girls, push the girl more firmly. Instead, he left himself get a BJ with minimal a resistance. It’s called temptation and according to the bible, women (and men actually) fall do it and fall for it from the begining of times. So please – these crappy articles are not helping anyone. If any, they deny men’s responsibility when lured by women.

    • Andy Crump

      There is nothing seductive about this scene. He is not being seduced. He is practically crying.

      • Николай Тодоров

        Duh. You sound like you’ve never fought temptation or cheated on someone. He wanted to do the “right thing” and not cheat on his wife, but his **ck took the better of him and he fell for the BJ. There’s nothing strange about him crying. There is hardly anything even resembling rape here, unlike many other movies, when the guy is actually forced to do it.

        • Andy Crump

          I’ve also never been brutally enslaved, lived in isolation, struggled to make it as a folk musician, fought against an army of Orcs, or flown into outer space, yet my lack of experience doesn’t really dictate my ability to shine insight on the pieces of art I’m referencing. Maybe I haven’t ever fought temptation or been unfaithful, but I can spot a person who doesn’t want to be tempted or be coerced into being unfaithful a mile away all the same. It’s because I’m human and therefore have empathy.

          The man on the train is not a man who is comfortable with Joe’s advances. (Note, also, that I didn’t say it was “strange” that he’s crying.) He’s so impassive that I think arguing his manhood took the better of him is kind of disingenuous. The fact that he still looks miserable afterwards pretty much erases any notion of him being conflicted over his circumstances; the dude got violated.

          • Николай Тодоров

            Yes, he got violated – by his manhood. The girl hasnt put him at a gunpoint, hasn’t drugged him, tied him, blackmailed him or used any kind of coercion, safe for her good looks. This may be immoral, or mischeivous but it’s no dam* rape.She’s a classical seductress and he’s a classical weak man, that could not say “no” to his urges. By calling this “rape” one trivializes the notion of “rape” and absolve the guy from responsibility. As I’ve said – he could’ve turned her down easily – he didn’t. As guilty as he chooses to feel after that – he’s neither violated nor raped.

          • Andy Crump

            You don’t have to put someone at gunpoint, or drug them, or tie them up, or blackmail or otherwise coerce them, in order to rape them. And he does turn her down, unless saying “no” doesn’t count, in which case I hope you never drink at frat parties.

          • Николай Тодоров

            Well, like it or not genders are subjected to different standards. A woman can rape a man in certain occasions, but this is an obvious case of temptation, no matter how many “no”‘s the guy is mumbling while getting his **** worked. And I do get drunk at parties, though in rarer occasions these days, and I’ve never had a problem declining “proposals” from people I don’t find attractive – though truth be told if a girl wants it that much in order to begin unzipping my pants I’d probably give it just to reward this kind of assertiveness in a woman.

          • Andy Crump

            I actually do agree that they’re subjected to different standards, but from where I’m sitting, this isn’t seduction. LVT certainly doesn’t frame it that way. We’re at an impasse, it seems.

          • Николай Тодоров

            I do concurr it was a mischief from her part to take advantage of him, but as immoral as this is, “rape” is not the word. It’s like a man taking atvantage of a woman, by seducing her when she’s vulnerable emotionally. The word “no” and the post-coital tears are not a sign of violation but of weakness and emotional struggle. He obviously realized that having sex with her is not the best thing to do, but it wasn’t so bad as for giving him the trouble to zip his pants up and find another cabin, void of nymphos. And yes, LVT wanted to show that sex has its darker side, but this scene is far from a “reverse rape”. Heck, it wouldn’t have been a rape even if their genders were swapped.

  • Andy Crump

    Generally, when a person tells another to “do (their) research”, I find that that person has not done their own. Case in point: you.

    In 2013, it was found that one out of every six women in the US has been the victim of rape – successful or not – in their lifetime. Nine out of ten rape victims are female. Meanwhile, one out of every thirty three men in the US has been the victim of rape, und so weiter und so fort. 10% of all rape victims are male.

    So. Y’know. You’re wrong! Unless you take prison statistics into account, which you may have either done intentionally or by mistake. When taking prison statistics into account, men are victimized by rape and sexual assault waaaaaay more often than women. So I guess you’re not totally wrong. But you’re also not totally right, or being totally honest.

    This just proves that there’s a huge difference in how gender politics define and inflict this experience upon men and women. Men may be victimized far more in the prison system than women, but men categorically do not need to have the same fear and concern of being raped outside of that system as women. To say that “more men are raped each year than women” is to say that somehow, men are the ones who have to go out with friends and be extra careful what strangers they interact with. That is just bullshit. If you want to know why it’s regrettable that MRAs advocate for male, it’s because they, like you, cannot be bothered to fact check.

    But no matter where the rape happens, it’s traumatic, and victims of rape – in prison or not, man or woman – all deserve the same counseling and compassion. I think that’s something everybody should be able to agree on, but it seems that some people can’t help but try to make this an “us versus them” issue, which is just plain old repulsive.

    • Sarah Stuart

      “In 2013, it was found that one out of every six women in the US has been the victim of rape – successful or not – in their lifetime. Nine out of ten rape victims are female. Meanwhile, one out of every thirty three men in the US has been the victim of rape,”

      Andy, you are using heavily biased and largely dismissed statistics. Statistics that deliberately obfuscate and either diminish or deny male rape altogether. You need to update your understanding of what rape is, who commits it, and who benefits from screwing with the data.

      Nobody is trying to make this an “us vs them” issue – what people *are* trying to do is make it a “not just them” issue. Which is precisely what you have done repeatedly across these comments.

      Men’s Rights Advocates are the *only* people I see trying to get others to pay attention to issues like male rape victims. For that reason, they have my backing.

      • Andy Crump

        Oh, spare me. Heavily biased according to whom? Largely dismissed by whom? What, exactly, am I obfuscating here, and what right do you have to accuse me of ignorance and obfuscation when you’re the one claiming that “more men are raped each year than women” in the US while linking to an article that makes it clear this claim is only accurate when taking prison rape into account? (Also: military rape.) Do you have data that suggests men are sexually assaulted and raped in public more than women? Where is it coming from?

        Don’t be disingenuous. When you make outrageous claims based off an article that you really clearly didn’t even read thoroughly, you are one hundred percent trying to make the issue into an “us vs them” issue. There is absolutely no other reason to pose your assertions as you have actively chosen to (though I am sure you will claim otherwise), so stop pretending to be egalitarian.

        Also, I agree with the bad English in your second paragraph: all I’m doing here is attempt to point out that the issue of rape is a “not just them” issue. Thanks! I try my best. it helps not to have an agenda beyond discussing the issue at hand and dismissing the petty “me first” responses from people who can’t read data.

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