Thursday, 11 November 2010

headline fail... in fact, total fail

there have some cases in hamilton of men being abducted and raped. it turns out that the police have now made an arrest, so how do you think it was reported in the waikato times? with the following blaring headline on the front page of yesterday's paper:

Man-sex cases: arrest made

really? seriously? the best way you can describe male sexual assault is "man-sex"??? have you all not heard of the word "rape"? it's a simple four-letter word, it clearly describes what happened, it doesn't take up much space. in a side-bar, they manage to use the tag "sex attacks on men", which at least gives the notion of lack of consent. see, it's not so hard is it?

but that isn't the only bit of fail in the article. check out the last few paragraphs:

Waikato University Associate Professor Doug Boer said male rape victims were even more reticent than women when it came to reporting being sexually assaulted "because of the assault on their self-image as a man as well as being a rape victim".

"Also, men don't generally conceive of themselves as potentially a victim of sexual assault, so when it happens it is entirely counter to the victim's sense of what is possible."

again, i have to say, really? you think women's self-image doesn't take a hit when they become a rape victim? it surely does. and they way female rape victims are treated, particularly by our media, by our justice system & by society in general, well all of that creates quite a considerable barrier to women reporting rape & sexual assault. in fact, i've read that only 1 in 10 cases will be reported.

if that figure is less for men (and i'd like to see the evidence), then yes, that needs some unpacking. a lot of it will be related to the way gender is constructed in our society, as well as to homophobia. but the way this is worded - "assault on their self-image" - as if this is something that just happens to men, it's just pathetic.

13 comments:

Brett Dale said...

Sexual crimes against males are never taken as seriously by the media than they should be.

It's treated as a joke which is sickening, in fact physical assualts of high school boys arent taken as seriously by schools either.

You would think in this day and age it would be.

ideologicallyimpure said...

Wow, Doug Boer. So when women are raped it isn't as bad because at least we spend our entire lives being aware of the possibility of being victimized? NO COOKIE FOR YOU.

Brett, "in this day and age" I would think plenty of things would be taken more seriously by both the media and the justice system - rape of men and women alike.

David S. said...

"Waikato University Associate Professor Doug Boer said male rape victims were even more reticent than women when it came to reporting being sexually assaulted "because of the assault on their self-image as a man as well as being a rape victim"."

One of the ways men are (generally) judged by society is how masculine they are. How strong, how tough, and how well they able to defend themselves and the people around them. He's saying that men are more reluctant to admit to being a victim of rape because being a victim impacts their image in this regard.

No where did I see him say that rape is worse for men, or that it does not impact on a woman's self-image. He's only stated that a man is less likely to admit to being a victim.

That being said, the headline is pretty fail.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when rape cases are described as 'sex' cases in general - male or female. Rape is not sex. This headline is terrible, but sadly I'm not surprised.

L

Boganette said...

"He's only stated that a man is less likely to admit to being a victim."

I'd like to see what evidence he actually bases that on. Because I can't figure out for the life of me how he's come to that conclusion.

That headline makes me want to smash my head against a brick wall. It's disgusting.

ideologicallyimpure said...

David, keep reading. "Men don't generally conceive of themselves as potentially a victim of sexual assault, so when it happens" etc. etc. Right after referring to reporting rape as an "assault on their self-image".

So rape is what, more shocking? more traumatic? more stressful in the aftermath for men? because they don't get to live their lives knowing every day could be the day they become a victim of sexual assault. Sure sounds like someone's making a "it's worse for men" argument to me - with a bonus prize of not actually acknowledging how fucking awful it is that women do have to consider themselves potential victims.

Anonymous said...

So rape is what, more shocking? more traumatic? more stressful in the aftermath for men?

Where does the article say that? Because simply saying that men are less likely than women to see themselves as potential victims of rape doesn't seem to imply that. The worst part about rape isn't the surprise, it's the fact that you were raped.

And Boganette, research to back this claim can be found in Boer's 2010 article Structured professional judgment guidelines for sexual violence risk assessment: The sexual violence risk-20 (SVR-20) and risk for sexual violence protocol (RSVP) in "Handbook of Violence Risk Assessment".

stargazer said...

anon, please use a consistent handle as per our comments policy, if you don't want your comment deleted.

in terms of "where does the article say that", i think QoT is right in that it is pretty heavily implied in the way those comments are framed. also, is the paper you link to available on-line?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Stargazer

And no sadly I don't think it is, not even via JSTOR etc.

I guess what the article says "between the lines" is something we can't agree on. I do agree the headline is stupid. But often the headline is written by a different journo than the article. Not sure about the Waikato Times but this is definitely the practice in the Press and the Herald.

I think it's fair to say that "assault on their self image as a man" is something that only happens to men. Rape is a gendered experience so it seems pretty likely that the two genders will experience it differently. I don't see discussing how that experience differs as innately sexist.

-Mr Pib

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stargazer said...

last anon, please repost your comments using a consistent handle, as requested in the paragraphs above the comment box, and in my previous comment on this thread.

Random Lurker said...

@ideologicallyimpure, I think the point is, when you believe that something is impossible, when it actually happens, it's hard to admit it to yourself, let alone someone else.

It's true for pretty much anything. I would for example dismiss meeting a talking badger as some sort of bizarre hallucination. I will refuse to believe in a talking badgers despite the experience.

I don't know if some people consider the possibility of being raped on par with the possibility of me meeting a talking badger, but if they did I'm sure they would adjust the event to fit a more plausible narrative. Perhaps "I was defeated fairly, in a physical competition" for example. "Certainly no need to tell anyone about it".

@stargazer "you think women's self-image doesn't take a hit when they become a rape victim? "

I read that a little differently. I read it as 'the hit on a masculine self-image is more likely to cause non reporting than hits on other types of self-image'. I don't know if that's true or why, but that's what I inferred about the Associate Professor's opinion.

Uninformed conjecture:

Of rapes I imagine violent male on female rapes will be most commonly reported, with non-violent male on female rapes a distant second. Other types less likely, particularly I imagine non-violent female on male or female on female rapes.

I would suggest that's the case because we don't know what the societal consensus is with those, apart from possibly outdated notions of gender expectations. We know violent male on female rape is considered bad. We know popular opinion is divided on non-violent male on female rapes. But the rest is un-discussed territory.

ideologicallyimpure said...

@ideologicallyimpure, I think the point is, when you believe that something is impossible, when it actually happens, it's hard to admit it to yourself, let alone someone else.

Sure, RL, but the sodding problem with that is the fact of living in a society where men get to believe that and women get to walk around knowing that the odds are very much against them.