I was sat in a barber’s chair in Chelsea when the topic of male rape came up; we’d been speaking about Zeke Thomas, (who I’d met a few days earlier, and watch give a harrowing account of his experience with being sexually abused on a radio talk show).
“I’m sorry, but I just think it’s weird when men come forward about things like that,” the barber stated. Immediately I sensed the discomfort a non-victim feels when sexual assault is discussed openly.
“I just don’t know why you need to say anything,” he said it as though the victims were middle-aged mums telling everyone about their child’s eating habits on Facebook.
No… it isn’t comfortable to hear stories of sexual abuse. Although it’s far less comfortable for the person who experiences it.
I believe his views – at least in part – arise from the perception that men should be strong enough to fight off an attacker, especially a rapist. That there is something abhorrently shameful about being a male victim, because as homophobic ideologies go, gay sex is emasculating, especially if it’s unwanted and you couldn’t prevent it.
Months later when I was back in London, I found myself having a drunk conversation with a guy I’d once been on a (disastrous) date with. We’d begun talking about the London gay chill out scene and its dangers, after a mutual connection had been abused when passed out at a party.
“Well, if he’s taking that many drugs, what does he expect?” He proposed.
The seriousness in his tone was making my blood boil.
His argument was no different than that which blames female victims for drinking too much. At what point does one accept rape, because someone got carried away while innocently enjoying themselves? This is how fucked up society is, that we place blame on those assaulted; almost as if getting fucked up is more immoral than forcing sex upon someone who doesn’t want it.
Excessive drinking and drug-taking can be irresponsible, but the only thing most victims are actually guilty of, is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Taking into consideration that many victims of sexual assault use alcohol and drugs to escape existing stresses and traumas that we weren’t taught how to cope with effectively.
A similar thing happened a while back when porn star Kayden Gray shared his story with GSN about being abused at a chemsex party. The comments were littered with judgment and lack of empathy.
“He went to a gay sex club and then took drugs until he was unconscious. What else did he expect?” writes one user.
Can people really not see that the problem is expecting sexual assault?
Unfortunately, due to the number of dark and disturbed monsters in our world, sexual abuse and rape have been normalized. But the Me Too movement, while uncomfortable for some to listen to is entirely necessary to dismantle sexual abuse.
People will always have differences and opinions, but if there’s one thing we should be able to unite on, it’s this. Put your gay judgment aside, acknowledge the real horror, and support victims whose stories can positively impact the lives of others.