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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Stemple and I. Meyer contributed to the conceptualization of this article, the interpretation of data, and the drafting and revision of content. We assessed month prevalence and incidence data on sexual victimization in 5 federal surveys that the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted independently in through We used these data to examine the prevailing assumption that men rarely experience sexual victimization.
We concluded that federal surveys detect a high prevalence of sexual victimization among men—in many circumstances similar to the prevalence found among women. We recommend changes that move beyond regressive gender assumptions, which can harm both women and men. The sexual victimization of women was ignored for centuries.
Although it remains tolerated and entrenched in many pockets of the world, feminist analysis has gone a long way toward revolutionizing thinking about the sexual abuse of women, demonstrating that sexual victimization is rooted in gender norms 1 and is worthy of social, legal, and public health intervention.
We have aimed to build on this important legacy by drawing attention to male sexual victimization, an overlooked area of study. We take a fresh look at several recent findings concerning male sexual victimization, exploring explanations for the persistent misperceptions surrounding it. Feminist principles that emphasize equity, inclusion, and intersectional approaches 2 ; the importance of understanding power relations 3 ; and the imperative to question gender assumptions 4 inform our analysis. To explore patterns of sexual victimization and gender, we examined 5 sets of federal agency survey data on this topic Table 1.
In particular, we show that month prevalence data from 2 new sets of surveys conducted, independently, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC and the Bureau of Justice Statistics BJS found widespread sexual victimization among men in the United States, with some forms of victimization roughly equal to those experienced by women.
Despite such findings, contemporary depictions of sexual victimization reinforce the stereotypical sexual victimization paradigm, comprising male perpetrators and female victims. As we demonstrate, the reality concerning sexual victimization and gender is more complex. Although different federal agency surveys have different purposes and use a wide variety of methods each with concomitant limitations , we examined the findings of each, attempting to glean an overall picture.
This picture reveals alarmingly high prevalence of both male and female sexual victimization; we highlight the underappreciated findings related to male sexual victimization. The survey found that men and women had a similar prevalence of nonconsensual sex in the 12 months 1. We explore 3 factors that lead to misperceptions concerning gender and sexual victimization. First, a male perpetrator and female victim paradigm underlies assumptions about sexual victimization. This has entailed the prioritization of the types of harm women are more likely to experience as well as the exclusion of men from the definition of rape.
Third, the data most widely reported in the press are derived from household sampling. Inherent in this is a methodological bias that misses many who are at great risk for sexual victimization in the United States: inmates, the vast majority of whom are male. We call for the consistent use of gender-inclusive terms for sexual victimization, objective reporting of data, and improved methodologies that for institutionalized populations.
In this way, research and reporting on sexual victimization will more accurately reflect the experiences of both women and men. The conceptualization of men as perpetrators and women as victims remains the dominant sexual victimization paradigm. These include the ideas that female-perpetrated abuse is rare or nonexistent, 12 that male victims experience less harm, 8 and that for men all sex is welcome. We have interrogated some of the stereotypes concerning gender and sexual victimization, and we call for researchers to move beyond them.
First, we question the assumption that feminist theory requires disproportionate concern for female victims. Indeed, some contemporary gender theorists have questioned the overwhelming focus on female victimization, not simply because it misses male victims but also because it serves to reinforce regressive notions of female vulnerability.
Related to this, treating male sexual victimization as a rare occurrence can impose regressive expectations about masculinity on men and boys. Another common gender stereotype portrays men as sexually insatiable. Such dismissal runs counter to evidence that men who experience sexual abuse report problems such as depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, loss of self-esteem, and long-term relationship difficulties.
A related argument for treating male victimization as less worrisome holds that male victims experience less physical force than do female victims, 21 the implication being that the use of force determines concern about victimization. This rationale problematically conflicts with the important feminist-led movement away from physical force as a defining and necessary component of sexual victimization. Portraying male victimization as aberrant or harmless also adds to the stigmatization of men who face sexual victimization.
This narrative teaches that, contrary to timeworn tropes, the victimization of a woman is not her fault, that it is not caused by her prior sexual history or her choice of attire, and that for survivors of rape and other abuse, speaking out against victimization can be politically important and personally redemptive. For men, a similar discourse has not been developed. The minimization of male sexual victimization and the hesitancy of victims to come forward may also contribute to a paucity of legal action concerning male sexual victimization.
Although state laws have become more gender neutral, criminal prosecution for the sexual victimization of men remains rare and has been attributed to a lack of concern for male victims. Not only does the traditional sexual victimization paradigm masks male victimization, it can obscure sexual abuse perpetrated by women as well as same-sex victimization. We offer a few counterparadigmatic examples.
Despite such complexities, as recently as , the National Incident Based Reporting System a component of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program [UCR] included male rape victims but still maintained that for victimization to be categorized as rape, at least 1 of the perpetrators had to be of the opposite sex. Additional research and analysis concerning female perpetration and same-sex abuse is warranted but is beyond the scope of this article. For now we simply highlight the concern that reliance on the male perpetrator and female victim paradigm limits understandings, not only of male victimization but of all counterparadigmatic abuse.
Although the definitions and categorization of these harms have become more gender inclusive over time, bias against recognizing male victimization remains. Reforms also broadened definitions to address nonrape sexual assault. These state revisions left a mismatch with the limited UCR definition, forcing agencies to send only a subset of reported sexual assault to the FBI. Some localities eventually refused to parse their data according to the biased federal .
This likely undercounts male victimization for reasons we now detail. Twelve-month sexual victimization prevalence percentage among adult population noninstitutionalized from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey , and among adult and juvenile detainees from the National Inmate Survey — and the National Survey of Youth in Custody, United States. This striking finding—that men and women reported similar rates of nonconsensual sex in a month period—might have made for a newsworthy finding.
The fact sheet paints a picture of highly divergent prevalence of female and male abuse, when, in fact, the data concerning all nonconsensual sex are much more nuanced. Unsurprisingly, media outlets then emphasized the material the CDC highlighted in its summary material. In addition, the full NISVS report presents data on sexual victimization in 2 main : rape and other sexual violence. Additionally, much more information is provided about rape than being made to penetrate.
The NISVS report gives separate prevalence estimates for completed versus attempted rape and for rape that was facilitated by alcohol or drugs. No such breakdown is given concerning victims who were made to penetrate, although such data were collected. Including these data in the report would avoid suggesting that this form of unwanted sexual activity is somehow less worthy of detailed analysis.
Prioritizing rape over being made to penetrate may seem an obvious and important distinction at first glimpse. But a more careful examination shows that prioritizing rape over other forms of nonconsensual sex is sometimes difficult to justify, for example, in the case of an adult forcibly performing oral sex on an adolescent girl and on an adolescent boy. We argue that this is neither a useful nor an equitable distinction. But the distinction may obscure more than it elucidates.
This focus on the directionality of the act runs counter to the trend toward greater gender inclusivity in sexual victimization definitions over the past 4 decades. We recognize that when it comes to the impact of sexual victimization, men and women may indeed experience it differently. The reasons for continuing such practices would need to outweigh the drawbacks we have enumerated. We do not believe that such justification has been offered in the literature.
We therefore urge federal agencies to use care when collecting and reporting data on sexual victimization to avoid biased categorization. This does not mean that we suggest treating all sexual victimization identically. Nonconsensual penetrative acts regardless of directionality may be legitimately distinguished from acts that do not involve penetration. Likewise, harms that do not involve any genital contact whatsoever, such as unwelcome kissing, flashing, and sexual comments, although harmful for some victims, are categorically distinguishable because they do not involve contact with socially inviolable and physically sensitive reproductive parts of the body.
They can be used more consistently and with less gender and heterosexist bias across crime, health, and other surveys. This would facilitate important cross-population analyses that inconsistent definitions now limit. In population-based sexual victimization studies, as in many other areas, researchers use a sampling frame that is restricted to US households.
This excludes, among others, those held in juvenile detention, jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers. Because of the explosion of the US prison and jail population to nearly 2. Opportunities for intersectional analyses that take race, class, and other factors into are missed when the incarcerated are excluded. Of course, surveys of inmate and juvenile populations present a host of ethical, legal, and logistical challenges for surveyors.
Sexual victimization in particular is risky for inmates to disclose; those who report abuse may be targeted for retaliation. The challenges of including vulnerable populations are very real, but because inmates are at great risk, their exclusion is especially likely to skew the public understanding of sexual victimization.
Recognizing the lack of data concerning incarcerated persons, the Prison Rape Elimination Act mandates that BJS conduct a regular comprehensive survey about sexual victimization behind bars. We reviewed 2 of the recently released reports Table 1 , which provide from the National Inmate Survey — and the National Survey of Youth in Custody, These 2 surveys demonstrate that male and female detainees both experience sexual victimization committed by staff and other inmates and that the prevalence differs by sex Figure 1.
In the National Survey of Youth in Custody , about 9.Adult sex dating in battles mississippi
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