Free Literature Review Example
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Free Literature Review Example
From reviewing the literature that is available on the subject of male rape, it became obvious that although it is now accepted as a criminal offense, the idea of men being raped by other men is still very much a taboo subject that is not dealt with in today’s society.
Up until the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, there was not even a legal definition of male rape and the act was being described in courts across the country as “forced buggery”, meaning sexual intercourse against the course of nature. Forced buggery also carried a lesser penalty than rape, immediately giving the impression that this type of sexual assault was less important or less intrusive than that of rape of a female.
This critical review of the literature surrounding male rape in no way means to surpass, or even disregard, female rape, but the literature does show that when this heinous crime does take place there are many places for women to turn to and, in many cases, nowhere available to deal with men (Rogers, 1999).
One of the main drawbacks to this subject is that most of the research that has been carried out on men’s experiences of sexual assault is largely developed outside of the academic world and is therefore the preserve of practitioners such as mental health nurses, counselors and staff in sexual health clinics (Allen 2002 cited in Hoyle and Young 2002:24).
Another major problem with the extent of the literature is that the vast majority of it is concerned with men’s experiences within the United States of America. This causes problems with a review as different states in the USA have different definitions of what can be classified as male rape. Some examples of this would be the state of Kansas where statute still states that the rape of a male is considered to be aggravated criminal sodomy (www.safehomeks.org/abuse/edu/sassualt/malerape.htm) and that in other states in the USA rape is defined in broad terms as the non-consensual penetration of the anus by penis, hand or other object (Allen 2002 cited in Hoyle and Young 2002:26).
Most of the research concerning male rape is about the levels of rape within prisons. There is a vast array of research on this topic, compared with the amount that is available on non-institutional rape, and even though some states in America do not even recognize the existence of male rape, there has been a Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002 (updated to the Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2003).
This legislation focuses on rape prevention, investigation and punishment (www.hrw.org/reports/2001/prison/learn.html). It is because of the extent of the information on prison rape, and the lack of information on non-institutional male rape that I have decided to concentrate this literature review on the non-institutional side of male rape in the hope that the lack of prevalence surrounding this subject does not result in it falling further into obscurity.
One subject that appears in most of the literature is the subject of masculinity. Authors such as Connell (1995), Kaufman (1994), Gilmore (1990) and Brannon (1976) all discuss the idea that embedded in the understanding of male rape is the concept of masculinity. They explain how important masculinity is to men.
Connell elaborates by saying,
“True masculinity is almost always thought to proceed from men’s bodies- to be inherent in a male body or to express something about a male body. Either the body drives and directs action (e.g., men are naturally more aggressive than women; rape results from uncontrollable lust or an innate urge to violence), the body sets limits to action (e.g., men naturally do not take care of infants; homosexuality is unnatural and therefore confined to a perverse minority).
Brannon (1976) developed a theory of masculinity, which he calls a “Blueprint for manhood” in which he explains the idea of “real men” as butch, strong, risk takers who can be depended upon, also known as the “John Wayne Syndrome”. Gilmore (1990) also adds that for a man to encapsulate masculinity he must be a “man at all costs”, and that to be a homosexual man is to be anti-masculine.
It is at this point that the majority of the literature surrounding male rape then begins to explain the power dynamics behind the offence. Dr. Alan McEvoy, author of “If He is Raped” explains that a commonly held belief is that male rapists are mainly openly gay men or men who hide their homosexual feelings from their public lives (www.menweb.org/dateviol/malerape.htm), but the Counseling and Mental Health Center for the University of Texas goes on to add that most men who sexually assault other men identify themselves as heterosexual (www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/maleassault/menassault.html).
Allen (2002 cited in Hoyle and Young 2002:30-35) states that just as victims of male rape can be heterosexual, homosexual or bi-sexual, the perpetrators of the rape can also be heterosexual, homosexual or bi-sexual with none of these sexual orientations taking prevalence over the rest, in the act of male rape.
This leads to a theme that is common throughout all of the literature that was read, which is that sexual assault is about violence, anger, and control over another person and most definitely not about lust or sexual attraction (Scarce 1997:15).
The literature shows that as early as 1930 Sigmund Freud was discussing the idea of a phallocentric world in which the penis meant power (Freud 1930). Male rape is seen by many to be the ultimate act of power as it is seen to be more of a challenge to overpower another man than it is to overpower a woman (Groth and Burgess 1980 cited in The American Journal of Psychiatry 137(7): 806).
Adult male victims, on the whole, face a greater degree of violence with rape, and the amount of force used has been shown to increase with the victim’s age. In male rape lives are often threatened and it is much more likely that a weapon will be used to overpower the victim, than it is in female rape (www.safehome-ks.org/abuse/edu/sassualt/malerape.htm).
Although the amount of research that has been carried out on male rape is very scarce there are a few Internet websites that offer some statistics.
www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/maleassault/menassault.html states that by most estimations 5% to 10% of sexual assaults committed in United States involve male victims and that some experts say that as many as 1 in 10 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.
www.safehome-ks.org/abuse/edu/sassualt/malerape.htm print that approximately 10% of all rape victims are men. An Irish website www.drcc.ie/help/male/ says that experiences in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre show 12% of all clients who seek counseling for rape are male, and a British Metropolitan Police website (2003) shows that since male rape was made a criminal offense in 1994, Home Office statistics show a 400% per cent rise in reported cases (1995-2000), but as male rape was not a criminal offense before 1994, the website fails to tell the reader what these statistics were compared with and it is left to guess that the comparison is to the reporting of “forced buggery”.
Coxell et al. (2000) carried out some recent research on 2,472 men attending their GP. It showed that over 5% of these men had suffered sexual abuse as children and almost 3% reported non-consensual sexual experiences as adults.
Allen (2002) interviewed 50 men who had been raped and who had admitted that the sexual assault on them was rape. 17 of the men interviewed were heterosexual and the other 33 were either homosexual or bi-sexual. Allen found that there were distinct differences in the ways in which heterosexual, homosexual and bi-sexual men relate to and understand male rape. She found that heterosexual men were more likely to emphasize the use of violence used against them in an attack, as if to justify why they allowed the attack to take place, and that homosexual and bi-sexual men were more likely to define their experiences as rape if it corresponded to the “real rape” scenario- in other words, if the assault consisted of an attack by a stranger, carrying a weapon or using physical violence to force the man to have anal intercourse against his will. From this research Allen went on to identify 4 different types of rape. The first being “overpower”, this is when a victim was overpowered by their assailant or assailants, this usually involved either more than one assailant, the use of weapons or even both situations. This was more likely to be a stranger rape situation and could be carried out on all sexually orientated men. The second was “override”; this type of rape was more likely to be carried out on a homosexual or bi-sexual man as it was seen as two men being in an intimate situation but without consent being given to allow anal penetration. It would be at this point where one of the men would “override” the other and basically rape him. In this situation it would also be more likely that the victim would know the perpetrator. The third type is known as “intimidation”, again this type of rape could be carried out on a man of any sexual orientation, but the difference here is that the victim would be in a subordinate or vulnerable position in relation to the rapist. The fourth and final type of rape, which Allen identified, was “entrapment”. This could be carried out on a man of any sexual orientation and the strategy to this type of rape involved a perpetrator entrapping a known victim, either by plying him with drugs and then taking advantage of his vulnerable physical state or by targeting victims who were mentally vulnerable.
McEvoy (2003) and Donaldson (1990), along with many others, are in agreement that the huge majority of heterosexual men that have been victims of rape by other men are highly unlikely to come forward and report the crime due to fear of being perceived as homosexual. According to the Counselling and Mental Health Center for the University of Texas website (2002) this is only one of the unique issues faced by male survivors of rape, opposed to female survivors. It states that for heterosexual men, sexual assault almost always causes some confusion or questioning about their sexuality. Since many people believe that only gay men are assaulted, a heterosexual victim may begin to believe that he must be gay or that he will become gay. Perpetrators also often accuse their victims of enjoying the experience of the assault, the website also goes on to say that people do not become gay as a result of being sexually assaulted and this type of assault has nothing to do with sexual orientation, past, present or future. In actual fact many heterosexual victims of a sexual assault have often become homophobic after the attack has taken place according to Harry (1992 cited in Herek 1992:115).
The University of Texas website (2002), also states how gay men face unique issues relating to rape. It says that a sexual assault on a gay man can lead to feelings of self-blame and self-loathing attached to their sexuality. It is stated that due to already existent homophobia, many gay men believe they either “deserved it” or are simply “paying the price” for their sexual orientation. Some sexual assaults on homosexual or bi-sexual men are actually forms of anti-gay violence, motivated by fear and hatred of homosexuality (Harry 1992 cited in Herek 1992:115).
Michael Scarce (1997) is also one of the most prevalent writers on the subject of male rape. In his book “Male on Male Rape: The Hidden Toll of Stigma and Shame”, he discusses that perhaps the most feared and under reported crime is that of male on male rape. Scarce is coordinator of Ohio State University ”Rape Education and Prevention Program, but as in many other cases the only reason that these education programs are being set up is because the coordinators themselves have at some point suffered from a sexual assault at the hands of another man, and found resources to deal with male rape so inadequate that once they have dealt with their own feeling, they feel it necessary to help others.
Donaldson (1996) talks about a man who had been sexually assaulted and rang a rape-crisis help line. He was met with the response “We don’t work with offenders” and when he tried to explain that he was, in fact, the victim, he was accused of making a crank call and hung up on. Paul Rogers (1999) discovered that there were hardly any services available for men who have been raped and that rape-crisis centers were often not accessible to men and there is only one help line run by a self help group for a few hours each week. Rebecca Gray (1999) spoke of how a colleague had turned from a friendly outgoing person to a man who was afraid to leave his home after he was raped and due to the lack of resources within the United Kingdom, he had actually moved to Australia.
Scarce (1997) states that in the past 30 years only 20 studies have been carried out that examine the issue of male rape in a non-institutionalized setting. From these studies Scarce picks out the common themes that surround most of the literature. These studies show that male rape consists of approximately 5 to 10% of all rapes, that most perpetrators self-identify as heterosexual, most offenders are white, most offenders are in their early to mid twenty’s, most offenders rape out of anger or to overpower, humiliate and degrade their victims rather than out of lust or passion or sexual desire. Of the victims, most are in their late teens to late twenty’s at the time of the assault, African Americans are over represented as victims in proportion to their level in the population of the communities studied, when documented at all, gay men were raped at higher rates than heterosexual men. Weapons are frequently used in male rape and at a much higher rate than that of women. Multiple assailants are more common in the rape of men than of women. Anal penetration of the victim was the most common form of assault followed by oral penetration. Stigma and shame are common responses from male rape victims; this is usually followed by guilt. Like women, rape trauma syndrome immediately following a male rape is common with the most common psychiatric diagnosis being post-traumatic stress disorder. Contemplation of suicide is fairly common among male rape survivors, especially among those who feel that they cannot reach out for the support that they so desperately need. The studies also draw conflicting conclusions a to the degree of stranger versus acquaintance rape, this is likely to be as a result of the different population samples used.
Scarce’s review of all literature about male rape seems to encapsulate the topic, however as this is based on research that has been carried out over the past 30 years it seems perturbing that this subject is as much a taboo area now as it was 30 years ago. As the literature states that male rape constitutes for about 5 to 10% of all rapes that take place it can be established that as the overwhelming majority of rape are not even reported to the police, and therefore not recorded, that this figure is a disturbingly low estimate upon the actual figure. The literature showed an over representation of African American male victims and yet there is no evidence which can tell us whether rape is being used as a racist tool as it is an anti-gay tool. Again, the literature shows that homosexual and bi-sexual men are also over represented in male rape figures. We do not know whether this is simply because more homosexual and bi-sexual men are raped, perhaps in situations such as “date rape” or being raped by a partner, or whether this is because gay men are more likely to report the crime as they do not encounter the confusion about their sexuality in the same way in which heterosexual men have shown to do (Harry 1992 cited in Herek 1992:115).
One of the main problems that are apparent in the reviewing of the literature surrounding male rape is that throughout the world there are many different definitions of what can be classified as male rape. The fact that some places still do not even recognize male rape or see it as a lesser offense than rape of a female means that until this issue is addressed there is not much likelihood of the subject taking the prevalent position of which it deserves within society.
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