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Violence against women is a men’s issue

By Patricia Kelley (pkelle8@uic.edu)

Our society has a double standard when it comes to sexual assault. It is viewed as a woman’s problem that they need to deal with.  That is just one part of rape culture: trying to keep men out of it. First, the blame is rarely put on the rapist, but instead something the victim could have prevented. Second is that males can’t be victims in rape cases.  Our culture is telling us that men can’t be sexually assaulted and that women can’t be rapists.

Just this past March, a 19 year old male in Toronto was sexually assaulted by four middle aged women.  This case was met with a slew of tweets that mocked and belittled not only this particular case, but all cases of sexual assault. Many of them didn’t even consider this to be a rape case since the idea of raping a man doesn’t seem possible to them.  There were others who counted him as lucky because his assailants were female.  Then there was victim blaming; since he reported the incident he must be gay.


This kind of reaction discourages people to report sexually assault incident. People are openly making fun of what happened to this 19-year-old. This behavior encourages victim blaming and takes away from the severity of rape cases.

People aren’t taking male rape cases seriously enough; in fact, it wasn’t until 2011 that the FBI’s definition of rape encompassed male rape cases.  11%-12% of all rape and attempted victimizations occur toward men. And the effects of rape are the same for both men and women: they are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 26 more times likely to abuse drugs, and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide. If the consequences are the same for both men and women, then why do we treat the cases differently?

Rape isn’t just a problem for women. This notion is based on outdated gender stereotypes that many people still believe to this day. In order to properly raise awareness of the severity of rape, we must stop recognizing it as merely a women’s issue, but a social issue that affects everyone regardless of gender.

But how do we go about teaching that? A good idea would be to determine a smaller, more concentrated starting point, such as a school or university. University of Illinois at Chicago can take a stand and try to change the stereotypes that are set in place.  During freshman orientation they can show videos with male rape victims and offer support and guidance for anyone who is a victim of sexual assault. Right now the victims in orientation videos are predominantly female. UIC can also encourage student organizations to advocate the seriousness of rape in both genders. The Wellness Center can also create a workshop that can teach students more about male rape, educate us about myths, and teach us why not taking male rape cases seriously is hindering social justice.

The only way to change the way we view rape is to change the way institutions portray it.

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