Toward A Socio-Legal Theory of Male Rape
29 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2022
Date Written: February 14, 2022
This Article seeks to carve out a new theoretical space for the analysis of male rape, a phenomenon that has long been neglected by legal and jurisprudential scholarship. We dispute common perceptions of male rape, most notably the centrality of consent in rape discourse, and show how male and female rape myths, while distinct, are upheld by similar paradigms of gender. Although it focuses on male rape, the Article proposes a broad theory of rape and gender.
The Article offers a comparative review of the scholarship on male rape in two settings: the community and prison. It collates the various studies on male rape in these settings, classifies the main elements of male rape, and points to the interrelations between the various scholarly works.
Based on the comparison, the Article develops a sixfold framework containing three recurring and three missing themes. The recurring themes are otherness, the construction of male rape as something that occurs to others, at the margins of society; masculinity, pivotal for the understanding of male rape; and the embeddedness of male rape in social power relations. The three missing themes are consent, possibly the most discussed aspect in current theories of female rape but hardly elaborated with respect to male victims; racial aspects of male rape in the community; and women perpetrators of male rape. The burgeoning literature on male rape dwells mostly on the first three themes.
The Article argues that a meaningful theory of male rape requires further study of the missing themes. The sixfold analytical framework suggested in this Article can assist in identifying blind spots in the academic discourse, accurately conceptualizing this phenomenon, and offering a better general understanding of it. It is also a first step toward the creation of a more inclusive and general theory of rape that accounts for sexual abuse of all victims, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or other social traits.
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