Skip to main content
placeholder image

The mythology of male rape: social attitudes and law enforcement

Chapter


Abstract


  • In the last two decades, adult male rape and sexual assault have been the

    subject of a 'knowledge explosion' akin to the increase in research concerning

    female rape and child sexual abuse in the 1970s (Kelly 1988: 43). Scholarly

    responses have contributed greatly to our understanding of the prevalence,

    dynamics, nature and impact of adult male rape. This work has examined

    such issues as the problem of male sexual victimization within institutional

    settings (Banbury 2004; u'Donnell 2004), within the general population

    (Coxell et al. 1999; Sorenson et al. 1987), during wartime (Sivakumaran

    2007), and within the gay community (Hickson et .la 1987; Kendall and

    Martino 2006). It has also explored the nature, dynamics and impact of male

    victimization (Light and Monk-Turner 2008; Walker et al. 2005a; Walker et

    al. 2005b; Allen 2002; Mezey and King 2000), including comparative analysis

    of male and female rape (Elliott et al. 2004). Male rape has a long recorded

    history (Jones 2000) and recent research provides detailed information on

    social and legal attitudes to this problem as far back as the seventeenth

    century (Sommer 2000: Ch. 4). Of particular relevance to this chapter, there

    has been a growth in research examining the treatment of male rape by the

    criminal law and criminal justice system, including the views and perceptions

    of criminal justice professionals (Saunders 2009; Abdullah-Kahn 2008) and

    victims (Jamel et al. 2008; Rumney 2008; Rumney 2001). Questions have also

    been raised concerning whether male victims suffer a form of secondary

    victimization within the criminal justice system, resulting from issues linked

    to sexuality and, in particular, homosexuality (White and Robinson Kurpius

    2002; Anderson and Doherty 2008; Rumney 2009).

    This chapter seeks to explore the extent to which social attitndes towards

    male rape are influenced by myths, misunderstandings and stereotypes.

    It draws on focus group research, conducted by the authors, which attempts to

    ascertain perceptions of male rape complainants and defendants by the use

    of fictional vignettes containing factual variables. This specific research builds

    on earlier focus group work (Anderson and Doherty 2008), by examining a series of factual variables that have not previously been considered in attitude

    research involving male rape. Given the amount of data generated by the

    focus group discussions, an exhaustive examination of these discussions is

    precluded. Consequently, this chapter will examine several specific issues.

    First, we examine the effect of complainant resistance and injury on participants' perceptions of his credibility. Secondly, we consider the use of sexuality

    and intoxication to judge complainant credibility, as well as the potential

    blameworthiness of the defendant in the vignette. Finally, building on work

    involving female rape complainants, this chapter explores possible linkages

    between the attitudes exhibited by the focus group participants and the wider

    criminal justice process.

Publication Date


  • 2010

Citation


  • Rumney, P. N. S. & Hanley, N. (2010). The mythology of male rape: social attitudes and law enforcement. In C. McGlynn & V. E. Munro (Eds.), Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives (pp. 294-307). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84909584101

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/sspapers/2021

Book Title


  • Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives

Start Page


  • 294

End Page


  • 307

Abstract


  • In the last two decades, adult male rape and sexual assault have been the

    subject of a 'knowledge explosion' akin to the increase in research concerning

    female rape and child sexual abuse in the 1970s (Kelly 1988: 43). Scholarly

    responses have contributed greatly to our understanding of the prevalence,

    dynamics, nature and impact of adult male rape. This work has examined

    such issues as the problem of male sexual victimization within institutional

    settings (Banbury 2004; u'Donnell 2004), within the general population

    (Coxell et al. 1999; Sorenson et al. 1987), during wartime (Sivakumaran

    2007), and within the gay community (Hickson et .la 1987; Kendall and

    Martino 2006). It has also explored the nature, dynamics and impact of male

    victimization (Light and Monk-Turner 2008; Walker et al. 2005a; Walker et

    al. 2005b; Allen 2002; Mezey and King 2000), including comparative analysis

    of male and female rape (Elliott et al. 2004). Male rape has a long recorded

    history (Jones 2000) and recent research provides detailed information on

    social and legal attitudes to this problem as far back as the seventeenth

    century (Sommer 2000: Ch. 4). Of particular relevance to this chapter, there

    has been a growth in research examining the treatment of male rape by the

    criminal law and criminal justice system, including the views and perceptions

    of criminal justice professionals (Saunders 2009; Abdullah-Kahn 2008) and

    victims (Jamel et al. 2008; Rumney 2008; Rumney 2001). Questions have also

    been raised concerning whether male victims suffer a form of secondary

    victimization within the criminal justice system, resulting from issues linked

    to sexuality and, in particular, homosexuality (White and Robinson Kurpius

    2002; Anderson and Doherty 2008; Rumney 2009).

    This chapter seeks to explore the extent to which social attitndes towards

    male rape are influenced by myths, misunderstandings and stereotypes.

    It draws on focus group research, conducted by the authors, which attempts to

    ascertain perceptions of male rape complainants and defendants by the use

    of fictional vignettes containing factual variables. This specific research builds

    on earlier focus group work (Anderson and Doherty 2008), by examining a series of factual variables that have not previously been considered in attitude

    research involving male rape. Given the amount of data generated by the

    focus group discussions, an exhaustive examination of these discussions is

    precluded. Consequently, this chapter will examine several specific issues.

    First, we examine the effect of complainant resistance and injury on participants' perceptions of his credibility. Secondly, we consider the use of sexuality

    and intoxication to judge complainant credibility, as well as the potential

    blameworthiness of the defendant in the vignette. Finally, building on work

    involving female rape complainants, this chapter explores possible linkages

    between the attitudes exhibited by the focus group participants and the wider

    criminal justice process.

Publication Date


  • 2010

Citation


  • Rumney, P. N. S. & Hanley, N. (2010). The mythology of male rape: social attitudes and law enforcement. In C. McGlynn & V. E. Munro (Eds.), Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives (pp. 294-307). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84909584101

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/sspapers/2021

Book Title


  • Rethinking Rape Law: International and Comparative Perspectives

Start Page


  • 294

End Page


  • 307