This is the second article in a four part series on “The Drunken Hookup Double Standard.” Each article is dedicated to recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This piece explores various societal views that suggest girls can’t rape or sexually assault guys and reveals the realities of these situations.
A man’s claims about being taken advantage of by a woman wouldn’t stand up against his buddies or in court. It’s a woman’s world in the legal system. Sober or drunk, society says men don’t need protecting, but women do.
Jimmy*, a recent graduate of Cornell University, gives his story about a girl who he was hooking up with every once in a while during his freshman year: “I always left the door to my room unlocked, and one night I was drunk out of my mind and staggered home to find this girl lying in my bed, obviously sober. She literally would not let me into my bed or go to sleep until I had sex with her.
“If I told this story with roles reversed, everyone would say for sure it was rape and come running with pitchforks and torches. Legally, I’m sure what happened to me was rape. And yes, she took advantage of me, but no one is going to berate a girl for doing that because of the way society treats women as if they need to be protected and cared for – appreciated like a dainty flower.”
A girl’s assumed innocence overrules all accusations, and guys who have stories like Jimmy’s are just SOL until more people begin to realize that girls can be just as sexually aggressive as guys. Girls might use different means to get what they want, but the end result is the same—someone is sexually assaulted.
Dr. Charlie Glickman, a sexologist, sex educator and former rape crisis counselor, reveals the realities of three commonly believed myths about male sexual assault.
1. Guys can’t be sexually assaulted because they’re expected to perform and be the active partner in sexual acts.
Erections can happen even when someone isn’t interested in sex or isn’t in the mood. And being an active participant doesn’t mean that’s what someone wants. Men can be blackmailed into having sex, for example, and be totally active. But if you imagine a man doing that to a woman and you think that’s rape, then it should be rape no matter what the genders are.
2. A guy can easily overpower a girl so there’s no way a girl could sexually assault him.
Research shows that while men as perpetrators tend to use more violence, female perpetrators tend to use emotional manipulation, coercion, and drugs or alcohol. For example, if the girl threatens to tell people a secret the guy feels guilty about or if she threatens to make up a story that would be humiliating, the fact that he’s physically stronger is irrelevant. Also, it’s not true that all men can overpower all women. This myth reinforces the idea that there’s only one way to be a man.
3. Guys always want sex, and they’ll take whatever they can get. Drunk or sober, doesn’t matter.
In fact, guys don’t always want sex. Men often act like they constantly want it because it’s a way of displaying masculinity in order to convince others that they’re “real men.” But even if a guy wants sex, he doesn’t necessarily want it with that particular girl. If she forces it on him, that’s assault.
Dr. Charlie Glickman, a sexologist, sex educator and former rape crisis counselor
*All names of college students have been changed to protect the anonymity of the sources.