Examining the media representation of adult male sexual violation

Jamel, Joanna (2016) Examining the media representation of adult male sexual violation. In: APIL Child and Adult Abuse Conference 2016; 7 Jun 2016, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)


This paper will explore the topic of male sexual violation its representation and the reinforcement of male stereotypes and rape myths in print and visual media. Male rape victimisation is widely considered a taboo subject despite legislation criminalising male rape being passed 22 years ago in the form of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. This legislation was pioneering in that it recognised male victims of rape. However, despite this advance in legislation, society has been extremely slow in addressing male rape on a par with female rape, and male rape research is approximately 20 years behind that of female rape research. This reticence in recognising adult male sexual violation may be because it challenges male stereotypes, such as men being invulnerable and the ‘protector’ or aggressor never the ‘victim’. Social perceptions of maleness and masculinities are also at odds with the juxtaposition of the ‘male victim’. Thus, male rape victims are often denied the legitimacy of victimhood because of the constraints of the gendered hierarchy in society which essentialises men with regard to their inherent male privilege which consequently denies them recognition as ‘victims’ particularly in relation to male sexual violation. In this paper, the reflection of society’s perceptions and reinforcement of negative or unsympathetic attitudes towards male rape are examined by drawing on research on print media representation. In addition to which examples from cinematic and televisual media will be provided which represent depictions of institutionalised male on male rape victimisation and the perpetration of male rape in the community. Thus, comedic and dramatic narratives regarding male rape on the small screen and the big screen will be discussed together with the potential impact of these mediums on social responses to victims and their self-perceptions. Suggestions will also be made as to why there is there underrepresentation of male rape on screen and the potential impact this has on male rape survivors and their reporting practices.

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