Why We Should Take Men Seriously When They Open Up About Sexual Assault

In an interview with VladTv, Deray Davis recounted an experience of when he was sexually assaulted by his mother’s friends as a child. He stated, “I’ve had older women who thought I wasn’t being parented correctly, slightly try to take advantage of me, not slightly- have taken advantage of me.” Davis explains how these women took his virginity and to that- the interviewer responds with laughter.

Imagine this in a slightly different situation. Imagine a woman explaining how, as a child, two older men took advantage of her and had sex with her. It’s less than likely that she would receive the same reaction. Women are sexually assaulted at a greater rate than men, but it’s important that we start taking men seriously when they share their stories of sexual assault.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, an average of 1 in 71 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The likelihood is probably much higher than that, though. There’s a variety of reasons why men wouldn’t want to speak up about being assaulted. A large number of men grow up thinking that it’s not even possible to be raped, simply because of the fact that they’re a man. Hyper-masculinity has also made it more difficult to speak up. Hyper-masculinity has created a climate that praises older women that have sex with younger men and even looks at it as an accomplishment. It doesn’t matter how pretty or curvy she is: if an adult has sex with a minor, that is rape.

The way that society handles male sexual assault victims needs to change. Male victims of sexual assault are more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression- and more likely to feel suicidal. Any unwanted sexual advances to someone is rape, regardless of their gender. We need to start making more of a conscious effort to get this message across, because sexual assault is never a laughing matter.