Convention says that men are disposable: We are the first to be recruited for risky situations, first to be sent into dangerous environments, and first to be sacrificed in military endeavors. On the other hand, liberal feminists say men are toxic: We are the gender most prone to risk-taking, most drawn to dangerous activities, and most likely to take up arms. Neither conventional nor feminist perspectives of manhood seriously consider men to be human. And if these were our only two choices, we (as men) would be forever screwed.
Fortunately, there is a growing academic field in masculinity studies (although some of these studies have simply used scholarship to reify conventional or feminist concepts of men). Within contemporary research, some researchers have looked at male sexuality and rape. In one case, a study found that men are rape victims 38% of the time. Such statistics will rarely make it to national headlines, but this study suggests a turning point for men and men’s rights efforts. Still there is much more to be done.
The sentencing differences, for instance, between men and women who commit rape can be anywhere between five to ten years fewer for women. Indeed, just this month, a Delaware drug and alcohol counselor was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for three counts of rape. The rapist was a 31-year-old female, and the victim a 16-year-old male patient. Given the responsibility the female counselor surely had, one wonders why the sentence was so light since in another rape case of a 35-year-old Delaware man with a female minor, the sentence was life in prison. Although the cases have some differences, such as the age of the minors (the male was 16, the female 14) and the criminal history of the perpetrators, the difference between the sentencing of the female versus the male is still obviously extreme, especially given that the female abused her professional position and power as counselor.
The unfair sentencing of men found guilty of rape is certainly heavier because society perpetuates two dominant perspectives that militate against men – the conventional view that males are disposable and the feminist view that males are toxic. These two views must be ripped from our social DNA if men are to find liberation individually and to gain fairness culturally. Otherwise, males will continue to be seen as martyrs or monsters.