It’s impossible to have missed the comments made by 50 Cent in response to Terry Crews speaking up about his experience of sexual assault. The rapper mocked Crews stating that he didn’t “look like a victim”, and in turn reinforced the rape myth that ‘real men’ cannot be victims of rape. These remarks encapsulate many of the beliefs that go through the minds of male sexual abuse victims, ultimately preventing them from coming forward.
But what does a victim look like? Rape victims are commonly portrayed as weak, feminine and defenceless. However, entrenched notions of masculinity state that men hold traits such as independence, toughness, power, and control, and therefore should be able to withstand or fight off an abuser. Crews even said, following the assault, “I’ve never felt more emasculated”. It’s no wonder that so many men struggle to come forward, when the stereotypical images presented of a victim, and that of a man are so contradictory. In reality, sexual abuse holds no demographic constraint, and anyone can be a victim or survivor.
Despite there being more cases of sexual abuse against females than males, statistics still show that male rape is an issue. Official figures demonstrate that the number of reported sexual offences against men and boys have trebled over the last decade. The recorded prevalence is unlikely to represent the true extent of the problem as many men do not report the incident.
SurvivorsUK identified that it takes, on average, 26 years for a man to first disclose sexual abuse, and it takes sheer strength and bravery to do so. The media storm that followed 50 cent’s comments can be seen to unfortunately overshadow Crews’ bravery in speaking out. Mocking and laughing about sexual assault, abuse and rape is one of the reasons that prevent male victims and survivors from speaking up about their own experiences.
Whilst there is still a lot of negative rhetoric surrounding female sexual abuse, at least it is being discussed. As a society, we have even begun to dispel such myths attached to female survivors, but male survivors have not been offered the same platform. Rape myths, and misinformed beliefs exacerbate victim blaming culture, lending survivors to believe that they are at fault. “I should have fought him off”, “No one will believe me” are some common statements made by male survivors. When harmful comments are publicised in the media, particularly by people in the public eye, it’s our role to challenge and not let them overshadow the bravery of men such as Terry Crews.
Whilst 50 Cent has since said that his comments were a “joke”, Crews couldn’t have put it better in saying that “one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation”.
Laura, ISVA, SurvivorsUK
SurvivorsUK support male survivors of rape and sexual abuse, increasing awareness of male rape as an issue, and ensuring that male survivors have the best opportunities to receive support for a broad cross spectrum of problems. If you or someone you know is struggling, please get in touch through our online helpline, we are here for you.