More Men Raped Than Women In US?


Link and graphic via James Joyner.

Christopher Glazer points to the massive rate of male rape in prisons, something we all largely either ignore or joke about and something which there is certainly no political will to change. (Emphasis is mine – SH)

In January, prodded in part by outrage over a series of articles in the New York Review of Books, the Justice Department finally released an estimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse in penitentiaries. The reliance on filed complaints appeared to understate the problem. For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.

The FBI recorded 90,479 cases of rape for women in 2008. Many more rapes go unreported and thus unrecorded, of course, but then I suppose many more cases of male rape in prisons went unrecorded too. Statistics are often contradictory but suggest that as many as two thirds of all rapes are never reported. Extend that across the board and its clear the US has a problem – and indeed, America’s recorded rape rate is as much as thirteen times higher than other developed nations.

Glazer wants to blame a corrupt prison culture for the massive number of male rapes there, and certainly that rape can be done with impunity there has a lot to do with it. My daughter is a prison guard, as are a few friends, and what they tell me is anecdotal support for what Glazer writes:

anybody is free to commit rape and be reasonably assured that no state official will notice or care (barring those instances when the management knowingly encourages rape, unleashing favored inmates on troublemakers as a strategy for administrative control). The prison staff is above the law; the prison inmates, below it. Far from embodying the model of Bentham/Foucault’s panopticon— that is, one of total surveillance—America’s prisons are its blind spots, places where complaints cannot be heard and abuses cannot be seen.

As one prisoner wrote, “Sadism results from there being no possibility of real accountability,” and that’s really the key to the whole thing, whether in prison or among pampered and sheltered jock “rape crews”. It’s a massive problem that is not necessarily rooted in oppressing any one gender, but rather in our society’s cultural blinkers, our wish to turn away. We as a society have an empathy gap, one that also allows us to ignore the deaths of innocents at the hands of our military, under our government’s orders, in far-off lands.

So, what can we do about changing that?

About Steve Hynd

I'm senior partner at My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature, rpg's and cognitive philosophy/science. My degree is in Philosophy.
  • Bob Morris

    Prison should be where you go as punishment for for punishment

    • Stephen Wollett

      Prison should never be about punishment. That is where the first problem begins. Prison should be about rehabilitation and education. It is the mindset of punishment that has made the US, the biggest and most corrupt police state on the planet. It is what we have a recivisism rate of more than 85% for people sentenced to more than 3 years. We have created a culture that trains our kids for when they will go to prison through our public school system that uses the same institutional practices as the prisons, the same color schemes, and is run by the same corrupt bureaucracy. In Baltimore, MD 85% of black males, 18-45 have been convicted of a felony. How has this punishment paradigm changed a thing or done any good? As one convict told me, “prison is where you earn your street cred, prove you are a man, and pop your virginity”

  • Adrena

    More evidence that rape is about power/control, not sex. It’s rooted in the patriarchal/capitalist paradigm. Change that and you will see more empathy.

    • Bob Morris

      Heidi Fleiss, the madam, has always said that prostitution is mostly about power, about men being able to tell women what to do.

    • politicalcynic

      Excuse you-but as a MALE rape survivor I find the insistence on blaming “patriarchy” horrifyingly offensive. As a MALE I am PRESUMED to be part of the patriarchy by EVERY feminist-and therefore “to blame” for the very culture in which I was raped. Thanks loads.

      Given that FIFTY TWO percent of the electorate is FEMALE-but there is NO will to change or even ADDRESS the problem of MALE victims-I find it difficult to swallow the “blame the menzzz” mentality of those like you.

  • Aaron Garten

    Remember all the talk of Saddam’s rape rooms? We always have a way of seeing ourselves as the good guys don’t we…

  • Pingback: Obama forming task force to protect college students from sex assaults

  • Pingback: The Rape Culture Myth | Nerd Rage News

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