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13 reasons why and the issue of sexual rape

13 reasons why and the issue of sexual rape

The below article contains a description of a sexual assault that some readers may find upsetting and contains spoilers for the Season 2 Finale of 13 Reasons Why.

Whilst sexual assault against men has gained more of a spotlight since the revelations against Kevin Spacey came to light it is still a subject that is often not talked about. Sexual assault in all its form is a topic that elicits strong emotion and obvious discomfort. I think when it comes to male on male sexual assault this becomes an even more difficult conversation. The very idea of male rape in Western society is so difficult because of the toxic idea of hegemonic masculinity where male dominance is not questioned. I don’t want to make this sound too academic but modern social constructs about what makes the man generates the idea that sexual assault against a man makes them lesser (whilst this argument for another time we 100% believe that this is never the case).

The reason that I came to write about male on male sexual assault came after watching the season 2 final of 13 Reasons Why. In the episode one of the characters, Tyler Down (played by Devin Druid) is the victim of a horrific assault carried out by another male character. In a truly harrowing scene his head is smashed against a sink, his head is then thrust down a toilet and he is then violently and graphically sodomised by the wooden end of a mop handle. My initial reaction was, that the show had stepped over the line, it was obscene, and it was disturbing.

After having processed the scene I came to a different opinion, the scene is horrific and that is exactly what sexual assault is. When anyone is raped or assaulted that is a horrific, terrifying experience for the victim who will undoubtedly be left with emotional and psychological trauma. It would have been more obscene to fluff it up, to tone it down for the sensibilities of the audience. It would be insulting to those who have had to experience this act to make the viewing easier for the audience. I commend shows like 13 Reasons Why for generating an honest discussion about sexual assault because this is often a topic overlooked by the mainstream media.  This particular show has done a fantastic job in generating a conversation about many topics that we would tend to shy away from because they’re not pleasant subjects.

Between 2016 and 2017 there were 12,130 offences reported in England and Wales, shockingly this it is believed that 96% of offences against men are unreported according to a 2015 survey. Of the reported cases there has been over a 200% increase in reports when compared to 2006 and 2007, whilst some of the cases that have come to light recently will be historic cases this demonstrates an undeniable upward trend. According to Survivors UK (a support group for male victims of sexual assault) men who do report these assaults still routinely hear comments such as “men can’t get raped”.

It is important to remember that sexual assault is not always rape, sexual assault can take many forms, touching someone inappropriately without their consent (groping) is one of the most common forms of assault. If someone does that to you without your consent you are well within your rights to report that kind of action. Actions have consequences and the only way to bring sexual assault into the spotlight is by creating an environment where the victims feel that they can come out with confidence and will be supported.

Bringing the conversation back closer to home, with such a diverse group of people who come to visit Canal Street and Manchester generally every year it should be noted that consent is the only currency that we deal in. If you ever feel uncomfortable when out and about, bar staff and bouncers are available should you need help.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault, we could not be more adamant encouraging you to get support and to tell people that you trust. In the UK you can get support from Survivors UK and Victim Support. Please find the links to their websites below:

https://www.survivorsuk.org/

By Daniel Carter

Edited by Marc Rogers

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Published: 31-May-2018

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