The Rape of Men

By Richard B. Gartner, Ph.D.

Letter To the Editor:

Re “The Hidden Victims of Wartime Rape” (Op-Ed, March 2): Lara Stemple exposes the danger to society of ignoring the sexual victimization of men. Yet the Federal Bureau of Investigation still adheres to its 1927 definition of rape: “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” This excludes from consideration the rape of any man under any circumstances.

Forcible rape of men in prisons is well documented. Ms. Stemple points out how the rape of male soldiers in wartime is a common way to dehumanize and degrade an enemy. This method has been used time and again, including by our own troops in Iraq.

Sadly, its power to humiliate is magnified because it equates raping a man with rendering him female, women being thought to be the only people who can be sexually victimized. Therefore, in addition to its being crime against men, it reinforces degrading stereotypes of women.

Richard B. Gartner
New York, March 2, 2011

The writer is founding director of the Sexual Abuse Service at the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Institute and the author of “Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse.”

A version of this letter appeared in print on March 5, 2011, on page A20 of the New York edition.