I thought this was a fascinating article that summarizes and links to some other interesting articles and data.
In another thread someone mentioned that rape
is seen as a feminist issue because it happens disproportionately to women (9/10 by Justice Department estimates that do not include sexual assaults and rapes in prisons). I still believe it is a feminist issue, but it is interesting to see just how appalling the amount of sexual violence is, and the fact that there appears to be a societal acceptance of that type of violence and little political will to change it. This is just another reminder that all violence and oppression is interconnected.
n+1 took Justice Department statistics and made the shocking thesis that more men are raped in the US than women, because of the number of prison
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 Feministe article goes on and says that it isn't possible to conclude from these numbers that the United States is “the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women” but that both the n+1 article and the NY Review of Books article are correct that the U.S. prison
system is a moral catastrophe. They are both correct that it is entirely possible to lower the sexual assault rate in American prisons, but that the political will is simply not there.http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2 ... han-women/
One overlap, though, between prison rape of men and non-prison rape of women is the way American society views both as an inevitability. That plays out in different ways, but there’s a sense that incarceration must naturally lead to rape (see, e.g., “don’t drop the soap!” jokes), and that femaleness is inherently sexually tempting and therefore also leads to rape if you’re not vigilant about preventing it (see, e.g., every rape prevention tactic that focuses on what women should or should not do — don’t walk home alone, don’t wear revealing clothing, etc etc). At the same time, inevitability is tempered by the perceived ability to prevent rape if you just do things “right” — don’t commit a crime so that you end up in jail, don’t break any of the Rape Avoidance Rules For Ladies. It’s a convenient way to conceptualize assault — if you just behave yourself, you won’t be a victim. For women, “doing things right” requires constant vigilance, and an understanding of oneself as inherently vulnerable; it keeps us fearful, and it inhibits our freedom of movement. For populations with high incarceration rates, “doing things right” also requires constant vigilance, and an understanding of oneself as perceived as inherently criminal; it keeps entire communities fearful, resentful, and unable to seek the protection of the police; and it inhibits freedom of movement and expression and speech.
But with the understanding that rape is an inevitability and an avoidable threat and an individual crime, there’s also no reason to actually do something about sexual assault. As long as we pin part of the responsibility for assault on victims — whether it’s people in prison or people in their own homes — there’s less of an incentive to actually curb assault, and less of an understanding that it actually is possible to prevent sexual assault on the assailant side.
I love the NY Review of Books, and can definitely recommend reading the longer underlying piece. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archive ... tion=false