Monday, 2 April 2012

Male Rape: And Words As Weapons

Yesterday's The Sun Sunday began its front page story with these lines; "A YOUNG squaddie at Prince Harry's Army base was the victim of a shocking gay sex attack, it was claimed last night. A drunken gang of three soldiers allegedly pinned him down as he slept at Wattisham, Suffolk..."
This is terrible terminology.
Why did The Sun use the phrase "gay sex attack", and not "sex attack?
Monday's tabloids usually repeat their rivals' Sunday scoops - sometimes they even give attribution - but the Express, Mirror and Star all appear to have ignored this story.
The Daily Mail ran it, using the same strange phrase as The Sun; "A young soldier at Prince Harry's army base was the victim of a drunken gay sex attack, it was claimed yesterday."
The only broadsheets to cover the story, The Times and The Independent, both used simply "sex attack".
Shamefully, Gay Star News wrote; "A young soldier at Prince Harry's UK army base was allegedly pinned down and assualted [sic] during a 'horrifying' gay sex attack."
A journalist writing for the gay media really should know better than this.
Much better.
(Pink News wrote of a "male sexual assault" or "sexual assault", Pink Paper said a man had allegedly been "sexually assaulted").
As Patrick Strudwick wrote in The Times last month; "The language we use only seems to collude with the stigma. The rape of men is routinely referred to as “gay rape” belying the mistaken belief that rape is about sex — rather than power — and therefore that it must be performed by, or to, gay men."
Tellingly, this is one of only two articles about male rape in the British press I'm aware of in the three years I've been writing Fagburn.
The other was in The Observer.
The strapline read; "Will Storr travels to Uganda to meet traumatised survivors, and reveals how male rape is endemic in many of the world's conflicts."
That Storr was writing about soldiers and civilian casualties in war zones reinforces how male rape and sexual assault are often about power - and there's nothing "gay" about them.

  The image shows a poster produced earlier this year by Survivors UK.
"The helpline is for adult men (18 and over) who have experienced childhood sexual abuse or adult sexual assault/rape, as well as their partners and carers."  

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