A male Stanford University student says he initially wasn’t believed when he told a campus sexual assault representative that a female student sexually assaulted him, he writes in a recent op-ed in student newspaper The Stanford Daily.
Senior Justin Brown says in October 2013 a female student sexually assaulted him after a drunken encounter at a party on campus. While Brown writes that sexual contact with the female student was initially welcome, including her putting her hand down his pants while they made out, he knew he “didn’t want to end the night in her bed” and decided to help her back to her room because she was drunk.
Brown writes that he “felt stuck” while walking the female student home, as they repeatedly stopped to make out. According to Brown, these “stop-offs” became unwelcome and he began to resist her advances:
After a while, these stop-offs became less of a mutual decision and more of a demand from her. I began denying her advances; it was late and I just wanted to get her home safely so I could get some sleep. She continued to engage with me and I denied her requests with a verbal “no” several times … I did my best to stick to my “no” every time she demanded more, but at each denial she would stop dead in her tracks and refused to walk with me unless I complied.
Brown went along with the advances, he writes, believing he “had only one option” if he wanted to ensure that the drunk female student got back to her room safely. He went back to his own room, confused:
I don’t fault her for my change of heart; I fault her for not listening to my clear “no” several times after I made my final decision. Was the situation handled perfectly? No. I was confused, horny and intoxicated. I wasn’t properly educated to even understand that this experience would qualify as sexual assault. But even with all of these things in play, the fact of the matter is that my “no” was not respected. Sure, she didn’t use force, but what was I supposed to do?
Almost a year after the alleged assault, Brown wanted to get some advice about what had happened to him. Not getting immediate help from Stanford’s sexual assault counselors, he said, Brown was referred by the university to the YWCA Sexual Assault Center on campus, a partnership between Stanford and the YWCA Rape Crisis Center of Silicon Valley.
As Brown writes, he was “flabbergasted” by the hotline’s initial response. He said the female staff member told him, “You could have just left her … If I were a man in your shoes, I would have definitely called 911.”
“It was incredibly frustrating that an organisation known for warning against victim-blaming in the case of women had no problem jumping straight to this tactic against a male victim when the tables were turned,” Brown writes.
However, he says he found a better reception at Stanford’s Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Office, where the director directed him towards various resources and told Brown that his story does count as sexual assault.
“My experience with the SARA Office was wholly positive, as the director took the time to see me not as a victim, not as a male, but as a person with a tough question that needed an answer,” Brown writes.
In publishing the op-ed, Brown writes, he is not looking to get the female student expelled. According to Brown, “I don’t believe she had any especially malicious intent during the incident and her presence on campus does not present any imminent danger to me.”
The rape of men is not as rare as one might think. The most recent National Crime Victimization Survey found that nearly 40% of rape and sexual violence issues were against men, as Hanna Rosin pointed out in Slate.
Still, male sexual assault by a female is rarely discussed, and even sometimes dismissed as impossible. When it is talked about, as Livia Gershon writes in Pacific Standard magazine, it’s often coloured by “cultural stereotypes” of men and women.
“If men are constantly, ravenously seeking sex, then it seems as if it’s up to women to protect themselves by staying sober and keeping male friends out of their dorm rooms. And, by the same token, if women are uncharacteristically pushing, or even forcing, men into sex, then it seems like the only acceptable response is gratitude,” Gershon writes.
Stanford declined to comment on Brown’s op-ed, citing FERPA federal privacy laws. We’ve also reached out to the YWCA Sexual Assault Center of Silicon Valley, and we will update this post if we hear back.
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