GENDER ISSUES FROM A MALE PERSPECTIVE

Gathered together are a number of articles related to how men and boys are treated by society and the media. The articles, for the most part, concentrate on misandry, domestic violence and female violence and reflect an anti-RADICAL FEMINIST viewpoint. Although articles are pro-male, they are not anti-female.

Name:
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Monday, January 23, 2006

VICTIMIZATION OF MALE CHILDREN AND TEENS

The Invisible Boy:
Revisioning the Victimization of Male Children and Teens

Our mission is to help the people of Canada maintain and improve their health.

Health Canada

Prepared by: Frederick Mathews, Ph.D., C. Psych.

The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Health Canada.

Également disponible en français sous le titre Le garçon invisible Nouveau regard sur la victimologie au masculin: enfants et adolescents


Contents may not be reproduced for commercial purposes, but any other reproduction, with acknowledgments, is encouraged.

This publication can be made available in/on computer diskette/large print/audio-cassette/braille, upon request.

Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada 1996

Cat. No.: H72-21/143-1996E
ISBN: 0-662-24429-X

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Opening the Door to Male Victims

Why the Need for a Male-Inclusive Perspective?

Why the Need to Re-Vision Male Victimization?

Purpose of The Invisible Boy


Chapter 1. Prevalence: A Many-Sided Story

Sexual Abuse of Boys and Teen Males

Sibling-on-Sibling Sexual Abuse

Sexual Harassment

Male Prison Rape and Sexual Assault

Physical Abuse, Neglect and Emotional Maltreatment

Sibling-on-Sibling Physical Abuse

Corporal Punishment

Community, School and Institution-based Violence

Suicide

Street Youth

Prostitution

Children with Disabilities

Professional Response to Male Victims as a Factor in Determining Prevalence

Media Images of Violence Toward Boys and Young Men

Chapter 2. Perpetrators of Male Victimization

Sexual Abuse

Teen Perpetrators

Strangers vs. Acquaintances

Female Perpetrators

Dynamics of Female-Perpetrated Abuse

Physical Abuse and Neglect

Corporal Punishment

Chapter 3. Effects of Victimization on Males

Sexual Abuse

Physical Abuse, Corporal Punishment and Neglect

The Consequences of "Male Sexual Licence"

Chapter 4. Implications

Implications for Research

Implications for Assessment, Treatment and Program Development

A Repeating Cycle of Violence?

Implications for Staff Development and Program Supervision

The Search for a More Inclusive Framework for Analysis

The Messages We Give to Male Victims

How Would Things Be Different if We Acknowledged Male Victims? .

Beginning with Ourselves as Adults

Resources and Bibliography

Acknowledgments

The Invisible Boy: Revisioning the Victimization of Male Children and Teens was prepared by the Canadian Foster Family Association (CPFA) on behalf of the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence of Health Canada.

The CFFA would particularly like to thank those who assisted in the preparation of the manuscript: Judy Urquhart, Len Kushnier, Veronica Marsman, Philip Quigley; the Family Violence Prevention Unit and the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence of Health Canada for their support to the project; and the project staff, Dr. Fred Mathews and John Meston.

Linda Lelièvre President
Canadian Foster Family Association

Introduction

Opening the Door to Male Victims

"Since we are sometimes compelled against our will by persons of high rank to perform the operation, by compression is thus performed: children, still of a tender age, are placed in a vessel of hot water, and then when the parts are softened in the bath, the testicles are to be squeezed with the fingers until they disappear. "
Paulus Aegineta
1st Century A.D.


This opening quote from Sander Breiner's book, Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today, is a stark reminder that the story of male child abuse is an old one. The passage is an instruction to those who wanted to get around a law passed by the Roman emperor Domitian prohibiting the castration of boys who were subsequently placed in brothels or sold for "buggering." At the turn of the twentieth century, boys were routinely circumcised without anesthetic as a "treatment" for things such as hyperactivity and masturbating (De Mause, 1988). However, anyone who believes that this- inexcusable treatment of male children or youth is a thing of the past should consider the following:

An episode of a comedy television program about summer camp features the sexual abuse of a "canteen boy" by an adult camp counsellor.
A Canadian newspaper advertises a board game, "101 Uses for a Severed Penis."
Another television program portrays mother/son incest in a comedy sketch about phone sex.
A newspaper article about a mother who left her 11-year-old son tied and gagged in a closet quotes a social worker at the trial as saying, the boy had been "very prone to lying, stealing, and manipulating, was disruptive in class, and was generally an unpleasant kid."
What these few examples illustrate are some of the themes that will be explored in the pages of this document; namely, the existence of a double standard in the care and treatment of male victims, and the invisibility and normalization of violence and abuse toward boys and young men in our society.

Despite the fact that over 300 books and articles on male victims have been published in the last 25 to 30 years, boys and teen males remain on the periphery of the discourse on child abuse.

Few workshops about males can be found at most child abuse conferences and there are no specialized training programs for clinicians. Male-centred assessment is all but non-existent and treatment programs are rare. If we are talking about adult males, the problem is even greater. A sad example of this was witnessed recently in Toronto. After a broadcast of The Boys of St. Vincent, a film about the abuse of boys in a church-run orphanage, the Kids' Help Phone received over 1 000 calls from distraught adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It is tragic in a way no words can capture that these men had no place to turn to other than a children's crisis line.

The language we use in the current discourse on violence and abuse masks, minimizes or renders invisible certain realities for male victims. Terms such as "family violence" have become co-terminus with "violence toward women," particularly on the part of husbands, fathers or other adult male figures. Male teens, boys, male seniors, male victims of sibling-on-sibling violence and female abusers disappear in this term.

Canada lags far behind other Western democracies in the study of male victims and their male and female abusers. In fact, among the large and growing number of research studies on male victims only a small number are Canadian. Social policy development, public education, treatment programs and research funding, and the evolution of a more inclusive discourse on interpersonal violence that reflects the male experience are all long overdue.

Why the Need for a Male-Inclusive Perspective?

A "male-inclusive" perspective on violence and victimization must be, of necessity, dynamic and evolutionary, since male victims are only just beginning to speak out about their experiences. As they do, their stories will continue to challenge many of our long-held and status quo assumptions about abuse victims and perpetrators. It is important to keep in mind that male victims are not a homogeneous group, and over time it is likely that a number of perspectives will evolve. Heterosexual, gay and bisexual, Native/Aboriginal, disabled/challenged, and visible and cultural minority males will all add different aspects to the story of male victimization.

There are, however, four basic components to the concept of "male-inclusive." First, the need to articulate a male-centred point, or points, of view, which reflect the diversity of men and boys in the Canadian population. Second, the need for male victims to search for balance as they struggle to heal the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual aspects of their lives. Third, the need to honour and protect female victims' gains and acknowledge the contributions women have made in breaking the silence about violence and abuse. Fourth, the need to evolve a vision of combining both males' and females' stories into a coherent and inclusive perspective that all of us will be able to own and use in the struggle to reduce and eliminate interpersonal violence and abuse in our society. Sadly, as male victims' stories reveal, we are still a long way from realizing any of these goals.

Male victims report great pain, frustration and some anger at not seeing their stories reflected in the public discourse on violence and abuse. Several large-scale Canadian studies about interpersonal violence conducted in the past several years have reported the findings pertaining to only female victims. Many academic papers written about victims of violence purport to be "balanced," yet typically bring only a faint male "voice" to the analysis. From a conceptual standpoint, many also make the mistake of accepting and using, uncritically, a woman-centred-only model of victimization. Male victims also find much of this work dehumanizing and dismissive of their experiences. They feel many writers and thinkers in the field have delineated the boundaries of the discourse on violence and abuse - boundaries that leave males out.

Male victims frequently find that therapists, counsellors or other types of caregivers trained with female-centred models of victimization are unable to help them. Consequently, they are likely to simply abandon therapy, leaving unexplored many of the issues relating to their victimization experience and to their deeper healing.

Male victims, like female victims before them, have encountered their share of critics and detractors, people who refuse to believe them, ignore prevalence statistics, minimize the impact of abuse, appropriate and deny males a voice, or dismiss male victimization as a "red herring." When prevalence statistics are given for male victimization, it is common to hear the response that the vast majority of abusers of males are other males, a belief which is simply not true. This comment is usually intended to frame male victimization as a "male problem." It is also insensitive and perceived by male survivors as being victim-blaming. While challenges and criticisms to concepts and theories are valid, and an important part of the evolution and development of any field, denial, minimization and silencing is harmful, abusive and damaging to any victim.

In many respects, male victims are where female victims were 25 years ago. Most of us forget the enormous opposition the women's movement encountered as women began to organize and claim a voice to speak against violence and name their abusers/offenders. The services and supports that exist presently for women were hard won and yet are still constantly at risk of losing their funding. By comparison, there really is no organized male victims "movement" per se. Males, generally, are not socialized to group together the way women do, to be intimate in communication or to see themselves as caregivers for other males. In short, much of what male victims need to do to organize a "movement" requires them to overcome many common elements of male socialization, all of which work against such a reality ever happening.

Why the Need to Re-Vision Male Victimization?

The subtitle of this work, "Revisioning the Victimization of Male Children and Teens, " extends an invitation to the public and professionals alike, to "look again" and "re-vise" their knowledge and understanding with respect to violence and abuse, and to make it inclusive of a male perspective. On the face of the evidence presented in the pages of this report, the invitation is compelling.

Much of the current thinking and discourse, both public and professional, about abuse and interpersonal violence is based on a woman-centred point of view. This is neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, but rather the result of who has been doing the advocacy. However, as a result of this history, victims have a female face, perpetrators a male face. Because of this image of perpetrators as having a male face, violence in our society has become "masculinized" and is blamed exclusively on "men" and "male socialization." Although there is without question a male gender dimension to many forms of violence, especially sexual violence, simple theories of male socialization are inadequate to explain why the vast majority of males are not violent.

Violence is even blamed on the male hormone testosterone. The irony in this argument is not lost on male victims. While women have been struggling to get out from under the stigma that they are at the mercy of their hormones, males are being accused of being at the mercy of testosterone.

Male victims walk a fine line between wanting to be heard and validated, to be supportive of female victims and to be pro-woman, while challenging assumptions they feel are biased stereotypes. Their challenges to some of these stereotypes are often met with accusations that they are misogynists, part of a "backlash" against feminism, or have a hidden agenda to undermine women's gains. If any of these accusations are true, they must be confronted by all of us. But if they are based only on the fear that recognition of males as victims will threaten women's gains, then that is the issue we should be discussing right up front, not minimizing male victims' experiences in a competition to prove who has been harmed the most. Nonetheless, it is important for all of us to recognize that it may be difficult for many women to listen to male victims' stories until they feel safe in this regard.

Sadly, male victims and their advocates risk a lot to challenge the status quo and experience much pressure to remain silent. It is ironic that the pressure males feel to remain silent replicates, at a social level, the same patterns of silencing, denial and minimization they experienced at the hands of their offenders. If we do not face the fact that we need to heal the "gendered wounds" of both women and men, then we will compromise the search for gender peace.

Finally, and perhaps the most important reason to re-vision our understanding, is because men and teen males are not, in any substantial way, joining women in the struggle to end all forms of interpersonal-violence. Part of the reason for this may be because males do not see their own stories reflected in public discussions about violence and abuse. If one were to rely solely on the media to convey the male experience, few stories would be known beyond the more sensational cases involving several church-run orphanages or provincial training schools. It is not uncommon to hear male students express resentment toward high school anti-violence curricula that presumes them to be abusers, harassers, rapists and sexual assaulters in waiting. Indeed, it is difficult to feel part of a collective social movement against violence when one's own experiences are dismissed, excluded or minimized. It is evident from even a casual review of this material that much of it contains biased stereotypes and unchallenged assumptions about "male anger," "male aggression" and "male sexuality." All too often, these writers take as a starting point a caricature of the worst imaginable elements of "masculinity" and assume it applies to all male persons.

As males begin to tread upon the path broken by women, they are summoning the courage to bring their own voices to the public and professional discourse about violence and abuse. If we want males to engage in true dialogue, then we have to be open to hearing their criticisms, their experiences, their pain.

Purpose of The Invisible Boy

The Invisible Boy is intended for a wide readership. Readers may find some of the issues or research presented in the document new or surprising, maybe even a little controversial.

Others may find no surprises at all, but instead a confirmation of what they have experienced, observed themselves or believed all along. In any case, it is perhaps most important to see the document, not as a definitive statement of the male experience (we are too early in the struggle for that), but rather as a "snapshot in time" of some of the controversies, challenges, knowledge gaps and unexplored issues pertaining to the male experience of victimization. If it spurs the reader to further explore the literature, encourages the therapeutic community to expand its knowledge base about victims and perpetrators, or widens public debate on abuse to make it more inclusive, then it will have achieved its purpose.

Readers would be well advised not to read into the pages of The Invisible Boy any diminishment of women's experience with respect to violence and abuse. Unimaginable numbers of women and girls are harmed by violence every day in Canada. Women's stories need to be heard, believed and respected without denial or minimization. We must resist attempts to place male and female victims into a competition for resources or credibility. We can no longer afford the divisiveness along gender lines that permeates discussions about male and female victims' experiences. If we are to advance the anti-violence movement at all in Canada, we have to move more toward "gender reconciliation" and away from the bullying of one another that passes for advocacy in many public discussions.

Ideally, male and female victims' stories should be told side by side so that we may be better able to observe and understand how inextricably intertwined their experiences are. However, such a task is beyond the scope of the present project. Because their experiences are poorly understood, underreported, largely unacknowledged and outside much of the public and professional discourse, The Invisible Boy will focus primarily on males and bring together in one place many of the strands of male victims' experiences.

Many questions remain unanswered. Why is it that Canada, a country that prides itself on being a compassionate and just society, lags behind other countries in advocacy for male victims? Why has the media refused to give equal coverage to male victimization issues? Why do we consistently fail to support adult male victims? Why do we support a double standard when it comes to the care and treatment of male victims? Perhaps the simplest answer to all the above is the fact that much of what constitutes male victimization is invisible to us all, especially male victims themselves. The Invisible Boy will explore these and other issues in the following pages.

For additional copies, contact:
National Clearinghouse on Family Violence
Public Health Agency of Canada
Health Canada Address Locator: #1907D1
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 1B4

613) 957-2938
Fax: (613) 941-8930 or call toll-free: 1-800-267-1291
FaxLink: (613) 941-7285 or toll-free: 1-888-267-1233
TTY/TDD users, (613) 952-6396 or toll-free: 1-800-561-5643


Read full report at: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ncfv-cnivf/familyviolence/html/nfntsxinvisible_e.html

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