Can’t Hear or Won’t Hear: Gender, Sexualities and Reporting Male Rape

Aliraza Javaid

University of East Londo



Drawing on heteronormativity and hegemonic masculinity, this paper seeks to unravel the issue of the underreporting of male rape to the police and to the third sector. Critically examining the issue of male sexual victimisation will provide a fuller understanding of it within the police and third sector context. Underpinned by gender theories and concepts and the framework of heteronormativity, I argue that male victims of rape are reticent to engage with the police and voluntary agency practitioners because of hostile, sexist and homophobic reactions, attitudes, and appraisal, particularly from other men in these agencies within England to police masculinities and sexualities. I draw on primary data of police officers and voluntary agency practitioners (n = 70) to illustrate the ways wherein gender and sexualities norms and beliefs affect and shape their understanding and view of men as victims of rape. The data suggests that, when male rape victims report their rape, they are susceptible to a ‘fag discourse’, whereby the police and voluntary agency practitioners are likely to perpetuate language to suggest that the victims are not ‘real’ men, intensifying their reluctance to report and to engage with the criminal justice system. Thus, the police and voluntary agency practitioners’, particularly male workers, masculinities are strengthened through emasculating male rape victims.


Keywords: stigma, heterosexuality, homophobia, heteronormativity, sexism