Women Raping Men
[Details, April 2004]
Rape often isn’t a crime when women do it
By RICHARD MORGAN
BONUS: Bill O’Reilly attacks
Five years ago, a few months before his first semester at Ohio
State, Nick (not his real name) lost his virginity on the floor of
a dark living room, surrounded by sleeping partygoers. "She told a
lot of people she was going to fuck me," says Nick, 23, sitting in
a booth at the Blue Danube, a greasy spoon in his hometown of
Columbus, Ohio. "She gave me a lot of vodka and she did it. I was
barely awake. But I remember -- it was so weird -- she said, 'Look,
I'm either going to fuck you or go to the kitchen and fuck a
He was too drunk to remember the hows of what followed, but he
knows there was no condom, no consent, and, at first, no problem.
The next morning, "I woke up and I'm like, 'Holy shit! I must be in
love,'" Nick says. "And she says, 'Get real. I was just fucking
Upon suffering a variety of emotional problems Nick sought
counseling, and it was then that he came to believe that in losing
his virginity he had become not a man but a victim of rape.
The concept of a woman raping a man seems so bizarre that most
people would look at Nick and suspect he's just an oversensitive
guy who wasn't equipped to handle a sexually assertive woman. But
there is a slowly building body of controversial research that
suggest the idea may not be quite the Penthouse-Forum-letter-gone-
bad scenario it appears. "These guys are around," says Peter B.
Anderson, a professor of health and human sexuality at the
University of New Orleans. "But they don't want to talk. And
frankly, not that many people want to listen."
Occasionally some, like Nick, will talk, and their stories are
often similar. Take Brad (not his real name). In December 2002, he
was a Florida college student working as a bartender when, he says,
he was drugged and raped by a woman. An athletic 22-year-old, Brad
say he'd had only a couple of beers before two women -- one a
friend and the other a stranger -- offered him a drink called a
surfer on acid. Soon after, Brad says, he "went from zero to shit-
faced in, like, three seconds," which he doubts alcohol alone could
When he was falling in and out of consciousness, Brad says, he was
taken to the apartment of the women he didn't know, and she dragged
him into a bedroom and undressed him. "I was pretty wasted, so I
couldn't put up much of a struggle," he says. Soon, the woman
fondled him into an erection and, without using a condom, climbed
on top of him.
"At that point, it was going to happen," Brad says matter-of-
factly, "so after about five minutes, I pretended to orgasm and
rolled over. If anything happened after that, I don't know."
Evidence of female-on-male reape is almost entirely absent from the
usual crime markers: police reports and the statistics that rely on
them. If you are a man who has been raped by a woman, there are
fairly obvious reasons you wouldn't call the cops. For one thing,
there's the stigma. That's why Brad decided to file his experience
in the "crazy shit that happened to me" category of his life and
just try to forget it. "For a guy in particular," he says, "if I
told people about that, they'd think I'm just joking."
Beyond the social humiliation, there is the legal system's
reluctance to recognize the concept. It wasn't until 1992 that the
FBI dropped its official definition of rape as "carnal knowledge of
a female forcibly and without her consent" in favor of a gender-
neutral description. Still, many states continue to frame laws so
that men cannot be raped -- and women cannot be rapists -- unless
the victims are sodomized.
And since cases in which a woman rapes a man are more likely to be
categorized as something else, like aggravated assault, statistics
about the frequency of female-on-male rape are nearly impossible to
come by. "There are male victims out there, but the summary
information is limited," says Maryvictoria Pyne, head spokeswoman
for the FBI's Information Services division. "[Male victims] aren't
represented in the literature."
Even if they were willing to press forward with their cases,
legally speaking, neither Nick nor Brad would have much of a shot
at justice, thanks to the presence of alcohol. "With cases of
alleged date rape or acquaintance rape involving drugs or alcohol,
the jury can't be expected to reconstruct what happened," says
Linda Fairstein, former head of the Manhattan District Attorney's
Sexual Crimes Unit and now a successful crime novelist. "It
wouldn't be prosecutable -- even with a female victim."
Women don't need alcohol or drugs to rape men. Cindy Struckman-
Johnson, a professor of psychology at the University of South
Dakota, published a study in the Archives of Sex Research in 1994
detailing cases of college men who were sexually coerced by women.
One scenario involves men waking up in the middle of the night to
find a woman taking advantage of their natural nocturnal erections.
Another common ploy is emotional blackmail, most often in the form
of threats like "Do me, or I'll tell everyone you're gay" or "Do
me, or I'll tell your girlfriend you did."
Megan (not her real name), a senior at the Universoty of
California, Berkeley, is, if not exactly an admitted rapist, the
kind of super-sexually-aggressive woman whose mindset may offer
clues to how a female rapist might think. Megan's promiscuous
behavior includes letting herself into mens' bedrooms as they sleep
or calling them "at horribly late hours and [saying] 'I'm coming
over and not taking no for an answer.'" Although she admits she
would never stand for a guy doing the same thing to her, she
describes her rationalization like this: "Even if a guy says no,
girls think they're doing him a favor by having sex with him
If Nick and Brad don't have a legal leg to stand on, one might
fairly ask why their experiences can be called rape at all. "Look,"
admits Nick, "I'm not sure how many guys would see this as rape.
Other guys would think, This rocks! Free lay!"
Those who would doubt that a man was forced into sex might wonder
at any number of apparently contradictory details, starting with
his erection and orgasm. Irene Anderson heads the Oasis Center at
the University of Arizona, a sexual-assault clinic where one in 10
clients is male. She points out that inadvertent sexual excitation
is not an unheard-of experience among female victims of date or
marital rape, and it's not the same thing as being turned on. "If a
woman is raped and has an orgasm, there's terrible guilt," says
Anderson. "Sexual response is not a will of emotion; it's a
physiological response. It gets very convoluted very quickly."
It's also possible, by the way, for a man to get an erection even
when he's so drunk he can barely stand. "It takes a lot of alcohol -
- a lot -- to completely obliterate the possibility of arousal,"
But the biggest problem most people would have with Nick's story is
the basic question of exactly how a woman forces herself on a man.
The answer is that the force involved isn't physical; it's
psychological. And if recent studies are to be believed, women are
more than capable of that kind of aggression.
In 1988, the Journal of Sex Research published a study of nearly
1,000 college students. Its most surprising finding was that far
more men than women reported having suffered unwanted intercourse --
62.7 percent to 46.3 percent. A 2001 study of 285 women at a
private midwestern university identified 52 as sexually "coercive" -
- based on self-reported admissions of verbal manipulations, and
insistent, deceptive, or threatening (including physically)
behavior. Of those women, 30 reported "becoming so sexually aroused
that they felt it was useless to stop even though the partner did
not want to have sex."
Peter B. Anderson, the University of New Orleans professor, co-
edited -- with Struckman-Johnson -- a book called Sexually
Aggressive Women. In one study they conducted, 51 percent of
college-age women polled admitted they had once taken advantage of
a man who was drunk or high. "If we were applying the same
standards as we apply to men," says Anderson, "these women would be
talked about as date-rapists."
That's not the same thing, he concedes, as saying those same
standards should be applied, which is exactly the criticism other
experts level at research like his. They contend that just because
women are capable of sexual coercion doesn't mean man can be
raped. "Women are neither biologically nor socioculturally disposed
to rape," says John Bancroft, director of the Kinsey
Institute. "They may assert dominance over men in more subtle and
less catastrophic ways."
The problem with trying to decide whether Nick and Brad were really
raped is that their cases seem trivial compared with the violent
experiences suffered by so many women. But even if one thinks the
idea taht a man could be raped by a woman is just PC nonsense,
anyone who believes himself a victim has some unique issues to
"Sexual assault impugns masculinity in a way that doesn't apply to
female victims' sense of femininity," says Nick's therapist, who
requested anonymity to protect his client's confidentiality. In
other words, a man raped by a woman is liable to feel like he's not
a man at all.
"I hated that I didn't enjoy it," says Nick. "I was a deviant, a
freak. Because a real man would have fucked her blue and liked it."
back to home page