POET: Kevin Kantor
PIECE: People You May Know
Deviance and Social Control
This poem is about male rape and the trauma relived by knowing who the rapist is. Also, the poem demonstrates how society contributes to shaming, and blaming of the victim.
“Two police officers told me that I must give his act a name or it didn’t happen. That obviously I could’ve fought back. Which is to say, No one comes running for young boys who cry rape.”
Statistics show that women are sexually attacked more than their male counterparts, however, men are also victims of rape. Although society seems to care about rape victims, there is still a lingering implication of blame towards the victim. Furthermore, male rape survivors are often not acknowledged which then causes them to react in violent ways.
When my rapist showed up under the ‘People You May Know’ tab on Facebook
It felt like the closest to a crime scene I’ve ever been
That is if I don’t count the clockwork murder that I make of my own memory
Every time I drive down Colfax Avenue still I sit in my living room and sift for clues
I see myself caught in his teeth
He is dancing with his shirt off in a city I’ve never been to
He is eating sushi over a few beers with friends
And i am under his fingernails
I know that alley
I killed the memory of that t-shirt
This is an old photograph
It’s a baby picture
There is also an older man – presumably his father
They are both round and bright and still smiling
He is shirtless again
And I catch my reflection in the weight room mirror
I call him the Wolf when I write about him:
The Wolf so as to make him as storybook as possible
The Wolf when I write about him
Which is to say, when my memory escapes the murder
Or when the internet suggests it
Facebook informs me that we have 3 mutual friends
Which is to say
He is People You May Know which is to say I am People You May Know
And there are people that know
And people that don’t know
And people that don’t know I want to know I’m afraid to let know
And probably people that know him that know of me that know
The word No
The word No was flock of sleeping sheep sitting in my mouth
And now I know the wolf’s middle name
And what he listens to on Spotify
And the all too familiar company he keeps and he can no longer be a wolf
Or the nameless grave I dig for myself on bad days
We have 3 mutual friends on Facebook and now it feels like they are holding the shovel
64 people ‘liked’ the shirtless gym pic and
4 people have told me they’d rather I said nothing
2 police officers told me that I must give his act a name o it didn’t happen
That obviously I could have fought back
Which is to say
No one comes running for young boys who cry rape
When I told my brother
He also asked me why I didn’t fight back
Adam, I am
Every day I write a poem titled ‘Tomorrow’
It is a handwritten list of the people I know who love me
And I make sure to put my own name
At the top (transcription from http://lauralethe.tumblr.com)
While women today are the principal victims of rape and sexual assault, it is important to note that men are also sexually assaulted. Still, the focus remains on women survivors and their male attacker. It is entirely plausible that male rape lurks in the darkness because women are attacked at a higher rate. Although the research shows that male rape occurs more often than it is reported, men do not receive the same support women do. Instead of support and acknowledgment, men are faced with dangerous gender roles that shame them into anger and depression, while also reinforcing patriarchy and hegemonic masculinity.
The feminist movement has made the issue of rape come to light in the United States, however, some feminists believe that because of the patriarchy in America, men cannot be raped. This belief causes a rift between male and female survivors of rape and diminishes the efforts of bringing male rape out of the shadows. In the poem People You May Know by Kevin Kantor he states that ‘‘No one comes running for boys who cry rape”. The men who are raped often go to the police, or seek help at local Rape Crisis Centers, however more often than not are turned away and left to deal with the trauma alone. The Rape Crisis Centers also believed that a man was “raped because he wanted to be”. Furthermore, sociologist Emile Durkheim, explains that deviance can bring societies together, however, the lack of acknowledgment of the existence of male rape is shutting out a portion of the population that is silently crying out for help.
Kevin Kantor tells his audience his brother asked why he did not fight off his rapist; not only does his statement position blame on the victim, but it also confirms the role of masculinity that men are pressured to enact. Hegemonic masculinity is proven to be harmful and hinders men from seeking help and reporting their attack. Men fear being seen as homosexual and feminine, therefore they feel shame for having been through a ‘women’s issue‘. In a culture that prides itself in male superiority, men who are raped lash out and indulge in dangerous activities and are more prone to be involved in acts of violence.
Emile Durkheim states that societies come together in the face of tragedy, but what happens when it does not? What happens when people who are hurt and humiliated to satiate another person’s lust for power and control are dismissed by the people who are supposed to help? The outcome is that nothing good comes from neglecting those who need understanding. The pent-up frustration drives its victims to depression and even suicide. In conclusion, society needs to realize that rape does not discriminate, and implement programs to facilitate recovery for all rape survivors. (Stephani Lomeli)
Follow-up Sociology questions:
- What can society do to overcome harmful ideas of masculinity?
- How can feminist incorporate more males victims into their fight against rape?
- How can society combat sexual assault to minimize the attacks?
This space is reserved for any comments the author of the piece may have about the points he was trying to get across and the background of why he wrote the poem.