Real Rape Culture – The American Prison System

Sodomy rape was a way of life in the penitentiary, not something that occurred on occasion.”

Donald Goines,[1] Whoreson

Rape culture is real – and it exists right in the heart of modern America.

What is ‘Rape Culture’?

‘Rape Culture’ is real and exists right here in the heart of modern America. It exists, however, not in American society as a whole – but rather in the burgeoning and overwhelmingly male American prison system and its victims are overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, men and boys.

Before I defend and explain this seemingly preposterous claim, a claim popular among feminists, their supporters and apologists, it is first necessary to explain what precisely ‘Rape Culture’ is and what this curious phrase, so often bandied about by feminists and other professional damned fools, is actually supposed to mean.

Most readers are probably familiar with the term. ‘Rape Culture’ is defined by Wikipedia as a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality.

Performing a google search for the phrase “rape culture” brings up, at the top of the first page of results (after the Wikipedia entry), the following feminist web page site, entitled “What is a Rape Culture?”. It quotes the following definition of rape culture approvingly: “[rape culture is] a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women” and “rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm”.[2]

Let us then investigate how well Western society fits this definition.

Is Western Culture a ‘Rape Culture’?

According to the feminists, Western society is itself a ‘rape culture’ according to these definitions. However, like most feminist claims (e.g. regarding the pay gap, domestic violence etc.), this claim is wholly bogus.

Indeed, it is not only untrue, but wholly preposterous. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Far from rape being ‘normalized’, ‘encouraged’ or ‘condoned’, rape is widely regarded as one of the most heinous of crimes.

In the USA, as late as 1971, sixteen states as well as the federal government actually imposed the death penalty for rape, until this practice was finally ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Coker v Georgia in 1977.[3] Likewise, in the UK, sentences for rape are greater than those handed down for attempted murder.[4]

Indeed, not only do honest law-abiding citizens despise rapists, even other classes of violent criminals do as well – to such an extent that, along with police informants and other classes of sex offender, rapists typically have to be housed in separate prison accommodation for their own protection.[5]

This reflects the fact that, both among criminals and the law-abiding community, the stigma attached to being labelled a ‘rapist’ surely outstrips that associated with any other crime besides child molestation.

This, incidentally, includes murder.

Of course, murder is, by any objective measure, a more serious offence than rape. The penalties imposed by law for murder are, in theory at least, more severe.

However, in practice, a rape allegation is harder to live down.

For example, in the UK, Lesley Grantham’s conviction for murder did not prevent him from having a successful later career as a popular British television actor, soap opera star and celebrity.

However, despite the fact that he was never convicted of any crime and the charges against him were ultimately dropped, even a mere unsubstantiated allegation of rape was sufficient to destroy forever the hitherto successful career of another British TV personality, the presenter John Leslie[6] – just as, in the US, similarly unsubstantiated allegations seem to currently be in the process of destroying the career of Bill Cosby, the formerly beloved American comic and actor.[7]

Does Western Society Encourage Violence Against Women?

Neither is so-called ‘violence against women’ more generally ‘normalized’, ‘encouraged’ or ‘condoned’, as suggested in the definitions of ‘rape culture’ quoted at the beginning of this post.

On the contrary, violence against women is almost universally condemned. As sociologist Richard Felson argues in an important paper, women are normatively protected from violence to an extent that does not extend to men.[8]

Thus, both men and women perceive violence by men directed against their female intimate partners as more serious than female violence against their male intimate partners[9] and violent offenders who target female victims are sentenced more severely than those who victimize men[10] – with male offenders who victimize women treated most severely of all and women who victimize men most leniently.[11]

Indeed, as with rape, it is notable that even violent male criminals, who brag about, revel in and celebrate violence against male victims, typically, in my experience, at least affect to disapprove of violence against women.

Even in the laboratory, individuals of both sexes refrain from inflicting electric shocks on female subjects in circumstances where they show no compunctions about doing so to male subjects.[12]

Likewise, outside the laboratory in the real world, it is men who represent the overwhelming majority of victims of violent crime.[13] Yet, despite this, it is the perceived issue of ‘violence against women’ that attracts the attention of campaigners, politicians, legislators[14] and the mainstream media.[15]

Moreover, males are overrepresented not only among the victims of violent crime, but also among the victims of state violence, warfare[16] and genocide.[17] Yet here, once again, it is the deaths of so-called ‘innocent women and children’ that attracts the attention of campaigners and the media, and it is female victims (or potential victims) on whom rescue and relief operations disproportionately (and discriminatorily) focus.[18]

In contrast, everywhere from the action movies to war heroes, violence against men is celebrated. As Warren Farrell observes, “We don’t call male-killing sexism: We call it glory”.[19]

The social censure associated with violence against women also explains why, when men do behave violently towards women, this usually happens ‘behind closed doors’ in private residences where third-party witnesses are absent and where the behaviour is therefore more likely to go undetected and evade censure.[20] It also explains why men who are violent towards women are also socially deviant in other ways.[21] In short, as sociologist Robert Felson puts it, “wife beaters are violators, not bearers of society’s norms”.[22]

Real Rape Culture

How then can I argue that ‘rape culture’ is real – and, as the feminists claim, exists right here in the heart of modern America?

I do not claim, as the feminists do, that so-called ‘rape culture’ exists in mainstream American culture. On the contrary, as we have seen, nothing could be further from the truth.

But rape culture does exist in a certain large subculture of American society – namely the burgeoning and overwhelmingly male American prison system.

Here, as we will see, rape is indeed normalized, trivialized, socially-sanctioned and even tacitly (and sometimes openly) encouraged and celebrated. Moreover, rape is also endemic, and occurs at rates far higher than that observed in outside society, to such an extent that, as we will see, although less than a hundredth of the population is behind bars at any one time, the majority of rapes that take place in America may be committed behind bars.

So the feminists, for once, have it right. ‘Rape Culture’ does indeed exist in the heart of America. However, its victims are overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, men and boys.

Is the American Penal System a ‘Rape Culture’?

Let us return again to the definitions of ‘rape culture’ quoted above to see if the American prison system does indeed qualify as a ‘rape culture’ according to the terms set out by the feminists themselves. Bear in mind that I am considering this question by reference to the definitions of ‘rape culture’ provided by the feminists themselves.

As we have seen the two key components of the definitions of ‘rape culture’, as defined by the feminists themselves, are that rape is:

  • Pervasive and widespread; and
  • Normalized, trivialized, encouraged and condoned.

The Normalization and Trivialization of Prison Rape

Let’s look first at the second of these two criteria. Is male rape in the American prison system normalized or trivialized in a way that does not extend to the rape of women in the outside world? The answer, as we will see, is a resounding “yes”, on several scores.

Exhibit 1: Rape Jokes

One feminist website, says that Rape Culture “includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable”. Similarly, some feminists cite the (supposed) acceptability of rape jokes as evidence of so-called ‘rape culture’.

By this criteria, western society at large is certainly not a ‘rape culture’. On the contrary, rape jokes are regarded as among the most dark and socially taboo of comedic material. Indeed, they have been known to cost comedians their careers – and TV shows.

However, the same rules do not evidently apply to jokes about male-on-male rape in the American prison system. On the contrary, here jokes about dropping the soap in the shower are culturally ubiquitous and not regarded as sexist or offensive at all.

Indeed, virtually every second-rate comedy film or TV show that includes a prison sequence includes a light-hearted jocular reference to this phenomenon, from Naked Gun II½  and House Party to Dirty Work. Indeed, I suspect that, to the extent most ordinary Americans have any familiarity with the prison rape issue at all, it is largely filtered through to them by jokes and scenes such as these.

Endemic levels of male rape and sexual slavery occurring under the supervision of the so-called justice system of the world’s leading liberal democracy is treated, not as a scandalous human rights abuse, but as a laughing matter and fit subject for raunchy humour.

Watch for yourself the relevant sections of these movies (I include links to youtube videos of the relevant scenes) and ask yourself whether these scenes would ever be deemed acceptable as a subject fit for humour in a mainstream light-entertainment comedy movie if the person whose possible rape is alluded to in the movies were female rather than male.

Exhibit 2: Celebrating Rape

Beyond the trivialization of prison rape through jokes, probably the next most common reference to prison rape involves its justification, or even celebration.

Thus, when a criminal (invariably a male criminal) has been convicted, or merely charged, with a crime perceived as especially gruesome or unpleasant (ironically often a sex crime such as rape), it is usual to hear comments, in public, in private, in online discussion boards or the comment sections beneath newspaper articles, and sometimes even in the articles themselves, to the effect that the writer/speaker hopes or expects and delights in the fact that the convict or defendant will, so they avidly anticipate, himself be regularly sexually assaulted by other inmates now that he is incarcerated, with the implication that this is deserved and just recompense.

In fact, while there is some evidence that child sex offenders in particular are indeed singled out for sexual abuse in prison, according to the Human Rights Watch report, No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons, the vast majority of victims of prison rape are incarcerated for other crimes.[23]

In fact, non-violent offenders and first-time offenders are overrepresented among victims of sexual coercion behind bars, as are other vulnerable groups such as young offenders, homosexuals and the mentally retarded (and whites).[24] Journalist Eli Lehrer reports that so-called ‘punks’ are usually young, nonviolent offenders, and often pretrial detainees, since, naturally enough, jailhouse rapists select victims from the least violent segments of the prison population.[25] Underage inmates housed in adult facilities are especially vulnerable to abuse.[26]

Tom Cahill, president of Stop Prisoner Rape, and himself a victim when incarcerated for his part in anti-Vietnam protests, reports:

Most prison rape victims are in for minor nonviolent offenses. The victim profile is a young adult heterosexual male, maybe small or with a slight frame, confined for the first time for a minor victimless crime such as possession of a little too much marijuana – and too poor to buy his freedom.[27]

Such young non-violent offenders, some of whom have yet even to be convicted of an offence, are hardly the most deserving victims of repeated sexual abuse, even assuming, that is, anyone is deserving of such treatment. Nevertheless, a poll of voters in Massachusetts in 1994 found that fully half of respondents agreed with the statement: ‘society accepts prison rape as part of the price criminals pay for their wrongdoing’.[28]

Yet if any person, male or female, has the temerity to venture the opinion that any woman, in any way, or in any circumstances, deserves to be raped, he or she (especially he) would be excoriated by the feminist thought-police and mainstream media for this outrageous heresy.

Moreover, it goes without saying that, were a woman to be sentenced to repeated rape as a punishment for a crime she had committed, however gruesome or unpleasant this crime may be, there would be outrage.

Indeed, reports do occasionally surface from the Developing World of the use of rape as a sentence or punishment for female offenders.[29] In these cases, the reaction in the West is, of course, one of universal revulsion and outrage, not to mention the usual culturally-imperialist sanctimony in which the Western media specializes.

Yet the American criminal courts routinely sentence young men and boys, in effect, to exactly the same punishment, the only difference being that, for American men and boys, the victims are not raped only once, but, as we will see, repeatedly over the entire spell of their incarceration.

The only other distinction between the sentences handed down in India in the news reports I have linked to above and the sentences routinely handed down by American justices is that the officials in India who sentenced the young woman to gang-rape were at least honest and open about the nature of the punishment they were inflicting.

Yet, as legal scholar Alan Dershowitz points out, a sentence of imprisonment for a young first-time non-violent offender in the USA is often not only a sentence of rape, but, given the high prevalence of HIV and other STDs among incarcerated felons, including prison predators, often, in practice, a death sentence too.

In his article The Other Rape Epidemic,[30] Dershowitz explains:

What… happen[s] to thousands of young male first offenders in prison is a national scandal. They are raped – often repeatedly and by gangs of older inmates – as a rite of passage in prison life. Their bodies are traded like cigarettes. And, worst of all, they contract AIDS in significant numbers. Thus, a short sentence imposed for ‘rehabilitation’ may become a death sentence. Yet many prison authorities turn a blind eye to this crisis.[31]

He continues:

No civilized person supports the death penalty for first-time non-violent criminals. Yet that is precisely what some get when they are sent to prisons where rape is a way of life… [and] the rate of HIV infection may be as high as 15 percent –  and rising.[32]

Referring to a then current international controversy arising from the corporal punishment sentence imposed on an American teenager convicted of vandalism in Singapore, Dershowitz observed:

As many Americans rail against the recent caning of an American teenager in Singapore few pause to ash themselves what they themselves would opt for, if given the choice of four lashes with a Singaporean cane or four months in an American prison where rape and the risk of AIDS was rampant. I, for one, would not hesitate before selecting the cane. A bruised backside heals with time, whereas HIV only gets worse.[33]

For example, Stephen Donaldson, America’s most prominent campaigner against prison rape and among the first to speak out about his own victimization, ultimately died as a consequence of HIV infection he is thought to have contracted during his multiple rapes during his first spell of incarceration.

Others are driven to suicide, such as the seventeen-year-old, Rodney Hullin, who hanged himself in 1995 after being raped and refused admission to protective custody

Exhibit 3: Lack of Redress for Victims

There is an almost complete lack of effective redress for victims of prison rape. Legal scholar Shara Abraham bluntly concludes, male rape victims in US prisons essentially are without legal redress.[34] Thus, sexually abused inmates suffer not only the physical and emotional trauma that accompany rape, but are re-victimized by their inability to assert their legal rights.[35]

There are several reasons for the lack of effective of legal remedy.

Firstly, victims have every incentive not to come forward. In doing so, they would be outing themselves as both an informer and as a victim of sexual assault – i.e. in prison parlance both a ‘snitch’ and ‘punk’ – perhaps the two the most reviled classes of inmate within the American prison subculture and either of which statuses would be sufficient to single them out for further victimization and possibly death.

Journalist Eli Lehrer, in his article Hell Behind Bars: The Crime That Dare Not Speak Its Name, first published in National Review, explains:

A code of silence that nearly all prison inmates adhere to means that prison rape almost never gets reported. ‘This silence spares cost-conscious prison officials the expense and burden of investigating and prosecuting incidents of prison rape,’ writes Victor Hassine, a convicted murderer turned college-textbook writer who has spent the last twenty years in a variety of Pennsylvania state prisons. ‘Rapists are thus virtually handed licenses for their attacks.’[36]

Indeed, such is the stigma associated with victimization, Joanna Burke reports, “even the families of victims might want the whole incident ‘hushed’ in an attempt to ‘avoid the shame and dishonor they believed would follow such a complaint’”.[37]

Thus, Bourke reports that “according to some estimates, between 60 and 70 per cent of sexual assaults in prisons are never reported to staff”, but “prisoners insist that the figure is even higher”.[38] In one study at the Tennessee State Penitentiary conducted in the 1970s, “over a quarter of inmates… believed that more than 90 per cent of rapes were never reported”.[39]

Even if victims do have the courage to come forward, their complaints are often dismissed.

Whereas in respect of rape allegations made by women in society at large, there are now strict guidelines regarding the interviewing of victims by the police, which ensure that these victims receive sympathetic treatment and support no matter how spurious their allegations, the same principles do not seem to apply to men and boys raped in the American prison system.

One inmate who reported his victimization to prison officers received the dismissive response, “no way–you’re not that good of a catch”.[40] A mentally-retarded victim of sexual assault behind bars reported received the jocular response, here’s another one the booty bandit got.[41]

Meanwhile, another inmate was made to identify his assailant in front of twenty other inmates then returned to General Population, a course of action that was certain to put his safety, indeed his life, in danger.[42]

Abraham reports that prison authorities rarely investigate allegations of rape and generally turn to internal disciplinary mechanisms as an alternative to criminal prosecution, while prison administrators effectively tolerate rampant sexual abuse when they fail to hold correctional authorities responsible for criminal violence that occurs behind prison walls.[43]

Certainly, prison authorities have every incentive to downplay and cover-up the scale of the problem by discouraging victims from pressing charges. As Wayne Wooden and Jay Parker explain in Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison, their pioneering study of sexual victimization in the nation’s prison system:

The staff did not want the bad publicity of rape prosecutions within their prison. They did not want the official documentation that this type of behaviour was occurring. They preferred, or so it seemed to [the victim], to sweep the whole affair ‘under the rug,’ pretending that it had not happened.”[44]

Thus, one victimized inmate believed that, on making a complaint to prison guards, he was deliberately put in an adjacent cell to his victimizers in segregation, enabling the latter to makes threats to his family, so as to discourage him from proceeding with the charges.[45]

Thus, one victim of repeated sexual assault described the process of lodging a complaint thus:

If a whore [rape victim] went to the authorities, all they’d do is tell you that since you [are] already a whore [rape victim], they couldn’t do nothing for you, and [that you should] go back to the dorm and settle down and be a good old lady [i.e. passively submit to continued sexual abuse]. Hell, they’d even call the whore’s old man [rapist] up and tell him to take you back down and keep you quiet… the most you’d get out of complaining is some marriage counselling, with them talking to you and your old man [rapist] to iron out your difficulties.[46]

Far from seeking to protect potential victims and prevent rape, the attitude of many prison officers seems to be that inmates should defend themselves. If they are either unable or unwilling to do so, then, in the eyes of many correctional officers, they are deemed to be consenting or at least their victimization is deserved.

One California correctional officer is quoted as explaining, and “the guy has to be willing to get a pipe or a shank and defend himself”, even though possession of such a weapon is, of course, both a serious breach of prison rules and a criminal offence.[47]

On this view, as this prison officer observed, “It’s either fight or fuck[48] – a perspective echoed among inmates, among whom there is a saying to the effect that “every convict has three choices, but only three: He can fight [kill someone], he can hit the fence [escape] or he can fuck [submit]”.[49] This view is also paralleled in the title of an article published in a law journal reviewing the options available to victimized inmates – Fight, Flee, Submit, Sue: Alternatives for Sexually Assaulted Prisoners.[50]

Joanne Mariner, the lawyer primarily responsible for authorship of the Human Rights Watch report No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons, is quoted as explaining:

Many inmates find that when they try to report a rape, the guards don’t want to hear it… They tell them to act like a man, to deal with the problem themselves. There are very few prisons that follow good procedures for counseling, or sending inmates for a medical examination.[51]

Lawyer, Donna Brorby, lead counsel in a prisoners’ right case in Texas who spent months interviewing incarcerated felons in Texas, explains:

In the Texas prison system… the policy, of course not written, is to leave it up to each prisoner to defend himself, and to consider people who don’t fight off their attackers to be consenting.[52]

Some officers even openly express the opinion that “allowing a degree of coercion was beneficial for the victim, especially if the perpetrator was able to subsequently protect the more vulnerable prisoner from attacks by other (presumably more brutish) aggressors”.[53]

For example, journalist Pete Earley, in The Hot House, his book-length account of life inside Leavenworth Penitentiary, quotes one officer explaining, “the truth is that [the rapist] is doing everyone a favor… [the rape victim] is the sort of guy who can’t take care of himself in here, and if we tell him he can’t live with [the rapist] then [the rapist] won’t be able to protect him from other convicts. There will be heaps of problems for everyone, especially [the rape victim]”.[54]

This was despite the fact that the rapist in this case was well known to officers as, in the words of another officer, a known “homosexual predator”.[55]

The only other alternative is for a vulnerable prisoner to request a transfer to protective custody. However, protective custody usually involves great restrictions on an inmates’ freedom of movement and access to exercise, recreational and educational facilities. In their pioneering study of sexual victimization in prisons, authors Wayne Wooden and Jay Parker explain that “protective custody is not a viable option for someone with a lot of time to do since the isolation is psychologically devastating” and often involves “being separated for virtually all human contact for the full period of incarceration”.[56]

Moreover, protective custody is not available as of right. An inmate generally has to apply to be admitted to protective custody and the authorities have the discretion to refuse such a request. For example, one victim of prison rape, Rodney Hullin, was refused admission to protective custody, despite a medical examination confirming that he had suffered internal injuries consistent with sexual assault. He later committed suicide.[57]

Neither, incidentally, is protective custody always a guarantee of protection. Stephen Donaldson reports that, after being placed in protective custody for his own protection, during his first night in the segregation area, he was assigned to share a cell with three black inmates who raped him.[58]

Neither is a victimized inmate likely to be able to receive redress in the courts. As Joanne Mariner has observed, many federal judges seem “resigned to tolerating prison violence and exploitation as somehow inevitable”.[59]

For example, in Chandler v Jones,[60] a Missouri court dismissed the claim of an inmate who had been pressured into sex while incarcerated, with the cynical declaration that sexual harassment of inmates in prisons would appear to be a fact of life, about which officials could do little.[61] Similarly, in Farmer v Brennan,[62] Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was quoted as saying “some level of brutality and sexual aggression among [inmates] is inevitable no matter what the guards do”.[63]

In fact, however, far from an inevitable and unpreventable fact of prison life, in many European jurisdictions sexual assault behind bars is relatively rare, albeit not altogether unknown.

Finally, even where victims do follow the long, cumbersome, uncertain and expensive process of seeking legal redress through the courts and are eventually successful in winning their case, the redress offered may be derisory in nature. For example, in one case from the 1990s, Butler v Bowd, although the jury found that the four plaintiffs had indeed been repeatedly raped while incarcerated, each were awarded the derisory figure of one dollar in compensation each![64]

Exhibit 4: Use and Encouragement of Rape by Prison Authorities

Not only do prison authorities ignore, downplay and fail to offer either preventative measures or redress after the fact – it is also alleged that the authorities tacitly or even actively encourage prison rape as a means of controlling the inmate population.

For example, Stephen Donaldson (born Robert Anthony Martin but better known as Donny the Punk), America’s most prominent campaigner against prison rape, claims he was deliberately set up to be raped as punishment, after he refused, on principle, to pay ten-dollar bail required to secure his release, after his arrest for his part in a peaceful anti-war protest. Accordingly, after a week, Donaldson was moved to the prison’s most fearsome cellblock, where he was one of only two white inmates (the other of whom was already being sexually abused)[65] and where he was raped an estimated sixty times in two days.[66]

The situation was similar for Tom Cahill, who took over the presidency of Stop Prisoner Rape when Donaldson died from the HIV infection he in all probability first contracted when he was raped in prison. The former was, like Donaldson, jailed for his part in anti-Vietnam protests. The jailers, regarding Cahill as a traitor for his anti-Vietnam advocacy, placed him in a 24-bed cell with 30 guys, mainly black and hispanic, with three white guys, two cowering in the back, falsely informed the other inmates that he was a child molester” and offered the incentive “that if they took care of me they would get extra rations of jello.[67]

Donaldson refers to rape as a management tool used by the prison authorities to control the inmate population, and potentially disruptive elements within it.[68] Thus, Joanna Burke reports, “threatening prisoners with being sent to cells or prison areas notorious for sexual violence was an effective means of controlling offenders”.[69]

Similarly, Eli Lehrer, in his article “Hell Behind Bars: The Crime That Dare Not Speak Its Name”, reports:

A 1998 Los Angeles Times investigation of brutality in California’s Corcoran State Prison found that guards sometimes sent troublesome prisoners to live with one man, who raped inmates in return for favors from prison staff. Such practices are common.”[70]

For example, one victim of prison rape, Eddie Dillard, was set up to be raped as revenge for his assault of a (female) prison officer. He was therefore transferred to share a cell with an inmate charmingly nicknamed ‘the booty bandit’ who was twice his size and had a history of multiple prison rapes and with whom he had already had violent altercations. Indeed, it was claimed that this psychopathic serial rapist was the guards’ resident enforcer, one whose specialty was reining in abrasive young toughs by beating, torturing and sodomizing fellow inmates while prison guards looked the other way.[71]

Jack Abbott, in his celebrated prison memoir, “In the Belly of the Beast”, claims:

The judge sentenced me to the main penitentiary for the express purpose of having me raped by prisoners and reduced to a homosexual. This ‘version’ being a punk. There was absolutely no other reason… I was even told by the pigs who transported me to prison that I was being sent there to be reduced to a punk, to be shorn of my manhood. They felt that I would be less arrogant once I had been turned into a cocksucker.[72]

In addition to setting up disruptive prisoners for rape, rape is also said to be used as a ‘safety valve’ to maintain relative peace within prison facilities. On this view, ‘punks’ provide an outlet for the pent-up sexual frustrations of more violent and potentially dangerous inmates and only if the more dangerous inmates are provided with their share of punks on whom can order in the prison be maintained.

Thus, weak non-violent offenders who comply with prison rules are effectively sacrificed to appease more violent inmates and thereby make correctional officers jobs easier. For example, Ken Haas, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware reports he has “heard about prisons where they always make sure there is one [punk] per tier as a safety valve for the population”.[73]

Thus, according to Ginnette West of Mothers Against Prison Rape-HIV/AIDS, the prison authorities want to keep the black gangs quiet, and know they’ll be in an uproar if they don’t get something to release their sex drive, and usually it’s young, nonviolent inmates of a different race.[74]

It is also reported that, within prison, gangs sometimes use rape as a form of punishment for those who threaten to disrupt the flow of drugs and other contraband that the gangs control in most prison systems.[75] Similarly, extending our gaze temporarily from US prisons to those in South Africa, one particularly gruesome punishment employed by the Numbers Gang is what they refer to as a ‘slow puncture’, whereby the victim’s anus is first cut open, then he is held down and raped by an HIV-positive inmate so as to deliberately infect him.

In addition to using the use of prison rape on a systematic scale, corruption also occurs on a smaller scale.

For example, Donaldson reports that when, after his two days of repeated sexual abuse, he was transferred to protective custody, ostensibly for his own protection, he was then raped by three more inmates while in protective custody. The reason, he later surmised, was that the trio had paid the guards five dollars to switch him into their cell since, ironically, violent prisoners who were threats to other inmates were held in the same segregation wing as those segregated for their own protection.

Such petty corruption was by no means an isolated case. Joanna Bourke reports:

At prisons like Holmesburg… sexual corruption was a highly regulated trade” and “in exchange for money or information, guards would allow certain prisoners to choose sexual partners from new or otherwise desirable inmates”.[76]

While many of these allegations are difficult to prove, certainly prisons do little to challenge the ingrained culture of sexual abuse and much to implicitly encourage and allow it to continue. Former Arizona correctional inmate Shaun Attwood alleges, The US prison system cultivates rape” simply because “if you treat people like animals, they behave like it.[77]

More specifically, in their report on prison rape in America, Human Rights Watch report that Prisoners are frequently double-celled with much larger, stronger, tougher inmates, even with prisoners who have a known history of sexual abuse and a large number of inmates report having been raped by their cellmates.[78]

There are various documented cases of the prison authorities double-celling young vulnerable inmates with known sexual predators.

For example, in Wilson v Wright,[79] an eighteen-year-old non-violent offender of slight stature who had already reported receiving sexual threats from other inmates was assigned to share a cell with a much larger middle-aged convict with a history of violent assaults on other inmates who was serving a sentence for abducting and raping an underage boy.[80]

Similarly, in Redman v San Diego, an eighteen-year-old pre-trial detainee with no criminal record was celled with a thirty-seven-year-old sex offender described in his file as an “aggressive homosexual” as a result of aggressive advances made towards other inmates.[81]

Joanna Bourke concludes:

Heavily armed authorities enforce physical closeness between perpetrator and victim in prison. This is sexual slavery monitored by the state.[82]

Exhibit 5: Rewarding Rape

We have seen that, far from western society encouraging rape (as the ‘Rape Culture’ hypothesis insists is the case), rapists are universally reviled. Indeed, they are not only reviled by the mass of law-abiding citizens, but even by other classes of violent offender, to such an extent that they typically have to be housed in separate accommodation from other prisoners for their own protection and are frequently the victims of violent assaults by other inmates.

However, there is one particularly perverse exception to this general rule. The intense opprobrium attached to rapists among their fellow offenders curiously does not extend to one particular class of rapists – namely, those responsible for the rape of male inmates within the prison system itself.

Among other inmates, the prison rapist suffers no diminution of status on account of his rape of another inmate. On the contrary, his status is enhanced.

Joanna Bourke explains:

While prisoners generally despise men convicted of rape in civilian society, the man who rapes fellow inmates places himself at the pinnacle of prison society. ‘If you raped someone it was like a feather in your cap,’ boasted one prisoner. The rapist of prisoners commands respect, not disdain.[83]

Moreover, the prison rapist is not regarded as homosexual. In contrast, it is the victim who is tainted with the stigma of homosexuality and effeminacy.

Of course, in the ordinary usage of these words in society at large it is the perpetrator, not the victim, who demonstrates homosexual inclinations.[84] The perpetrator, unlike his victim, engages in the act willingly, and, to successfully penetrate another inmate, obviously must experience sexual arousal.[85] In the ordinary way these terms are used outside of prison, then, it would be the perpetrator not the victim who is regarded as homosexual.

However, in their article in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Man and Cronan explain:

Inmates perceive the insertive sexual partner as heterosexual because he is demonstrating his power and masculinity. In contrast, the receptive sexual partner is perceived as homosexual because, in their eyes, he is assuming the role of a woman.[86]

Thus, as one Illinois prisoner explained to Human Rights Watch:

The theory is that you are not gay or bisexual as long as YOU yourself do not allow another man to stick his penis into your mouth or anal passage. If you do the sticking, you can still consider yourself to be a macho man/heterosexual, according to their theory. This is a pretty universal/widespread theory.[87]

In contrast, the homosexual rapist has his masculinity positively reinforced by virtue of his act. Thus, in the inverse morality of the American prison system:

The prison rapist is the epitome of manliness. While male victims of sexual abuse find themselves diminished as men, the man ‘strong enough’ to rape other men is the embodiment of a superior heterosexuality. This was why raping an unwilling young man was much more gratifying than having sex with a willing ‘homosexual sissy’”.[88]

Thus, authors Wayne Wooden and Jay Parker, in their pioneering study of sexual coercion behind bars, Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison, explain:

For the jocker [i.e. prison rapist], these sexual conquests serve to establish his status and dominance within the convict hierarchy as well as continue to validate his manhood.[89]

The Normalization and Trivialization of Prison Rape – Summary

We have thus seen that the American system meets the second component of the definitions of rape culture formulated by feminists and quoted above. Prison rape is normalized, trivialized, encouraged and condoned in multiple mutually reinforcing ways.

Outside of prison, prison rape is normalized, trivialized and condoned by prison rape jokes (‘dropping the soap’ etc.) and justifications of prison rape as a legitimate or even desirable part of the ‘deterrent value’ or ‘just deserts’ imposed on offenders.

Within the walls of prison itself, on the other hand, rape is normalized, trivialized, and implicitly, or explicitly, encouraged and condoned by the prison authorities through the almost complete lack of redress afforded victims, inadequacy of preventative measures, and, in some cases, the active use of the threat or reality of rampant rape as a means of controlling the inmate population.

Meanwhile, among inmates themselves, rape is encouraged, normalized and condoned by both the lack of stigma attached to prison rape and indeed the elevated status enjoyed by known prison rapists. As we will see, this contrasts sharply with the extreme stigma attached to the victims of prison rape, who are reduced to a servile slave-like status akin to slavery (see below) and regarded as fair game for further victimization for the remainder of their period of incarceration.

The Prevalence of Prison Rape

It remains then to turn to the first part of the definition of prison rape provided by feminists and quoted above – namely, is rape pervasive and widespread in the prison system?

Much of the material quoted in the previous discussion already gives some indication of extent to which violent rape is accepted as a normal part of the prison experience in the contemporary US. However, what about systematic, quantitative studies of the prevalence of prison rape? Do surveys and statistics confirm this impression?

Obtaining accurate and reliable statistics on the prevalence of prison rape in America is easier said than done. As noted above, due to the stigma attached to both victims of sexual victimization and informers (pejoratively ‘punks’ and ‘snitches’ respectively), victims have every incentive not to come forward. Likewise, the prison authorities themselves have every incentive, and considerable means at their disposal, to discourage victims from coming forward, given the adverse publicity and possible lawsuits that are likely to result.

Perhaps for these reasons there was, until recently, almost a complete of research attempting to assess the scale of the problem. Moreover, those few attempts that had been made to estimate the scale of the problem were likely gross underestimates. As Cotton and Groth concluded in 1982, “available statistics must be regarded as very conservative at best, since discovery and documentation of this behavior are compromised by the nature of prison conditions, inmate codes and subculture and staff attitudes”.[90]

In recent years, however, there has been some research on the topic, and several attempts have been made to estimate the prevalence of sexual coercion within the walls of US prisons. The findings have been consistently shocking.

Alan Davis, then Chief Assistance District Attorney for Philadelpia, seems to have been the first to seriously address the scale of the phenomenon in 1968, having been commissioned to investigate the problem by the District Attorney’s office and the police department. His conclusions in his final report was stark and explicit. Sexual assaults in the Philadelphia prison system are endemic, he wrote.[91]

Within the Philadelphia prison system, Davis reported, virtually every slightly built young man committed by the courts is sexually approached within a day or two of his admission to prison [and] many of these young men are repeatedly raped by gangs of inmates.[92]

Using data from Davis’s investigation, Joanna Bourke reports that “according to the most reliable surveys, for every one hundred male prisoners held in American prisons, between five and nine had been sexually assaulted” but that “depending how the question was phrased, this figure could rocket to twenty-two prisoners assaulted for every hundred incarcerated”.[93]

Neither are these figures anomalous or restricted to Philadelphia.

Another early study that sought to systematically investigate the prevalence of sexual coercion and victimization behind bars was conducted by Cindy and David Struckman-Johnson and colleagues (including campaigner Stephen Donaldson) in a Midwestern prison by means of an anonymous survey. Their survey of inmates found that 22% of male inmates reported having been pressured or forced into having sexual contact against their will while incarcerated.[94]

In a further study, Cindy and David Struckman-Johnson then broadly replicated these findings in seven different prisons across the Midwest. At these seven institutions, it was found that at least 7% of inmates reported having been raped in their current facility, while 21% of inmates reported having experienced one or more incidents of pressured or forced sexual contact since they were first incarcerated in their state.[95]

Some experts suggest, however, that even these figures may represent an underestimate. Thus, writing in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Robert Dumond, author of several papers on prison rape, concludes, “it is reasonable to assume that in states with larger, heterogeneous urban populations, the rates of sexual assault are even higher”.[96]

Indeed, even the courts have now been forced to recognise the rampant levels of sexual violence within the prison system, with the Eleventh Circuit Court acknowledging in Harris v Thigpen that homosexual rape is commonplace in the prison system.[97] Similarly, in US v Bailey,[98] Justice Blackmun acknowledged:

A youthful inmate can expect to be subjected to homosexual gang rape his first night in jail, or, it has been said, even in the van on the way to jail. Weaker inmates become the property of stronger prisoners or gangs, who sell the sexual services of the victim. Prison officials either are disinterested in stopping abuse of prisoners by other prisoners or are incapable of doing so, given the limited resources society allocates to the prison system.[99]

Campaigner (and victim) Stephen Donaldson (a co-author of the original paper on victimization at a Midwestern prison), extrapolating from the results of various studies of the prevalence of sexual assault in US prisons, estimated that, across the US as a whole, over 240,000 men are raped in the US prison system every year.[100]

There is now, belatedly, official government data on the prevalence of prison rape, corroborating Donaldson’s estimate.

In 2012, the US Department of Justice, under pressure from a series of exposés published in the New York Review of Books, belatedly released data of their own. Christopher Glazek reports:

In January, prodded in part by outrage over a series of articles in the New York Review of Books, the Justice Department finally released an estimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse in penitentiaries. The reliance on filed complaints appeared to understate the problem. For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.[101]

Let’s compare this figure with other official government data released by exactly the same source, namely the US Department of Justice, on previous occasions.

In their annual report on “Crime Victimization”, reported, for the year 2013, the Justice Department reported that there were 346,830 cases of “rape/sexual assault” for the USA as a whole.[102]

In theory this figure should surely include those assaults that occurred within the prison system. These are after all rapes and sexual assaults that occur within America and should therefore be included within the figures on ‘Crime Victimization’ reported by the Justice Department.

However, if there are 216,000 rape victims in the prison system alone, then, even if we assume each of these victims was raped only once (a highly implausible proposition: see below), this leaves room for only 130,830 rapes occurring outside of prison. Thus, even assuming all these rapes (i.e. those that occur outside of prison) involved the victimization of females (again, a rather doubtful proposition), this means that the American Justice Department are themselves admitting that it is males who represent the victims of the majority of rapes in the USA.

Of course, just as some of the victims of rape outside of prison walls are male, so some victims of rape within the prison system are likely to be female. However, these are likely to represent only a tiny minority of victims of prison rape.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the US prison population as a whole is overwhelmingly male with about ten times as many males are incarcerated in the USA at any given time as females. This means that, even if the rates of sexual assault for male and female inmates were equivalent, the scale of the problem would still be ten times greater for men.

However, all the evidence suggests that the rates of sexual assault in male prisons are many times higher than the rates in female institutions. For example, in the study of the prevalence of rape in one Midwestern prison discussed earlier, it was found that, whereas 22% of male inmates reported being sexually assaulted during their incarceration, only 7% of women reported sexual assault.[103]

This suggests a rate of victimization some three times higher among male incarcerated felons as compared to that reported by female incarcerated felons.

Indeed, even Joanna Bourke, a self-described ‘socialist feminist’ who therefore has every ideological incentive to downplay the extent of male victimization, concedes, “levels of victimization of female prisoners are lower than those experienced by their male counterparts”.[104]

All told, if there are ten times as many men in prison as women, and incarcerated males are three times as likely to be sexually assaulted as are incarcerated females, this means that there are around thirty times as many male victims of prison rape as there are female victims. In short, prison rape is an overwhelmingly male problem in America.

Nevertheless, campaigner Tom Cahill reports that when “[when] Amnesty International asked me to speak for them a few years ago… all they wanted me to talk about was women being raped by male guards.[105]

But all these calculations have assumed that each of the 216,000 victims of rape within the prison system is raped only once. In fact, however, this is a wholly implausible assumption. All the evidence suggests that prison rape victims, having been victimized once, are highly vulnerable to repeated victimization. Indeed, having been labelled as a ‘punk’, victims are often typically victimized again and again, for the duration of their period of incarceration (see below).

But the Justice Department’s report on “Crime Victimization” reports that there were just 346,830 incidents of “rape/sexual assault” in the US as a whole in 2013. This means that, if each of the 216,000 victims of prison rape in the USA in a single year was victimized on average just twice (an implausibly conservative estimate), this would be more than the total number of rapes reported by the Justice Department for the US as a whole, leaving no room for any rapes to have occurred outside of prison walls.

This is obviously preposterous. While many feminist estimates of the prevalence of rape are obviously fraudulent,[106] and, in reality, many rape allegations turn out to be false,[107] clearly many rapes do indeed occur outside of prison walls in any given year.

How then can we reconcile the two conflicting figures released by the US Justice Department?

Unless we are to dismiss all its statistics as essentially worthless, the inescapable conclusion seems to be that, in its figures for “rape/sexual assault” in its annual report on “Crime Victimization”, the Justice Department simply didn’t bother to include incidents of male-on-male sexual assault that occur within the prison system. Either the researchers responsible for collecting and compiling the data didn’t ever think to include inmate victims in their figures, or else they deliberately excluded inmate victims.

Either way, the implication is clear. For the US Department of Justice, male victims of sexual assault who are victimized within the prison system don’t really count.

Either because they were prisoners (and therefore in most, but not all,[108] cases themselves guilty of an offence), or simply because they were male – or, in all probability, a combination of both these factors – male victims of sexual assault behind bars were not classed as ‘real victims’ at all, or at least not sufficiently so as to be counted alongside those victims (presumably predominantly female) who are assaulted outside of prison walls.

Yet, howsoever we reconcile the apparently conflicting figures released by the Department of Justice on the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in prison and in society at large, two things are clear and beyond doubt from these figures, namely:

  1. Most incidents of rape/sexual assault in the USA as a whole involve the victimization of males not females; and
  2. Most victims of rape/sexual assault America as a whole are male.

All told, this almost certainly means that the USA has the dubious honour of perhaps being the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.[109]

So much then for the notion of incapacitation’ as a rationale for imprisonment – i.e. the idea that imprisonment prevents criminals from committing further crime by locking them up. On the contrary, the evidence presented here suggests that it simply gives hardened criminals the opportunity to commit more crimes, the only difference being that their victims are now their fellow inmates.

Prison Rape Denialism

In The Myth of Prison Rape and her report The Culture of Prison Sexual Violence co-authored with Mark S Fleisher, Jessie L. Krienert attempts to dismiss the problem of prison rape as a ‘myth’. Her attempt is singularly unconvincing.

She employs an outrageously narrow definition of ‘rape’, distinguishing between rapists and those she terms ‘turn-out artists’, the latter of whom rely, not only on physical force, but also guile to entrap their victims.

For example, one tactic adopted by so-called ‘turn-out artists’ that she describes is to get a new inmate into debt such that he has no means of paying off this debt other than by sexual favours. One way this is done is by offering the new inmates unsolicited gifts of commissary goods (e.g. cigarettes or chocolate). Usually, at the time the gift is offered, there is no indication that any reciprocation is expected. Only later is any indication given of strings attached to the gift.[110]

In this scenario, “inmates, especially new ones, are offered loans, gifts, or commissary. Shortly thereafter, these inmates are approached sexually and threatened with physical violence unless they repay loans or the cost of the gifts”.[111]

This is why first-time offenders are advised not to accept any gifts from other inmates on first arriving at an institution.[112]

This is, of course, directly analogous to the notion that, if a man has paid for a woman’s dinner and/or drinks during a date, this confers upon him the right to demand, or indeed force, sexual favours in return. On this view, the man who forces a woman to have sex after having been considerate enough to have paid for her dinner beforehand has not committed rape at all but is simply a ‘turn-out artist’ who has taken what is rightfully his.

This is of course a notion vociferously rejected, not least by feminists, but also by the courts and society in general.

Another situation distinguished from rape by Fleisher and Krienert is where an established inmate offers protection to a vulnerable new inmate in return for sexual favours.

However, oftentimes, in this situation, the inmate offering protection and the inmates from whom protection is ostensibly being sought are, in reality, working together to entrap the victim.[113] For example, in Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison, the first book-length study of sexual victimization in US prisons, this is described as “the old convict game, the classic play”, whereby other inmates would “merely waited for [the victim] to take the bait and ‘cop some rod and then they ‘awoke’ and demanded their fair share”.[114]

Certainly, there is no guarantee that submitting to the protector will in fact amount to protection from third-parties. Indeed, as we will see, within the prison subculture, the victim’s ‘man’ is viewed as within his rights to pimp out his ‘punk’ to other inmates in return for a fee, paid, of course, to the victim’s ostensible ‘protector’ rather than the victim. For example, Stephen Donaldson discovered that the first two inmates to rape him then proceeded to pimp him out to other inmates in return for a fee of two packets of cigarettes for each rape.[115]

Eli Lehrer explains how a survival-minded punk eventually settles down to serve a ‘man’ who protects him from other predators in return for regular sex for the man and his friends.[116] However, (unlike Krienert and Fleisher) Lehrer rightly recognizes that, far from involving something other than rape, in effect, this can amount to daily rape for years on end.[117]

Certainly, it is hardly freely conferred consent of the sort demanded by the courts, let alone radical feminists, in relation to sex offences committed outside of the prison system.

In defence of this outrageously narrow definition of rape, Fleisher and Krienert insist that this simply reflects the narrow definition of ‘rape’ employed by inmates themselves.

Here, they have a point. Prisoners themselves typically employ a far more restrictive definition of rape than that employed by the courts and society at large, let alone the expansive definitions proposed by some radical feminists.[118]

For example, in one interview with a British newspaper, Shaun Attwood, a former inmate in the Arizona prison system describes walking in on a young man being forced to fellate another prisoner but when [the interviewer] ask if Attwood ever witnessed a rape, he says no. And when I ask if he felt he had been assaulted when another lag grabbed him, French-kissed him and groped him with hands moist with lubricant Attwood replies, ‘No, not at all. If I did that to a woman in a bar, that’s sexual assault, but in prison the limits are completely different from society’.[119]

However, rather than suggesting that prison rape is a ‘myth’, this actually suggests instead that rates of rape within the prison system may be even higher than previously reported.

This is because almost all previous estimates of the prevalence of prison rape rely on the reports of inmates themselves. For example, each of the studies of the prevalence of prison rape that I cited in the previous section of this post relied on the results of anonymous surveys circulated among inmates. Therefore, the levels of rape these inmates report presumably reflect the outrageously narrow definitions of rape employed by convicts themselves.

If instead we used the more expansive definitions of rape employed by the legal system, let alone those proposed by some feminists, we would almost certainly find even higher levels of rape and sexual coercion within American prisons.

Rather than accept prison rape is a myth, the better view is that of another inmate, quoted in No Escape, the Human Rights Watch report, who recognised:

A prisoner that is engaging in sexual acts, not by force, is still a victim of rape because I know that deep inside this prisoner do not want to do the things that he is doing but he thinks that it is the only way that he can survive.” [120]

Repeated Rape and the Prison ‘Punk

As already alluded to, in the American prison system, the number of rapes vastly outnumbers the number of rape victims. Thus, if there are, as the Justice Department reports, some 216,000 victims of prison rape in the USA in any given year, this means there are almost certainly several times this number of individual incidents of prison rape. This is because, as Catherine Hoff Sommers explains, “the number of rapes is vastly higher than the number of victims because the same men are attacked repeatedly”.[121]

As Eli Lehrer explains, while female rape victims typically get raped only once, imprisoned men can get raped thousands of times; physically weak inmates get raped the most.[122]

For example, campaigner Stephen Donaldson estimated that he was raped around sixty times within just two days on being transferred to a new prison cellblock, then in subsequent stints of imprisonment was subjected to much the same treatment again and again in a process to which he gradually became habituated, before eventually dying of AIDS, an infection he, in all probability, contracted as a result of his successive rapes.[123]

Whereas outside the prison system, female victims of rape elicit almost universal sympathy, this sympathy does not extend to male victims of rape in the American prison system. In outside society, the victim of prison rape is a matter of indifference, and prison rape itself is seen as both just deserts and a fit subject for bawdy jokes.

Within the prison system itself, meanwhile, the victim of prison rape is the object, not of sympathy, but of scorn, contempt and derision. As we have seen, only the victim, although unwilling, is tainted with a perception of homosexuality. However, the rape victim is, if anything, of even lower status than the actual homosexual.

The latter is a homosexual by choice, and may profit from his orientation by selling his services to other inmates. The prison punk, however, is forcibly ‘turned out’ and hence unable to profit from his victimization. Moreover, heterosexual victims of prison rape are likely to suffer more psychological trauma by virtue of their victimization

Victims of sexual assault within the prison system are targeted again and again, not only because those who are weak and unable to defend themselves are likely to remain weak and unable to defend themselves, but also because those previously victimized are thereby forever stigmatized and tainted by virtue of their prior victimization, and henceforth regarded as, in effect, ‘fair game’ for their fellow offenders.

Various pejorative epithets attach to men and boys who have been targeted with sexual victimization within the prison system. These include punks, bitches, fuck-boys, catchers, galboys, punks, june bugs and may tags.[124] A few of these, largely through the influence of rap music, have even seeped into the popular vernacular. For example, Pete Earley reports that the term ‘fuck-boy’ was originally “a term used to describe a prisoner who is not a homosexual but is forced to work as a prostitute in prison by a pimp”.[125]

The reputation as a ‘punk’, to use the most familiar variant, is among the worst with which an inmate can be tarred. Crime writer Edward Bunker, a writer of fiction who spent the greater part of his life in the California prison system, has one of his characters explain, “If you have a jacket as a punk, you’ll have that wherever you go. It’ll come up twenty years from now. It’s the next worst thing to being jacketed as a stool pigeon.”[126]

One imprisoned rapist explained, “when a boy was once perverted he was everybody’s punk” and “a punk will be a punk as long as anyone knows that he had once capitulated”.[127] Similarly, Alan Davis reports, “after a young man has been raped, he is marked as a sexual victim for the duration of his confinement”;[128] while Shaun Attwood, a former correctional inmate in Arizona reports, once that’s happened to you [i.e. rape], everyone finds out and the whole prison society will treat you differently. From then on you’re game for anyone to do anything to do you. Not only sexually, but in any way you will be taken advantage of.”[129]

Legal scholars Man and Cronin explain:

Once a prospective ‘punk’ is raped, other inmates promptly brand him a continual target for future sexual attack. The success of the initial rape causes the victim to be perceived weak and vulnerable by other inmates, who, in turn, take full advantage of this perceived weakness. ‘Punks’ are relegated to the lowest class of inmates and are victims of the most violent and heinous sexual assaults.[130]

From Real Rape Culture to Real Sexual Slavery

This leads us from one familiar feminist trope, namely ‘Rape Culture’, to another, namely the spectre of so-called ‘Sexual Slavery’.

Thanks to the efforts of an unholy alliance of ‘anti-sex’ feminists and ‘pro-family’ conservatives, everybody is no doubt aware of the supposed phenomenon of ‘modern sexual slavery’, whereby large numbers of women and girls are ‘trafficked’ across borders and forced to work in the sex industry against their will.

Unfortunately, fewer people are aware that the entire supposed phenomenon is little more than a contemporary urban myth,[131] a modern version of the nineteenth century moral panic over so-called white slavery,[132] albeit denuded of its overtly racialist overtones to better fit the palate of modern politically-correct Western Woman.

In short, it is anti-immigrant prejudice masquerading as humanitarian concern.

While large numbers of women do indeed cross borders to work in the sex industry, they do so voluntarily, just like any other class of economic migrant. Moreover, they have every incentive to do so, earning large salaries, many times those they could earn in their home-countries. Few if any are deceived as to the nature of the work they will be expected to undertake after crossing international borders. Indeed, many are seasoned-veterans of the sex industry, having worked as prostitutes in their own home countries, before upping sticks for pastures new in order to increase their potential earnings.

For example, in 2009, it was reported by the Guardian newspaper that the UK’s biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country.[133]

Indeed, it has been reported that, internationally, “Mining and industry base themselves to a far greater degree on the doping, violent coercion, and smuggling of children than does the sex industry”.[134]

Of course, large numbers of poor people from the developing world do indeed cross-borders so as to work under horrendous conditions at low-paid jobs. However, all the evidence suggests that these people are overwhelmingly male.[135] Indeed, the overrepresentation of males among the recent refugees from Syria is even cited as evidence that they are unworthy of asylum[136] – though since men are overrepresented among the casualties of warfare[137] and the victims of genocide,[138] it is entirely unsurprising that men should be overrepresented among refugees seeking to escape warzones.

Does sexual slavery really exist then? Or rather, does it exist outside of the febrile imaginations of feminists and a certain subgenre of pornography?

The answer is a resounding yes. Moreover, like Real Rape Culture, it exists, not in some distant corner of the globe, but right in the heart of modern America.

Literal Slaves in Every Sense of the Word

In short, like Real Rape Culture, Real Sexual Slavery is to be found in the American prison system – and its victims, once again, are almost exclusively men and boys.

Within the American prison system, for thousands of men and boys, the spectre of ‘sexual slavery’ is not a mere metaphor, but an unimaginable daily horror.

The victim of prison rape becomes, in effect, literally a slave in every sense of the word. Journalist Christian Parenti reports that, upon being raped (or ‘turned out’ in prison slang), an inmate is reduced to a psychologically broken, politically servile ‘punk’ – in prison argot, the lowest form of life… now jailhouse chattel, to be sodomized, traded and sold like a slave.[139]

Indeed, the slavery to which the prison ‘punk’ is subjected extends beyond sexual slavery (i.e. Repeat Rape) to other forms of subjection and serfdom.

Jack Abbott, long-term prison inmate and celebrated author, writes:

If I take a punk in prison, she is mine. He is like a slave, a chattel slave. It is the custom that no one addresses her directly. He cleans my cell, my clothing and runs errands for me. Anything I tell him, he must do… I can sell her, or lend her out or give her away at any time. Another prisoner can take her away from me if he can dominate me.[140]

Similarly, Shaun Attwood explains:

The punk becomes their property. And as such, can either be kept for their sole use or pimped. ‘People use them like a commodity and rent them out,” he explains. But it’s only others with high status who hire them. Some will allow their punks to be unfaithful with other punks only, which is called ‘bumping pussies’. It’s all tied up in notions of property ownership, with sexual jealousy a secondary factor.’[141]

Their enslavement extends beyond the provision of sexual favours to other inmates to all aspects of their day-to-day lives.

Thus, in No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons, Human Rights Watch report:

Victims of prison rape, in the most extreme cases, are literally the slaves of the perpetrators. Forced to satisfy another man’s sexual appetites whenever he demands, they may also be responsible for washing his clothes, cooking his food, massaging his back, cleaning his cell, and myriad other chores. They are frequently ‘rented out’ for sex, sold, or even auctioned off to other inmates, replicating the financial aspects of traditional slavery. Their most basic choices, like how to dress and whom to talk to, may be controlled by the person who ‘owns’ them. They may even be renamed as women.”[142]

Similarly, in their article in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology legal scholars Man and Cronan report:

‘Punks’ are relegated to the lowest class of inmates and are victims of the most violent and heinous sexual assaults. Typically, one inmate ‘owns’ a particular ‘punk,’ rendering the ‘punk’ the equivalent of a sexual slave. The ‘punks’ are forced to satisfy their ‘owner’s’ sexual appetites whenever he demands, are sometimes forced to assume a female name, and may be responsible for washing the owner’s clothes, massaging his back, cooking his food, cleaning his cell, and various other chores. Moreover, these ‘punks’ are often ‘rented’ by their ‘owners’ to other inmates… [and] the ‘man’ commonly sells oral or anal sex from his ‘punk’ in exchange for money or other prison perks, like cigarettes.[143]

Sometimes victims are forced to wear makeup and feminine clothing at the behest of their tormentors. Joanna Bourke reports, “claiming that it would improve a man’s ability to give a good ‘blowjob’, teeth are frequently knocked out” and “gang rape is the norm”.[144]

In other cases, victims are forcibly tattooed with words or images designed to indicate their subordinate status as a sex slave, and thus permanently brand them as ‘punks’. For example, one fifteen-year-old, housed in a facility for adult offenders, was repeatedly sexually abused by older inmates. These older inmates then “forced him to have their names tattooed on his body to signify their ownership of him” and with “his nickname ‘Brown Sugar’” so as to permanently “brand him as a victim of repeated and ongoing sexual abuse”.[145]

A particularly graphic account is provided of the treatment to which campaigner Stephen Donaldson was subjected is provided in Jim Goard’s piece, “The Punk Who Wouldn’t Shut Up”.

Indeed, behind prison walls, the pimping of young male offenders by other inmates is literally big business and a lucrative trade within the underground economy of the prison system. One Texas inmate reported to Human Rights Watch investigators:

When they do turn out a guy they actually own them, every penny they get it goes to there [sic] man. You can buy a kid for 20 or 30 dollars on most wings!! They sell them like cattle.”[146]

An Indianna inmate even claimed:

Most time when a young boy is turned out by a gang, the sole purpose of that is first to fuck the boy especially young boys, once they finish with the boy they are sold to another prisoner for profit, it’s big business selling boys in prisons and gang members control this business.[147]

The reality of slavery for thousands of incarcerated felons is even acknowledged by the prison officers who are ostensibly responsible for preventing such exploitation. One officer in Pete Earley’s account of life inside what was then the largest maximum security federal penitentiary in the USA warns a vulnerable newly-arrived inmate facing his first spell of incarceration, that another inmate was:

A homosexual predatorlooking to make you his wife. He’ll have you waiting on him, having sex with him, doing whatever he demands. You’ll be a slave and when he tires of you, he’ll sell you to someone else.[148]

The extent of the victimization endured by victims of male rape in the US prison system is harrowing and often unimaginable.

In other contexts, the word ‘slavery’ is employed as a mere metaphor or for rhetorical purposes to emphasize a point (e.g. so-called ‘wage slavery’). In the American prison system however, slavery is not a mere metaphor but a literal reality of large numbers of incarcerated men and boys.


So, as we have seen, the ‘Rape Culture’ so often invoked by feminists is not a mere myth. Neither is it restricted to Third World Islamic theocracies or dictatorships, as some critics of modern feminism sometimes allege. Rather it is a real phenomenon that exists right in the heart of America in the US’s burgeoning and overwhelmingly male prison system.

The same is true of the spectre of ‘Sexual Slavery’, also frequently invoked by feminists. Although in the sex industry outside of prison, ‘Sexual Slavery’ is largely an urban myth, in the overwhelmingly male American prison system, it is a daily and horrible reality for possibly thousands of men and boys.

In the American prison system, these familiar soundbites are not mere exaggerated metaphors, but daily and continuing realities for untold numbers of men and boys. Moreover, the state itself is directly implicated in the abuse, which occurs right under the watchful but disinterested eyes of agents of the state, namely the prison authorities or Penal Industrial Complex, who both permit, enable and sometimes encourage and foster the horrendous abuses that go on right before their eyes.

So, for once, the feminists are right – ‘Rape Culture’ and ‘Sexual Slavery’ are real phenomena that exist right in the heart of modern America. However, as we have seen, the feminists are wrong in one crucial respect – namely, that the victims of these phenomena are overwhelmingly men and boys.



[1] Although the extract quoted comes from a work of fiction, Goines, the godfather of the much-maligned (and often justly maligned) urban subgenre of crime fiction, was a noted alumni of the American prison system, having served various stints in prison for a variety of offences and having reputedly begun his writing career as an inmate in Jackson Penitentiary, Michigan. His description of ‘sodomy rape’ as a ‘way of life’ in the American prison system therefore carries some weight. The prevalence of sexual coercion in the American prison system is also a principle theme of another of his later books, White Man’s Justice Black Man’s Tears.

[2] This definition is itself apparently taken from Emmilie Buchwald, whom the website describes as the “author of” the book, Transforming a Rape Culture, though in reality she appears to be the lead co-editor rather than the author.

[3] Coker v Georgia 433 U.S. 584 (1977)

[4] Writing in 2008 and summarising the then situation in the UK, Steve Moxon reports:

The punishment of attempted murder is in some respects actually less than that for rape. Even before more stringent sentences for rape were introduced, breakdowns of Home Office figures reveal that a much greater proportion of convicted attempted murderers stayed out of jail than did rapists, and of those who did go to jail, sentencing was comparable. With recent longer sentencing guidelines for rape, rape is now in all respects more heavily punished than attempted murder” (The Woman Racket: p200).

Rape is also sentenced more leniently than grievous bodily harm. The result, as Moxon describes it, is that “a criminal who inflicts life-destroying mutilation can easily receive a lesser sentence than a rapist, yet if we were to crudely ask women if they would rather have parts of their bodies severed than be raped, the reply would not be ‘Which parts are you talking about?’” (The Woman Racket: p199).

[5] In the UK, sex offenders are housed in separate wings for so-called ‘vulnerable prisoners’ (pejoratively termed ‘nonce wings’ by other inmates) under Prison Rule 45 (formerly Rule 43); while in the US, sex offenders are housed in so-called ‘protective custody’ (PC) or Special Needs Yards (SNY). As a consequence, their freedom of movement and access to recreational and educational facilities are often restricted as compared to other inmates.

[6] Meanwhile, the woman responsible for making the original allegation against John Leslie was able to continue her career as a talentless TV celebrity with no stigma attached to her even though, in making what was, in all probability, a false allegation, she was guilty of ruining an innocent man’s reputation, a crime as serious as that which she accused Leslie of.

[7] Miked Tyson was able to make a comeback, albeit with his reputation ruined, despite a (decidedly unsafe) rape conviction largely because his status as the former undisputed world heavyweight champion and, even before his conviction, the sport’s best known celebrity and greatest crowd-puller. Perhaps the closest thing to a celebrity surviving a rape conviction with his reputation relatively intact, is the rapper Tupac Shakur who was convicted, not of rape, but of ‘first degree sexual assault’, yet is now celebrated as an icon. However, Tupac inhabited the world of ‘gangsta rap’, with its inverse morality whereby criminal convictions are a bizarre badge of authenticity. Moreover, although, like other rappers, Tupac routinely bragged in his lyrics of other ostensible criminal exploits, real or imaginary, it is notable that he always vociferously denied the sexual assault charge, despite his conviction. At any rate, he owes his status largely having died early. In short, a person’s celebrity and reputation can survive, only if they themselves do not. The same phenomenon is evident perhaps in the posthumous rehabilitation of Michael Jackson.

[8] Felson, RB (2000) The Normative Protection of Women from Violence Sociological Forum 15(1): 91-116.

[9]  Arias, I., & Johnson, P. (1989). Evaluations of Physical Aggression Among Intimate DyadsJournal of Interpersonal Violence, 4, 298−307; Harris, M.B. (1991) Effects of Sex of Aggressor, Sex of Target, and Relationship on Evaluations of Physical Aggression Journal of Interpersonal Violence 6(2); Greenblat, C. S. (1983). ‘A hit is a hit is a hit. Or is it? Approval and tolerance of the use of physical force by spouses’. In D. Finkelhor, R. J. Gelles, G. T. Hotaling, & M. A. Straus (Eds.), The dark side of families (pp. 235-260). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

[10] Beaulieu & Messner (1999) Race, Gender, and Outcomes in First Degree Murder Cases Journal of Poverty 3(1): 47-68; Curry TR (2010) The conditional effects of victim and offender ethnicity and victim gender on sentences for non-capital cases  Punishment & Society 12(4):438-462; Curry, Lee & Rodriguez (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing Outcomes Crime & Delinquency, 50(3):319-343; Williams & Holcomb (2004) The Interactive Effects of Victim Race and Gender on Death Sentence Disparity Findings Homicide Studies 8(4):350-376.

[11] Curry, Lee & Rodriguez (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing Outcomes Crime & Delinquency, 50(3):319-343.

[12] See the studies cited by Felson, R.B. The Normative Protection of Women from Violence Sociological Forum 15(1): 91-116: at p95.

[13] In the US, men are almost twice as likely to report being the victim of violent crime and the more violent the crime, the more likely men are to be the victim (Domestic Violence: The 12 Things You Aren’t Supposed to Know at p11). Likewise, in the UK, men are about three times as likely to be victims of violent crime [see The Retreat of Reason (reviewed here): p49]. In their comprehensive global survey of the correlates of crime, criminologists Anthony Walsh and Lee Ellis report that “except for rape, where essentially all victims are female [sic], males have substantially higher victimization rates than do females” and “even with rapes included in calculating an overall victimization rate, males run a considerably greater risk of being victimized by violent crime than do females” (Criminology: A Global Perspective: p128). The most reliable data is likely to be for homicide, since this is least likely to go unreported, undetected or to be the subject of a false report. In the USA, between 1980 and 2008, men were three times as likely to be the victim of homicide as were women (Cooper A & Smith EL (2011) Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2011, NCJ 236018: at p3). Similarly, in the UK in 2010-11, over two thirds (68%) of homicide victims were male, according to government statistics (Osborne, S. (2012) ‘Homicide’ in K. Smith et al (eds), Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2008/09: supplementary volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11 Home Office Statistical Bulletin 01/10: at p19). Internationally, meanwhile, according to a comprehensive worldwide epidemiological survey in the mid-90s, men represented 78% of violent deaths, excluding those resulting from war (see Murray, C.J.L. and Lopez, A.D. 1996. The global burden of disease: A comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambridge, Harvard University Press; Murray, C.J.L. and Lopez, A.D. 1996. Global health statistics: a compendium of incidence, prevalence and mortality estimates for over 200 conditions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press: as cited by Joshua Goldstein in War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa: p400).

[14] In referring to the attention of legislators, I have in mind not only recent legislation such as the 1994 Violence Against Women Act but also similarly draconian legislation passed during earlier, now forgotten, waves of public hysteria and moral panic such as the Prevention and Punishment of Aggravated Assaults on Women Act of 1853 and the Wife Beaters Act of 1882, both passed in Victorian Britain.

[15] If you doubt this, try searching for the phrases “violence against women” (with quotation marks) as compared to the phrase “violence against men” (also with quotation marks) in the archives of any major national newspaper and compare the number of ‘hits’.

[16] According to data cited by Joshua Goldstein, adult men represent 58% of fatalities from war across the world – despite the fact that, once children are factored in, men represent a small minority of the population as a whole (War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa: p400).

[17] Adam Jones (2000) ‘Gendercide and Genocide’ Journal of Genocide Research 2:2:185-211.

[18] Carpenter RC (2003) ‘Women and Children First’: Gender, Norms, and Humanitarian Evacuation in the Balkans: 1991-95 International Organization 57(4): 661-694.

[19] Warren Farrell The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here)at p29.

[20] Felson, R.B. The Normative Protection of Women from Violence: at p92.

[21] Felson, R.B. The Normative Protection of Women from Violence: at p93-4.

[22] Felson, R.B. The Normative Protection of Women from Violence: at p94.

[23] Human Rights Watch  (2001) No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001).

[24] Human Rights Watch  (2001) No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001); Hensley, C, Tewksbury, R & Castle, T (2003) Characteristics of Prison Sexual Assault Targets in Male Oklahoma Correctional Facilities Journal Of Interpersonal Violence 18(6):595-606

[25] Lehrer, E (2001) Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review (5 Feb) 53(2): 24-26.

[26] Quoted in Robertson, JE (2011) The ‘Turning-Out’ Of Boys In A Man’s Prison: Why And How We Need To Amend The Prison Rape Elimination Act Indiana Law Review 44: 819-852 at p822

[27] Quoted in Smith, Philip ‘Interview: Tom Cahill, President of Stop Prisoner Rape’ Alternet, April 30 2001.

[28] Quoted in Dumond RW (2001) The Impact and Recovery of Prisoner Rape (paper presented at the National Conference ‘Not Part of the Penalty’: Ending Prisoner Rape in Washington, D.C., October 19, 2001)

[29] E.g. Bunbombe A (2014) Village elders ‘order gang-rape of young woman as punishment for relationship with outsider Independent, Thursday, 23 January, 2014; MacFarlane T (2015) Indian sisters sentenced to be raped then paraded naked through the streets as punishment for their brother running away with a married woman Daily Mail 28 August 2015.

[30] Dershowitz A, (1994) ‘The Other Rape Epidemic’ In Dershowitz A The Abuse Excuse: and other cop-outs, sob stories and evasions of responsibility: pp279-28 (first published Buffalo News June 18, 1994).

[31] Dershowitz A, (1994) ‘The Other Rape Epidemic’ In Dershowitz A The Abuse Excuse: and other cop-outs, sob stories and evasions of responsibility: pp279-28 (first published Buffalo News June 18, 1994).

[32] Dershowitz A, (1994) ‘The Other Rape Epidemic’ In Dershowitz A The Abuse Excuse: and other cop-outs, sob stories and evasions of responsibility: pp279-28 (first published Buffalo News June 18, 1994).

[33] Dershowitz A, (1994) ‘The Other Rape Epidemic’ In Dershowitz A The Abuse Excuse: and other cop-outs, sob stories and evasions of responsibility: pp279-28 (first published Buffalo News June 18, 1994).

[34] Abraham, S (2001) Male Rape in US Prisons: Cruel and Unusual Punishment Human Rights Brief 9(1) Article 2: p5.

[35] Abraham, S (2001) Male Rape in US Prisons: Cruel and Unusual Punishment Human Rights Brief 9(1) Article 2: p5

[36] Lehrer, L (2001) Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review (5 Feb) 53(2): 24-26.

[37] Bourke, J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p350.

[38] Bourke, J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p335.

[39] Bourke, J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p335.

[40] Human Rights Watch (2001) No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001).

[41] Quoted in Ruiz, 37 F. Supp.2d

[42] Human Rights Watch (2001) No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001).

[43] Abraham, S (2001) Male Rape in US Prisons: Cruel and Unusual Punishment Human Rights Brief 9(1) Article 2: p5.

[44] Wooden WS & Parker J, Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison: p119.

[45] Wooden WS & Parker J, Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison: p119.

[46] Parenti, C (1999) Rape as a disciplinary tactic Salon, Monday August 23rd

[47] Quoted in Bourke, J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p342.

[48] Quoted in Bourke, J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p342.

[49] Quoted in Earley P, The Hot House: Inside Leavenworth Prison: p64.

[50] Levin MC (1985) ‘Fight, Flee, Submit, Sue: Alternatives for Sexually Assaulted Prisoners’ 18 Columbia Journal of Law & Social Problems 505

[51] Quoted in: Lewin Tamar (2001) ‘Little Sympathy or Remedy For Inmates Who Are RapedNew York Times, April 15.

[52] Lewin Tamar (2001) ‘Little Sympathy or Remedy For Inmates Who Are RapedNew York Times, April 15.

[53] Bourke J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p342.

[54] Earley P, The Hot House: p72.

[55] Earley P, The Hot House: p67.

[56] Wooden WS & Parker J, Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison: p108.

[57] Farrington, K Maximum Security: Inside Stories from the World’s Toughest Prisons (2009): p86.

[58] Goad J “The Punk Who Wouldn’t Shut Up” Answer Me, 1994.

[59] Mariner, J (2001) ‘Not Part of the Penalty’: Judicial Abdication Of Responsibility For Protecting Prisoners From Rape Findlaw, Thursday, Apr. 19, 2001.

[60] Chandler v. Jones, 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 693, *3 (E.D. Mo. 1988).

[61] Quoted in: Human Rights Watch (2001) No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001) at p158.

[62] 511 U.S. 825 (1994).

[63] Quoted in: Abraham, S (2001) Male Rape in US Prisons: Cruel and Unusual Punishment Human Rights Brief 9(1) Article 2: p6.

[64] Butler v Bowd 979 F.2d 661.

[65] Together with the fact that it contradicts a central tenet of feminism, the racial aspect of prison rape, with whites overwhelmingly overrepresented as victims, and blacks as perpetrators, is another reason that the topic is politically incorrect.

[66] Goad J “The Punk Who Wouldn’t Shut Up” Answer Me, 1994.

[67] Quoted in Smith, Philip ‘Interview: Tom Cahill, President of Stop Prisoner Rape’ Alternet, April 30 2001

[68] Quoted in Smith, Philip ‘Interview: Tom Cahill, President of Stop Prisoner Rape’ Alternet, April 30 2001.

[69] Bourke, J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: 342.

[70] Lehrer, Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review 5 Feb 2001.

[71] Parenti, C (1999) Rape as a disciplinary tactic, Salon, August 23

[72] Abbott JH (1981) In the Belly of the Beast: Letters From Prison: p79.

[73] Quoted in Lehrer, E, (2001) Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review 5 Feb 2001.

[74] Lehrer, E, (2001) Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review 5 Feb 2001.

[75] Lehrer, E, (2001) Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review 5 Feb 2001.

[76] Bourke, J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p341.

[77] Studwick P (2014) Sex in Men’s Prisons: US Prison System Cultivates Rape: If You Treat People Like Animals, They Behave Like It Independent Saturday 1 March

[78] Human Rights Watch  (2001)  No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons.

[79] 998 F. Supp. 650 (E.D. Va. 1998)

[80] This case is discussed in the article, Man, CD, & Cronan, JP ‘Forecasting Sexual abuse in Prison: The Prison Subculture of Masculinity as a Backdrop for ‘Deliberate Indifference’’ Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (2001-2) 92:127-186.

[81] Redman v County of San Diego 942 F.2d 1435; 60 USLW 2218

[82] Bourke J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p338.

[83] Bourke J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p348.

[84] Whether prison rapists ought to be labelled as ‘homosexual’ is a matter of some controversy, as most are not actively homosexual when outside of prison. Prison rape seems to be primarily a case of situational homosexuality. However, whether we should class prison rapists as ‘homosexual’ is ultimately a semantic dispute that will not concern us here.

[85] Strictly speaking, in some cases sexual arousal is not necessary for prison rape. There are numerous documented cases of prisoners being raped with objects (e.g. a broom handle). These rapes seem to be motived not by sexual desire but solely by a desire to wound, degrade and stigmatize the victim. Such cases may represent the rare exception to the rule, where rape is indeed (as feminists often claim) about power not sex.

[86] CD Man & JP Cronan (2001) ‘Forecasting Sexual Abuse in Prison: The Prison Subculture of Masculinity as a Backdrop for Deliberate Indifference’ Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 92(1):127-186 at p151

[87] Quoted in Human Rights Watch, No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons.

[88] Bourke J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p348.

[89] Wooden WS & Parker J, Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison: p115.

[90] Cotton DJ & Groth AN (1982) Inmate rape: prevention and intervention Journal of Prison & Jail Health 2:47–57 at p48.

[91] Davis AJ (1968) ‘Sexual assaults in the Philadelphia prison system and Sheriff’s Vans’ Trans-action 6(2):8-17 at p9.

[92] Davis AJ (1968) ‘Sexual assaults in the Philadelphia prison system and Sheriff’s Vans’ Trans-action 6(2):8-17 at p9.

[93] Bourke J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p334.

[94] Struckman‐Johnson, C Struckman‐Johnson, D, Rucker, L, Bumby, K & Donaldson, S, (1996) Sexual coercion reported by men and women in prison Journal of Sex Research 33(1).

[95] Struckman-Johnson, C & Struckman-Johnson, D (2000) ‘Sexual Coercion Rates in Seven Midwestern Prison Facilities for Men’ The Prison Journal, December 80: 379-390.

[96] Dumond R (2003) Confronting America’s Most Ignored Crime Problem: The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 Journal of the  American Academy of Psychiatry & Law 31:354–60 at p355.

[97] Harris v Thigpen 941 F.2d 1495 (1991)

[98] 444 U.S. 394 (1980)

[99] US v Bailey 444 U.S. 394 (1980)

[100] Quoted in Lehrer, Eli, (2001) Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review (5 Feb) 53(2): 24-26.

[101] Glazek, Christopher, “Raise the Crime Rate” N+1 magazine, Issue 13, Winter 2012.

[102] Langton, L, & Truman, JL, ‘Criminal Victimization, 2013’ 14 September 2014: p2.

[103] Struckman‐Johnson, C Struckman‐Johnson, D, Rucker, L, Bumby, K & Donaldson, S, (1996) Sexual coercion reported by men and women in prison Journal of Sex Research 33(1).

[104] Bourke, J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present: p336-7.

[105] Quoted in Lehrer, Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review (5 Feb) 53(2): 24-26; It seems, for Amnesty International, a self-styled human rights group, only certain humans qualify for human rights (i.e. females). Human Rights Watch are therefore to be commended for their willingness to address the politically-incorrect issue of male, especially white male, victimization, in their report No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons, cited extensively throughout this post.

[106] For example, see the various studies debunked in Who Stole Feminism? by Christina Hoff Sommers.

[107] Kanin, E.J. (1994) False Rape Allegations, Archives of Sexual Behavior 23(1):81.

[108] Not all inmates of correctional facilities, it should be noted, have themselves necessarily been convicted of an offence. Some are held on remand awaiting trial. They are therefore yet to receive a verdict regarding their guilt and should therefore be considered ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Others, of course, may have been victims of wrongful convictions.

[109] Glazek, Christopher, “Raise the Crime Rate” N+1 magazine, Issue 13, Winter 2012.

[110] For example, she quotes one inmate as observing:

A lot of people who use the word rape to administration, but it usually doesn’t happen that way. They consent to sex to get out of debt.” (The Culture of Prison Violence: p174).

[111] Eisenberg HM 2000 ‘Correctional officers and their perceptions of homosexuality, rape and prostitution in male prisons The Prison Journal 80(4):415-433.

[112] For example, as part of their ‘Inmate Orientation Program’, new inmates in the Arkansas Department of Correction are advised:

Don’t get into debt; it’s a trap. Don’t ask for or accept gifts, loans or favours.  These people will try to get you into debt then demand that you pay by providing sex for them or their friends. Everything in prison has a price there are no gifts.” – quoted in No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001 ) at p286.

[113] According to dialogue in the novel Animal Factory, authored by Edward Bunker, himself a former inmate at the prison, this is known as ‘the San Quentin cross’. This name is also used by Bunker and actor Danny Trejo, both former San Quentin inmates, in the commentary track accompanying the DVD release of the movie based on this novel.

[114] Wooden WS & Parker J, Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison: p103.

[115] Goad J, The Punk Who Wouldn’t Shut up, Answer Me, 1984.

[116] Lehrer, Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review, (5 Feb) 53(2): 24-26.

[117] Lehrer, Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review, (5 Feb) 53(2): 24-26.

[118] For example, Susan Brownmiller has been quoted as claiming, politically, I call it rape whenever a woman feels violated (Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law: at p82); while Andrea Parrot, a Cornell University professor, has written “any sexual intercourse without mutual desire is a form of rape” (quoted in Who Stole Feminism?: at p220). Brownmiller curiously does not mention whether it is also rape when a man ‘feels violated’, nor, for that matter, when he is forcibly sodomized by another prisoner. Similarly, several studies of the prevalence of rape conducted by feminist researchers have employed expansive definitions of rape, which go far beyond the ordinary meaning of ‘rape’ as understood by the average man (or woman) on the street, so as to produce sensationalist statistics on the prevalence of rape (see the various studies debunked by Christina Hoff Sommers in Who Stole Feminism?). In short, if any woman who has sex then regrets it the next morning is classed as a rape victim, then there may indeed be an epidemic of rape. However, this is not how most people use the word ‘rape’, and moreover trivialises and demeans the experience of real rape victims, both male and female.

[119] Studwick P (2014) Sex in Men’s Prisons: US Prison System Cultivates Rape: If You Treat People Like Animals, They Behave Like It Independent Saturday 1 March.

[120] Human Rights Watch  (2001)  No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons.

[121] Hoff Sommers, C Who Stole Feminism? (New York: Touchstone, 1995): p225.

[122] Lehrer, Eli, (2001) Hell Behind Bars: The crime that dare not speak its name National Review (5 Feb) 53(2): 24-26.

[123] Goad J “The Punk Who Wouldn’t Shut Up” Answer Me, 1994.

[124] See this glossary of American prison slang for the large number of such terms.

[125] The Hot House: p70.

[126] Bunker, E, (2000) Animal Factory (New York: St Martin’s Minotaur, 2000): at p110.

[127] Quoted in Bourke, J, Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present:p349.

[128] Davis AJ (1968) ‘Sexual assaults in the Philadelphia prison system and Sheriff’s Vans’ Trans-action 6(2):8-17 at p9.

[129] Quoted in Studwick P (2014) Sex in Men’s Prisons: US Prison System Cultivates Rape. If You Treat People Like Animals, They Behave Like It Independent Saturday 1 March.

[130] CD Man & JP Cronan (2001) Forecasting Sexual Abuse in Prison: The Prison Subculture of Masculinity as a Backdrop for Deliberate Indifference Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 92(1):127-186 at p156.

[131] McAleer, P (2003) Happy Hookers of Eastern Europe, Spectator 5 April 2003.

[132] Doezema J. (2000) Loose women or lost women? The re-emergence of the myth of white slavery in contemporary discourses of trafficking in women Gender Issues 18(1):23-50.

[133] Davies N, (2009) Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution Guardian 20 October 2009.

[134] Ringdal, NJ Love for Sale: A World History of Prostitution (New York: Grove Press 2004) at p387-388.

[135] For example, to take the two worst immigration-related tragedies to occur in Britain during the present century, of the twenty-one cockle pickers to die in Morecambe Bay in 2004, all but two were male; while of the sixty immigrants, all but two of whom suffocated in the back of a lorry in Dover in 2000 after entering the country illegally, all but four were men.

[136] E.g. Gutteridge, N (2016)  Aren’t there ANY girls? Questions over ‘child’ refugees as more ‘hulking males’ come to UK Daily Express 19th October 2016; Tonkin, S (2016) Another all-male coachload of ‘child’ migrants arrives at Calais Daily Mail, 19th October 2016; Rhodan, M Are the Syrian Refugees All ‘Young, Strong Men’? Time, November 20 2015. Of course, in a different context, when seeking to emphasize the female monopoly on suffering, it is often claimed that “most refugees are women and children”. Some sceptics have suggested that this simply reflects the fact that most of those killed in war are male, and refugees represent the survivors. In fact, however, it simply reflects the conflation of women with children into a single category, despite the fact that half of the children are boys. Thus, while it may be true that most refugees are ‘women and children’, it is also true that most refugees are ‘men and children’, for the simple reason that a substantial proportion of the population are neither men nor women but rather children (see Goldstein, J War and Gender, Cambridge University Press: 2001: at p402).

[137] According to data cited by Joshua Goldstein, adult men represent 58% of fatalities from war across the world – despite the fact that, once children are factored in, men represent a small minority of the population as a whole (War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa: p400).

[138] Adam Jones (2000) ‘Gendercide and Genocide’ Journal of Genocide Research 2:2:185-211.

[139] Parenti, C (1999) Rape as a disciplinary tactic, Salon, August 23.

[140] Abbott JH (1981) In the Belly of the Beast: Letters From Prison: p80.

[141] Quoted in Studwick P (2014) Sex in Men’s Prisons: US Prison System Cultivates Rape. If You Treat People Like Animals, They Behave Like It Independent, Saturday 1 March.

[142] No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001).

[143] CD Man & JP Cronan (2001) Forecasting Sexual Abuse in Prison: The Prison Subculture of Masculinity as a Backdrop for Deliberate Indifference Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 92(1):127-186 at p156.

[144] Bourke J Rape: A History From 1860 to the Present : p338.

[145] Quoted in Robertson, JE (2011) The ‘Turning-Out’ Of Boys In A Man’s Prison: Why And How We Need To Amend The Prison Rape Elimination Act Indiana Law Review 44: 819-852 at p822.

[146] No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001).

[147] No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons (New York: Human Rights Watch 2001).

[148] Earley P, The Hot House: p67.

8 thoughts on “Real Rape Culture – The American Prison System

  1. Hi
    FYI (and to help publicise?),
    Just-published is the journal-commissioned book, SEX DIFFERENCE EXPLAINED: From DNA to Society – Purging Gene Copy Errors, by Steve Moxon.
    It’s a ‘bottom-up’ from biology, cutting-edge holistic understanding of men/women: the first time anyone has properly attempted to put forward a truly integrated account of human sociality, utilising all the latest lines of evidence in theory re male hierarchy, female ‘personal network’, the very different in-grouping according to sex, and pair-bonding.
    Published as a monograph by the journal, New Male Studies, it’s available on Amazon in book and Kindle formats, and is open-access at the journal’s website.
    The core argument is that all major aspects of male-female human sociality necessarily stem from biological principles; which all arise in solving the core problem faced by all life-forms: the relentless build-up of mistakes in the repeated copying of genes.
    Explanation here has to be bottom-up, not top-down, because that is the direction of causation: all else is feedback, which in inherent in any system if it is to avoid breakdown. Culture – that is, the facility to have and behave in this way – could not have evolved unless its function is to feed back to and fine-tune the very underlying biology that gave rise to it. So the more complex the organism becomes, then the better it gets at being faithful to and expressing its biology. The notion that instead somehow we go off on a novel tangent and ‘escape’ biology is the very opposite of what happens.
    To deal with all the accumulated gene replication error, the ‘bad’ genes somehow have to be filtered out, and this is the function of the male: why males came into being, and why men so fiercely compete with one another to form a hierarchy.
    The female contribution to this ‘genetic filter’ mechanism is carefully to choose only the most dominant/prestigious males, cross-checking that indeed they do possess the best gene sets. This ensures genetic mutations and other errors that would seriously compromise reproduction are purged from the local gene pool.
    With men tied to a hierarchy, women evolved to ‘marry out’ to avoid in-breeding. In preparation for this, girls have a very different social organisation, rehearsing for when later they have to make close bonds with non-kin, stranger-females for mutual child-care. This explains why female grouping is so tight and exclusionary, whereas males group all-inclusively.
    Pair-bonding serves to exclude lower-ranked, whilst allowing access by still higher-ranked males; and to provide a serial father of children, thereby in effect projecting forward in time a woman’s peak fertility, compensating for her deteriorating store of eggs, and consequent declining fertility and attractiveness. But although this is clearly all in the female interest, the male also gets something out of ‘marriage’: a more fertile partner than he would be able to acquire for ‘no-strings’ (promiscuous) sex. It’s cross-sex bargaining.
    The upshot is that there’s an underlying sex dichotomy, to be sure; but it’s perfectly complementary, with the sexes of equal importance in what amounts to a symbiosis.

    Any help you can give the book would of course be appreciated. It’s readership we’re after rather than sales: it’s not a commercial venture per se. That comes later with a truly ‘popular’ book. In the meantime, you have here the antidote to the PC-conforming, misinforming Cordelia Fine!

    Best wishes
    Steve Moxon


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