Marxism, Men’s Rights and the ‘Means of Reproduction’

“Marx said about the industrial system that people are profoundly alienated from the ‘means of production’ – jobs. Political and social radicalism was one response to that. If Darwin were alive today he might comment that men are profoundly alienated from the ‘means of reproduction’ – women”

Lionel Tiger, The Decline of Males[1]

Why are women conservative? Because they are a privileged sex; because they do not need to depend upon the earnings of their hands or brain. As a sex women occupy a position similar to the petty shop-keeper, because they possess a commodity to sell or to barter besides their own labour power! Here is the key to the mystery of the modern woman!

RB Tobias and Mary E Marcy, Women as Sex Vendors[2]

If… one class of person does all the work and another does all the spending, you do not have to be Karl Marx to conclude that the second of these two classes is the more privileged.

David Thomas, Not Guilty: The Case in Defence of Men[3]

To most people who identify with the contemporary left, the parallel between class exploitation and the exploitation that allegedly underlies the relations between men and women is obvious. Just as the proletariat are exploited and oppressed by the capitalist class, so women are exploited and oppressed by males.

Indeed, the entire structure of feminist theory (or what passes for theory among feminists) is rooted, consciously or not, in Marxist social theory. Thus, just as Marxist sociologists view all the institutions of society (the family, education system, mass media etc.) as controlled by and functioning so as to perpetuate the dominance of the bourgeoisie, so feminist theory views these same institutions as controlled by and functioning to perpetuate the dominance of men.

Indeed, this is a feature shared with other radical leftist ideologies rooted in identity politics. Each posits the existence of a grand conspiracy against an ostensibly ‘oppressed’ group. The only difference is who is a party to, and beneficiary of, the said conspiracy, and who the victims.

For Marxists, the evil conspirators are the capitalists; for black nationalists, they are ‘The White Man’; for anti-Semites, ‘the Jews’ are to blame; whereas, for feminists it is men. Each theory appeals to simple minds looking for simple answers, and, more importantly, someone to blame.

However, the similarities between the Marxist and feminist ideologies do not end there. Just as their analyses of capitalist/patriarchal society mirror one another, so do their proposed antidotes. Thus, both feminists and Marxists posit a future egalitarian utopia fundamentally incompatible with what is now known about human nature and with the innate heritable differences between both individuals and groups.

Of course, these days, some ‘moderate’ feminists, and conservatives who identify as feminist, may try to downplay the extent of the debt feminism owes to Marxism. Nevertheless, among feminists and Marxists alike, not to mention among feminist-Marxists, Marxist-feminists, sociologists, Women’s Studies professors and other such professional damned fools who together make up the state-funded intellectual vanguard of the contemporary left-liberal establishment, it is axiomatic that feminism and Marxism are, not only compatible and complementary, but moreover ideological comrades-in-arms united together in fighting for an end to all forms of inequality and injustice.

In fact, however, my own view is that feminism is neither left-wing nor liberal. In a forthcoming post (provisionally entitled ‘Feminist Fascism: From Burning Bras to Burning Books – or Why Feminism is Neither Left-Wing Nor Liberal but Rather Right-Wing and Reactionary’), I shall expand upon this theory. However, for now it suffices to say that, in seeking to entrench and expand the privileges of an already immensely privileged group (i.e. Western women), it is obviously right-wing; whereas, in campaigning to restrict pornography, prostitution and other such fun and healthy recreational activities, not to mention free speech, it is anything but liberal.

In this post, however, my focus is rather narrower. I intend to demonstrate that, despite their superficial commonalities, Marxist and feminist theory are fundamentally incompatible and that the central feminist claim, namely that women represent an oppressed and disadvantaged class, is contrary, not only by the manifest reality the privileged position of women in contemporary Western society, but also, by basic Marxist economic theory.

In fact, as early twentieth century socialists Roscoe B Tobias and Mary Marcy first recognised, Marxist theory can even be even employed to help us to understand why women are so privileged as compared to men, both economically and in the operation of the law.

On this view, feminism is better viewed, from a Marxist standpoint, as a form of dominant ideology designed to benefit the capitalist class, both by expanding the availability of cheap labour (i.e. working women) and distracting attention from the real oppression of the truly disadvantaged, who are, in truth, mostly men.

In short, as Jim Goad has written, Males of the world unite! You have nothing to grow back but your balls!

Engels’ Error

Where then did Marxists, feminists, Marxist-feminists and feminist-Marxists take a wrong turn in attempting to apply Marxist theory to the family and the relations between the sexes. The problem, it seems, began early, not with feminists, nor with Marx himself, but with his comrade, collaborator and (capitalist) financial backer, Fredrich Engels.

In The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Freidrich Engels wrote, in a famous passage much quoted by feminists:

“In the great majority of cases today, at least in the possessing classes, the husband is obliged to earn a living and support his family, and that in itself gives him a position of supremacy, without any need for special legal titles and privileges. Within the family he is the bourgeois and the wife represents the proletariat.”[4]

This is a passage much quoted by early feminists and their modern intellectual descendants. Indeed, along with Mill’s The Subjugation of Women, it arguably provides the intellectual foundation for modern feminism.[5]

However, Engels’ analysis in this paragraph is also obviously, not only wrong, but also fundamentally inconsistent with the very Marxist analysis that Engels purported to apply and of which he was himself the co-formulator.

Think about it for a moment. According to Marxist theory, the defining characteristic of the proletariat in Marxist theory is that, possessing neither capital nor production means, [they] must earn their living by selling their labour. This is the very definition of the term ‘proletariat’, as the term is used in orthodox Marxist theory.

In contrast, the bourgeoisie (i.e. capitalists) are defined by their ownership of the Means of Production (i.e. of land, factories and everything needed to produce goods for sale, except labour). This means that, unlike the proletariat, they do not have to sell their labour, and are able instead to subsist, and indeed to prosper, by employing the labour of proletarians and extracting surplus value (i.e. profits).

In short, the proletariat are obliged to sell their labour to make a living; the bourgeoisie/capitalists are not, being able instead to exploit the labour of the former.

Indeed, even non-Marxists agree that, always, throughout history, it was those groups within society who were obliged to work so as to survive – slaves, serfs, so-called ‘wage-slaves’ and the aptly named ‘working classes’ – who were regarded as ‘oppressed’, disadvantaged and exploited as a consequence of this fact.

In contrast, those exempt from having to work – the so-called ‘leisure class’ or ‘idle rich’ – who were supported by the labour of others were regarded as their exploiters.

As Murray Rothbard observes:

“It is always the slaves who do the work, while the masters live in relative idleness off the fruits of their labor. To the extent that husbands work and support the family, while wives enjoy a kept status, who then are the masters?”[6]

Yet feminists following in the footsteps of Engels equated the housewife’s ostensible ‘oppression’ precisely with the fact that she did not have to work to earn her keep but rather was supported by her husband, and her ‘liberation’ with her entrance into the world of wage-slavery.

It is almost as if the slaveholder were perversely to pose as ‘oppressed’ on account of being denied the opportunity to toil for endless hours in his cotton fields, and was to claim ‘liberation’ by virtue of being chained up alongside his slaves.

[Of course, feminists will respond by claiming that this ignores the so-called unpaid labour in the home (i.e. housework). However, as I explain in my previous post, entitled ‘Unpaid Labour or Overpaid Laziness: Why Housework in Your Own House Isn’t Really Work’, such activities do not qualify as work for the sort for which one is entitled to demand remuneration.]

Thus, contrary to Engels, the fact that the husband is, in Engels’ own words, “obliged to earn a living and support his family” does not make him bourgeois. On the contrary, it makes him the quintessential proletarian.

In contrast, it is the housewife, who is supported at the expense of her husband, who occupies a position analogous to the bourgeois. Both are spared work and instead supported at the expense of male labourers.

Engels, perhaps suffering from an infection of misguided male chivalry, does not just have it wrong; he has it precisely backwards – and the feminists fell for it.

The ‘Means of Production’ and the ‘Means of Reproduction

Of course, this analysis begs the obvious question: Why are women in such an exalted position? How do they manage to achieve this remarkable feat of living off the proceeds of male labour?

The answer must be sought again in orthodox Marxist theory – albeit this time with an added sociobiological twist.

Let’s first deal with the orthodox Marxism. The bourgeoisie manage to live off the labour of the working-class, according to orthodox Marxist economic theory, because they control what Marxists refer to as the Means of Production. This refers to the means necessary to produce goods and services for sale in the marketplace, and includes such items as land, factories, capital and, of course, labour.

How then do women manage to achieve a feat analogous to that or the capitalists when most women do not own any of the ‘means of production’?[7]

I submit the explanation lies, not in women’s control over the ‘means of production’, but rather in their ownership of the Means of Reproduction – namely their own vaginas, wombs, ovaries etc.

The essence of this idea was first captured by American socialists, Roscoe B Tobias and Mary Marcy, the latter a vaguely famous early twentieth century (female) American socialist, the former her brother, in their remarkable but largely forgotten work, Women as Sex Vendors[8] (which I have reviewed here).

There, Tobais and Marcy write:

As a sex, women occupy a position similar to the petty shop-keeper, because they possess a commodity to sell or to barter. Men, as a sex, are buyers of, or barterers for, this commodity”.[9] 

In short, as they put it in the blurb to the original 1918 edition, “women occupy a position similar to the petty shop-keeper, because they possess a commodity to sell or to barter besides their own labour power”.

Thus, according to another early-twentieth-century socialist and anti-feminist, Ernest Belfort Bax, Tobias and Marcy’s thesis can be summarized thus:

The privileged situation of woman socially and economically in our existing society… is deducible from the fact that women are the monopolists of a saleable or barterable commodity necessary to the vast majority of men – viz., their sex.[10]

In other words, whereas the male proletarian famously has ‘nothing to sell but his labour’, the same is not true of any woman, irrespective of her socioeconomic class. She has something else to sell – namely her body.

[Actually, strictly speaking, prostitutes (and wives) do not, as cliché has it ‘sell their bodies’. After all, when one sells something, one permanently loses ownership of it (unless one is prepared to buy it back). However, after the contracted sex act, the prostitute retains ownership of her body. What prostitutes do then is, not so much ‘sell their bodies’, so much as temporarily rent out access to certain specified orifices therein. This renting out is typically on strict and freely negotiated contractual terms and represents, in the strict legal sense, a ‘licence’ not a ‘lease.]

Thus, as the inestimable Esther Vilar puts it:

By the age of twelve at the latest, most women have decided to become prostitutes. Or, to put it another way, they have planned a future for themselves which consists of choosing a man and letting him do all the work. In return for his support, they are prepared to let him make use of their vagina at certain given moments.[11]

From Marxism to Sociobiology

Of course, this in turn begs the question as to why it can be said that women own the ‘means of reproduction’? After all, both a man and a woman, a sperm and an ovum, are required to produce human offspring. Thus, despite women’s proudly proclaimed status as ‘the bearers of life’, both a woman and a man are necessary to create human life.

To answer this question, we must turn from pseudo-scientific nineteenth-century Marxian economics to twenty-first century evolutionary Biology – in particular the contemporary sciences of sociobiology, behavioural ecology and evolutionary psychology.

The key insight underlying the understanding of most differences, both physical and behavioural, between males and females in humans and other animals is what biologists refer to as Bateman’s Principle.[12] According to this fundamental law of behavioural biology, as later formalized and elaborated upon by Robert Trivers as differential parental investment theory, the sex that makes a greater investment in offspring is competed over by the sex making a lesser investment.[13] 

To successfully reproduce, a woman in the EEA must, at the very minimum, invest not only an ovum, but nine month’s gestation, plus some time nursing. In contrast, reproduction may cost a human male nothing more than the costs involved in producing a single ejaculate, plus the energy expended in intercourse.

As a result, a man can increase his number of offspring (i.e. his Darwinian fitness) by mating with multiple females and the more females with whom he mates, then, all else being equal, the more offspring he is likely to have.

In contrast, given the demands of pregnancy, a human female can only produce one offspring every year or so at most (with the exception of twins), however many men she has sex with. With the addition of the demands of nursing (i.e. in the absence of either surrogate wet nursing or bottle-feeding, both of which would have been absent in what evolutionary psychologists call the EEA), this is reduced to one child every few years or more, given the suppression of fertility by lactation.

It therefore pays females to be more selective over their choice of sexual partners than are males. Thus, in one delightful illustration of this principle, psychologists Clark and Hatfield found that, whereas 72% of male subjects agreed to go to bed with an attractive female stranger who approached them with a request to this effect on a university campus, not a single one of the 96 females approached agreed to the same request from a similarly attractive male experimenter.[14] (What percentage of the women sued the university for sexual harassment was never revealed.)

This then gives women their sexual power over men, reflecting what is sometimes known as ‘the principle of least interest’.

One strategy adopted by females in various species, humans included, is to demand material resources from males in return for sexual access.

Thus, leading evolutionary psychologist David Buss has written “The evolution of the female preference for males who offer resources may be the most ancient and pervasive basis for female choice in the animal kingdom”.[15]

John Alcock, in his textbook on Animal behaviour, reports:

A classic demonstration of this strategy comes from Randy Thornhill’s study of the black-tipped hangingfly, whose females make copulation, and subsequent egg fertilisations, contingent upon receipt of an edible nuptial gift. Females flatly refuse to mate with males that proffer unpalatable ladybird beetles and will let copulation begin only when the present is edible. If, however, the female can consume the gift in less than 5 minutes, she finishes it and separates from her partner without having accepted a single sperm. When the gift is large enough to keep the copulating female occupied for 20 minutes, she will depart with a full gut and a full complement of the gift-givers sperm.[16]

Patterns of prostitution also confirm that, in respect of sexual favours, women are the sellers, men the buyers.

Indeed, to the extent male prostitutes do exist, they overwhelmingly service, not women, but rather homosexual men. As pioneering sociologist-turned-sociobiologist Pierre Van Den Berghe observes, “The male prostitute, unless he caters to homosexuals, is an economic redundancy, constantly undercut by eager amateur competition”.[17]

Indeed, this pattern is not merely restricted to overt prostitution but extends, in one way or another, to all forms of heterosexual coupling and courtship.

Thus, as I have written elsewhere:

The entire process of conventional courtship in Western society is predicated on prostitution – from the social expectation that the man pay for dinner on the first date, to the legal obligation that he continue to support his ex-wife, through alimony and maintenance, for anything up to ten or twenty years after he has belatedly rid himself of her. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a prostitute as ‘a person who engages in sexual intercourse for payment’. That’s not the definition of a prostitute. That’s the definition of a woman! The distinguishing feature of prostitutes isn’t that they have sex for money – it’s that they provide such excellent value for money.

In short, as Tobias and Marcy put it in the title to their forgotten early twentieth century masterpiece of Marxian-masculism, women are Sex Vendors.

Women as Nature’s Capitalist Class

Women, like the scions of great capitalists, are therefore blessed by birth with ownership over a commodity, other than their own labour, they will be able to sell in the marketplace – namely sexual access to their various orifices.

This is a commodity the value of which is easy to underestimate.

Thus, as we have seen, Tobias and Marcy equate women with what Marx derisively termed the ‘petit bourgeoisie’, writing, “women occupy a position similar to the petty shop-keeper, because they possess a commodity to sell or to barter besides their own labour power”.

However, in equating women exclusively with “the petty shop-keeper”, Tobias and Marcy potentially vastly underestimate the potential price of pussy.

Some women may indeed sell their sex cheaply – e.g. the street prostitute or wife of a humble manual labourer. However, other women manage to command a price that is, by any measure, positively exorbitant – e.g. the indolent parasitic wife of a multimillionaire tycoon or of royalty.

The wife of the millionaire tycoon is therefore the apex predator, occupying an even higher position in the economic food chain than her husband. Women have long been known by researchers in the marketing industry to dominate almost every area of consumer spending.

After all, given that humans have evolved through natural selection ultimately to maximise their inclusive fitness or reproductive success, women’s advantage is, in sociobiological terms, more fundamental than that of the capitalists. The capitalists may control the ‘Means of Production’, but women control the ‘Means of Reproduction’.

Production is ultimately, in Darwinian terms, merely a means of reproduction. Reproduction is the ultimate purpose of life.

Thus, if, as Marxists maintain, wealthy capitalists control the capitalist economy, then the women who are wives of wealthy capitalists also indirectly control the capitalist economy through both their purchasing power and their control over the wealth generated by their husbands’ entrepreneurialism.

As Schopenhauer observed, whereas man strives in everything for a direct domination over things, either by comprehending or subduing them… woman is everywhere and always relegated in a merely indirect, which is achieved by means of man, who is consequently the only thing she has to dominate directly.[18]

Or, as Aristotle put it some two millennia earlier, What difference does it make whether the women rule or the rulers are ruled by the women? The result is the same.[19]

Thus, as Bertrand Russell observed:

The world is full of idle people, mostly women, who have little education, much money, and consequentially great self-confidence… Especially in America, where the men who make money are mostly too busy to spend it themselves, culture is largely dominated by women whose sole claim to respect is that their husbands possess the art of growing rich.[20]

Thus, women are indeed capitalists by birth, but not always of the petit bourgeois variety.

The feminists never tire of reminding us that men, on average, earn more money than women. This is indeed true – not least because men work longer hours, in more dangerous and unpleasant working conditions for a greater proportion of their lives.[21]

However, what they neglect to point out is that, while men may earn more money than women, researchers in the marketing industry have long been aware that it is women who spend most of it, some researchers estimating that women control around 80% of consumer spending.

As David Thomas observes, If… one class of person does all the work and another does all the spending, you do not have to be Karl Marx to conclude that the second of these two classes is the more privileged.[22] 

As Leo Tolstoy observed, then as now, one has only to walk through the streets of any shopping mall, especially the among more expensive shops selling jewellery or overpriced designer clothes to see who spends most of the money, and to whom most of the products are marketed

Ten or twelve passages consisting of solid rows of magnificent shops with immense plate-glass windows are all filled with all kinds of expensive wares – exclusively feminine ones – stuffs, dresses laces, dresses, gems, foot-gear, house adornments, furs and so on. All these things cost millions and millions, all these articles have been manufactured in establishments by working people who frequently ruin their lives in this work, and all these articles are of no use, not only the working people, but even to the wealthy men – they are all amusements and adornments of women…
And all these articles are in the power and in the hands of a few hundred women, who in expensive furs and hats of the latest fashion saunter through these shops and purchase these articles, which are manufactured for them.
A few hundreds of women arbitrarily dispose of the labour of millions of working people, who work to support themselves and their families. On the whims of these women depend the fate, the lives of millions of people.”.[23]

From Economic Power to Social and Political Power

However, Marxist analyses of capitalist society do not stop at the economic analysis that lies at their foundation. On the contrary, it extends to sociological and political analysis.

Marxist Theory is often described as a form of economic determinism. Marxists maintain that the ideology and institutions prevailing in a given society reflect the economic relations between members of that society. Thus, economics ultimately determines culture – or, in Marxist terminology, the economic base determines the Superstructure.

In other words, economically powerful groups within society convert their economic power into social and political power by controlling the culture and institutions of society in order to promote their own interests and continued dominance over the rest of society.

On this view, all the central institutions of Western capitalist society – e.g. the mass media, criminal justice system, courts and education system – function, ultimately, to maintain and perpetuate the dominance of the capitalist class.

Thus, the legal system functions to protect property rights, the educational system to reproduce the class system in the next generation and to inculcate capitalist values in young minds, while the media exists to propagate the dominant ideology of the ruling class among the malleable masses.

Extending their Marxian-masculist analysis from purely economic relations to the social and political institutions of society, Tobais and Marcy write:

The laws today protect the owners of property and the economically powerful. The more economic power a group, or a class, or a sex possesses, the more the state throws the mantle of its protective laws about it. Women are the owners of a commodity for which men are buyers or barterers, and our modern laws protect woman at the expense of man.[24]

This then explains the discrimination against men that operates in many areas of law, not just in Tobais and Marcy’s day, but also in the legal systems of modern, ostensibly egalitarian, Western legal systems.

Thus, for example, in the criminal courts, male offenders are sentenced to more severe sentences than female offenders guilty of the same offences,[25] and both male are female offenders are sentenced more severely when they victimize women than when they victimize men,[26] with male offenders who victimize women sentenced most severely of all.[27]

Similarly, before the family courts, mothers are awarded custody of offspring in preference to fathers in the overwhelming majority of cases where fathers even bother to contest the issue.[28]

Elsewhere, laws sometimes still explicitly discriminate against males, for example, in respect of pension rights,[29] insurance premiums,[30] abortion rights[31] or criminal defences.[32]

Feminism as a ‘Dominant Ideology

However, according to the ‘economic determinism’ of orthodox Marxism, the economic relations between classes (the ‘economic base’ of society) determines not only the laws operating, but also the prevailing cultural, social, political and philosophical values and beliefs prevalent in the society in question.

This is sometimes referred to as the ‘dominant ideology’ of the society, and is thought to reflect the interests of the dominant economic class in that society.

Thus, the values and beliefs widely held in Western capitalist society, and promoted in the mass media, education system etc., are, on this view, thought to be those that benefit the dominant capitalist class in Western society (‘sex vendors’ included).

This same analysis can then surely be employed to explain feminism itself.

After all, what represents the dominant viewpoint or ideology concerning gender roles and the relations between the sexes in contemporary Western society? The answer, of course, is feminism.

Indeed, its intellectual shortcomings notwithstanding, no ideology or belief-system has been so relentlessly promoted by the mass media, academic establishment and educational system as has modern feminism. As I have written elsewhere, from originally portraying itself as a radical challenge to the status quo, feminism has come to represent a sacrosanct contemporary dogma the central tenets of which an individual (especially a male) may publicly question only at grave risk to their reputation and livelihood.

Why then does the capitalist media and the political and academic establishment promote feminist ideology so relentlessly? How does feminism benefit the dominant capitalist class in Western society?

The answer, for anyone familiar with basic Marxist economic theory, should be obvious. Indeed, it is literally staring us in the face, to such an extent that it is a wonder that so few self-styled Marxist intellectuals (Bax, Marcy and Tobias excepted) have failed to recognise it and have instead fell hook line and sinker for the bourgeois propaganda.

In promoting the idea that married women, instead of devoting themselves to keeping house and raising children, should pursue careers outside the home just as men do, feminism increases the supply of labour available to capitalists.

An increase in the supply of labour, creates greater competition for jobs, which, in turn, drives down wages, an obvious benefit to capitalist employers.

Moreover, since married women usually remain financially supported, at least in part, by their husbands, this means they can afford to work for less than can single men, let alone married men and fathers (who are still expected to support a wife and children in addition to themselves). This means that women undercut the wages which male employees are otherwise able to command, further benefiting capitalist employers.

This has led anti-capitalist anti-feminist iconoclast Rich Zubaty to controversially describe feminism as “the biggest scab labor movement in history”.

Thus, as anti-feminist Neil Lyndon observes:

“The changes which were taken to be victories of emancipatory spirit among women were all conductive to the development of capitalism… [and] the long march of the left towards the identification of the class which would be the dissolution of all classes had simply resulted in the creation of a larger class of wage slaves required by national and international markets.”[33]

On this view, it is no surprise that the rise of modern feminism in the 1970s was concomitant with a change in the economic structure of Western societies – namely the decline in heavy industry, manufacturing and manual labour, where male physical strength was at a premium, and the rise of the ‘Service Sector, an area of employment to which women are arguably better suited.

On the contrary, this observation is eminently compatible with the ‘economic determinism’ of orthodox Marxist theory, whereby it is presumed that a change in the ‘dominant ideology’ or ‘superstructure’ is always preceded by, and determined by, a prior change in the ‘economic base.

At any rate, whether or not one accepts the rigid ‘economic determinism’ of orthodox Marxism, it is clear that feminism led the way in helping to effect, or, at the very least, providing a key retrospective justification for, the shift in patterns of employment among married women that was undoubtedly beneficial to capitalist employers.

An accompanying side-effect of this shift was, of course, mass male unemployment and the widespread breakdown of the family unit, with men losing their traditional role role as breadwinners, and the traditional ‘nuclear family’ replaced by what Warren Farrell calls “a new nuclear family: woman, government and child”, with single mothers increasingly subsidised by taxpayers’ money via the welfare system, and fathers increasingly superfluous to requirements.

However, to the capitalists, this was of little concern. The key point was that, civil disorder and psychological distress notwithstanding, capitalist production and consumption continued unabated.

Meanwhile, in addition to these purely economic benefits, feminism offered a further political and ideological benefit for ruling elites – namely, it distracted attention away from the very real oppression of genuinely disadvantaged groups – e.g. refuse disposal workers, coal miners and the homeless (all of whom happen, of course, to be overwhelmingly male).

It therefore permitted successive waves of resolutely capitalist governments of all political colours to disingenuously pose as radical by pandering to the whims of over-privileged middle-class feminists in lieu of doing anything to tackle genuine inequality, oppression and poverty.

On this view, as late-nineteenth, early-twentieth century Marxist-Masculist Ernest Belfort Bax suggested in 1913 the Anti-man agitation [i.e. feminism] forms a capital red herring for drawing the popular scent off class opposition by substituting sex antagonism in its place.[34]

In this respect, moreover, feminism has been remarkably successful. Whereas radical socialism is all but moribund across the entire world, feminism now reigns triumphant throughout the West, its main tenet, namely the ostensible ‘oppression’ of women, being accepted as an unquestioned dogma throughout academia, the mainstream media and by political parties from across the political spectrum.

On this view, feminism served both economic and political purposes for the capitalist ruling class, and was an overwhelmingly successful strategy in both respects.

Yet, far from being the radical left-wing revolutionaries of their own imaginings, feminists were, on this view, little more than naïve and unwitting tools of, ‘useful idiots’ for, and abettors to, the very capitalist exploitation they, and their leftist allies, purport to oppose.

Feminism can thus be reduced to a form of what Marxists are apt to term false consciousness.



[1] Tiger, L (1999) The Decline of Males (New York: St Martin’s Press): at p27.

[2] Tobias, RB & Marcy, ME (1918) Women as Sex Vendors or, Why Women Are Conservative (Being a View of the Economic Status of Woman) – this precise wording is taken from the blurb on an original edition.

[3] Thomas, D (1993) Not Guilty: The Case in Defence of Modern Man: at p80.

[4] Engels, F (1884) The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. Interestingly, Engels’ use of the phrase “without any need for special legal titles and privileges” in the passage quoted seems to implicitly concede that, contrary to the prevailing feminist orthodoxy, men did not have any explicit legal privileges over women – even in the purportedly ‘patriarchal’ late-nineteenth century when these words were penned. In fact, even then, virtually all legal privileges, whether in family law, labour law, or before the criminal courts, lay with women.

[5] Yes, feminism was, like the internal combustion engine, the microcomputer, Marxism and Nuclear Weapons, by and large invented by men. In a sense, we have only ourselves to blame.

[6] Rothbard, Murray (1970) “The Great Women’s Liberation Issue: Setting It Straight” The Individualist, May.

[7] Of course, some women may own these things, usually indirectly though their husband’s ownership of them, and their own effective ownership of their husbands under current marriage laws. Moreover, women, as we have seen, in a sense control the labour of their husbands, in that they benefit from and are supported by it, and labour is itself one of the essential ‘means of production’. However, these are precisely the facts that we are trying here to explain.

[8] Tobias RB & Marcy M (1918) Women as Sex Vendors (Chicago: Charles H Kerr and Company Cooperative, 1918).

[9] Tobias RB & Marcy M (1918) Women as Sex Vendors: p12-13.

[10] Bax, EB (1918) The Woman Question and Marxian Historical MaterialismJustice (19th December): at p7.

[11] Vilar, E (2008) The Manipulated Man (Londond: Pinter & Martin 2008): p24-5.

[12] Bateman, A.J. (1948), Intra-sexual selection in Drosophila Heredity, 2 (Pt. 3): 349–368.

[13] Trivers, R. L. (1972) Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.) Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871-1971 (pp 136–179). Chicago, Aldine.

[14] Clark & Hatfield (1989) ‘Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers’ Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality 2:39-53 (This study was supposedly the inspiration for the lyrics of the hit British 90s Dance track “Would you go to bed with me?” which reached no.3 in the British charts and was played on the radio for many years.)

[15] Buss D (2003) The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (Basic Books 2003): at p22.

[16] Alcock J (2001) Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach (Seventh Edition) (Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates 2001): p343.

[17] Van Den Berghe, P Human Family Systems: An Evolutionary View (New York: Elsevier 1979): p60-1.

[18] Schopenhauer, A (1850) On Women.

[19] Aristotle (c. 340 BCE) Politics, Book 2.

[20] Russell, B ‘The Case for Socialism’, in In Praise of Idleness (1935).

[21] Farrell, W (2005) Why Men Earn More (which I have reviewed here).

[22] Thomas, D Not Guilty: The Case in Defence of Modern Man (1993).

[23] Tolstoy L (1900) ‘Need it be So?’; Similarly, in a contemporary context, Warren Farrell makes much the same observation, concluding, “in my own examination of large shopping malls… I found thatseven times as much floor space is devoted to women’s personal items as to men’s” and that “the more valuable floor space… was devoted to women’s items” (Myth of Male Power: p33; p374).

[24] Tobias RB & Marcy M (1918) Women as Sex Vendors: p52.

[25] Daly K, Bordt, RL (1995) Sex effects and sentencing: An analysis of the statistical literature Justice Quarterly 12(1); Spohn, C  and Beichner, D (2000) Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and ImprisonmentCriminal Justice Policy Review, 11(2): 149-184; Shapiro, A (2000) Unequal Before the Law: Men, Women and the Death Penalty American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 8(2): 427-470; Mustard DB (2001) Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal CourtsSocial Science Research Network XLIV:285-314; Streib VL (2001) ‘Sentencing Women to Death‘ Criminal Justice Magazine 16(1); Streib V (2006) Rare and Inconsistent: The Death Penalty for Women, 33 Fordham Urban Law Journal 609; Streib V (2002) Gendering the Death Penalty: Countering Sex Bias in a Masculine Sanctuary, 63 Ohio State Law Journal 433; Curry, TR, Lee G and Rodriguez, SF (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency 50(3): 319-343; Rodriguez, SF, Curry, TR, & Lee G (2006) Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property,and Drug Offenses? Social Science Quarterly 87(2): 318; Blackwell BS, Holleran D & Finn MA (2008) The Impact of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines on Sex Differences in Sentencing Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24(4): 399-418; Embry R & Lyons P (2012) Sex-Based Sentencing: Sentencing Discrepancies Between Male and Female Sex OffendersFeminist Criminology 7(2):146–162;   Starr, SB, (2012) Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases. University of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, No. 12-018 (August 29, 2012).

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

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

[28] For example, in The Second Sexism, David Benatar reports “in the United States, fathers gain sole custody of children in about 10% of cases and women in nearly three-quarters” and “in cases of conflicting requests for physical custody, mothers requests for custody were granted twice as often as fathers”, while “in 90% of cases where there was an uncontested request for maternal physical custody of the children the mother was awarded this custody”, whereas this was granted “in only 75% of cases in which there was an uncontested request for paternal physical custody” (p50). Although the Supreme Court declared in 1979 that discrimination against men in custody disputes was unconstitutional, the courts and legislatures easily evaded this proscription by favouring instead the so-called ‘primary caregiver’ (The Privileged Sex: p177), a clear case of indirect discrimination, given that ‘primary caregiver’ is defined in such a way as to be overwhelmingly female.

[29] In the UK, women are still eligible to receive state pensions at an earlier age than men. This is despite the fact that men work for longer, retire later and die earlier than women – such that a strong case can be made that men ought to be eligible to receive their pensions earlier! While the UK outlawed other forms of sex discrimination in the Sexual discrimination Act 1975, the equalization of state pension eligibility, although demanded by European Union Law, has been repeatedly postponed by successive UK governments. According to the current schedule, after 70 years of overt discrimination, the age at which men and women are entitled to state pensions is not due to be finally equalized in 2020.

[30] Discrimination against men by insurance companies remains legal in most jurisdictions (including the USA). However, sex discrimination in the provision of insurance policies was outlawed throughout the European Union at the end of 2012, due to a ruling of the European Court of Justice – though indirect discrimination continues, using occupation as a marker for gender. This was many years after most other forms of sexual discrimination (i.e. those of which women are perceived to be victims) had been outlawed in most member states. For example, in the UK, although most other comparable forms of sex discrimination were outlawed almost forty years ago under the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act, Section 45 of the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act explicitly exempted insurance companies from liability for sex discrimination if they could show that the discriminatory practice they employed was based on actuarial data and was “reasonable”. This exemption was preserved by Section 22 of Part 5 of Schedule 3 of the new Equality Act 2010. As a result, as recently as 2010 insurance provides routinely charged young male drivers double the premiums demanded of young female drivers. This situation was not limited to car insurance. On the contrary, the only circumstances in which insurance policy providers were barred from discriminating on the grounds of sex was where the differences result from the costs associated with pregnancy or to a woman’s having given birth under section 22(3)(d) of Schedule 3 – in other words, the only readily apparent circumstance where insurance providers might be expected to discriminate against women rather than men.

[31] Dubay v. Wells (2004); Danforth v Planned Parenthood 428 U.S. 52 (1976); Planned Parenthood v Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992) Paton v. Trustees of British Pregnancy Advisory Service Trustees (1978) QB 276; C v S (1988) QB 135.

[32] Whereas Warren Farrell in The Myth of Male Power (reviewed here) purports to identify twelve “‘female-only’ defences” in US criminal law, I am thinking here particularly of the Infanticide Acts of 1922 and 1938 in the UK, which give explicit statutory recognition to one of these.

[33] Lyndon, N (1993) No More Sex War: p123.

[34] Bax, EB, (1913) The Fraud of Feminism (London: Grant Richards Ltd.): at p76.

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] In the commentary track accompanying the DVD release of the movie Animal Factory, writer Edward Bunker and starring actor Danny Trejo, both former long-term California prison inmates, including spells at San Quinten, refer to this confidence trick as ‘the San Quinten switch’.

[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.