Men and Masculinities
This study addresses male sexual victimization as that which is both invisible and incomprehensible. Forensic interviews with young men following reports of suspected sexual assault reveal patterns of heteronormative scripts appropriated to make sense of sexual victimization. These scripts show that victimhood is largely incompatible with dominant notions of masculinity. Sexual coercion and assault embodied threat to boys’ (hetero)gendered selves, as they described feelings of shame and embarrassment, disempowerment, and emasculation. These masks of masculinity create barriers to disclosure and help to explain the serious underreporting of male sexual victimization. Questions of coercion and consent are addressed, as it relates to matters of legitimacy, sexuality, and power. With few exceptions, boys’ constructions of sexual violence have received little attention. This study adds the voices of young men to the developing empirical and theoretical research on male victims of sexual assault.