Multiple masculinities

In developing service provision, it is a mistake to see men subjected to sexual victimisation as an homogeneous group. The necessity to pay attention to and design responses that consider the intersectionality of gender, race, class ability, sexuality, age, and geographical location is emphasised in the 2015 edition of the National Standards of Practice Manual for Services Against Sexual Violence. As Connell noted back in 1995:

“Gender is a way of structuring social practice in general, not a special type of practice, it is unavoidably involved with other social structures. It is now common to say that gender ‘intersects’ – better, interacts – with race and class. We might add that it constantly interacts with nationality or position in the world order.”

— Connell, 1995, p.75.

Unfortunately, discussions of men's difficulties in reconciling their experiences of gender and sexual abuse are often limited to a broadly white, heterosexual, middle (or sometimes working) class analysis of hegemonic gender. A form of hegemonic masculinity that is itself in flux, as white, middle class males shift from models of strength and dominance to models of technical competence. At the same time the working class male often still regards his value in terms of toughness, strength, and lack of emotionality. There is a danger, that, in responding to men sexually abused in childhood, the actual diversity and intersectionality amongst males can become subsumed by the ideology of gender. Not only is the experience and life of one male diverse across his own life, but the experience and lives of males diverges considerably amongst males.

Given the considerable diversity in experience and access to resources amongst different groups of men (DoHA, 2010), initiatives need to be developed and adapted to reach out, engage and assist these different groups. We know from men's health research that engaging marginalised and disadvantaged groups of men requires something more than opening the door and expecting them to walk in (Hardy, 2007). Our difficulty is that we are only beginning to consider how to respond to men subjected to child sexual abuse as an identifiable group, let alone refine approaches to particular groups of these men, such as:

  • Men with a disability (French, 2007; Mitra, et al., 2011; Murray & Powell, 2008; Sobsey, 1994).
  • Men experiencing a mental illness (O’Leary & Gould, 2009).
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men (Office for Status of Women, 2004; Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, 2006; KPMG, 2009).
  • Men from culturally and linguistically diverse communities (Grossman, et al., 2006; Sorsoli, et al., 2008).
  • Men in prison (Heilpern, 1998; Yap, et al., 2011).
  • Men in the military (Rumble, Mckean & Pearce, 2011; DLA Piper Report, 2012).
  • Men in conflict and post conflict zones, refugees (Russell, 2008; SVRI, 2011; Australian Civil-Military Centre, 2014).
  • Rural and regional men (Neame & Heenan, 2004).
  • Young men (Tylee, Haller, Graham, Churchill, & Sanci, 2007).
  • Male sex workers (McMullen, 1990; Office for the Status of Women, 2004).
  • Transgender men (FORGE, 2005).
  • Gay and same-sex attracted men (Davies, 2002; Fenaughty, Braun, Gavey, Aspin, Reynolds and Schmidt, 2006; Pitts, Smith, Mitchell & Patel, 2007; Schwarzkoff, Wilczynski, Ross, Smith, & Mason, 2003).

As this training package evolves and develops, we will be including sections that examine and review the particular challenges, difficulties and ways of responding to different groups of males.


Men with a disability who have been sexually abused

We are pleased to be able to include a separate comprehensive section in support of men with a disability who have been sexually abused.


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Last modified: Sunday, 29 July 2018, 1:00 PM