So this is a Waikato Times article entitled “Cougar attack in Melville”. When I first read the headline I thought holy shit, there’s cougars in the Waikato – maybe they escaped from the Lion Man farms. My next thought however, was that perhaps they had meant cougar in the demeaning, sexually ravenous older women kind of way. And as much as I wanted to believe that surely no one would refer to a presumably violent incident in such a flippant way, it was with sinking hopes (and a memory that there were no cougars in Zion Wildlife Gardens) that I read the article.
The article describes a sexual assault involving a 19 year old man being followed home by his 40 year old female neighbour, and her getting into bed with him and undressing him with the presumable intent to rape him before she was caught. It will be obvious to many Garden friends that the ‘hilarious’ title of this article makes light of the fact that this was a sexual assault, and it comes off the back of this article on a female-on-male sexual assault from Russia which was categorised as ‘oddstuff’ on Yahoo.
The Russian story is problematic because it gleaned a lot of popularity through the idea that the rape was some kind of justifiable punishment, and that he ‘got what was coming to him’ and that female-on-male rape isn’t really rape. Even though the Waikato article isn’t explicitly saying “LOL whut?” the salacious nature of the headline, and the fact that the perpetrator is categorised through the use of the word ‘cougar’ as sexually voracious, is just as messed up as labeling the Russian story as ‘oddstuff’.
The idea that female-on-male rape being somehow funny is problematic to all rape survivors as it continues a legacy of victim blaming and ‘natural impulse’ rhetoric. Most of the disbelief at men being raped comes from the idea that men are controlled by their sexual urges, always up for a root, and that if a woman wants to fuck – the man wants to fuck more. In these sorts of all too frequent conversations that follow reports of female-on-male sexual assault, there is also usually a mention of how ‘if a guy has a boner, he must be into it’.
Not only is this all complete bullshit, but the natural progression from these sentiments is that if a woman gets raped by a man, it’s because he just couldn’t control the fact that he was always up for a root.
Rape not sex, it is assault. It is also not about the sexual voracity of the perpetrator. Rape is about power, and using ‘cougar’ as a descriptor for the perpetrator is implying that she was basically just a randy older woman and bless her desperate wee heart.
We need to stop discussing any form of sexual assault in a titillating, jeer-inciting way, because making light of it is one of the strongest forms of rape culture which harms everyone.