Part of the battle of preventing sexual assault in our community is making sure everyone understands the facts. As we’ve already discussed in previous blogs, sexual abuse and assault happens just as frequently in the LGBTQ community as it does in the straight community. However, there are a lot of myths and stereotypes out there that may prevent friends, families, and service providers from fully understanding sexual assault in same-sex relationships. So here are a few myths about sexual assault in the LGBTQ community that are adapted from the University of Michigan Student Affairs:
Myth: A woman can’t rape another woman.
Reality: While the majority of perpetrators of sexual assault are male, the idea that woman-on-woman sexual assault does not occur is only a product of gender role stereotypes that encourage the idea that women are never violent. This stereotype can make it less likely that women who were sexually assaulted by another woman will be believed by those around her. It can also make a survivor who has believed that women are nonviolent feel disillusioned that she has experienced violence from a woman.
Myth: Gay men are sexually promiscuous and are always ready for sex.
Reality: Men who identify as gay, like all people, have the right to say no to sex at any time and have that respected. Because of the stereotypes that many people have about gay men’s sexual availability, however, it may be more difficult for a gay man to convince others that he was assaulted.
Myth: Bisexuals are kinky anyway, and sexual assault for them is just rough sex that got out of hand.
Reality: Bisexuality reflects a sexual orientation, not sexual practices. Bisexuals, like heterosexuals, practice a wide range of sexual behaviors, and, for bisexuals, like for heterosexuals, rough sex and a sexual assault are two very different things. Because of stereotypes about bisexuals, they, too, may have difficulty being believed about a sexual assault.
Myth: When a woman claims domestic abuse by another women, it is just a catfight. Similarly, when a man claims domestic abuse by another man, it is just two men fighting.
Reality: The idea that women entice men to rape them or that they really want it is also not true. No person deserves to be raped, and no person asks to be raped or wants it. This myth again shows the extent to which sexual assault is sexualized in our society. Women may experience a sexual assault, no matter what they are wearing, and what the victim was wearing in no way makes her⁄him responsible for the assault.
As you can see, most of our misunderstandings about the LGBTQ community come from preconceived notions about gender roles, or, how we think women and men are supposed to act. Misconceptions about people who do not fit neatly into gender roles arise when we try to apply preconceived notions to nonconformity. You can read more about gender norms and sexual assault here.