Three weeks ago, leader of government’s business in the upper house, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator A.J. Nicholson made the most awful comment and the corniest “joke” about (flexi) rape. Since the comment, Senator Nicholson had refused to recant; issued threats; offered a backhanded apology in the face of mounting pressure; gone silent and now he issues what has been called a “comprehensive apology.”
Many in the media (traditional and social) have been calling him a “big man” for having humbled himself to offer such a “fulsome apology”. You may read the full content of his apology on fellow blogger’s, petchary, blog here.
Call me sensitive or nitpicker or any other nomenclature that may be apt, and maybe I am all of those, but I do not find the senator’s apology “comprehensive” at all. Yes, he acknowledged how stupid and most inconvenient his comment was. And yes, he reminded us of how much no offense was meant (The road to hell is paved with good intentions) and that it is his desire that this controversy be put to “peaceable rest.” In other words, ‘unu can done now’. And as noble as Senator Nicholson’s intentions are in the apology he proffered, it is incredible that he offered an apology to the “womenfolk” at home and in the diaspora without thought that he might have equally offended his menfolk for both his offensive remark on (flexi) rape that had shamed our gender AND because some of us (MEN)are also victims of rape.
Yes, men can be raped; even though our law makers do not wish to recognize such because they are afraid that recognizing same will undermine efforts to keep anti-buggery laws intact. The senator’s, who has the record for being the longest serving Attorney General of Jamaica (all of 12 years), non-acknowledgement that men CAN be raped is indicative of anachronistic definitions of rape. In other words, fi wi definition backward bad.
Such limiting definition marginalizes men who are victims of sexual violence in unimaginable ways, for those of us who have been raped find no real protection under the law. In fact, our violator gets the same penalty as those found guilty of consensual male sexual intimacy (buggery). Excuse?!!! How the hell do you equate consensual sex (as morally reprehensible as you may view it) between men on the same level as having someone violate your body and expose you to not just the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that ensues but also the very veritable possibility of disease? Have we gone crazy?
Senator Nicholson’s non-acknowledgement of the men who can and have been raped is a silencing of entire sections of narratives on sexual violence. It is an erasure of the stories of men who have been sexually violated. It is saying to us to suck it up and take it like a man (no pun intended).
For me, the only how he can show true contrition is by his contribution to the sexual offenses act (SOA): expanding the definition of rape (making it gender neutral and including any sexual act that coerced); and removing conditionalities for marital rape. Rape is rape and should not be limited to gender or the orifice being penetrated. I, too, deserve an apology, Senator Nicholson.
This is, I am supposing, a failure to recognize men who have sex with men (consensual or forced) as having any rights whatsoever. As has already been observed, rape is continually too narrowly defined. Thank you for making this important point!