Male Rape and the Government of Bodies: An Unnatural History of the Present

Foster, Gary Alan (2005). Male Rape and the Government of Bodies: An Unnatural History of the Present PhD Thesis, School of Social Work and Applied Human Sciences, University of Queensland.

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Author Foster, Gary Alan
Thesis Title Male Rape and the Government of Bodies: An Unnatural History of the Present
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Work and Applied Human Sciences
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2005
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Lesley Chenoweth
Bob Lingard
Peter Cryle
Subjects 370000 Studies in Human Society
Formatted abstract
This thesis is a cartographic exercise, designed to expand the possibilities of telling and understanding the modern problem of male rape. My initial interest was in mapping and examining the heterogeneous governmental means by which the problem of men raping men is produced and managed, with reference to the Queensland context. This led me to ask questions, not only about the rationalities and technologies in use, the authorities claimed, the ways in which lives are to be ordered, but also the recency of this problematic of male rape, to generate an interest in how its constitutive elements came into being and developed shape. The concern moved beyond cataloguing and critiquing current practices towards documenting and analysing their historical conditions of possibility. A genealogical inquiry of influential regimes of practice has therefore been undertaken as a means to understand better how this problem of male rape has become formulated in the present.

To date, male rape has been provided with an extensive, but limited history. It has been said to have been perpetrated across all time, yet only fully recognised and responded to in recent decades; presented as a hidden, under acknowledged, under researched crime that men are reluctant to speak about. This study follows movements to expand the means of understanding the problem of male rape, past incidence and prevalence studies, to pay attention to socio-historical aspects of telling and responding to the act. It is the conditions of formation and appearance of the array of problems and responses to male rape, the cultural temporal sitedness, which is of concern in this thesis.

The assembled dossier works to trace and analyse practical, programmatic texts, intended to influence and administer the possibilities of bodies and lives, with respect to an act of non-consensual anal penetration. A genealogical approach, influenced by the work of Michel Foucault, is adopted for its productivity in dissecting, diagnosing and accentuating the building blocks of the present. This method acknowledges and draws attention to the diverse means of governing bodies and acts: the discursive and extra-discursive – sovereign, disciplinary, governmental. The divisions of Part One and Part Two work to emphasise the continuities and discontinuities across time and terrain.

In the archive that makes up Part One, “In the Penal Colony”, the unnatural crime of sodomy/buggery appears as an act that can involve both pleasure and pain, something condemned by multiple authorities. For Van Diemen’s Land of the late 1840s, resolution of this public offence is not to be found in the spectacle of punishment, but in an ever more meticulous ordering of lives. Comprehensive practices of separation and superintendence are set up in the name of ending unnatural crime. Medico-legal power/knowledge is ascribed a privileged status, as through naked inspection the convict surgeon is encouraged to discover the truth of what has gone before. Finally, the “ideal” permanent solution requires the convict body become individualised and normalised and that additional women be transported, enhancing the possibility of a self-governing moral subject and society that can properly manage sex.

Part Two, “Transformations”, concentrates on responses to the problem of male rape operative in the modern state of Queensland. The current conditions of condemnation and acceptance of anal penetration are laid out, noting how the act has become abnormal and homosexualised. The legislative domain, as a site for the prosecution of non-consensual anal penetration, has been subject to review, producing new possibilities for men who are raped, through reintroduction of the biblical offence: sodomy. The Queensland Response to Sexual Assault, in line with national practice standards, outlines a gender neutral response, which includes men by means of addition to the previously established order. Similarly, the current Adult Sexual Assault Examination for anal rape exhibits traces of a medico-legal power/knowledge designed to facilitate the identification and punishment of the habitual practitioner. The model prison has become the locus classicus of male rape, prompting Queensland Department of Corrective Services to implement specific management and prevention strategies, strategies that would have been familiar to the comptroller general of convicts. In the present, men are encouraged to practise responsible self government, to ensure they are not assaulted. The expectation is one of complete corporeal control. As suitably disciplined subjects – individualised and normalised – men who are raped are required to know, identify and be able to declare their sexuality.
Keyword Male rape -- Australia -- History
Male rape -- Queensland

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:01:48 EST