A hierarchy of masculinity and sexuality: Gendering the police, and the obfuscation of policing sexual violence against non-heterosexual victims

Aliraza Javaid


Wherever we go, a hierarchy is present. Moulded by a web of social and power relations, a gender and sexuality hierarchy emerges to create a vast array of dichotomies. Such a hierarchy is the key focus of this chapter in relation to how the police respond to non-heterosexual victims of sexual violence. Seidman (2002: 172) writes that

The state helps to create a sexual hierarchy. Some acts or identities are tolerated but barely; others are not tolerated at all; still other sexual expressions are deemed so intolerable that those who engage in them are scandalized as “bad sexual citizens”—immoral and dangerous to society. Bad sexual citizens become the targets of social control, which may include public stereotyping, harassment, violence, criminalization, and disenfranchisemen t.

As shown here, the state enforces this hierarchy; it can be seen in the police and when they are policing sexual violence against non-heterosexual persons. I will concentrate on the interconnections between sexuality and gender in the police. The police used legislation to prohibit non-heterosexual activity in order to criminalise non-heterosexual persons throughout the 20th century. In contemporary society, there is some residue of this. I document how the sexuality—gender intersection feeds into the policing of non-heterosexual persons as victims of sexual violence and the ways in which it regulates their social life. How the officers’ gender, subjectivity, sexuality and everyday life are shaped and informed by hegemonic masculinities is a key priority in this chapter. Hegemonic masculinity is a form of masculinity that legitimates unequal gender relations between men and women, between masculinity and femininity, and amongst masculinities (Messerschmidt, 2018; Javaid 2019c, 2020). Connell and Messerschmidt (2005: 832—3) illustrate that ‘gender relations [are] historical, so gender hierarchies [are] subject to change. Hegemonic masculinities...[come] into existence in specific circumstances and [are] open to historical change.’ That is to say, gender relations come into existence when in social interaction with others in person and from afar.

Constructing gender is always in relation to others. Heteronormativities are critically discussed in relation to the policing of sexual violence against nonheterosexual persons. Heteronormativity is the normalisation of heterosexuality in the public and private sphere. It encapsulates a broad spectrum of heterosexual conduct; for example, the creation of a heterosexual and a homosexual dichotomy and hierarchy. Jackson (2011: 15) writes that a heteronormative lifestyle is ingrained in the view that only two people are ‘made for each other’: a male and female together, which is based ‘on very specific nonns of heterosexual life, as ideally founded upon a male breadwinner and his dependant wife or partner, which have been embedded in the welfare state since its inception’. In short, I offer a theoretical discussion of gender in the police and the obfuscation of policing sexual violence against non-heterosexual victims.

The first section of this chapter, ‘Man enough? Hegemonic masculinity in policing sexual violence’, focuses on two distinct masculinities; notably, hegemonic and subordinate masculinities in a relational manner. Subordinate masculinities are ‘constructed as lesser than or aberrant from and deviant to hegemonic masculinity’ (Messerschmidt and Messner, 2018: 38). Subordinate masculinities, in relation to hegemonic ones, are transgressive and carry with them less social and cultural value (Connell, 2005). The officers can construct patterns of hegemonic masculinity by way of not believing non-heterosexual male victims of sexual violence. By not believing such victims, gender nonns can remain consistent and untouched. In the second section, ‘Policing Space Invaders: Heteronormativity in the Police’, I explore sexual hierarchies in the police given that, as Seidman (2002) argues, they are a state-sanctioned institution that creates a social hierarchy regarding intimate choices. The divide between heterosexuality and homosexuality is examined when discussing the policing of sexual violence against non-heterosexual persons who are regulated by the hetero/homosexual binary in relation to a myopic vision of the ‘good’ sexual citizen.

Man enough? Hegemonic masculinity in policing sexual violence

Bodies are not neutral; they configure patterns of gender. The bodies of police officers arrange such patterns depending upon vectors of context, time, and place. The gender of police officers, then, is completely contextual insofar as the female and male bodies construct gender through their social bodies. In the police, gender is always being constructed and configured. Patterns of hegemonic masculinity become formed at certain locations and times. For example, when a police officer, male or female, is in relation to another, whether it be a police officer or non-police officer, that body constructs gender. Hegemonic masculinity can, then, be formed only if that body of police officer legitimates unequal gender relations. A relationship gets formulated, whereby the body of

A hierarchy of masculinity and sexuality 135 the officer momentarily occupies an advantageous social position over another at a certain historical-social location. When this manifests, a non-equal gender relation emerges.

For example, during a social interaction between an officer and a male victim of sexual violence, there is often a legitimation of unequal gender relations because of the positioning of one in hegemonic configurations of masculinity and the other in subordinate configurations of masculinity. Connell (2005) developed subordinate masculinity, which is a form of masculinity that is ‘constructed as lesser than or aberrant and deviant to hegemonic masculinity, such as effeminate men’ (Messerschmidt, 2018: 29), though not all male victims are effeminate. I have written that

In order to maintain their hegemonic status in the gender order, the police position male rape victims in subordinate masculinities through different ways, such as the positioning of the victims in gay identities even though some victims may not identify as gay. Another way in which the police construct the cultural ideals of hegemonic masculinity in relation to male rape victims is by disbelieving that those male victims can express emotion and so are not ‘real’ rape victims.

(Javaid, 2018a: 15)

One way to legitimate unequal gender relations, thus, is the positioning of gay victims in non-hegemonic configurations of gender practice. The police can do this. The victims become emasculated by the bodies of officers so as to align the officers in hegemonic masculinities. There is always a relationality between the two: hegemonic and subordinate masculinities. By way of nonbelieving the male victims, the officers can construct patterns of hegemonic masculinity. Non-believing ensures that gender norms remain intact.

Furthermore, dichotomies remain and become reinforced so that the transgressive, notably those in subordinate masculinities, become socially excluded and suffer symbolic violence: ‘We are surrounded by symbolic violence, that virtue of disregard of humanity and welfare, that inconsideration of other bodies as deserving of respect, safety, and compassion’ (Javaid, 2020: 230). Symbolic violence through the channelling of hegemony is done: ‘what arises here is a kind of worldwide subterranean under-life developing beneath the surface of dominant worlds — a seething multiplicity of complex responses’ (Plummer, 2019: 75). When hegemonic masculinity is being forged, symbolic violence unfolds to legitimate social exclusion, creating a dichotomy between those in power and those who are not at a particular historical moment. This dichotomy is changing and unfixed and so not static.

However, the configuring of hegemonic masculinity is helped shaped by police training on sexual violence. The content is problematically gendered:

Police training is typically generic and broad in its conceptualisation. It excludes any mentioning of male rape or male sexual assault. It primarilyaddresses female rape and female sexual assault, at the expense of other important issues. Though covering training on female sexual victimisation is crucial, we cannot ignore other forms of sexual violence in police training. When researching other police forces in England, 1 also found that their police training was similarly broad in scope regarding sexual violence, without covering anything relating to male rape. This absence of police training on male rape perpetuates male rape myths, such as ‘men cannot be raped’, ‘male rape is not “real” rape’, and ‘rape only happens to women’, amongst other myths.

(Javaid, 2018b: 213-14)

The gendered content and substance in police training across police forces in England and Wales is highly gendered, in that it discursively exudes symbolic violence. The training perpetuates specific gender norms that are historically contingent and that exclude those who do not fit within the gender paradigm, such as male victims and non-heterosexual victims of sexual violence. The police training to which I refer sustains rape myths such as, though not limited to, ‘men cannot be raped/sexually assaulted’; ‘only gay men get raped/sexually assaulted’; ‘sexual assault/rape against men is not real sexual assault/rape’ (see further chapters by Cowan, Weare and McKee in this volume). Although sexual violence against women is vitally important and there absolutely must be content in police training to address these social and global issues, this should not overshadow other forms of sexual violence: at grassroots level, however, it does. Officers turn up at a rape/sexual assault scene and they are often surprised that it is a male victim (Javaid, 2018b). Schtick (2014) found that, in the field, female officers are more likely to use caring strategies, notably empathy and sympathy, showing a caring attitude and polite response; for male officers, though, this is generally the opposite, in that they are more likely to use strategies based on police training. Rape myths work to endorse hegemonic masculinities to the extent that they become reinforced and encouraged (Javaid, 2018b). Because of the gendered content in police training, there are issues with police expertise, capacity deficiencies and mis-care with victims of sexual violence, all of which are detrimental to the quality of the evidence garnered and so affect CPS decisions to take a rape/sexual assault allegation to court (Elntib et al., 2020).

The resulting effect is that secondary victimisation bubbles to the surface, whereby the male victim is ‘put on trial’. This notion refers to problematic police responses and attitudes that are discriminatory in nature. The offender is not considered a priority; rather, the issue becomes ‘how can a man let himself be sexually assaulted and raped?’ Dwyer (2014) argues that the police function on discursive ideas relating to risk; they can presume that LGBT youths ought to partake in risk management strategies in order to learn about crime prevention and security so as to sustain bodies with which to avoid risk and danger. The responsibility', according to some officers, lies with the male victims in that they are expected to enact risk management strategies to ward off rape and/or sexual assault threats. This victim culpability (see Amir, 1968) is based on victims of sexual violence knowing when, where, and how to avoid sexual violence. The issue becomes complicated when gender is involved since male victims have the added trauma of emasculation and gender ideology.

Positive masculinities are those masculinities that do not legitimate unequal gender relations between men and women, between masculinity and femininity, and amongst masculinities. Instead, they bring about more equal and non-hannful gender relations, legitimating an absence of subservience for both parties involved. Javaid (2018c: 56) illustrates that

Some men performing ‘positive’ masculinities, which are context specific, may be more likely to express love and intimacy at certain historical locations and social contexts. At particular times, there are gendered practices that do not legitimate patriarchal relations, which is valuable because power and hegemonic constructs of masculinity are being contested and made fluid. Some men’s embodiment of positive masculinities operates to contest and challenge hegemonic masculinity by way of expressing emotions, love and intimacies and so providing a ‘softer’ and caring masculinity.

Positive masculinities, which are situational and contextual, attempt to destabilise hegemonic masculinities. When one is embodying positive masculinities, they are able to forge patterns of much more peaceful masculinities and enact a caring and positive attitude and response to male victims of sexual violence. In the police, officers can navigate through dissimilar masculinities, notably those between hegemonic and positive masculinities, both of which are context specific and negotiated in and through social and power relations. As a consequence, some officers’ positive masculinities can facilitate a useful police response to victims of sexual violence, in that they can encourage victims’ reporting of their rape and/or sexual assault to help get a prosecution; better manage the effects of their such violence; and ensure that the voice that the sexual offender(s) took from the victim(s) can be given back to the victims. By having power over one’s own voice,

|We] are able to process our experiences and to accept them: to be a [rape/sexual assault] victim is to speak up for oneself. We can live with our differences when we negotiate a survivor identity.

(Javaid, 2019a: 22)

A rape/sexual assault victim is one that occupies a disadvantageous social position to non-victims because of rape culture. Rape must not be construed as alien, strange or ‘othered’ as if it does not belong in queer feminist discussions since all it will do is foster cultural structures that orchestrate sexual violence (Wunker, 2017). A police rhetoric will surface, then, which denounces victims as reprehensible for their victimisation and facilitates an environment in which victims of sexual violence are up against a brick wall that makes it difficult for them to contest a silence discourse of invisibility.

Policing space invaders: heteronormativity in the police

The notion of ‘space invaders’ from Sara Ahmed (2017: 9) refers to people becoming such:

When they enter spaces that are not intended for them ... by asking the wrong questions .... One response might be to aim to reside as well as we can in the spaces that are not intended for us.

Spaces are filled with connotations that are constantly shifting in the midst of muddy social and power relations. Some spaces, such as heterosexual geographical spaces, are not intended for non-heterosexual persons because homosexuality is deemed ‘private’ and heterosexuality ‘public’ (Javaid, 2018d). Gay persons are ‘out of place’, meaning they are on one side of the dichotomous ‘hetero-homo’ line. One side embodies cultural privileges, the other not so much.

Violence against women is normalised because of heteronormativity alongside homophobic violence, as well as other forms of violence (see Javaid, 2020). Heteronormativity limits and restrains the lives of non-heterosexuals to the extent that they are placed at the borders of significance; the social ordering of heterosexuality is also governed within the hierarchy of heterosexuality (Jackson, 2011). Non-heterosexual person’s lives are framed by heteronormativity, and this is the case in the police. Policing is a heteronormative occupation. Dwyer (2011) establishes that, coupled with the utilisation of discretion, police relations with non-heterosexual youths is informed by non-heteronormative bodies discursively performing queerness in ways read by the police. That is to outline that, should a person present themselves as queer or as deviating from heteronormativity, the police will read their performance as being in line with deviancy. As an institution, heterosexuality affords particular privileges that are barred to non-heterosexuals (Jackson, 2011).

For example, in the police, heterosexual victims are more likely to be believed than non-heterosexual victims because of their bodies performing queer:

Queering bodies transgress heteronormativity and this informs policing practices in specific contexts. Non-heteronormative bodies [define] what it means to be heterosexual, and can produce policing processes suggestive of maintaining public space as appropriately heterosexual.

(Dwyer, 2011: 216)

The bodies of non-heterosexual persons are afforded improper treatment, so should they deviate from heteronormative standards of normalcy, they will encounter interrogative police attitudes and responses (Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate,

A hierarchy of masculinity and sexuality 139 2018). For example, there is a world of difference between what gay victims and heterosexual victims of sexual violence experience in that the latter can draw upon the privilege of heterosexuality and so can navigate police heterosexism and homophobia. Non-heterosexual victims of sexual violence are less likely to report to the police for fear of homophobia and discriminatory police attitudes and responses, whereas their counterpart victims can draw on cultural privileges to dilute their emasculation. Victim blaming is more affecting of the deviants, the non-heterosexual male victims; to affect is to effect and so such victims suffer prolonged disbelieving, poor police attitudes and responses that result in their dropping out of the criminal justice process (Javaid, 2018b). Such victims could be described as fear embodied, using Ahmed’s (2000) analogy of the figure of the stranger to denote their isolation, and the ones placed on the borders of significance: “the stranger can appear as a figure, one we assume has a life of its own, by being cut off from the history of its determination” (Wunker, 2017: 67). The stranger, although not always knowable, its shadow is able to surface in the darkness. The shadow of these victims leaves a subtle ghostly presence. We can close off other bodies that denote fear embodied, as a way of sustaining our own bodies as ones of social value; orienting ourselves to our own bodies does orient us away from others. Fear propels us to what is ordinary at a given time.

In the policing landscape, where heteronormativity resides, non-heterosexual male victims of sexual violence present themselves as space invaders because the spaces are not intended for them. The policing context supports heterosexual male victims of sexual violence. Further, there is disruption in the management of such space when space invaders enter that space for they now have to negotiate a way in which to accommodate bodies of deviance. However, there are problems with such accommodation. Sexual victimisation for gay men is commonly seen as a lifestyle choice and one that is founded upon consent; heteronormative societies construct gay scenes as personifying disgust, disdain and oozing a toxic waste of‘otherness’ to indicate a seedy space, which gay persons occupy, filled with drugs, alcohol and sleazy casual sex (Weeks et al., 2001). Such anti-gay societies view gay culture as antithetical to patriarchal values and customs. Thus, rape and sexual assault are mutually incompatible with gay spaces, making it difficult for the police to deem non-heterosexual persons as credible victims because of the symbolic meanings attached to gay culture and gay spaces. Rape and sexual assault against non-heterosexual persons are, therefore, commonly seen as consensual (McMullen, 1990).

Gay victims of sexual violence have a harder time being believed due to their non-ideal status as legitimate victims:

Being an ideal victim is dependent on the ways in which apparently inherent, structural and experiential factors are interpreted (by those victimised as well as those being asked to respond to those victimised) ... in the process of considering ideal victim status, but also howthe construction of behaviours deemed criminal can also shape ideas about who can be victimised.

(Donavan and Barnes, 2018: 84)

An ideal victim is reliant upon a host of things. He or she is socially and culturally constructed. The non-heterosexual victim of sexual violence can be constructed by the police as precipitating their own violence, fuelling victimblaming police responses (Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate, 2018). In turn, male sexual assault victims and rape victims are not regarded as owning human values or worth and abandoned, since others (such as the police) create a passive construct of the ideal victim (Walklate, 2011; Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate, 2018). The victims passively become space invaders for they enter a place in which a non-ideal victim self is ascribed to them, though this can be negotiated depending on other identity markers that the victims possess: race, class, age and so on. Regardless, it is necessary to give the police an account of oneself as a non-heterosexual person to justify being a rape/sexual assault victim. In other words, acquiring the ideal male victim status requires a tiresome justification: ‘When you come out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, you might be asked to give an account of yourself (Ahmed, 2017: 121). ‘Coming out’ as someone, as a non-heterosexual victim, does indeed require one to explain oneself to others, including the police. Fighting to be believed means that such victims are positioned as non-credible, always having to prove that one is a legitimate victim — fighting oft' the non-ideal status of undeserving or unworthy of police attention is frequent. As throwaways, such victims present a nuisance to the police given their overly stretched resources. However,

viewing victims’ participation in the process as important and dedicating resources to working with victims should improve the levels of reporting, case processing, and justice-related outcomes. Furthermore, research suggests that experience investigating sexual assault cases and additional training may improve justice-related outcomes by changing officers’ attitudes toward victims and by better preparing them for the emotional labor involved in rape investigations.

(Schtick, 2018: 241)

Due to non-heterosexual male victims embodying deviancy and abnormality in the police process of investigation, it is difficult to encourage them to comply with the process. Thus, a drip-drip effect takes place. They are likely to drop out of the criminal investigation process for being disbelieved and/or fear of being disbelieved, resulting in a massive ‘justice gap’; that is, although some sexual offences are recorded, they do not accurately reflect the actual amount of offenders being successfully convicted and brought to justice (Walby et al., 2012). Attrition is important to mention here: ‘Attrition refers to those cases dropping out of the criminal justice process. Cases may “drop out” for a number of reasons at various stages, including the decision of the victim not to

A hierarchy of masculinity and sexuality 141 report a crime and discontinuance by the prosecutors’ (Walby et al., 2012: 100) (see further introductor)' chapter). Hence, the police statistics are highly unreliable and lack immense credibility. As Walby (2005: 201) argues:

All statistics from the Criminal Justice System [such as police statistics] are likely to be undercounts of the extent of [rape and sexual assault], since many [victims] choose not to report them to the police. Thus they would be a record of a particular type of processing of [sexual violence] by a public agency, not a measure of the ‘real’ rate [of a particular type of a ‘real’ incident of sexual violence].

Another consequence of the drip-drip effect is secondary victimisation. Laing (2016) documents that secondary victimisation is the experiencing of trauma at the hands of the state: it can manifest in hostile police responses; poor police practice, so not taking a certain case seriously, thereby, fuelling the attrition rate, supporting the point made by Walby et al. (2012). The result of this for non-heterosexual male victims is to silence and to control, components that correlate with constructs of hegemonic masculinity (see prior section) as a way of legitimating unequal gender relations between men and women, between masculinity and femininity, and amongst masculinities (see Connell, 2005; Connell and Messerschmidt, 2005; Messerschmidt, 2018;Javaid, 2020).

A further consequence of the drip-drip effect is the exacerbation of the rape trauma syndrome (a mixture of emotional responses to the extreme upset suffered by a rape and/or sexual assault victim). McGarry and Walklate (2015) make it clear that rape trauma syndrome has many forms, such as taking a toll on the victims, inducing fear of public spaces and of people, to losing earnings consequential of being unable to go to work. Due to suffering, trauma emerges. There is a trauma narrative, whereby trauma can be comprehended either as a series of impactful and traumatising events or as a one-off event (McGarry and Walklate, 2015). Either way, a story is told about one’s own trauma, the way in which it unfolds to others and the fact of it being situational and context specific. Some trauma narratives, such as questioning one’s own masculinity and/or sexuality, are not considered a normal trauma response to an incident of sexual violence, so there is no robust mechanism by which to manage their unique tension (McGarry7 and Walklate, 2015; Javaid, 2018b). The police do not regard themselves as a service provider for serving nonheterosexual rape and sexual assault victims (Javaid, 2018b). Consequently, heterosexuality becomes reinforced in the police and the hierarchy of sexuality (and gender) becomes reaffirmed:

[EJxclusion reflects in the ways in which male rape victims are positioned in the gender hierarchy, in that they are often positioned at the bottom tier since the issue of male rape is mostly constructed as a homosexual issue. This construction is false given that heterosexual and bisexual men can also be raped. Male rape is constructed as abnormal, a deviation fromheteronormativity, which in turn places male rape victims at the periphery of normalcy to reinforce the notion that ... men cannot be raped. Because of this view, we are all reminded of the divide between heterosexuality and homosexuality, that the former ‘own the streets’, not the latter.

(Javaid, 2018d: 89)

Both the gender and sexuality hierarchy become infused collectively. This impacts on how the male victim of sexual violence is socially and culturally constructed. As previously outlined, sexual violence against men, especially gay men, can be constructed as a lifestyle choice, making it not ‘really’ rape and/or sexual assault, whereby the seediness becomes ingrained in gay culture making it deviant to the normalisation of heterosexuality (Weeks et al., 2001). As a result, police resources become largely dedicated to female and heterosexual victims of sexual violence even though ‘[m|ore resources for assistance to victims is related to an increase in both reporting and clearance rates over time’ (Schuck, 2018: 249). Prioritising certain types of victim can contribute to a hierarchy of significance, in which those deemed non-ideal are given less credibility than those in the upper tier and positioned as lacking cultural and material worth and value. In this hierarchy, according to Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate (2018), gender and sexuality are the overarching frame shaped by other structural variables.1 Again, Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate (2018) argue that certain constructed lifestyles render one liable to be at the bottom of this hierarchy of vulnerability; for example, the drug addict and the street prostitute would be denied legitimate victim status, coupled with non-heterosexual persons because of their constructed lifestyles being seen as ‘deviant’ and non-heteronormative in contrast to ‘respected’ heterosexuality. In the top tier would be the elderly female victim of violent/sexual crime who is granted victim status because of her fragility (Bows and Westmarland, 2017; Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate, 2018). Alongside the elderly in the top tier, heterosexual persons are guaranteed a secure place due to their heteronormativity. This is because

gender nonns are interdefined with nonns of heterosexuality, so ... a proper man and a proper woman are those who engage in heterosexual practices and follow the pathway of the heterosexual family ... gendered norms are inter-articulated with nonns of race, class, culture, age and ... ability.

(Lennon and Alsop, 2020: 152)

This ideology echoes the notion that two people, a man and a woman, are ‘made for each other’. They are ‘respected’ for sustaining heteronormativity: for example, they can reproduce offspring and so contribute to society. They are a perfect ‘fit’. Societies sustain this ideology at the cost of losing sight of other crime victims: non-heterosexual victims, who are not deemed credible and so are placed in this zone in which nobody cares, nobody believes, nobody serves.


This chapter attempted to grapple with constructs of gender and sexuality in the police with regard to examining the policing of sexual violence against nonheterosexual persons. The chapter supports the view from Daum (2019: no pagination), who writes that the

Police regularly fail to recognize LGBTQ individuals as victims of crimes, with the exception of particularly heinous hate crimes, and do not adequately attend to their needs and/or subject them to secondary victimization. As such, the relationship between many LGBTQ communities and law enforcement continues to be characterized by antagonisms and mistrust.

Supporting Damn’s viewpoint, the police do fail to consistently serve nonheterosexual persons. This theoretical piece has set out some of the reasons why there is police negligence with regard to policing sexual violence against nonheterosexual persons. My argument has been that the police negligence is derived from constructions of gender and sexuality. I drew on hegemonic masculinity to elucidate such constructions: ‘Hegemonic masculinities are continually renewed, re-created, defended, and modified through social action. And yet they are at times resisted, limited, altered, and contested’ (Messerschmidt, 2018: xii). Hegemonic masculinity facilitates unequal gender relations; it is present in police forces, and, when the police are policing sexual crime, formations of hegemonic masculinity become unravelled at particular historical moments. In the midst of policing, subordinate masculinities are encountered. They are masculinities that are less symbolic in value and worth. Non-heterosexual male victims of sexual violence are often positioned in subordinate masculinities, and these masculinities are exploited, denigrated, laughed at and mocked since, unlike hegemonic masculinities, they are denied the claim to authority. When the police are policing, their policing is infused with problematic gendered rape myths:

Officers ... deal poorly with [not-heterosexual] rape victims in practice if they hold such myths ... secondary victimisation will manifest against ... victims of rape, whereby [the police] express victim-blaming attitudes and responses towards the victims who are made to be ‘put on trial’.

(Javaid, 2018b: 13)

I have argued in prior work that, ‘because of the historical formation of heterosexuality as culturally “normal”—also referred to as heteronormativity—... men are constructed as bodies with which to penetrate, not to be penetrated’ (Javaid, 2019b: 13). The way in which the bodies are constructed shape how such bodies are responded to and treated by the police. Ahmed (2017) comments that, if one is a non-heterosexual, one is deviating from a heterosexual path that was made for you by others; a road one is expected to follow to reach the ‘right’ destination. The bodies of non-heterosexual victims of sexual violence are deemed an anomaly. In social interactions, they are treated by the police as if they are not there. An ideal victim is a heterosexual victim. The non-heterosexual victim of sexual violence, within police responses, can be seen as precipitating their own sexual violence, facilitating victim blaming in police response actions. The victims are often invisible, fading into the background.


1 The key focus, though, is on gender and sexuality throughout this chapter due to space limitation; see Collins and Bilge (2020) for a discussion of the intersection of differing social variables that come together to form the notion intersectionality, concerned with examining their relationship and how such different identity markers impact one another.


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