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In many a Very Special Episode of a favorite TV show or novel about a character overcoming abuse, there lies the Unfortunate Implication that All Abusers Are Male. This trope occurs when The Unfair Sex is applied to Domestic Abuse, rape, or any form of abuse, creating the implication that women cannot and do not commit abusive acts. Simply because a story has a male rapist/abuser in it does not make it an example of this trope. A series/book/TV show/etc becomes an example if the work implies or pushes the assumption that ALL abusers are men or that female abusers do not matter at all. This trope is different from Rape Is Okay When It Is Female On Male, Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male, and Rape Is Okay When It's Female On Female. While those tropes acknowledge that women commit acts of domestic violence and acts of rape but easily forgive or dismiss them based on their gender, examples of this trope address the seriousness of abuse while implying that only men can commit acts of violence.
Examples of this trope sometimes even attempt to educate the audience about serious issues like rape and abuse. They do this while upholding the idea that men are the only perpetrators of abuse. A story where a man abuses or rapes a woman is not an example. A story that addresses these issues while only acknowledging one sex as potentially abusive is. This can happen when a character becomes a lesbian to avoid evil men, or when characters are seriously anti-rape and anti-violence yet overlook the possibility that women can commit these acts. While more male abusers are reported to the police each year than female abusers, many times this is assumed to mean that only men can be abusive. The pervasiveness of tropes like this can also affect the statistics, where people are ashamed to admit they have been abused by women, or the police refuse to file reports on what they consider unimportant.
- Every ad campaign for domestic violence awareness almost without exception. Some of the worse ones seem to suggest abusiveness is innate to the Y-chromosome, as they tag prepubescent boys as "potential abusers".
- An Australian ad campaign features a series of women describing abuse and/or men justifying said abuse, with the tagline "to violence against women, Australia says NO". Given that it is intended to be a general campaign against rape and domestic abuse, the sex-specific nature is puzzling.
- Similarly, an American ad campaign featured a small boy witnessing what was obviously his father abusing his mother off-screen, with the tagline "End the cycle. Teach him that violence against women is not okay." There was, unsurprisingly, no concurrent campaign about teaching him not to abuse men, or teaching your daughter that abuse is not okay.
- This advertising campaign to end rape.
- This advertising campaign to end rape. Ends with the tagline 'rape is a hate crime against women. Implying both that only women can be victims and only men can be aggressors. (Saying a woman raping another woman is a hate crime doesn't make much sense.)
-  Verizon's new domestic violence ad.
- Thankfully averted in this PSA.
- This website is entitled "Domestic Violence Statistics", and yet by reading the statistics mentioned on the home page one could be forgiven for thinking that domestic violence was something that only women suffer from - of the eleven examples given, eight refer solely to women as victims of domestic violence or men as perpetrators.
Anime & Manga Edit
- Many Ecchi tend to portray All Men Are Perverts and thus a lighter form of this trope.
- Kannazuki No Miko zig zags this. Chikane rapes Himeko as a part of her gambit, and she also is sexually harassed by Miyako. But the female abusers are not treated as such or given CompleteMonster status. The male Orochi who also tries to rape Himeko however is actually also treated sympathetically and given a happy ending like everyone else.
- In one South Park episode, Ike is in a sexual relationship with his kindergarten teacher. Also of note, Ike is three years old. So when Kyle heads down to the police station and tells them about this, they get all gung ho to bring this pedophile down... until Kyle mentions that she is a woman, and attractive. Kyle is disgusted when they start wanting to congratulate Ike.
- Also of note is Stan and his abusive older sister Shelley. People are only sympathetic of his injuries when they incorrectly believe they come from his parents.
- Also averted by Butters, who's equally abused by both his mother and his father.
- Parodied in Daria with Ms. Barch, who believes all men are evil and is a militant feminazi yet is emotionally abusive and manipulative towards Mr. O'Neill.
- In an episode of Family Guy, Peter is being sexually harassed by his female boss, and Lois refuses to take it seriously, insisting that it's "impossible" for a woman to sexually harass a man. The Double Standard worsens later in the episode, when the boss says she was only harassing Peter because she hasn't had sex in a long time.
- Subverted on King Of The Hill, where Luanne's mother Leanne abused her husband throughout their marriage and eventually went to jail for trying to stab him with a fork. She later begins dating, and eventually abusing, Bill, then comes onto Luanne's boyfriend and attacks him when he rejects her.
Fan Works Edit
- Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams contained a very deliberate subversion of this trope. In the original comics, The Incredible Hulk and his mother Rebecca were violently abused by Bruce Banner's father Brian. In this Alternate Universe Fic, however, little Bruce is instead molested by his mother Rebecca, who violently attacks Brian with a knife whenever he tries to protect his son. This inversion from the comics was deliberately done to highlight how men can be victims of domestic violence too.
- In In This World And The Next, Ron The Death Eater is a rapist for no good reason. In the alternate timeline he gets turned into a girl, which will apparently stop this from happening. The fic stops just short of directly citing this trope.
- In White Oleander, Astrid becomes a lesbian (or at least pretends to be a lesbian) to escape evil men. The fact that more women than men have directly hurt Astrid throughout the movie is not addressed.
- Though She Stole My Voice, a documentary about lesbian rape, averts this trope overall, the interviews uphold it. Many people state that women cannot rape or that they would much rather see their girlfriends raped by women than by men since men are more of a real threat.
- It seems every Lifetime Movie Of The Week is about a woman being abused in some way by a man.
- This is a common criticism of the movie Teeth. Nearly every male that the main character comes in contact with tries to rape her, molest her, or otherwise use her for sex.
- Although not every man in the Bollywood film Lajja is abusive, all the abuse in the film is committed by men. The women in the film are all presented as pure and innocent, and many have been abused by the men or policies created by them.
- Averted in most Sexplotation movies, since Girl On Girl Is Hot. Sometimes even inverted in Caged Heat types, with women being manhandled in prison by women cellmates and women guards, and saved by male Knight In Shining Armour.
- In Kushiel's Legacy, the only characters who are ever openly considered rapists are men and Joscelin is the only person who really considers Melisande abusive. Considering that Melisande drugs and rapes Phedre after getting her family killed this is fairly questionable.
- Also, during the entire Drujan incident, all of the really evil characters are male. The women are captives, possibly selfish or bitter, but not worshippers of the god of evil. In general, in these books, women may be devious, ruthless, and order murder to be done, but they never go in For The Evulz.
- In Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson frequently mentions that men are too barbaric/greedy/cruel/selfish/etc to be fit for romantic love. Despite her experience with Mrs. Jewsberry which could arguably be considered rape, she seems to consistently have a higher opinion of women than of men.
- In Sexing The Cherry, Jordan is the only male character who is not a Complete Monster or otherwise worthless. The idea that men use women and do not care about them is played to death.
- In The Fountainhead, the strongest female character can only remain strong through submission to a man. Dominique gets raped by Howard Roark and it is made clear that ALL healthy and satisfying relationships would involve a man conquering a woman, sometimes (preferably) quite violently.
- Possibly only coincidentally portrayed in One Hundred Strokes Of The Brush Before Bed. Melissa has many arguably abusive relationships with men and, despite being equally submissive with women, never runs into nearly the Nightmare Fuel situations with female lovers.
- In Raising a Modern-Day Knight, author Robert Lewis claims that, "Men commit 100 percent of rapes."
- Justified in Gor, that's just how society works.
- In Degrassi, many "tough topics" are covered. Many rape victims have received their own Very Special Episode by now, yet every instance of rape or abuse has been perpetrated by a man. The only character who is ever abused (emotionally) by a woman is Ellie and her mother is portrayed as more of a victim.
- In an interview about Fiona's abusive relationship, the actor who played Bobby said that he hoped young women out there would watch the episode and realize that they did not deserve to be abused, and young men would get the message that it was not okay to abuse their girlfriends.
- In South Of Nowhere, Spencer's father discovers that Carmen pushed her while they were dating and seems horrified. Spencer assures him that it is not a big deal and in the end of the series Carmen and Spencer are on relatively good terms, despite their relationship ending over abuse.
- Law And Order Special Victims Unit managed to play this one straight and subvert it at the same in the episode "Ridicule," which presumably was intended as an aesop about how men can be rape victims, too. The episode involves a male stripper who claims he was raped by three vindictive women (one of whom was played by Diane Neal, who went on to play ADA Casey Novak in the same series). Most of the police are sympathetic but also somewhat dubious. Stabler, on the other hand, refuses to believe that it's even possible for a man to be raped by a woman. The woman who orchestrated the rape goes to jail for it at the end of the episode, and it appears that the audience is supposed to believe that it really was a rape. However, the episode unintentionally sends the message that the only way a woman can rape a man is if she decides to jump on him when he happens to have an erection. No one brings up the possibility that there's any way for a woman to violate a man other than initiating vaginal sex without his consent. And it really doesn't help that virtually everyone involved -- especially alleged "good guy" Stabler -- is at the very least slow to accept this seemingly unheard-of notion that a woman can commit sexual assault (or the notion that men can be victims).
- Generally the only male abuse victims on the show are children, barely ever adults. Whenever a male victim does show up, they're not exactly treated sympathetically. Female abusers aren't uncommon on the show, but usually they're not as harshly judged by the SVU detectives (save the occasional Complete Monster).
- Subverted on an episode of Charmed, where the Source uses this trope to nearly have Paige kill an innocent man whose son was being abused. The last time we see the man, he's warning his wife that he won't tolerate her hurting their son anymore.
- Explored in the TV movie Men Don't Tell, which features Judith Light abusing the shit out of Peter Strauss. Naturally enough, no one believes that Strauss's character is being abused until his daughter (note the gender of the child) tells police that she "doesn't want Mommy to hurt Daddy anymore."
- Subverted in an episode of NCIS. The marine husband of one of the Victims Of The Week is accused of beating his wife, but it turns out that she was beating him. And she was a North Korean spy.
- It happened in Private Practice. A kid was fat because he wanted one of his parents to stop abusing him. When the doctor finds out, he immediately goes berserk, looks up the father and punches him in the face. It turn out the molester was the mother, not the father.
- In a Torchwood episode, Tosh gains the ability to read minds. Many of the men (at some point it seems like all) she encounters reveal horribly abusive, nasty thoughts while the women reveal having been victimized by men. She ends up stopping a man from killing his wife and kids.
- In an episode of Without A Trace a school councilor assumes a student is being beaten by his father and is tight lipped about it. To be fair, she was basing her assumption around her own experiences with parental abuse where her father killed her mother when she called him out on it and eventually the boy opens up to correct her and state that its his mother whose the abuser. Thankfully the episode is a subversion because both the councilor and the agents respond rather negatively to the mother for this.
- In an episode of Starsky And Hutch, when the cops discover a case of child abuse, they assume it's the kid's hulking father who's responsible; turns out it's the mother who's to blame.
- Averted at the end of a lengthy Picket Fences storyline about the murder of a teenaged girl. After prosecuting a man who turned out to be innocent, the police and district attorney accuse the girl's father of killing her, and persuade the girl's mother to testify against him. On the witness stand, however, after being granted immunity in exchange for her testimony, the mother confesses that she killed her daughter. Later, though, the judge voids her immunity on fraud grounds, and the district attorney is able to prosecute her for the murder, and prosecute the father as well, for his role in covering up his wife's crime. It was only in hindsight that everybody realized that, although they had clear reason to suspect the girl was killed by one of her parents, there was never any real reason to believe it was the father rather than the mother.
- Averted in a Law & Order / Homicide crossover. A girl is murdered, and the police and district attorney's office are able to determine that she was killed by one of her parents. They automatically assume the father is the murderer, but it turns out that the mother committed the crime.
- Most songs about domestic abuse involve a male perpetrator and female victim.
- This may be because more female artists are aware of the problem and more likely to talk about it/their managers consider something people would like to hear about in songs.
- Averted in the Eminem ft Rihanna music video Love the Way You Lie. It's a mutally abusive reletionship.
- Also averted in Self-Esteem by The Offspring, about the (male) singer being emotionally abused by his girlfriend.
- Also averted in Matchbox 20's song "Push", about a man being manipulated and emotionally abused by his girlfriend.
Real Life Edit
- Subverted, one example: David Gest accused Liza Minnelli of abusing him during his short-lived marriage to her.
- In Australia, there exists a White Ribbon Day to teach men that violence against women is wrong. Yet nothing is said about abuse of men being just as bad.
- In some countries, rape is not recognised unless a man is the attacker, otherwise it's 'molestation.'
Video Games Edit
- Cruelly averted in the "Wicked and Weak" ending to Silent Hill Shattered Memories. In it, Cheryl films her mother, Dahlia, abusing Harry both verbally and physically, telling him to "be a man, fight back!" Needless to say, this is NOT w:c:tvtropesmirror:Played For Laughs.
- Averted in Fansadox, under the Girl On Girl Is Hot principle.
- Also subverted in the Birthday Gift series: at the start, it seems only all the males and a women (The Protagonist's mother) are savage to the rest of the women once the state allows them. However, Anna appears, pointing out to the viewer that there are women who enjoy the new system and take advantage of it (and there are several Expanded Universe examples of abusive women), even if some of them are like this as result of torture. More evidence suggests that men who protested too much got into "accidents", possibly covered up by the state.
Web Original Edit
- In one Whateley story, during what's basically a private pool party with undertones of an informal recruitment drive, the notional leader of Poe cottage's "lesbian" faction drops the "without men, rape comes to a screeching halt" bombshell at one point.
- This foul misconception is the entire motivation for Global Guardians PBEM Universe Mad Scientist Doctor XX, who wants to rid the Earth of all male influence. She had a hard life at the hands of more than one truly abusive man, it is true, but she's unreasonably equated "I was abused by three men in my life" to "all men are evil abusers and must be stopped". She's rightly seen as the psychotic murderer she is.
- In the New Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edition, "rape" is still defined as "the crime, committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with him without their consent and against their will, esp. by the threat or use of violence against them".
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