Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon starts off her blog post about female-on-male rape with a reference to this story about a man named Kris Bucher, who is contesting the state of Michigan’s demands that he pay child support to his high school girlfriend, Jessica Fuller, because, he claims, she conceived their son Joshua by raping Bucher when he was 17 and she was 18 years old. Clark-Flory doesn’t delve too much into the story, using it instead as a hook to discuss the question of whether women can actually rape men, and the history of how society has dealt with that question. I hope it’s not too much of a surprise to find out that the answer is that while it’s much less common than men raping men and far less common than men raping women, it does happen.
What I think is interesting about Bucher’s sad case and about men’s experiences with being rape victims in general is how similar they are to women’s experiences – and how men face the same rape myths that torment female victims. But for the gender roles, Bucher’s experiences sound quite similar to the typical experience of a teen suffering from dating violence. Teen dating violence is far more common than you’d think; the CDC reports that 10 percent of teenagers report suffering from intimate partner violence in the past year. The St. Petersburg Times reporter’s description of the relationship raises a couple red flags for violence. Fuller walked up to Bucher and said, “You don’t know it yet, but you are my future boyfriend.” It may sound romantic, but that sort of statement also wipes out the agency of the person it’s said to, and is a red flag for controlling behavior. The story also describes Bucher’s world shrinking after he hooked up with Fuller, until she basically was his world. Abusers often isolate their victims, creating an emotional dependency that makes it that much harder to leave.
The alleged rape also sounds like a typical date rape situation, where the rapist exploits an ambiguous situation, leaving the victim to question if there was more they could have done to stop the rape from happening. If Bucher’s telling the truth, and frankly his story sounds plausible, especially with the corroborating evidence, then it sounds like he’s butting up against another dangerous rape myth, which is that the presence of physical arousal or even orgasm during a sexual encounter means that the victim is consenting. This assumption has been held against many rape victims, both male and female, but it underestimates how much the combination of fear, biological stimulus, and confusion can work together to create physical response in people who are otherwise non-consenting.
Generally speaking, I’m skeptical of the various arguments that are brought before family courts by parents trying to get out of child support, especially the tedious claim that women routinely trick men into fatherhood by lying about contraception. In this case, however, I think Bucher has a point. If the judge determines that the conception was due to rape instead of consensual sex, then Bucher shouldn’t be on the hook for child support.