The notion that women aren’t capable of sexually assaulting men is outdated and toxic, and it discounts the experiences of all men who have been targets of sexual violence.
Professional skateboarder and Jackass star Bam Margera dismissed this attitude during a Nov. 6 episode of skating YouTube show The Nine Club, saying: “When anybody says a guy can’t get raped by a girl, that’s false, because it happened to me.”
In a clip of the interview that was shared to and trending on Reddit on Friday, Margera and the show’s hosts were discussing how Margera didn’t have sex with Jackass fans because he was in a relationship. But he shared what happened while in Phoenix for Tony Hawk’s “Boom Boom HuckJam” extreme sports fest. According to Margera, he was there to attempt “the Loop,” a skateboarding ramp that ended in a 360-degree loop.
On one of the nights in Phoenix, Margera said he got drunk and fell asleep at his hotel. When he woke up, a woman, who had been checking out the hotel and was let into his room by Jackass crew member Brandon Novak, was on top of him and having sex with him. Margera said that he had been belligerent toward Novak earlier, and after the assault, Novak replied, “That’s what you get, motherfucker.”
“Yeah, I got raped by a girl,” Margera said, laughing it off on the show.
While Margera didn’t mention when the assault took place, Margera’s IMDb page states he successfully landed the Loop for the first time in Phoenix in January 2005, meaning the Phoenix festival and assault took place more than 12 years ago. The description of the assault above is much more sanitized than how Margera describes it in the interview, particularly in respect to how he describes his assailant—as “200 pounds” and “fat” with makeup running down her face. But that doesn’t discount the seriousness and criminality of this woman’s status as a rapist.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, men and boys who are sexually assaulted have reactions common to other people who have experienced the same, but may face additional challenges because of societal attitudes on men and masculinity. In respect to Margera’s MTV persona, trolling his friends, absorbing injuries, and inciting violence himself, Margera undoubtedly has faced his own challenges in coming to terms with his assault, and sharing the story with others who might not believe him.
A Nine Club host even smiles while telling him, “You got raped, you got raped,” before Margera tells the punchline to his story, laughing along with the hosts. Margera isn’t in the wrong for laughing at his experience—it’s a common reaction by and coping mechanism for anyone recounting trauma. However, the fact that the show’s hosts also treat this serious admission as an “outrageous party story” shows that the idea of someone like Margera being assaulted is still laughable.
Attitudes toward rape and sexual assault are still erroneously skewed in opposition of the survivor and steeped in rape culture—we still perpetuate this idea that rape doesn’t happen because the assailant was violent, abusive, or taking advantage of someone, but it happened because the survivor was weak or vulnerable. And in performing decades of skateboarding tricks and death-provoking stunts, Margera has developed this reputation of being a hyper-masculine cultural icon and the embodiment of masculinity run amok. These two misconceptions combined—rape culture’s pressure on survivors conflated with toxic masculinity—tell us to believe that someone like Margera shouldn’t be capable of being raped, let alone by a woman, because toxic masculinity tells us femininity is weak.
Of course, it’s an idea that could not be more wrong but nonetheless is often told to men who come forward with stories of sexual assault and sexual abuse—that there’s no way they were raped, even by a woman, or that they should have at least “enjoyed” it. These notions lead men to feel that they are “less of a man” or feel a shame for not being able to stop the assault, because if you’re a man, you’re supposed to be the one in control. For the record, this is not to blame people for not believing Margera because of his notoriety for doing wild stunts. But using Margera’s story as a lens through which to examine sexual assault, we can see that our societal expectations of masculinity punish men who are survivors.
On Reddit, an isolated video of that portion of Margera’s interview has received more than 23,000 points in upvotes, and reached the front page of the website on Saturday morning. Men across Reddit shared similar stories of being raped by women and not being believed, or having their assault be laughed at or praised by the people they’ve told. Margera’s story and the thread itself are both stark reminders that, in the wake of women coming forward to say #MeToo, men too are targets of sexual violence and that women can also be capable of sexual assault.
Watch Margera recount his assault in the video below, at 1:15:00: