Sex, Social Science, Top Stories

Why Do Men Rape?

One of the keys to understanding the underlying visions of conservatives and progressives is to observe how they interpret crime. Progressives tend to believe that people are not born to be criminals; one way or another, crime is perceived to be a reflection and consequence of the structure of society and the unfortunate place in that society that the criminal occupies. Property crime is typically explained as a result of the unemployment and inequality produced by capitalism, and of the rigid property rights that prevent people from sharing resources more equally, as they might have done in the pre-societies described by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Conservatives, on the other hand, are more likely to see crime as the result of a decaying of social morality, and are quick to point out that there was less crime during the darkest days of material deprivation during the Great Depression than there is today. According to the conservative worldview, self-interested people can be relied upon to trample others to get their own way, but the institutions of society restrain them so long as these institutions haven’t become degraded. According to the progressive worldview, the institutions of society are as much the cause of crime as their solution.

More often than not, criminals come from social groups perceived to be ‘less advantaged’ and hence we can understand the Left’s willingness to defend those individuals by locating the genesis of their crime in wider social structures. You might then stop to wonder how those on the Left explain sexual coercion, or rape, a crime of enormous violation and emotional as well as physical trauma. Rape is an inexcusable crime committed overwhelmingly by males against females. But this must be reconciled with the need to explain all forms of crime within the wider framework of failed social institutions in need of reform, argue the progressives, who then set about shifting the cause of rape from the male who actually commits the crime, onto wider society.

In 1975, the activist Susan Brownmiller set the feminist scene on fire when she popularised an answer to this problem borrowed from earlier theorists. In her radical book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape – later inducted into New York Library’s ‘Books of the Century’ – Brownmiller takes a swipe at Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Ayn Rand (whom she regards as a female mouthpiece of male philosophy) all at once, and provides us with the immortal line that rape is “a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” Brownmiller informs us that rape has nothing to do with men lacking in morals seeking sexual gratification; rather, rape is an invention by man to maintain a system of psychological dominance over women. Men are taught by the prevailing sexist ethos in Western society to use rape as an instrument to strike fear into the hearts of women, and women learn from the same system to fear men:

His forcible entry into her body, despite her physical protestations and struggle, became the vehicle of his victorious conquest over her being, the ultimate test of his superior strength, the triumph of his manhood. Man’s discovery that his genitalia could serve as a weapon to generate fear must rank as one of the most important discoveries in prehistoric times, along with the use of fire and the first crude stone axe.

However implausible this seems, it is a clever strategy on Brownmiller’s part. It both maintains its commitment to the progressive’s defence of the less privileged group, and also denies the origin of the crime within the individual, who is merely following the instruction he has received from society. This ideology has spread to the academic Left in the social sciences, where we are told that “Rape is not about sexual orientation or sexual desire. It is an act of power and control in which the victim is brutalized and humiliated.”1 Accordingly, the act of rape is actually normalized in Western patriarchal society: “Men rape because they have learned that rape is acceptable and normal behaviour.”2 Joan Beck of the Chicago Tribune wrote that, “If there is still any lingering misconception that rape is a crime of sexual passion, it’s important to drive a stake through the heart of that idea as quickly as possible…”3 Another writer calls the old model of rape “the ideological fantasies of those who justify sexual coercion,” and claims that admitting that rape is rooted in human desires “actually amounts to an incitement to rape.”4 But this is simply a naturalistic fallacy. Just because some people murder others in anger, a psychological reaction rooted in human nature, it does not follow that murder is in any way acceptable. Many things exist in nature, but that doesn’t require anyone to like or endorse them.

According to the sociologist Garbrilee Dietrisch, “Surveys show that a vast majority of rapes are planned. This goes to disprove the theory that the rapist is usually ‘provoked’ by the flimsy clothing worn by the victim, and is overcome by an overpowering physical urge. In fact, the rapist is asserting his power and urge to dominate.”5 Dietrisch seems to be arguing that because men don’t leap on top of an attractive woman when they first see her, rape cannot be motivated by sexual desire if it is committed after some planning. In other words, strategic preparation and sexual interest are mutually exclusive. But are a couple who go on a romantic date together not sexually interested in each other, just because their date was pre-planned? Dietrisch characterises the traditional view of rape as an “overpowering physical urge” that sweeps aside all forms of rationality. But this is a straw man. The motive for rape is the same as the motive for a romantic date – sexual desire, which the rapist satisfies by force and believes he will get away with in certain circumstances. Planning goes into that evil end.

Some defenders of the power theory of rape emphasize its pervasiveness in Western society by downplaying its existence in other societies. For instance, feminist sociologist Michael Kimmel claims “[w]e have evidence of the absence of rape” in “several cultures.”6 By golly, if he can prove this then he’s surely proven that men don’t rape for sex, just as the absence of drug use among the Zo’é people in the Amazon Rainforest proves that people in Western societies don’t use drugs for pleasure. Not only is this another non sequitur, but it’s factually dubious. Anthropologist Margaret Mead famously argued in Coming of Age in Samoa that rape was virtually absent in the Samoan Islands, while another anthropologist, Derek Freeman, found that rape was unusually high there.7 Mead made similar claims about the Mount Arapesh people in New Guinea, but these claims were also challenged by subsequent anthropological analysis.8

Toeing the party line, anthropologist Peggy Sanday states that in some societies, “the sexual act is not concerned with sexual gratification but with deploying the penis as a concrete symbol masculine social power.”9 To support her claim that rape is a cultural phenomenon, she provided her own study of the world’s anthropological literature.10 When the anthropologist Craig Palmer dissected Sanday’s study, he found that her conclusions drew unwarranted generalisations from patchy data.11 In reply, Sanday writes in a later work, “I did not take the ethnographers to mean that rape was literally absent, only that they found no evidence that rape was commonplace.”12 About one in every thousand men in the United States commit rape, and if rape were carried out at the same rate in tribal societies of only a few thousand people, it necessarily follows that rape will not be commonplace in these societies.

In Against Our Will, Brownmiller makes her own naïve foray into the worlds of anthropology and zoology, and attempts to uncouple sexual desire and rape by theorizing that it is a human social phenomenon not found elsewhere in nature: “No zoologist, as far as I am aware, has ever observed animals to rape in their natural habitat, the wild.” No zoologist, other than Severinghaus who found rape in deer.13 No zoologist, other than Barlow who found rape in fish.14 No zoologist, other than Manning who found rape in flies.15 No zoologist, other than Barash who found rape among ducks.16 No zoologist, other than all those who have found rape among monkeys, orangutans, chimpanzees, and gorillas.17 In one of the most famous cases in primatology, the eminent orangutan researcher Birutė Galdikas had to watch helplessly as one of her female assistants was raped by a large orangutan. In fact, as the reference to this sentence will amply demonstrate, the empirical zoological literature observing rape among animals in the wild is extensive.18 To be fair to Brownmiller, much of this research into sexual coercion in the animal kingdom blossomed after her book was published in 1975, although some observations had already been made by then.19 One systematic review of the zoological literature under the auspices of the American Psychological Association concludes:

Despite major gaps in the literature, a number of regularities are apparent. First, forced copulation is something males do to females. Although females in some species can be quite assertive when it comes to mating, we have not encountered a single instance of a female forcing sex on a male. Second, forced copulations do not appear to be an anomalous behaviour generated by such unusual conditions as overcrowding, captivity, or poor health. Third, males tend to target fertile females.20

If rape among humans is really about power instead of sexual desire, the females men find most sexually desirable, such as young women in the most fertile stages of life, should not be over-represented in rape statistics. According to the power theory, human behavior should diverge from that of other animals on this front. “Since sexual assault is all about power, not sex, the age or appearance of the victim is irrelevant,” declares one hospital information pamphlet summarizing the ideology of Left-dominated government bureaucracies in Australia. “Police reports show that babies and women in their nineties have been raped.”21 This assertion can’t be taken seriously. The data is actually unambiguous: young women are far more likely to be raped than infants or elderly women, which is exactly what we would expect if rape were about sex – as it is among other animal species – but not what we would expect if sexual desire were irrelevant.22 Finding anecdotal evidence of rape in infants and the elderly does nothing to invalidate this aggregate finding, particularly since we know that small minorities of people are sexually attracted to children and to the elderly.

Confronted with these challenging statistics, one might reply that young women are more likely to be raped because they are more vulnerable to crime in general. One formidable critic of the social-power theory of rape is the behavioural ecologist John Alcock, who writes in The Triumph of Sociobiology, “The widespread occurrence of rape across animal species is both consistent with evolutionary predictions and devastating to the social science explanation.” Alcock demonstrates that robbery is much more homogenous across age groups than rape, indicating that vulnerability is a poor explanation for the difference in levels of rape between young and elderly women. Moreover, he points out that a young woman is more likely to be raped during a robbery than an elderly woman. Young fertile women – the women men find most attractive – are more likely to be raped, and nobody has adequately explained this away.

Source: RAINN

Other evidence pointing to sexual desire as a motive for rape is dismissed by social scientists. Stopping Rape, a 2015 textbook by a team of sociologists, reads like a progressive party platform. These authors provide some interesting but predictable points, observing that rape correlates highly with poverty, homelessness, and gender inequality. War is a major catalyst for rape. All of these variables make women more vulnerable to male desires, but they are not explanations for rape independent of those desires. When these sociologists review studies on methods that aim to reduce sexual desire in rapists, including surgical and chemical castration, they only reluctantly admit that these studies tend to confirm the success of such methods.23 They find that rapists who do not receive surgical castration are 15 times more likely to reoffend than a rapist who does. Puzzlingly, the authors then state, “Since there is considerable evidence that sex crimes against women are not biologically driven, the intervention may be considered misplaced.” First they note that the empirical literature tends to confirm success in targeting biological desire, and then they dismiss this evidence as irrelevant because, as good sociologists, they know that rape isn’t about sexual desire.

The authors of Stopping Rape offer no detailed objection to biological explanations of rape and, in what almost amounts to academic misconduct, they don’t even mention one of the most important and widely discussed works on rape in recent years, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases for Sexual Coercion. Authored by the anthropologist Craig Palmer and the biologist Randy Thornhill, A Natural History of Rape argues that rape is deeply bound up in animal and human sexuality. Rape, Thornhill and Palmer reason, could be a byproduct of sexual desire as we normally imagine it to be, or it could be a specifically evolved psychological adaptation that has allowed men in the past to propagate offspring. This latter theory runs into too many obstacles. We know that rape is common among men in prison populations, and that many men who rape women do so in a non-vaginal ways. These forms of rape are not going to result in pregnancy, but all of them can be explained as byproducts of sexual desire along the continuum of human sexuality, or (in the case of prison rape) as substitutes for heterosexual sexual activity. (As Brownmiller sees it, prison rape is a continuation of dominance/subordinate relationships.)

What matters to Thornhill and Palmer is that, whether rape is an evolved adaptation in its own right or a byproduct of sexual desire, it is tightly interwoven with sexual desire rather than power, and if we are to be serious about stopping it, we need to take this into account. The psychologist Steven Pinker summarizes the situation best his modern classic The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature:

I believe that the rape-is-not-about-sex doctrine will go down in history as an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It is preposterous on the face of it, does not deserve its sanctity, is contradicted by a mass of evidence, and is getting in the way of the only morally relevant goal surrounding rape, the effort to stamp it out.

 

Matthew Blackwell is a writer currently completing a BA in Economics and Anthropology at The University of Queensland. You can follow him on Twitter @MBlackwell27 and Facebook here.

 

References:

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47 Comments

  1. When you consider that rape is one way to successfully pass your genes down to the next generation, combined with the fact about 15% of the population scales “antisocial” on personality tests, you have to wonder why the rates of sexual assault are so low.

    But I suspect the real problem in conceptualizing rape is that people can’t accept that they are the descendants of genocidal hominids who both raped and killed off the competing species of hominids, and there is no escape from our biological origins and biological conditioning. . . further, “person-centered therapy” and inventing new pronouns will never free us from the horror and tragedy of the human condition. Its the same reason why many Christians can’t accept Darwinism either.

    • Andrew Smedley says

      They’re suppressed, I think, because of other males. Brothers and Fathers of the fertile woman have an evolutionary interest in ensuring she mates with the fittest available male, rather than the low-status male that usually commits rape. Prospective male partners have an interest in ensuring the fertile woman does not become pregnant and waste resources on another males offspring.

      Furthermore, women may have sexually selected males who were willing to defend them from possible rapists (as well as defending the family in general). It may be the case that male aggression in general has been selected against quite strongly in recent evolutionary history, due to the extended vulnerability of human young and the benefits of social affiliation and cooperation (The recent MeToo stuff may actually be part of the continuing selection against rape and male aggression, if it leads to would-be rapists fertilising fewer ovaries).

  2. Emblem14 says

    Of course, It’s clear that the “debate” over the motive for rape is just a heated proxy argument for the much deeper ideological dispute the author mentions at the start. If rape is the manifestation of an innate biological urge that predictably surfaces independent of culture, and we acknowledge that it constitutes a conscious violation of regular social norms and morality, then the left wing theory that individual immorality is purely a function of systemic forces is at least partially undermined.

    They would have to cede some ground to a non-leftist explanation for personal immorality or dysfunction, perhaps even incorporating a concept of evil independent of social conditioning, which gives credence to a view of human nature that conflicts with the left wing assumption of human malleability (and potential perfectibility) through social engineering.

    The left hasn’t seriously explored where the bad social conditioning they hold responsible for bad individual behavior originates from in the first place (like the theory of Rape Culture that drives men to rape). Under their premises, it would have to be some weird conspiracy theory of the elite classes “seeding” the culture with divisive notions of difference and hierarchy to distract the peons from achieving solidarity around their material conditions. If it were not for these foreign concepts introduced to broader society by the alien elite, like a pathogen infecting a host, everyone would be living in perfect Rousseauian harmony. This begs the question of where the elites, who are inconveniently also human beings, get their devious ideas, but their evil seems to be ad hoc.

    However, even if the left has to abandon faith in pure social constructionism, that won’t prevent them from adopting a substitute theory that absolves individuals from moral agency – a selective reading of biological determinism. If people’s behaviors are the result of unchosen forces, whether culture or faulty neurology, then they can still preserve the essential value proposition of left-wing morality – only the “powerful” have agency, so nothing the “powerless” masses do, individually or collectively, can be said to be their “fault”.

    Therefore the notion of personal moral accountability, and the social judgmentalism tied to conformity with moral norms, interferes with leftist frameworks for addressing social problems. If we allow that some people’s “wrong” choices are theirs and theirs alone (implying that they could have chosen otherwise but decided not to out of expediency or some other moral failing), we might think that some people deserve to pay a cost for their wrong choices and that some people’s suffering is justified as a consequence of their wrong choices. Furthermore, such consequences for wrong choices might be essential for the comprehensibility of social reward and punishment structures necessary for basic social order.

    We can’t have that.

    • What strikes me about the “social constructivist” Left is that they function primarily as an authority-based religious cult, but unlike Fundamentalist Christians, they don’t bother to engage in apologetics, they just denounce criticism as heresy (“racist, sexist, homophobic”). I don’t how people can claim to be “secular” and/or “skeptics” and pretend that these folks aren’t clowns dressed in clown suits.

  3. Tim says

    There’s also the problem that the CDC finds identical last-12-months rates — 0.8% — for both rape against women and made-to-penetrate against men.

    So “explanations” that assume it’s specifically something that *men* do to *women*, aren’t.

  4. Robert Kent-Bryant says

    This article needs to dig deeper. Is rape the product of culture or biology — the old nature or nurture dichotomy. In this case, isn’t it more likely it’s a product of both, and that biology and culture are not independent variables? The same goes for the question whether rape is the product of sexual desire or the desire for power. Is sexual desire wholly independent of the issue of power? I would submit certain well-known fetishes suggest otherwise. Rather that arguing it’s all this or all that, a better article would explore the interplay between the various factors that lead to rape. After all, the point is to prevent it rape, not to use it to advance and agenda.

  5. Alex N says

    “Property crime is typically explained as a result of the unemployment and inequality produced by capitalism” – let me share my experience growing up in USSR.

    If you take out the Party bosses – who existed outside of the normal realm, and nobody in any way had to, or indeed could interact with, or steal from, – inequality was very low. It did of course exist, but the range was unbelievably narrow, as private enterprise did not exist. Unemployment was not just low, but indeed illegal. Which, again, doesn’t mean that unemployed didn’t exist, but the numbers were extremely low.

    And still, anything that was not nailed downs was stolen, at least in the cities. Leave a bicycle unattended – stolen. Leave a wallet on a table – stolen. Car theft was rampant – not even cars themselves as much as parts, wheels, radios. We used to take radios out. I had a metal door – think bank safe – with dead bolts in my flat, once I could afford it. Before that we would use two wooden door, with two locks each. What I have now for a door, here in the US, would not be good enough to protect a tool shed back in USSR. Again, speaking of cities, villages were different.

    This is very hard to explain from the “progressive” perspective, but it does line up perfectly with the “conservative” view.

  6. Koken says

    Presumably accepting that sexual violence has a great deal to do with sex does not commit one to denying that it has anything to do with power.

  7. dirk zoebl says

    Some years ago, a woman in a zoo in the Netherlands was raped by a gorilla, Bokito, (taken by force by a male that escaped, though not actually raped). The woman came daily in that zoo, and had regular eye contact with the ape. The woman was over 50 yrs old, What did this mean?? Nature or culture? Sex or power? Or both perhaps??

    • Peter Kriens says

      I think you need to get your facts straight: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokito_(gorilla):

      The woman who was attacked had been a regular visitor to the great apes’ enclosure, visiting an average of four times per week. She had a habit of touching the glass that separated her from the gorillas, while making eye contact with Bokito and smiling at him — a practice that is discouraged by primatologists, as apes are likely to interpret human smiling as a form of aggressive display. Zoo employees had previously warned her against doing this, but she continued, claiming a special bond with him: in an interview with De Telegraaf she said, “If I smile at him, he smiles back”.

      • dirk says

        Just came across your note, check my response below to Marion on this (she did not like it). It would be nice to learn from primatologists at which moment, and in what hominid, smiling became something friendly in stead of aggressive. Crazy thought afterwards: could it be that human rape went the other way round? From friendly to aggressive? Pun intended!

  8. Certain people like to throw around the word “Power” as if it were not another name of God. Like the other names of God, its nature is ineffable, omnipresent, and not a scientific explanation for anything.

    “Rape is about power, not sex” is similar to saying “Transubstantiation is about the transformation of the substance of the water and wine into Christ, but it does not change the physical appearance of the water or wine.” Just as those who deny the second doctrine are bad Catholics, those who deny the first doctrine are bad feminists.

  9. Loki says

    If rape is about sexual desire, wouldn’t we logically expect it to occur less often in societies in which prostitution was both legal and culturally accepted? I haven’t seen a review of the literature on this, but it seems it would be easy to cross check.

    • Prostitutes are often raped. Rape victims, as in England, are often prostituted, are in fact easier to manipulate, likely due to PTSD. Imo, rape is about both sex and power.

  10. Skep Ticker says

    Are there any studies about the attractiveness of rape victims?

  11. Sam Moreton says

    “about one in every thousand men in the United States commit rape”.

    Citation needed. I find the rates claimed by feminists to be overblown, but I am guessing this rate is based off rape convictions, and there must surely be a lot of rapes that don’t get reported, ….What is this rape based on?

  12. Jack Rametta says

    Small typo: “The psychologist Steven Pinker summarizes the situation best his modern classic The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”

    There should be an “in” after “best.”

    Not a big deal, but worth correcting.

  13. dirk says

    Apart of sex and power, I miss another well known and studied cause of rape: the kind of rape as committed in wartime by soldiers at the fronts. There is no better way (much better than killing) than that of ousting, intimidating or humiliating the male adversaries by raping their doughters, wives, sisters, in their presence if possible. A Mexican word describing it best is -chingar-, to break, annihilate somebody.

  14. Ryder says

    Before reading the article, I want to make my thought public so that they aren’t modified by the article.

    There are two takes on the basic question… why do Men vs Women rape… OR Why do the men who rape, rape?

    To answer why men vs women:

    1 – Men have the equipment. In other words, men and women could both be equally ready to rape, but men have the equipment to do it.

    2 – Part of the equipment to do it, is physical size. Women that want wish to rape, also have to subdue a man… statistically challenging.

    To answer why the men that rape, rape…

    1 – Sex drive. Males in a multitude of species, birds and mammals at the very least, rape…. in other words, they rape because it is entirely natural to do so. Nature does not understand “consent”… and has a drive built in to cause reproduction. (Note: Feminism’s fantasy that rape is not about sex, but is about violence is plainly false. Their politics simply doesn’t overrule a billion years of sexual evolution. Period.)

    2 – Detached from civilized norms. The reason why some men succumb to natural drive when human social demands would have them control the impulse, is that they are insulated from the social expectations through some deficiency of socialization.

    3 – War-time rape. Rape has been used as a demoralizing weapon… a tactic of war.

    4 – Mental illness. Brains aren’t perfect… in large ways and small. Some rapes ARE part of violent acts (probably part of the reason feminists latched on to the rape=violence theme).

    Odd but related:

    Intimate relations between:

    Women with women: Most violent
    Men with men: Second most violent
    Women with men: Least violent

    So in the case of the ONE type of relationship where physical dominance would allow the most physically abusive situation, Men successfully hold themselves in check.

    • Marion Pennell says

      I really need a citation for this:

      Women with women: Most violent
      Men with men: Second most violent
      Women with men: Least violent

  15. Ryder says

    I have to disagree that rape is a “a crime of enormous violation and emotional as well as physical trauma.”

    There is no reason to believe that this is the case. It CAN be, but the fact that rape is natural, it is hard to see in nature where the raped females of sexually reproductive species from ducks to dolphins experience anything more than a moments inconvenience.

    I believe it is well established that we perceive violation where we are taught there is violation. In other words, the fact that feminism has elevated every rape as a crime nearing the dimensions of genocide… is the actual cause of much of the trauma.

    In other words, if we trained girls that men will sometimes force them to have sex, they would experience much less trauma. In other words, the normalization of rape.

    Note: I am not suggesting that we do this, only that the damage is largely based on how the victim sees the event… and that it is not inherent to rape specifically.

    The author would be more correct to say that rape is an act that can lead to emotional and/or physical trauma. It is a tragic irony that in an effort to reduce rape, rape has been elevated to a sort of hyper-crime… which when internalized by women may result in much more severe consequences for any given act.

    • Marion Pennell says

      Rape in the animal world is different than rape in human society. As you say it is usually momentary. I would add that many of the animals we are thinking of are in season (or in heat) when it occurs.

      No doe has been brought up that her virginity is vital to her social standing. No lioness had to internalize a religion that judged how or when she mated. No mother hamster was in trouble because she ate her babies out of stress of bearing them so young.

      The society that places women in rigid sexual castes, that uses violent sexual insults as regular commentary on its communications, that decides what freedoms they get… You bet rape is more traumatic. (Hypothetical You) took something from me! It is mine.

      Not to mention how often human rape includes humiliation and degradation.

      Feminism has not “elevated every rape as a crime nearing the dimensions of genocide”. But feminists do have to yell over and over again to be heard. And not all of us have written academic books. The average feminist doesn’t care why some men got that way, we just want (hypothetical you) to stop it.

      Guess what, in my generation we did kind of expect men to try to force us into sex now and then. Guess what, it’s fucking horrible. The normalization of it makes it worse. The current outcry makes it somewhat better.

      Why do men rape? The same reason dogs lick their balls, because they can. Because whether it is sex or power or both, they are placing their desire above the other’s rights. In the animal world, whatever. In human society? Is it too much to ask (hypothetical you) to rise above, control yourself and be, I don’t know, civilized?

    • Dennis says

      I, too have been asking myself this question.
      Couldn’t it be, (and I’m just speculating here), that the negative impact of rape increases relative to the degree of ‘civilization’ a particular society has achieved?

      If you’re living in kinship-based groups in the jungle, in a pre-individualistic social environment, with a high incidence of violence, low life expectancy in general, and few occasions to “individuate” (in a Jungian sense), i.e. your individual soul being almost indistinguishable from the soul of your tribe;

      –– wouldn’t you perhaps expect that under such circumstances, the negative impact of rape on the functionality of the individual doesn’t manifest to the same degree as in a technologically advanced society with a high degree of division of labor and elaborate social customs? Or, in other words, that the traumatic effect of rape simply doesn’t stick out so much in a life environment that is pretty violent and traumatic anyway?

      Or am I missing something crucial here?

      • Marion Pennell says

        For me, the simple crucial thing is for men to stop it. We are not animals. There are thousands of ways a rape can be traumatic for an individual woman today. Trying to quantify this trauma in an objective manner is distasteful to say the least.

        These kinds of articles always sound like excuses to me. Liberal, conservative, nature, nurture… just stop it. It hurts physically, the disgust afterwards is unhealthy, PTSD is real. And the power part is the extra bits of humiliation and degradation that seem to be part of some men’s sex drive. And a lot of time the power is built into society with women-shaming religions.

        It seems like the actual affect on a woman, by her own words, is less important than the academic argument that it is natural and we should just accept it and shut up. Anyhow, that’s how this come off to me.

        Infanticide is very common in nature. I don’t think anyone male or female is arguing for that. (and NO, I don’t mean contraception, miscarriage, or abortion, that’s another topic for another day.)

  16. dirk says

    The article triggered quite some reflections in me on the theme the last 24 hrs, I hope nothing seriously wrong with me. Somewhere I read that one out of the three most common dreams of women is being raped by a man with no known or clear face, an anonymous male (one of the three most common dreams of men is: noticing being stark naked in a crowd, and not knowing where to hide). Wish dreams, fear?, nature/nurture, some Jungian archetype? Maybe a response by girl or woman here on this? With full consent, of course!

    • Marion Pennell says

      When societies put rigid rules on women’s sexuality, they fantasize about being “taken” so that they don’t have to feel guilty for their desire. This was the appeal of Dracula.
      However believe me, the dreams are idealized, not truly violent. And because they are coming from our imagination, they are serving our psychological needs.

      They have NOTHING in common with real life rape. NOTHING. Real life rape hurts. He is a nightmare, not a dream.

      • dirk says

        Thanks Marion, for sharing this. And about rape in animals: I read again the reports about Bokito’s rape. Dutch primatologists ( of which anthropologists are part of the bunch) concluded that Bokito was frustrated that he could not add the woman (who made advances by putting her hand against the glass, as he did himself to respond) to his harem. So, there was no rape to speak of, it was just natural animal right (morally legitimated ??), it was the glass and the cage that was immoral, or, better, amoral because morals count only within a (sub)group. The woman was bitten terribly (punished?), but survived. Spoken years later, she denied what she had said immediately after the case: she did not visit the ape almost daily, but came there for the first time. Again, probably immoral conduct, because a lie.

        • Marion Pennell says

          What on earth do these two topics have in common? I answered a question about dream psychology, you talk about a woman leading an ape on (she was asking for it?)

          I swear the men on this forum (maybe not you, but the general tone) is really getting off on what you call a natural animal right.

          • dirk says

            The thanks for sharing was meant for your Traumdeutung (because difficult to imagine for us men), the remark on ape Bokito was to further your earlier statement on the momentary of animal rape, which, at second thought, was not rape at all, not even in animal terms. Sorry!

          • Marion Pennell says

            Dirk, if an ape raped a human woman, it’s a rape. No matter how many times she showed up or googly-eyed the ape… I mean, seriously? Are you saying she was a willing participant? And if you are… why is this so fascinating for you?

            I read a statistic about the number of farm boys who have sex with farm animals… Is that relevant here? Because men’s sexual desire lead them to “naturally” have sex whenever they “need” to?

            And why is everything so difficult for men to imagine? Just ask a human woman for god’s sake!!!

            Woman are expected to imagine things and excuse things from a man’s point of view constantly. Are men so deficient that they can’t be objective and imagine a point of view different than their own?

      • Peter Kriens says

        “When societies put rigid rules on women’s sexuality”

        Those rules have changed beyond recognition since the sexual revolution in the late 1960’s and have become much more free, read women magazines over the past 50 years. Did women fantasize less because of this? The 50 shades series was highly successful, not in the least with independent women?

        Clearly real rape hurts and is a horrid form of abuse. But that should go without saying.

        • Marion Pennell says

          They fantasize differently, definitely!
          We have more knowledge so we can be more graphic in our dreams. And the so-called rape dream doesn’t seem to be as prevalent.

          Believe me, the one in the fantasy has a great body, and never does anything to us that we don’t want (because it is from our imagination). He doesn’t smell bad or say disgusting things. And in the dream his orgasm is kind of a non-event if it even occurs. So you can see how different a dream is from reality.

          Twilight and 50 Shades were both written by Mormon women, if I recall correctly. A big feature in each book was the woman being a virgin. That’s a religious trope. And of course both men were highly unrealistic.

          A lot of the “logic” in these comments sound a lot like the BS men would feed me when I was young. So much nagging, whining, cajoling, it would never let up. A favourite is trying to use facts about biology, or gender, or evolution, to “win” their case. Winning meant they got to have sex, regardless of how much or how little the woman wanted or enjoyed it. “But you agreed!” Yes to shut you up and hopefully it wouldn’t last long.

          No woman should have sex that way. Luckily once you get older and more confident those men don’t bother you anymore. They are still after the younger less experienced girls. I hope you can understand my annoyance.

  17. Answering the rape question so simply deprives those who wish to use the theme politically of a powerful tool. No one really wants answers to the questions, they want the problems to remain so they can use them for leverage.

    The same is true of computer viruses and clinical pathology. No disease no industry looking for evasive cures. No one makes a profit or a gain. Ockham strikes again.

  18. Strawbella Chang says

    However the case of Female rapist also existed.

  19. dirk says

    Not a willing partner of course Marion, but is rape (I am not a native speaker) not a moral term? And therefore purely human? Bokito was a dominant male with natural animal rights. I wonder whether in nature (Jane Goodall must know) the females can ever be possessed against their will (hierarchy is not a problem with apes, quite the opposite as with humans), and even if, I would not call it a rape, maybe harassment. About dreams, I was amazed to read about the common rape dream by women, but feel somewhat shy even to ask my wife about such things, let alone other girls or women.

    • Marion Pennell says

      Rape is being forced to have sex. Yes rape occurs in the animal kingdom.
      Whether a chimpanzee is bothered about the rape is not a concern for me. The definition is rape is that it is forced.

      In human society, it is a crime against my agency as a human. Homosexual rape happens in the animal kingdom too. Usually the only way I ever get through to a man on this subject is to ask him to imagine it happening to him. Because for some reason it seems very difficult for most men to imagine things from a woman’s point of view.

      You are too shy to talk to your wife about sex? That’s too bad. You should show her this column and the comments and ask her opinion.

      • dirk says

        Sex was not the issue, rape and dreams on rape were. Yes, I think I would not so easily start talking about that. Reading is another thing, I read the most unbelievable and horrific things in my newspaper, without even remembering it the next moment. Rape is something forced, and forced is very bad in our human social relations ( not very long so, about 2 centuries or so), but maybe, instead of trying to imagine what the other sex fantasizes, it is good to try imagine what an animal experiences. Mallards here in front of our house in the canal assault some poor free lady duck, fiercely, it is clear she does not like it and tries to escape, but is it really rape? I doubt so (but it all depends of course of the proper definition). Anyhow, nice discussing with you!!

        • Marion Pennell says

          “Hey honey, I read this article about women’s dreams. And it says that women dream about rape. I don’t understand that. What do you think about it?”
          And she will tell you that in the dream it is not really a rape, and it is not about him, or his pleasure at all. And I think it is a totally good topic for a husband and wife – intimate and private.

          If the duck didn’t want it, and they did it anyway, yes it is rape. Only the duck could tell you if it bothered or hurt her. One of the worst things a man ever said to me was “That didn’t hurt” when he was talking about my body. He didn’t know if it hurt, he thought he could decide for me. That’s so repulsive I cannot explain it.

          Meryl Streep was on an African safari. There was a male elephant trying to rape a small female. When the older females heard her distress they all ran over and got him off of her.

          Women are really tired of men interpreting their lives. Women have always hated being forced. Since we were human I assume. Rape is bad in the Bible, although there is a lot of nasty stuff in there regarding sex. Like 2 Samuel 12:11, where God is going to have David’s wives raped in public to punish HIM.

          It feels like a lot of men are looking for a way to say, “See rape isn’t so bad! You are over-reacting.” Which is ridiculous. I wish men would talk to women and then actually LISTEN to their answers, not dismiss us, and change what we mean to suit themselves.

          If men have sexual desire, fine. If they need to force a woman to service them, not fine. Never fine, I don’t care how strong the desire is. The power is taking it without permission, which is disrespectful in the least, and a crime, and unethical and immoral. It’s the taking it that makes it about power. Some men get extra turned on by that. That is NOT what the dreams are about.

  20. dirk says

    Because ducks cannot feel shame or guilt after a sexual assault, I would not call it rape, which is something human, I think, though in both cases is caused by a strong or uncontrollable drive.
    Googling around, I came across a certain psychologist, Allan Fromme who denied women being able to have sexual fantasies, in a textbook of 1973. In the same year Nancy Friday (she died last year) wrote her famous The Secret Garden, where she described what she had heard of 400 women who had send her their dreams and sexual fantasies, also rape fantasies. Later, she wrote a similar book on the fantasies of men, Men in Love. For your information, but maybe you knew about these books already.
    Maybe women listen better than men. Where a man said to You-It didn’t hurt-, where he meant- I can’t imagine this hurts You-, obviously, this seems to be the case. Anyhow, quite intimate to share this here. I myself am less open. Good night!

    • Marion Pennell says

      I don’t need to be ashamed that a man beat me. It was a long time ago and I carried the shame far too long. He said that so HE wouldn’t have to feel guilty. He also used to say “Look what you made me do” as he balled up his fists. Please do not try to interpret what he meant. I never told you how or where he hurt me, because that doesn’t matter. He denied me my agency. He was a selfish cowardly bully. (I am so glad he is dead now.)

      I say rape has no moral definition. I say rape is rape, and it is the being that was raped that decides how bad it was, how memorable, etc. It’s a crime in human society because woman should have human rights. If a man wants it, he isn’t allowed to take it. It’s mine.

      Allan Fromme sounds like an idiot. He should have hung out with the American politician who thinks a woman can swallow a camera to see a fetus…

      • Marion Pennell says

        p.s. Infanticide is a definition. In the animal world – no punishment.
        In human society, we add a moral and legal component.
        Same act, same definition, different outcome.

  21. dirk says

    I was ruminating about that yesterday too. A dog can bite me, lick us, attack, even kill us. But not murder, betray or rape us, that is something in the world of us humans only. Though, much typical human conduct can have its antecedents in animals, even altruism, so primatologists recently discovered. So, I partly agree.

  22. Truevo says

    Are the statistics absolute or normalized in comparison to age?

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