Many of the attitudes, beliefs, and mistaken ideas about rape have been with us for centuries. By looking at myths, such as women ask for it, and it would do some women good to get raped, from a historical perspective, lead us for better understanding how they evolved. Women are still seen as the property of men, are protected as such. Men and women are still taught to occupy very different roles in todays world. Men are usually more aggressive, and women are seen as passive. (Vogelman) This socialization process is changing, but slowly.
Rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse that a male performs against a woman whom he is neither married to or cohabiting with. The definition of rape changes by geographic location. In some countries a woman must prove she is pure in order to find the perpetrator guilty. Rape used to be more of a violation to the man than to the women. It was a violation of the mans rights if his wife or girlfriend was raped. When a woman is raped her devotion to her family is questioned. Rape is a violent act, an act of possession, not a sexual act.
The myth that men who rape women are sexually pathological has begun to be dispelled and replaced with an understanding that rape is an act of anger, power and control rather than lust. When people think about rape, they usually think of a stranger with a knife hiding in the bushes. He waits for a woman to walk by and then attacks. But that is not the only kind of rape. The majority of victims are raped by individuals they know or acquaintances. This rape is known as acquaintance rape or date rape. Eighty percent of all rapes are, in fact, acquaintance rapes.
This kind of rape happens when a man and a woman go out on a date together. The man forces the woman to have sex with him when she does not want to. Also called simple rape, which differs from real rape, because real rape involves weapons, violence and attackers. This kind of rape is recognized as rape in courtrooms, where simple rape is dismissed as not real rape and it is more common that the offender will be found not guilty. Rape can happen to anyone. Women from different cultures, races, ages, and economic level are all vulnerable.
It does not matter who you are or where you live, although women of lowest status are most vulnerable to rape, and so are Hispanic and African American women. (Anderson 276). Most rape, and specifically most acquaintance rape, happens between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. This is the time when young women are most likely to date and therefore are most vulnerable to date rape. Acquaintance rape is not limited to dating situations. It may be committed by friends of the family, employers, friends, and past boyfriends.
The potential causes of rape are varied and controversial. Among the factors that contribute to rape are: decreased status of women within a society, pervasive media exposure of sex, availability of pornographic materials, especially those involving acts of violence, inadequate information or misconceptions regarding sexual behaviors, and the prevalence of child sexual abuse. In early age boys are taught to be more aggressive than girls are. They are expected to enjoy playing sports, while girls are expected to play less aggressive sports.
Boys are taught that they should get anything their way, even if it means using violence. Boys are sometimes taught to have a lot of girlfriends, and not to get tied down by one girl when they are young. They are supposed to play the field. Some boys think it is important to date pretty girls and they receive more admiration from peers when they are dating a pretty girl. Girls are often taught that they should have a steady boyfriend, and to guard their reputations. One of the strangest things about date rape is that sometimes men commit date rape without knowing.
They believe in rape myths such as: some women provoke rape by their behavior and appearance, nice women dont get raped, and if a man spends a lot of money on a date he is allowed to use force to get sex. They think that a woman must want sex if she goes somewhere alone with a guy. They think that if a girl flirts with a guy, she must want sex. So, when a guy like this forces his date to have sex, he may not even know he is raping her. He might think they are practicing normal sex role expectations. One of the largest rape myth that is most widely believed is that rape is a sexual act.
People think that men commit rape because of their uncontrollable feelings of lust towards a woman. Not only to people think this but men use it as an excuse for their behavior. They are expected to entail limits to their behavior to control the man’s powerful sexual drives. (Vogelman) One factor of rape is misogyny. Misogyny is hatred and disgust of women, and wanting to hurt women. One man was asked in an interview, How does it make you feel toward women to see all these sexy women in media and advertising, using their looks to try and get you to buy something? The man answered with, It makes me hate them.
He went on to explain that men are supposed to be more powerful than women. This is a mans society; beautiful women in the media are using their power over men for money. Womens faces in playboy look like they want to have sex so bad but in reality they are doing it for the money. (Kimmel and Messner 388-399) This man also went on to saying that he could never hurt a women, but if other men who have a more violent personality have the same feelings, then it is safe to say that women being used as sex objects in the media is a factor of rape. Another aspect of dating that is related to date rape is alcohol.
Drinking plays a role in sexual aggression in a number of ways. First, some men use alcohol to reduce the resistance of a date who has not previously consented to sexual activity. Some men do this intentionally to trick the woman into agreeing to something that she would not agree to when sober. Most men give the role of alcohol no thought and simply offer alcohol to their dates as part of the normal dating ritual. The problem is that these men believe that a woman who contents to sex when intoxicated is giving her consent. Second, alcohol lowers inhibitions and often increases interest in sexual activity.
And because it lowers inhibitions, alcohol makes it more likely that the male will do something such as using force that he would not do when he had not been drinking. Alcohol is known as the number 1 date rape drug. The recovering after rape can be a very long process. Picking up the pieces of the victims life after an assault can be the most difficult challenge the victim can ever face. In a relatively short period of time their primary beliefs can be shattered, their sense of integrity, security, and basic justice can be destroyed, and they may question their most important, intimate relationships.
But in spite of all this, their lives will continue and it is up to them to put the pieces back together. Recovering from rape is more like being cut. To heal from a rape it is not the traditional sense of healing, such as breaking an arm. As you heal and time passes, the cut becomes less visible. Many victims of a rape face post traumatic stress disorder. After they are raped they can suffer from anxiety, depression, alienation, flashbacks, fear, and diminished self worth. Most women who have been raped report that they believed their lives were in danger during the assault.
The act of rape confirms a womans worst fear that when her life is in danger it is possible to be totally powerless to alter the course of events. The body and mind respond in a series of complicated ways based on the persons feeling of intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and threat. Sexual intimacy can be difficult challenge during this phase. An assault can very easily destroy the desire to be emotionally or physically close with another person, and the relationship does not have to be sexual for the victim to feel uncomfortable.
It is important for the victims to give themselves time to become more comfortable with sexual intimacy. They may feel comfortable a week after the assault, or they may be uncomfortable a year later. Women can become frightened of men and afraid of having relationship with them and men can become worried for the women in their lives. This leads to the untrusting relationships. Those who have been raped and their families suffer from emotional trauma that may interfere with their lives for years.
And those who rape think their actions are acceptable It is very important that we are invulnerable to rape. Rape can happen to anyone at any time. Rape prevention strategies help to decrease the risk, but the risk never drops to zero percent. In our society of rape myths, gender ideology, and exposure of sex in the media, especially in advertising, and especially when it involves violence, rape will be in our culture for a long time. Our culture promotes this brand of sexuality and we turn our cheeks to rape and any negative form of sex.