Our Culture of Rape Intolerance

“All men are rapists.” So said a character, a radical feminist, in Marilyn French’s 1977 book, The Women’s Room.

Though many have denied that it was Ms. French’s sentiment, just her character’s, none can deny that many real radical feminists have not only repeated the statement in all seriousness but have elaborated it, even to the extent of claiming that “all heterosexual intercourse is rape.”

This last statement is often falsely attributed to Catherine MacKinnon or Andrea Dworkin, both of whom have denied using those exact words. But I have heard less prominent feminists, including professors in women’s studies courses, repeating and expounding on those statements.

This has given rise to a model of western culture as “a culture of rape” with radical feminists asserting that the patriarchal Judeo-Christian culture has been especially supportive of rape and rapists. They cite cases of female rape victims being re-victimized on the witness stand; of the eroticizing of rape in literature, the visual arts, and the mass media; and, more recently, the increasing popularity of jokes about rape.

They support their characterization of America as a rape culture with statistics. One out of six American women, 17 percent, have been victims of rape or attempted rape. When men are asked, on an anonymous questionnaire, if they have engaged in various activities, six percent admit to having done things that fit the definition of rape. That says that there are more than nine million rapists in the United States.

There seem to be a lot of men raping women in America.

But I look at the other side of those same statistics. Five out of six women have never experienced any attempt to rape them. Nineteen out of twenty men have never tried to rape anyone. There’s an awful lot of men not raping a lot of women.

Even in Islamic cultures, which explicitly give women different, and arguably lesser, rights than men, and in which rape is seldom successfully prosecuted in courts, rape is uncommon. Contrary to the impression sometimes given in Western media, the vast majority of muslim women never experience rape and the vast majority of muslim men never rape anyone.

If you’re an average woman, no one has ever tried to rape you; and, if you’re an average man, you’ve never tried to rape anyone.

If you’re one of the unfortunate seventeen percent of women who have had to endure an attempted or actual rape, then my heart goes out to you. But, you know something? So do the hearts of most men.

In our so-called “culture of rape”, the penalties for rapists are severe. The exact penalty depends on the state because different states have different laws. And it depends on the method of rape, the age of the victim, and various special circumstances. In most of America, a man can be sentenced to life in prison for a single act of forceable rape.

In principle, if the rape is a federal crime, a seventeen-year-old man who has consensual intercourse with a seventeen-year-old woman may be sentenced to fifteen years in a federal penitentiary. Under the law, the woman is not mentally or emotionally capable of giving her consent but the man is capable of intending to rape her. Similar logic may be found in the laws of many states.

Radical feminists might point to that as an example of a paternal legal system giving men more personal responsibility than women.

Where penalties are severe, it is incumbent on the legal system to work especially hard to ensure that innocent people are not falsely convicted. Despite this need, the so-called “patriarchal legal system” has passed special laws to protect rape victims from cross-examination about their sexual histories and to protect their identities.

Does this sound like the patriarchal legal system tolerates rape? Not to the thousands of convicted rapists who are serving time in American penitentiaries. Especially when rapists serve harder time than other prisoners. Even convicts will not tolerate a rapist among them.

And what about the depiction of rape in the mass media? Murder is depicted far more often than rape. Even driving cars beyond the speed limit is depicted more often than rape. And far more women are killed in automobile accidents than by rapists. Why don’t feminists decry the American “culture of dangerous driving” as loudly as the “culture of rape”?

Maybe because it doesn’t sound as sexy.

While many people, men and women, may fantasize about rape as erotic, in the same way that they may fantasize about committing murder to avenge a wrong as satisfying or quitting their job to become a professional golfer as fulfilling, they don’t do it in the real world.

Not only are ninety-five percent of the men in America not rapists, they do not tolerate rape and they support police and courts that capture, convict, and incarcerate rapists. They always have, even before women were given the vote or elected to government office.

This makes perfect biological sense. If a man takes the trouble to woo and seduce a woman, and is willing to make a long-term commitment to raising children that she bears, he will not tolerate the biological cheater who tries to impregnate his woman by raping her. Nor will he tolerate a man who rapes his potential future mates or his daughters or other female relatives.

From an evolutionary perspective, the non-raping male has more to lose than the raped woman. The offspring of a rape carries fifty percent of the woman’s genes but none of her cuckolded mate. Her most significant biological loss is the potential loss of her mate who may not stay to care for the child produced by the rape.

Biology predicts that the more a culture makes women vulnerable – by being in the workforce, by travelling alone, by being out at night, etc. – the more severely it will pursue, prosecute, and imprison men who commit rape.

Despite what the radical feminists claim, Western industrialized societies have created the strongest “culture of rape intolerance” in history.

Western men like it that way.

And those jokes about rape? They’re not as common as claimed. It’s a lot easier to find editorials decrying them than the actual jokes themselves. The few that I have been able to find belittle the rapist, depicting him as a foolish and sexually ineffective man. That’s no surprise. Jokes about any minority are usually told at the expense of that minority.

Yours, Ashley

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About Ashley Zacharias

I'm a post-modern woman who lives a vanilla life and dreams about kinky adventure. I write BDSM pornography but have no interest in acting out my fantasies in real life. Find my work on SmashWords.com and Amazon.com
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7 Responses to Our Culture of Rape Intolerance

  1. sav says:

    I’ve heard an opinion that because rape is such a taboo these days it affects psychics of raped women so much. Murder is terrible thing too, but it’s easy to joke about it. And it’s hard even to just talk about rape. That’s why its victims often don’t go to the police with it and want to forget about it as fast as possible.

    This way this total anti-rape attitude has bad sides not only for the rapists, but also for the raped.

    • I’ve thought about this in the context of “recovered memories” but you are undoubtedly right that it extends to a much larger number of raped women. Rape is terrible, without question, but I’m not sure that it should be devastating. A woman should be able to recover after a time, possibly months, and gain her life back. To tell her that she should be psychologically crippled for the rest of her life is doing her no favor.

  2. GwaiLo says:

    I’ve noticed a number of times you’ve mentioned the biological imperative… I would be interested to know what you think of group selection and how it applies to your thoughts above.
    At first read, it seems like it would fit in well with your thoughts… as a population, it’s better for us to not have rapists while the biological imperative for men is to rape as many women as we can find, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

    GwaiLo

    • I think, from an evolutionary point of view, rape is a mixed strategy. It would not be optimal to have either no rape or always rape. No rape means somewhat fewer offspring. However, if all children are born of rape, then there would be no fathers to help raise them and their mothers would always be at risk so fewer children would survive until maturity. The optimal balance is a few rapists among many responsible fathers. But, the fathers best strategy is to destroy as many rapists as possible, making rape an even less optimal strategy but still higher than zero. The balance is apparently about one rapist in twenty men when we use a fairly broad definition of rape. If we restrict our definition to violent rape or rape by administration of drugs without the woman’s knowledge, then the incidence of rape (and the number of rapists) is much smaller. It’s impossible to do the exact math because it depends on a lot of fairly arbitrary assumptions – likelihood of successful impregnation by a rapist, likelihood of the woman’s survival, likelihood of the child’s survival to maturity, likelihood that the rapist will survive to rape again, etc. But empirically, it looks like maybe one percent or less of men mostly propagate through rape.
      The situation gets a lot more complicated for men who maintain a stable family with a wife and children, but try to impregnate a few more women on the side through rape. These men are putting their own children at risk of growing up fatherless or shunned in exchange for the possibility of fathering some extra children. Calculating the expected number of offspring to survive to maturity would require a lot more assumptions.

  3. Grant says:

    I would say the 1:19 number is wrong, though maybe less wrong now with more successful DNA testing and national crime databases, though still skewed. If a man successfully rapes 1 woman in each of the ten provinces in Canada and no connection is ever made, then he has framed 9 other men in the statistics, making the non raping majority look smaller than it really is.

    I am divided on Biological Imperative as well being a firm believer that most rapists are losers looking to find some sort of control in their lives by forcing their personal dominance over some one weaker than themselves. Though maybe there is some hardwiring in the love em and leave em one night stand type guys that is a bit to assertive in some of them.

    Finally I am reminded of a study one lawyer (http://anthonydamato.law.northwestern.edu/Adobefiles/porn.pdf) did comparing the raise pornography, Internet adoption included, to rape statistics over the same period. He found that in the four states with highest Internet adoption (except for Alaska) rape rates decreased, while in all four states with the lowest adoption rate rape increased. The theory being that as access to more porn increased the number of rapes decreased. Now he came right out and admitted that correlation does not prove causation he did prove a correlation. When I went looking for the above link I found another page that agreed but that the age of perpetrators between 15 and 19 had dropped the most. Whether it is sex demystified, or getting it out of their systems or just a coincidence; it is still interesting and in light of your stories; I thought you might find it an amusing thought that you personally might be partially responsible for the decline in rape. 🙂

    • I would love to be able to take credit for helping in some small way to contribute to the decrease in rape. However, I suspect that the link between pornography and rape is not as direct as I would like. Personally, I’ve never believed cathartic models of psychology in which a person “gets violence out of his system” by watching a violent movie or reading a violent book. I think learning and modeling is more likely. It is partly for that reason that I am careful to never write stories in which a woman is abused against her wishes (though I admit that the much bigger reason is that fantasies about actual rape do not turn me on). The article that you cite is an interesting read, but D’Amato is scrupulously cautious in presenting his interpretation and rightly so. More research is required. And, as D’Amato says, what’s really required is good objective research by people who are not pushing their own political agenda. I’m always in favor of good science.

    • By the way, I blame Sarah Palin personally any time Alaska turns out to be an anomaly 🙂

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