Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rape Denial Through Melodramatic Imagining Of Rape

The following is part of a rejected comment from an anonymous man who previously left a comment saying that "Any man that is sick enough to rape is completely fruitloops and no more indicative of men than al-Qaeda is of Islam or the Inquisition is of Christianity.":

And, any man who forcibly rapes is undeniably bat***t insane. If continuing to force yourself upon a woman, in spite of her crying and other reactions of horror, without any empathy on the part of the rapist isn't insane, then I don't know what is. Anybody who forcibly rapes clearly has something very wrong with them.

This description of forcible rapes implicitly denies most forcible rapes. If what proves rapists to be insane is continuing through the intended victim's reactions of horror, then to be logically consistent, whenever there is no reaction of horror there is no rape.

Force from the rapist is what makes a rape forcible, not melodramatic reactions of horror from the victim.

Not everyone who is forcibly raped cries in the moments before that rape is completed. Reactions of horror are what would be expected of victims of stranger abduction. For rapists who don't want to see themselves as being an insane rapist that means only attempting to rape people they know and doing so in ways which will reduce the risk of having to see this type of disturbing reaction in the moments prior to rape.

This gives us the, "I'm not a real rapist," rapists who express great disdain for "real" rapists.

This includes rapists who slip drugs into the drinks of their intended victims. It includes acquaintance rapists who pretend to be platonic friends with their intended victims and who make their move while their victims are still in shock over this surprise attack. It includes rapists who use positions of authority to prevent their intended victims from reacting with stereotypical horror.

Once rape gets limited to stereotypical images then many rapes get denied and those rape victims who report will be quickly labeled as false accusers. She didn't cry and she didn't react with visible horror therefore what she experienced can't be rape.

This belief that all rapists are insane also leads to rape denial whenever it is clear that an alleged rapist is not insane. If an alleged rapist is clearly not insane then the alleged victim must be a liar or delusional.

An example of how this belief system demonstrates itself is given by Cara at The Curvature.

James West, school dean for a prominent Roman Catholic high school for boys, has been suspended due to allegations that he sexually assaulted one of the students in his office. As far as this news story reports, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that the allegations are not credible and do not deserve to be taken seriously. In fact, West has been criminally charged with forcible touching and sexual abuse in the third degree.

From the story Cara responded to:

A sophomore, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because school authorities had told students not to speak to reporters about Mr. West’s arrest, said: “All I know is, the principal told us some kid lied about Dean West touching him. Dean West ain’t that type of guy.”

Here we get a boy who has been taught to echo the type of rape denial of the anonymous man quoted at the beginning of this post. Only certain types of men can be guilty of rape and they are nothing like men who are in positions of trust. That denial then makes it okay to declare a fellow student to be guilty even though West was arrested and the case is still pending.

Rape denial is learned and this case was an important lesson for all the boys in this school. The lesson for any students who are also rape victims or may become rape victims is also clear. Your rapist better be "that type of guy" or the good people will side with your rapist.

The lesson is also clear for boys considering rape. You can get away with rape as long as you avoid being seen by anyone but your victims as "that type of guy."

If West is guilty but his guilt cannot be proven, this rape denial lesson will require all pupils to not be informed that a legal system of innocent until proven guilty means that the guilty are often not convicted of the crimes they committed. Instead they will need to be taught a lie, that a lack of conviction is proof of innocence.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:11 AM   3 comments links to this post


At January 30, 2009 12:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"rapists who pretend to be platonic friends with their intended victims and who make their move while their victims are still in shock over this surprise attack"

This is so very true. People (men AND women) often only think of REAL rape as something that is violent involving screaming, kicking, fighting, dark alleys, a social outcast rapist, and maybe even bloodshed for good measure. Unfortunately, this view of rape gravely fails to acknowledge instances where the very act of rape shocks the victim into silence and immobility. Afterall if this person (whom the victim more often than not knows, trusts, and even loves) could rape, what else are they capable of and would crying and fighting really stop them or just make matters worse?

Also problematic with this view of rape, is the failure to acknowledge consent as a PRE-requisite for sex. If for example a man just starts having sex on a woman without even bothering to find out if she's ok with it, the woman starts crying and displaying "reactions of horror", and he does NOT stop, then yes I agree that makes him a rapist. However, if in the same scenario, she tells him to stop, and he does--at that point he has already raped her! What does he want a pat on the back for not *continuing* to rape her? Either way, violent or nonviolent without consent, it's rape. real rape.

At January 30, 2009 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We hear so often about "fight or flight" that we forget the last two defenses the body has: freeze and surrender. The deer in the headlights doesn't fight back, doesn't scream, doesn't cry. It doesn't (at first) run away. It freezes. The animal that is attacked sometimes will surrender to that attack, the body taking over and hijacking the brain. When we talk about sexual assault, we need to remember that all four are reactions and not always controlled by the conscious mind. Thus, if someone's brain decides that the safest way to survive is to shut down (surrender), then that's what it will do. That doesn't mean that what happened wasn't rape, nor does it mean that the victim was complicit. S/he did what they had to do to survive the attack.

At February 01, 2009 11:30 PM, Anonymous Bq said...

thank you for this post.


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