Monday, 27 April 2015

Is rape motivated by sex or aggression?

Traditionally, rape has been classified as sex crime, and society has assumed that the rapist was motivated by lust. However, some feminist scholars have challenged this view, arguing instead that rape is motivated by the need to dominate, to assert power, and to humiliate a victim rather than by sexual desire for her. Before evaluating the argument that rape is about aggression and not about sex, it is important to emphasize one undeniable fact. Whatever motivates the rapist, rape victims do not find rape to be sexually pleasurable. The myth that they sometimes do is dangerous and probably has encouraged some men to rape and some juries to excuse rapists. Rape is among women’s worst fears.

What makes rape even more complicated to understand as a crime is the fact that rape is perceived differently by men and women. Men perceive rape as a sexual crime whereas women perceive rape as crime of aggression. But both of them miss a part of the complete picture. Rape is a sexual and aggression crime. One can’t take away the aggression part from it, but neither can one take away the sex part from it. 

Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist and the author of novel #IAm16ICanRape: The War Against Rape Culture. 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Theories of Rape

Feminist theory of rape

The feminist theory considers rape to be the result of long and deep rooted social tradition in which male have dominated nearly all important political and economical activities.

From an interpersonal standpoint, feminist theory essentially regards rape as a male response to the social inequality between the sexes and the tendency of this inequality to affect the way men and women interact sexually. Some feminist theorists have postulated that a “feedback process” serves to perpetuate social inequality by making the prospects of rape so intimidating as to restrict the lifestyle of many women. Because of the fear of rape and other forms of sexual harassment, women tend to restrict themselves to relatively safe activities in which contact with males (especially unfamiliar ones” is minimized and/or confined to “protective conditions”. These restrictions prevent women from succeeding occupationally, economically and politically, and thus the cycle in which rape is an integral element tends to be perpetual.


Social learning theory of rape

Social learning theory of rape has roots in research began about two decades ago which determined that repeated exposure to almost any type of stimulus tend to promote positive feeling towards it.

Bandura suggested that aggression is learned primarily through imitation (modeling) and thereafter sustained largely through various forms of intermittent reinforcement. Bandura argued that models for aggression mainly come from 3 sources:
  1. Primary association with family members and peers
  2. One’s culture and subculture
  3. In recent times, mass media
He saw television and other visual mass media as especially influential in that they --
  1. Taught actual methods of aggression
  2. Often showed little of the normal social restrain in expressed aggression
  3. Desensitized viewers to violence through repeated exposure
  4. Taught methods of rationalizing and excusing personal responsibility for aggression
The social learning theory of rape basically portrays rape as part of aggressive behavior towards women learned through 4 inter related process --
  1. By imitating rape scenes and other acts of violence toward women, as one may see in real life or as depicted in the mass media
  2. By associating sexuality and violence as when viewing sex and violence repeatedly depicted in the same context (as in many violent pornography and slash horror films)
  3. By perpetuating various “rape myths” such as, “no means yes” and women secretly desire to be raped”
  4. By desensitizing viewers to the pain, fear and humiliation of sexual aggression
These 4 hypothesized effects may be called-
  1. The modeling effect
  2. The sex violence linkage effect
  3. Rape myth effect
  4. Desensitization effect


The evolutionary theory of rape

Males and females, especially among mammals, seem to have evolved tendencies to emphasize different things with respect to allocating their time and energy to the tasks of reproduction. To determined why such sex difference have evolved, one may note that females must commit a great deal of reproductive time and energy gestating offspring that males do not assuming --
  1. That variation in reproduction is a crucial feature of all life
  2. That transmitting one’s genes to future generations can be accomplished primarily only through reproduction
  3. That each sex has a more or less equal total amount of time and energy to commit to reproduction and can deduce that the time and energy males do not devote to gestation can be diverted to other reproductive activities.
Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist and the author of novel #IAm16ICanRape: The War Against Rape Culture.