My partner came home with another Red magazine which I immediately pounced on. I was amazed to see an article on rape that repeated the same old mistake: ‘Rape has nothing to do with sex’. The article (The Rape Crisis by Ruth Elkins, Red, August 2011) then quoted Kay Davies, a counsellor and national training coordinator with the charity Rape Crisis, as saying: ‘Rape is about overpowering someone, controlling them.’
This position seems to have originated with the feminist writer Susan Brownmiller in her 1975 book Against Our Will. The problem with it is that by being both widely believed and completely wrong it makes it all the harder to reduce the incidence of rape and for women to protect themselves from it.
There’s a mass of evidence I could cite but a little common sense will hopefully suffice. A man is attracted to a woman and invites her on a date. She accepts. At some point (maybe on the first date, maybe a later one) there’s kissing and fondling. Then a hand goes up the skirt. At this point does the man wish to have sex with the woman? What’s your answer? I think most people would say ‘yes, he does’. But the woman doesn’t wish to have sex. She tells him to take his hand away. Ignoring her wishes, he now uses his strength to overcome her and rapes her.
According to the ‘rape has nothing to do with sex’ theory, the man’s sexual desire must miraculously have vanished at the moment his date refused sex. How likely is that?
I understand why many women are attracted to the argument that men use rape entirely as a way of oppressing women. But it’s wrong. I suspect the reason large numbers of women who are not particularly feminists don’t see that it’s wrong is that women just don’t comprehend how sexually driven men, and especially young men, are.
Here I’d like to quote the academic Camille Paglia:
‘These girls say, “Well, I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy’s room without anything happening.” And I say, “Oh, really? And when you drive your car to New York City, do you leave your keys on the hood?” My point is that if your car is stolen after you do something like that, yes, the police should pursue the thief and he should be punished. But at the same time, the police – and I – have the right to say to you, “You stupid idiot, what the hell were you thinking?”‘