“I just don’t understand how someone can do this to another person,” he states to the group. This young man frowns, real concern on his face. I remind him of my own story, how my rapist wouldn’t consider what he did to me rape, how I hadn’t been sure about what it had been at first. He’s unconvinced, thinking that the men who would rape must be monsters, completely aware that what they are doing is wrong but doing it anyway. Sometimes this is the case. Sometimes, it happens because some boys just don’t know any better.
The boy who would convince, coerce, or pressure his girlfriend into sex because it was what he wanted, wouldn’t think that arguing with her “no’s” was wrong. The husband who pouted when his wife turned him down for intimacy would think he was in his right to try and slip into her while she sleeps. It is his wife after all. He knows she won’t object once he gets them started. And then the man on a date who gets the woman across from him drunk to bring down her inhibitions and get her to agree to something she might not have if she’d been sober. None of these men would think they’d done anything wrong. But it’s all rape of one form or another and I suspect this is the way that it looks more often than being jumped in a back alley or having your drink drugged at a party.
Some rape is so subtle. Some rape is ingrained in our culture in the what we raise boys to expect. We make it okay for them to work around another person’s interests and let them answer to their hormones and desires. Boys will be boys. Men have needs. And women are here to answer them.
People who want to ignore this phenomenon will say, “it’s not just women that get raped, it’s not just men that rape,” but 91% of rape victims are women and the perpetrators are overwhelmingly male, even in cases involving male rape victims. So we can’t say that this issue isn’t gender specific. There is a difference in how men are taught to treat sex that is not transmitted to women. And the prevalence of rape, the sheer volume with which this happens, 1 in 4 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, makes this a larger part of the psyche of men on the planet than we’re willing to admit. This isn’t a group of isolated incidents. If this many women are being raped, some multiple times, than the opposite correlation is that this many men are raping, and not all are serial rapists. We think of rapists as these dark deviant men who look for victims. This isn’t the whole picture. Some of these men are the regular kids on a college campus, the elite and educated, or your coworker that seemed like such a nice guy.
This could be your own son or brother, taking things too far, not understanding that an unwilling partner is not a challenge to work around and convince otherwise but an individual to be respected.
On college campuses, 1 in 5 girls will experience rape or attempted rape throughout their college career. And the perpetrators are their classmates. All those nice young men that are learning their place in the world, and they’ve learned somewhere along the way that they’re allowed to take something so precious from another person. Our boys are being raised to fight through rejection and just take what they want.
I think it’s also important to point out how 57% of perpetrators are white men. This is an interesting statistic as well as white society demonizes people of color and paints them as deviants. However, the fact that most rape is perpetrated by white men would suggest that this is a result of living in a white dominated patriarchy. Just food for thought.
How can someone do this to another person? Because they’ve been taught that they can.
If you’re interested in the statistics: