ginmar (ginmar) wrote,

Myths about rape; the beginning

Several people have been having very interesting discussions about rape, and I finally found the material that I was looking for, so here goes:

These are the myths about rape. Seeing as how I have yet to see this discussed, I'm quoting from Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes, by Helen Benedict. Go buy it immediately.

" Rape is sex.
This is the most powerful myth about rape lies at the root of all the others. It ignores the fact that rape is a physical attack and leads to the mistaken belief that rape does not hurt the victim any more than does sex. The idea that rape is a sexual rather an aggressive act encourages people not to take it seriously as a crime---an attitude frequently revealed in comments by defense attorneys and newspaper columnists. (My emphasis: What, you mean newspaper writers aren't totally neutral and pure?)

The assailant is motivated by lust
Because rape is seen as sex, the assailant is assumed to be a hot-blooded male driven beyond self-control by lust. In fact, research has shown that far from being frustrated men with no other sexual outlet, most rapists have normal sex lives at home, and many of them are married. The motivation to rape stems most commonly from agner, the need to dominate, and terrify, or more rarely, from sadism, not from pent-up sexual desire.

The assailant is perverted or crazy
Teh image of a rapist as perverted, ugly, seedy, or insane contradicts the preceeding hot-blooded male myth, but it is held in reserve, as it were, for times when the sex crime is extremely grotesque or when the victim cannot easily be pegged as having provoked it. Yet repeated studies have found that rapists usually have normal psychological profiles compared to other criminals. The majority of rapists are known to their victims---they are relatives, boyfriends, husbands, teachers, doctors, neighborhood friends, colleagues, therapists, policemen, bosses----not seedy loners lurking in alleyways.

The assailant is usually black or lower class
This essentially racist perception leads to the widely held misconception that most rapes are committed by black men against white women, or by lower class men against higher classe women---a conception bolstered by the press, which tends to give these stories more play than other kinds of rapes. It is true that proportionally more rapes are committed by the urban poor, but the majority of rapes occurr between members of the same race and class. According to a U.S. Department of Justice study conducted between 1973 and 1987, 68 percent of white women and 80 percent of black women are raped by men of the same race. The study also found that 57 percent of all rapists are white, 33 percent black, and the rest are either of mixed or other races.
Tags: helen benedict, rape myths

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