19.7.03

Hit Me Where It Counts

I feel:: indescribable

Vengeance is Hers (Rape)


Rape is one of the rallying issues in the feminist movement. It is a subconscious fear in all women. Only a minority will ever have to experience the horror yet the very thought causes women everywhere to avoid being in isolated places or alone at night. They will buy dogs, locks, guns, take karate lessons, shift their work schedules or place of residence all to avoid becoming rape's victim. Why?



The facts are harsh. Rape is the fastest growing violent crime in America. Between 1967 and 1976 the number of reported rapes doubled. (Human Behavior, Dec. 1978) Part of this (although not all, by any means) can be attributed to women's diminishing reluctance to speak out. Though the stigma society places on a rape victim promotes silence, the tide of blame is slowly turning.



In a country where a rape occurs on the average of once every nine minutes with one of every five victims under twelve, social reform is long past due. (Hidden Victims: The Sexual Abuse of Children, Robert L. Geiser)



But, as with any emotion-packed issue, myths abound alongside the facts, some whose origins go back two or three hundred years. One such instance, is the belief that black rapists invariably choose white women for their victims: in reality the National Commission on Crime found 90% of the time offender and victim are of the same race.



Another widespread myth, brought to us via late-night movies and dime store novels, always characterizes the rapist as a stranger. In truth, Frederic Storaska, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Prevention of Rape and Assault reports about 70 out of every 100 rape victims are attacked by someone they know: a friend, neighbor, date, boss, etc .. leaving 30 percent ravaged by total strangers. The figures leap even higher with children; 75 percent of child molesters are people the child knows and trusts. (Hidden Victims: The Sexual Abuse of Children)



What of the ugly myth that a woman cannot be raped against her will? Dr. Menachim Amir, criminologist, in his extensive study of rape cases in Philadelphia found in "87% of all rapes the rapist either carries a weapon or threatens her with death." (Rape, Carol V. Horos) Other statistics show 39% physically overpowered and assaulted their victims.



Perhaps the most popular and harmful myth is one that TV, movies, magazines, fashion and advertising editors all capitalize on. The masculine macho man parades across the media landscape, smugly tolerating the dogged affection of the whimpering female, unable to resist his all-encompassing presence. A night in front of the TV would definitely convince an intergalactic traveler that sex is the number one thing on most human minds. Jokes and insinuations abound and everyone appears most willing. The problem with this myth is many people cannot distinguish reality from media hype.



When the average American spends an estimated six hours a day in front of the television, the subtle influence and perspectives are bound to wear off on the viewer. We would be naive indeed to refute the use of sexual come-ons in the media, especially advertising. Why else do we see women lounging across pick up trucks in Chevrolet ads, or a blond, blue-eyed model holding up an AC spark plug in Popular Mechanics?



Before we scream murder to the media, as women, we have to take our load of the blame. No one has ever been forced to be Playboy's playmate of the year. Whereas it can be justly argued that throughout the centuries society has laid this burden of inhumanity on women, nevertheless, our actions are our own. The sad part of it is many women do find their identity mainly within those limits, and all too often, knowingly or unknowingly, have bought the subtle rap of themselves as sex objects long before they were abused as such. Yet rape is never justified and the underlying accusation that its victims were consciously leading the rapist on unpardonable.



"When a woman is labeled 'rape victim' ordinary friendliness is reinterpreted in sexual terms, and any attractiveness in dress or figure is held against her. This situation is especially hypocritical in our society since women are expected to be attractive, even sexually attractive," (Society, July/Aug., '77)



WHO IS THE RAPIST?



If women have allowed themselves to be viewed as sub-people, the man falls under an equally paralyzing farce; that of the instant sex machine and performer. Always cool and in control with his sexual prowess in direct proportions to his manhood. Unable to achieve the Clint Eastwood facade, many men are demoralized. Just as entrapping as a woman's stereotype is the man's. Enticed by a sexually oriented world and unable to cope, a small minority of men lash out with rape.



"Rape is a complex, multi-determined act which, in addition to expressing anger and asserting control, also serves to compensate for feelings of helplessness, to reassure the offender about his sexual adequacy, to assert his identity, to defend against homosexual impulses, to deny fear of women, to retain status among peers, to achieve sexual gratification, and to discharge frustration." ("Rape: A Sexual Deviation," A. Nicholas Groth and Ann Wolbert Burgess, American Journal of Orthopsychietry, July 1977)



Groth and Burgess in their study of 133 rapists and 92 victims suggested two categories that rape falls into; anger and power. Quoting from the above report: "The anger rape was characterized by violent physical assaults on the victim, in which far more force was used than was necessary . . . The power rape, in contrast, was a premeditated, planned assault in which the offender would go over in his mind the details . . . he fantasized that the victim would, in fact, welcome the sexual experience."



We could add a third category to this list, one in which a convicted rapist rarely falls into because it is so seldom reported: the date rape. The couple goes to a movie, quiet dinner out, back at her apartment the girl is ready to say goodnight, but the man feels it has gone too far. This form of rape accounts for 35% of total assaults.



Many leading authorities discount lust as a prevalent motive of rape. Their reason being that nearly 2/3 of rape offenders are married with the majority of the remaining men having access to sexual relationships with girlfriends, prostitutes, etc. This is the mistake Lois G. Forer made in the opening quote of this article. While we would not downplay the other motivations, we need to understand the nature of lust.



The term is one our society smiles upon. From "Laugh-In's" dirty old man to albums entitled "Labor of Lust," the term is made one with the red-blooded American image. Thus, our desire to label rape solely "an act of violence" gains a rather questionable authenticity. After all, we couldn't admit that the same desire we freely espouse, could, when taken to its limit, cause such an animalistic act.



Lust cannot be equated with the normal sex drive; it gnaws at the afflicted person with no amount of gratification bringing relief. Every experience is found wanting, physically and emotionally. In ending, "Who is the rapist?" we quote Dr. Murray L. Cohen and Richard Boucher in "Misunderstandings About Sex Criminals" (Sexual Behavior, March 1972):



"The sexual offender may be passive and inhibited or active and assertive, gentle or violent, religious or irreligious, masculine or effeminate. He may hate his mother, love his mother, or be ambivalent about her. He may have had a repressive sexual development or he may have been overstimulated. And we could go on with these polar opposites. But what there is in common is a serious defect in interpersonal relationships, an absence of mature, selfless concern for the victim of his obsession, an inability to love in a desexualized manner, a terrible sadness and sense of loneliness, a lack of sublimation, and a totally narcissistic, self-centered orientation."



WOMAN VS. MAN



Women today are speaking out against the atrocity of rape as never before in history. It has, in fact, become a jump off point for many to view their deep-seated mistrust and hatred of all men. Consider these questions (ours), and answers (taken from Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape by Susan Brownmiller). Q: Are all men inherently rapists? A: "From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear." (Brownmiller's emphasis) Q: Is there a conspiracy to which men have adhered, throughout the ages, using rape to usurp authority over women? A: "Rather than society's aberrants or 'spoilers of purity,' men who commit rape have served in effect as front-line masculine shock troops, terrorist guerrillas in the longest sustained battle the world has ever known."



These are serious accusations. If valid, they will change the world as we now live in it. We must not minimize the subject of rape. The evidence of its increasing occurrence is overwhelming. Many women are ruled by the fears that Browrimiller has expressed and they are not without cause.



Repeatedly, this fear has been voiced by women legitimately seeking answers, but the reactionary voice has taken the ball and run. What is a serious problem has become an obsession.



On this point we agree with Margaret Drabble as she spoke out in the New York Times (Jan. 21, 1979):



"As in murder, there are often mitigating circumstances, though even to suggest this causes an outcry of rage from those who wish to believe that all men are rapists at heart. It would be as ridiculous to argue that all battered babies are the victims of an organized conspiracy by all parents."



Drabble continues, "People, as women themselves are always arguing these days, tend to act out the image that society imposes on them. Women should beware of the image they impose on men . . . Let us have rape centers, let us defend the privacy of victims (but then why not of acquitted suspects?), let us by all means insist on prompt sympathetic treatment from the police.



"But let us not lose all sense of proportion. Rape is an assault upon the person, and should be so regarded: it is not a mystic sexual conspiracy."



But if rape isn't a devious conspiracy by men against women, why has the crime loomed so large on our horizon? We see two major reasons.



The first point is to reiterate that 70% of all rapes are committed by family members, dates, friends, . - . people you know and trusted. You can't pinpoint the hidden rapist. "in 'The Banality of Evil,' Hannah Arendt attempted to explain the success of the Nazis in wartime Germany. Put very simply, her argument was that there are very few evil people and a lot of very ordinary people who do evil things. And that is the horror of evil, that it is not recognizable, that it is not a thing reserved for extraordinary creatures. The effect of this insight is not to make the Nazi atrocities less fearful, but more. If the men who gassed, shot, and otherwise murdered six million people, who performed inconceivably inhuman acts on their victims, were not madmen, if they were not evil men (as their leader Hitler surely was), then we have to come to terms with some terrible truths: . . . we have to recognize that the capacity for evil of that magnitude lies within the people around us, within ourselves." (Against Rape, Andra Medea and Kathleen Thompson)



It is hard to sit in a room full of men knowing that the rapist is not necessarily the perverted figure hiding in dark halls. It would be so simple if he were the twisted and scarred deviant of our nightmares.



The second reason is that the very act of rape is not just an act of violence, but is a perversion taking the spiritual unity of two people as God has determined it - physically, soulishly and intimately - and dragging it through the very baseness of lust, anger, power, hatred, and fear. Radical feminists, by shaking their fists at heaven, unknowingly attest to the fact that they recognize the deeper meaning in sexual union.



"Man's structural capacity to rape and woman's corresponding structural vulnerability are as basic to the physiology of both our sexes as the primal act of sex itself. Had it not been for this accident of biology . . . " (Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape)



The humanistic view of us, as merely evolved animals, as expressed by Brownmiller is inconsistent with the humiliation we experience at the violation of rape.



So where does that leave us? Does this mean that we must live in fear? That we must abhor relations with men, that we would even take the positive things in our nature and reject them because of their vulnerability? Women in doing so often take upon themselves the very attributes they hate in men: aggression, cruelty, selfishness, etc. We simply change roles. Just think, we (as women) could be the ones creating havoc in others' lives. Is this what we want? Don't be fooled. In using hate and revenge to retaliate against wrongs done to us, we are the biggest losers. Rape is not a fate worse than death, but a lifetime of bitterness is.



There was a man who walked this earth in perfect love and gentleness. And He was misused. He left Himself vulnerable for our sins and we crucified Him. We can take upon ourselves His attributes. Though all men and women may fail us, He never will. Trusting God does not necessarily grant us immunity from the evils that people inflict upon each other in this world. In fact, it may put us right in the battlefront, as missionaries overseas and people working in inner cities can attest to. But we have the promise that His perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18)



A PERSONAL NOTE



If you have been a victim of rape, don't let an act that took a few minutes control the rest of your life. The first step in recovery, if you have not already done so, is to give your life to Jesus. He can heal the scars of rape. The next step is only possible after the first step: forgiving the offender. Only through forgiveness can you release the hold of bitterness and humiliation he inflicted on you. Perhaps it will be the hardest thing you've ever done and you might need to seek out a Christian friend or fellowship to counsel and pray with you.



If, as a man, you have been guilty of rape, you must not think you've gone too far to receive forgiveness from the Lord. Every sin, no matter how brutal or senseless, can be wiped clean through sincere repentance. Whereas it may not be appropriate in most instances to ask forgiveness from the victim, going to a mature Christian and verbally confessing can be the first step to your healing.



Our God is a God of hope. Whether we be assailant or victim, He is bigger than our past when He is the door to our future.



"My hatred toward men grew over the years. I was angry, resentful that I wasn't treated as a human being with feelings, but as an 'object of pleasure' that was to be forced into submission. This hatred was driving me toward lesbianism. When I joined the ministry one of the first things I noticed was that men were treating me as a PERSON and not a sex object. They were carrying on everyday normal conversations with me and not coming on with a rap. It's been a slow process, but the Lord has been healing me and showing me that the men who used me needed Him as badly as I did, and that the thing to hate was the sin nature that drives men to rave women, instead of the men themselves."*



My thoughts:
I read this article. Now, I know that I need to pray that I can forgive myself and also the men who treated me as less than an animal. I don't want to carry this around with me anymore. Oh, btw I got this article from www.cornerstonemag.com.

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