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Rape Essay, Research Paper

It was a stormy, pitch black night. A strange man breaks into a woman?s

apartment by sliding open an unlocked window. He threatens the woman?s life as she

kicks and screams with terror. He rapes her, and then leaves.

After work a husband comes home and insists that his wife performs oral sex.

When she denies him of his request; he tightly grabs her shoulder and pushes her to her

knees. He then unzips his pants and forces her to perform oral sex.

A couple is out on a date, when the man pulls off to the side of a country road.

The couple begins to make out in the back seat of the car. The man proceeds to pull off

both his and her pants as she says ?I don?t want to have sex,? he ignores what she has said

and continues.

All of these scenario?s are considered rape in California. In this paper I will

address a feminist perspective of rape, and rape prevention.

Rape was viewed, prior to the 20th century, as a crime against the father or

husband of the raped women, rather than a crime against the women herself. These

women would not be allowed to marry into respectable families, and would often stay

single remaining the economic liability of the father. These women would have no value in

society; ?a women?s value within society was based on her ability to marry and produce

legitimate heirs? [Odem, Clay-Warner (1998), p. 36].

Rape was also viewed as the women?s fault. Women were considered to be

depraved or a ?fallen? woman if she engaged in sexual intercourse before she was married,

even if it was against her will. The women was blamed for the man?s crime and was

?socially stigmatized? as a result of the attack.

There are many stereotypes of rape victims such as: the women ?asked for it,?

when a women says ?no? she really means ?yes,? women can resist rape if they want to,

all women want to be raped, many women falsely cry rape, rape is caused by an

uncontrollable sex drive, and the belief that it won?t happen to me. Feminists are currently

challenging these stereotypes by using education to change society?s attitudes about rape.

This anti-rape movement is not limited to training women to avoid rape; it also is aimed at

changing the behavior and attitudes of men. In Florida, for example, a program called

FARE (Fraternity Acquaintance Rape Education), was designed to educate men in

fraternities and on athletic teams about rape.

We view women in today?s society as passive, weak, and unintelligent. Men are

viewed as strong, intelligent, and aggressive. Society believes that women need to be

protected against the evil men in society that take advantage of weak women. Therefore,

we make laws and give harsh sentences for the individuals who commit these types of


Women can also be viewed as seductive, which leads society to disbelief that the

rape of certain women occurred. The men who are accused of rape that are intelligent,

married, and have professions, often are viewed as unlikely to have committed the crime.

In these situations, the woman is viewed as a liar, trying to get revenge against the man.

For example; my best friend in high school, Angie, sneaked out of the house one night to

go to a party with a popular, straight A student, who happened to be the head of the

football team. Instead of going to the party as planned, they parked by a lake and made

out. When Angie refused to have sex with him, he took it. No one believed that this guy

was capable of raping a women. Angie was not believed by the police, peers, or even her


With the changing definitions of rape, the perceptions of victims, the causes of

rape, and rape as an issue of power, not sex, have also changed. The stereotypes that the

majority of society has about rape victims and male and female roles is almost impossible

to change. The reason they are almost impossible to change is because they are part of an

individuals core identity. Women in today?s society are suppose to be passive, while

males are brought up to be aggressive. Our cultures does not support women?s hostility

towards men. Women should be passive, shy, and weak. Women are also viewed as

vindictive, manipulative, and untrustworthy. So, society usually does not believe women

who claim they have been raped.

Once people started being educated and understood the causes of rape the blame

began to shift from the victim to the offender. It became clear to society that rape was

not an issue of sex, but rather an issue of power. The long held belief that men who rape

were helplessly controlled by their overwhelming sexual impulses was ended when society

began to recognize rape as an act of violence. Some men often feel powerless and in

order to feel powerful and in control, they will take over a women?s body and rape her.

Researchers have developed five types of rapists in order to offer some

explanations for rape: the power rapist, the anger rapist, the sadistic rapist, the gang

rapist, and the date or acquaintance rapist. Power rapists believe that women like to be

raped. The anger rapist thinks he must retaliate for a wrong or loss he has experienced, he

vents his rage and anger by beating and degrading his victims. The sadistic rapist seeks

revenge and punishment of another person, using violence and cruelty. The gang rapist

is seeking confirmation of his masculinity, by expressing power and authority over the

victim; he claims his superior position. The date or acquaintance rapist know the victim

and uses psychological abuse and reasoning for his actions; they often believe that they

deserve sex.

When faced with a rape situation, many different strategies can be used. Some

individuals choose to fight off the rapist; using techniques learned in a martial arts or self

defense class. Others choose to scream to try and get the attention of individuals who

may be near by. Another strategy that is used is telling the rapist that you have a certain

type of sexually transmitted disease. Others, however, just lay quietly and do what the

rapist requests in fear for their life.

My personal opinion about which strategy is most effective, depends upon the

offender. If the rapist is armed and seems more than willing to kill the individual, I would

have to suggest obeying his demands and staying quiet. On the other hand, if the offender

does not seem life threatening, I would try to fight him off.

Feminists suggest that we educate people on the reality?s of rape. This strategy for

changing the public?s perception of rape may be difficult because we can?t make the entire

population of the United States attend classes on rape. It is highly debatable that the

subject of rape should be allowed to be taught in the public school system. Do we really

want our children to learn about rape at such a young age? If we make convicted rapists

attend these classes, what about the rapists that have not been caught or convicted. If the

classes are only taken by choice, then the individuals who attend are unlikely to be the

individuals who commit or think about committing the crime of rape.

In conclusion, rape laws and perspectives about rape have progressed as time has

passed. Is education the key? Or are there to many loop holes

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