Rape is not about sex

Dorothy Black weighs in on where we're getting it wrong

The other day, when we were talking about just penalty for Anene Booysen’s rapists, I tweeted something along the lines of cutting off their penises. One time. Fuck it. In fact, anybody that rapes – let’s just cut off their dicks. But then it occurred to me that they would just use something else – probably something worse. Because in a rape, a penis is a weapon…much like a gun or a knife, a hand or a broom.

I wasn’t going to write about this here. Rape, while it uses the sex act as its means to a violent end, is not about sex – not about lust, sexuality or eroticism. It is not a so-called ‘crime of passion’. It is not about sexual attraction and how it is or is not ‘asked for’ in the language of mini skirts, high heels or ‘wild running around’. Rape is, I believe, the violent expression of a very damaged person. To violate, to murder, to hit, to harm, to torture, to take the body of another human comes from a soul and mind that is broken.

It is not about sex or sexual attraction. So then why am I writing about it in a sex column.

Because there is still confusion about rape being about sex – that it is something the victim can control through her behaviour and dress … that if she controls her sexuality and actions then she controls the outcome of her attacker’s behaviour.

We know this belief still exists because we still have to fight against this victim blaming and slut shaming.

It doesn’t matter if you were wearing pajamas in your home (as a child or as a married women), jogging, working the night shift at a hospital or drunk as fuck at a party with your dress over your head – rape is rape is rape. It is a violent crime whether it is executed quietly or with a gun to your head, and it is about power and control and violation … and objectification.

And this last one is where I think people get confused about rape being about sex.

At the palatable side of objectifying humans you have celebrity and checklists for your ideal man, you have Playboy and Cosmo pin-ups of the perfect female or male form. You have ‘men should be cowboys’ and ‘women should be pretty princesses’. You have female sexuality sold as a commodity. You have sexual identification modeled around a caricature – the stud, the vixen, the naughty little girl, the bad boy, the slut. You have sexual eroticisms and fantasy.

The unpalatable side of objectification is when we start viewing these fantasies as fact and ‘all that is’ about the women and men we interact with.

But objectification to the point of dehumanising a person and doing them harm to satisfy your reality, is a form of crazy I’d label psychosis if I were a doctor.

Sadly, we live a culture incapable of managing these nuances. And when that culture is built on eons of patriarchal demonising of female sexuality … well, then crazy gets away with blaming female sexuality for its acts of sex-based violence.

And, oh, how we love to support it. Crazies like rapists do not exist in a vacuum. They aren’t created on an island far, far away and shipped in to hurt us. They are nice college students as easily as they are the gangland members. They are family as easily as they are strangers.

And at one stage they were all children.

As parents, as a community, as educators – we are solely responsible for what is happening today. It is not porn’s fault, or the media’s or TV’s, it is not female sexuality. We alone teach our children how to define, judge and navigate the maelstrom of objectification and misinformation our culture is based on. We alone teach our children how to fight back, speak out and stand up against crazy.

We teach them mostly by showing them.

The most informative piece I’ve read over the course of the past week is a ‘how to’ piece, really, by Scott Dunlop from Parent24, called ‘Parenting against rape’. The blurb reads ‘help sons (and other boys) become men who will never rape’. But really, it’s gender neutral. Women can be as ignorant and damaging. (‘I’m not a feminist but…’, ‘Did you see what that slut was wearing?...’). Do yourself a favour and read it, everyone.

Stop confusing sex and rape. Stop confusing sexuality and women as an instigators in their own rape and murder. See rape for what it is – an act of violence. Because until you start changing your thinking about this, we as a collective never will. And who will we blame for our children’s pain then?

Read Dorothy's blog, and follow her on Twitter.
 

Read more on: rape  |  dorothy black  |  sex

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