Sexual Assault & Rape

Recent posts

All Rape Is Corrective Rape

(Trigger-warning for discussion of sexual assault.)

While researching a blog post on anti-gay hate crimes such as corrective rape, I stumbled across this piece on corrective rape. The author’s main argument is that in our patriarchal society, all rape is corrective in that it is meant to “correct” women’s behavior when women step outside the lines of acceptable femininity:

Because any woman who exists outside of those proscribed, religious-gender roles, needs to be corrected. That way she will learn her place, but also serve as an example to other women in the vicinity, that if you want to benefit from the protection of the law, and society, you best toe their line. The message that rape sends is that you’d better behave within these narrow confines… or else. Continue Reading →

Believing Survivors

Dylan Farrow’s open letter about the sexual assault she endured from her adoptive father, Woody Allen, has provoked a sensational discussion around the issue of who to listen to, and who to believe. I believe that narratives of sexual assault must always be taken seriously, not only because they are most likely true, but also because our response to these narratives reveals something about ourselves. Moreover, our responses then reveal this information to the people around us who make decisions based on it. Ann Friedman’s blog post I Believe Dylan Farrow makes this point based on the network of people in her life. Quite simply, she writes: “While all the caveats about not knowing the family personally apply, I do know several women who have experienced sexual violence that is not dissimilar from what Dylan describes. Continue Reading →

Domestic Violence Statistics: A Reminder

Marissa Alexander, a mother who was given 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband, is an example of how fighting back against domestic violence often jeopardizes women’s safety. This fact sheet about domestic violence, assembled by a group advocating for Alexander’s freedom, is a sobering reminder about the many ways that social norms and the legal system fail women. For example:

85-90% of women in prison have a history of being victims of violence prior to their incarceration, including domestic violence, sexual violence, and child abuse. A study of women incarcerated in New York’s Rikers Island found that most of the domestic violence survivors interviewed reported engaging in illegal activity in response to experiences of abuse, the threat of violence, or coercion by a male partner. Each year, 324,000 pregnant women are physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner. Continue Reading →

A Politician Implies That All Military Men Are Potential Rapists

You may not be a single-issue voter, but surely it’s worth noting when a politician characterizes rape as inevitable, and further describes it in ways that makes it seem like he expects rape in the military to continue happening. GOP Congressional candidate and current Virginia senator Richard Black has called military rape “as predictable as human nature.” He further commented: “Think of yourself at 25…Wouldn’t you love to have a group of 19-year-old girls under your control, day in, day out?” His implied “you” addresses a male audience, hinting that all men are incapable of resisting the power dynamic of having young women around them in a hierarchy and will inevitably give in to temptation and rape someone. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty mad if someone implied that I was a probable rapist. Continue Reading →

Rape In Southeast Asia

(Trigger warning for descriptions and depictions of sexual assault)

Thanks to a long-term study conducted by the UN, we now have some numbers on the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in southeast Asia. On average, one in four men included in the study (of over 10,000 total men) admitted to raping at some point in their lives. One of the key aspects of this study was that researchers did not intentionally use the word for “rape” in their questions. The questions instead described forcible sex acts. Additionally, the researchers distinguished between forcing sex with intimate partners and with strangers, and found that rape between married partners was more prevalent than between those not involved in a relationship. Continue Reading →

The Wallet Metaphor

Humans communicate in metaphors. They’re useful for expressing abstract concepts in concrete terms, even if the metaphor doesn’t 100% map to the concept being expressed (the point is that they’re not supposed to be literal representations). My post on the puzzle box model of sex shows one example of this, and this blog post using a lost wallet metaphor demonstrates another. According to the wallet metaphor, “just because you left your wallet someplace doesn’t make it right that someone took your money” and, similarly, “We set the stage for ‘date’/'acquaintance’ rape when we imply that when a woman’s body is ‘left out in the open’ in some way — because of a short skirt, or too many drinks — it’s in any way acceptable to engage in any type of sexual contact without her explicit consent.” Think about it. Continue Reading →

My Name is Strong: Raising Awareness About Gender-Based Violence Through Art

I was made aware of a creative new anti-violence initiative and awareness campaign called My Name Is Strong through a volunteer job. The description instantly caught my attention: “our commitment is to turn a single room into an overpowering exhibit of human strength.” My Name Is Strong aims to empower all individuals who have been impacted by gender-based violence through creative expression. The campaign isn’t just for survivors, but anyone who has been impacted by rape, harassment, sexual assault, etc. My Name Is Strong is based out of St Louis, Missouri and you can view submissions on their Facebook page. Continue Reading →

Orgasm During Rape

If rape is underreported, the occurrence of orgasm during rape is especially so. This article (trigger warning for descriptions of sexual violence) discusses the phenomenon, making it clear that the body can respond to sexual touching even when one’s mind is not aroused or engaged. There are plenty of examples of this: people can have orgasms while asleep, and people can become aroused while looking at images that they would not consciously classify as sexy. One of the reasons to point all this out is to remove the shame and stigma from the experience of being bodily aroused or having an orgasm during sexual assault. It is never the victim’s fault, and even if the experience of orgasm during rape is confusing and shameful, hopefully it helps to keep in mind that it is the body responding, which we don’t always have control over. Continue Reading →

Reminders About Rape Prevention

Part of the point of openly talking about rape culture is that it is so pervasive that it can blind us to logic, and that needs to change. Take, for instance, this blog post on rape prevention, which notes:

If owning a gun and knowing how to use it worked, the military would be the safest place for a woman. It’s not. If women covering up their bodies worked, Afghanistan would have a lower rate of sexual assault than Polynesia. It doesn’t. If not drinking alcohol worked, children would not be raped. Continue Reading →

There Is Life After Sexual Assault

After the Steubenville rape case, there have been numerous blog posts (including mine) dissecting aspects of rape culture. Writer Elizabeth Bear makes an excellent point in her blog: when people say that the survivor had her whole life ahead of her, they fail to see that she still does. Bear writes: “Surviving sexual assault is not the end of a life. Rape culture includes this pervasive idea that the person who is raped is ruined forever, that ‘she’ll never be the same,’ that she’s soiled and broken. Guess what? Hundreds and hundreds of rape survivors go on to lead productive, fulfilling lives! Yes, it’s an act of violence. Continue Reading →