For most of us, rape is a crime so vile and disgusting as to be unimaginable. But I want to challenge you reader, male or female. Imagine you are in a position of physical dominance, yet you feel weak and ineffectual in your life. Maybe girls sleep with you often, sometimes, or hardly ever. Regardless, you feel the need to exert agency in a world that seems to be spinning violently out of control. This is a natural sub-conscious desire that most of us satisfy through work, play or (healthy) sexual activity. Yet you can’t get that satisfaction, no matter what you do. So you get drunk one night, really drunk, meet an equally drunk girl at a bar and take her back to her apartment. You’re pushing for sex, but she says no. But you’re belligerently drunk and horny and you know she can’t stop you. She might not even remember your name. So you tell her to shut-up while you get yours. Anyone who knows what it’s like to get belligerent knows how irrational you become. You finish, smash her cell phone and leave. Imagine it. Put yourself in the rapists’ position, I dare you.
You ought to feel pretty disgusted. You just inflicted a most terrible amount of physical and psychological torment on a fellow human being who did not deserve it. You added one more number to the roughly 90,000 reported rapes that occur each year. Yet you will most likely get away with it. Only 25% of the time arrests are made in response to a reported rape, about 22,500 people. About 200 of those people will get convicted according to Department of Justice statistics. That is .8%. Not 8%. Less than one percent of those arrested for rape will be convicted.
Between 15 and 20 percent of women admit to being raped. Not sexually harassed or assaulted. Raped. That means as many as one in five women will be raped in their lives. You probably don’t know who they are, but you certainly know more than one woman who has been raped. Just this past April, the College of Charleston baseball team got away with gang-rape.
The girl was clearly raped by at least one individual, if not more. Yet the College refused to allow outside police forces handle the investigation, and those who did were clearly not trained to handle it. No one was arrested. One student was expelled. Now google Stuebenville, if you haven’t already. Apparently successful sports teams are more important than justice for rape victims. So I ask you, is this evidence of a just and free society?
We supposedly live in a free country, yet women cannot do the same things as men and feel safe. And as men, we don’t want to even think about rape. The unspoken consensus seems to be that they secretly want it even when they act like they don’t. Or we point to the rare false accusation that gets a ton of media attention (Duke Lacrosse and Kobe Bryant) as evidence that rape is not that big of a problem. No means yes, we even joke sometimes. I asked a fellow student once, “When do you stop?” “When they call the police,” he responded. He was joking… I think. These statistics and stories point to a larger issue in our society. Rape is a forgotten problem, hushed up and shoved under the rug. It transcends race and class, the traditional markers that divide crime. Gun violence is usually a minority crime. Theft is a poor crime. Drug crimes are a poor and minority issue. Rape cannot be easily compartmentalized and no simplified solutions can be blathered about in the media so we ignore it. But it is a serious and pressing problem for a country that considers itself an international leader in human rights. We condemn the treatment of women in the Middle East and India yet our own justice system and culture does so little for sexual victims in our own country.
Indeed, it reveals that we still live in a chauvinistic patriarchy. It is easy to make fun of Women and Gender Studies majors for their demands for political correct terminology and sometimes pathological hatred of men. I took a Human Sexuality Course once that should have been called “Why men can only barely suppress their urge to anally rape every female they see.” But people must recognize that every woman is a victim, at the very least, of sexual harassment throughout their lives. Then their anger should become understandable. Men have physically controlled and abused women in Western society since the dawn of civilization. But that doesn’t make it right, especially now that we advanced to a point at which we consider all people equal. I hate to say that we should stop making rape jokes, but maybe it really does evidence that men consider rape (in certain circumstance) an acceptable or inevitable behavior, such as we do with murder. Yet are we constantly arguing over ways to reduce murder rates. Where is this discussion in relation to rape?