Emerging rape thread

Rob Quinlan (C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Sat, 14 Jan 1995 21:30:30 CST

I've been following the emerging rape thread and wanted to throw
in my $.02 worth.

It seems that there are different types of rape that may have slightly
different motivation behind them. The Bosnian case is pretty clearly
a case of ethnic cleansing or at least part of an ethnic cleansing program.
If we can believe the reports of rape camps (which I think we can), then
it must be a matter of policy, which to me is even more deeply disturbing
than other cases of rape. Still this seems to be a little different from
other reported war time rapes.

So I think we can look at at least four different types of rape.
1. Ethnic cleansing rape.
2. War time rape.
3. Acquaintance rape.
4. Stranger rape.

All these types are violent, destructive, and result in demoralizing the
victims, but I think the motivations are different. In the first case
rape is obviously politically motivated with intent of demoralizing a
group of people. I read that when the Soviets invaded eastern Germany
at the end of WWII there were an estimated 200,000 rapes in about a week's
time. But I think the motivation here is not the same as in Bosnia.
That is, they weren't political.

To some extent war time rape and
acquaintance are the same in that they are the extremely selfish and
violent acts of horny men. Further, they are similar in that they are
relatively low risk to the rapist. I have never heard of a man being
tried for a war rape and it is clear that most acquaintance rapists get
away with it (either because the woman is afraid to report it or because
our legal system is incapable [perhaps unwilling] to deal with it). I would
be very surprised if these rapes were anything other than sexually
motivated. I can't imagine how these are symbolic, but I'm curious
about the research Spear says exists. However, I tend to think in this
case a "cigar is just a cigar."

The fourth type of rape (stranger rape) seems to be an act of desperation.
Donald Symons in his 1979 _The evolution of human sexuality_ has a chapter
on rape where he argues that rapes are committed by men who have no other
reproductive opportunities. The argument is too involved to go into at
length, but he bases his claim on the supposition that more women are
sexually attractive to men than men are sexually attractive to women. The
basis of this supposition is the differing reproductive strategies of males
and females. (Males seek more copulations, females seek commitment and
and investment. Incidentally, this was the basis for a _Time_ article last
fall by an evolutionary psychologist [R. Wright] entitled "Our Cheating
Hearts" an evolutionary interpretation of infidelity.) Symons further
argues that rapists will be at the very bottom of the socioeconomic
ladder. This may be true for the bulk of stranger rapes.

Finally, I can think of only two cases where rape has symbolic significance.
Psychopathic rapists my get some symbolic thing from rape. The other case
is ritual rape. For example the Akwe-Shavante male initiation rite (Wai)
includes the ceremonial rape of several village women (Maybury-Lewis 1967
_Akwe-Shavante Society_).

It seems curious to me why some people insist on interpreting rape in terms
of symbolic and/or political significance. Can someone explain this to me?
Is there some other reason for these interpretations other than advancing
a theoretical program? I would agree that the Bosnian ethnic cleansing has
political motivation and that the Wai has symbolic significance, but the
motivation to other types of rape seem to be better explained sexually.

Sorry for the length of this posting.

Rob Quinlan