Re: rape/symbolism/dominance

Richard Spear (rspear@PRIMENET.COM)
Tue, 17 Jan 1995 04:33:56 PST

In article Rob Quinlan <C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU> writes:
>Date: Mon, 16 Jan 1995 13:01:38 CST
>Reply-To: Rob Quinlan <C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
>From: Rob Quinlan <C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
>Subject: rape/symbolism/dominance
>To: Multiple recipients of list ANTHRO-L

>Rape is an act of dominance and it may well reflect societal notions of
>the asymmetry of male and female statuses. But, more than a symbolic act
>of dominance, it is a *real* act of dominance. That the act is
>communicative is probably ancillary to the motives of the rapist who is
>seeking a copulation. Lieber and Spear say that the data are clear that
>it's motivated by power and the desire to dehumanized the victim. Well,
>let's hear about these data so we can assess their quality. I've
>admitted that I don't have any data so I don't have that rhetorical
>ploy to hide behind. All we need is a couple of examples.
[more deletions]

OK, here are some cites ... the references are taken from a first year
sociology textbook. I chose this source to show that the ideas are not
groundbreaking and are well enough accepted to appear in introductory texts.

Rape is a crime of violence, not passion; it is a ritual of power and
humiliation which, although socially regarded as intolerable, has its origins
in approved patterns of interaction between the sexes. Duncan Chappell, et al,
"Rape: The Victim and the Offender", 1977, New York; Columbia University Press.

In a survey of 95 societies [it was] found that 47% were rape-free or almost
rape-free, 17% were rape-prone, and 36% had a limited but undetermined amount
of rape. The extent of rape seems to depend on cultural factors ... In rape as
in other aspects of human behavior, the conduct of the individual is
influenced by the norms of the surrounding society. Peggy Sanday, "The
sociocultural context of rape: A cross-cultural study" in Journal of Social
Issues, 17:4, 1981 and "Female Power and Male Dominance: On the Origins of
Sexual Inequality", 1981, New York; Cambridge University Press.

All the evidence indicates that the sexual aspect of rape is of secondary
importance. The primary object is to humiliate and subjugate the woman, and
thus to bolster the aggressor's feelings of power, superiority and
masculinity. (Amir, 1971; Brownmiller, 1975; Walker and Brodsky, 1976;Scully
and Marolla, 1983; Russell, 1984). I got tired of typing out the full cite -
I'll be happy to send them (I guess).

There's lots more. The point is that if these folks are correct and rape is
culturally determined and not primarily a sexual act, you can throw out any of
those fancy sociobiological arguments!

Regards, Richard