Re: Emerging rape thread

Harriet Whitehead (whitehea@WSUNIX.WSU.EDU)
Tue, 17 Jan 1995 07:33:07 -0800

Re Lief's latest on the rape thread: another remarkably naive positing.
Or perhaps just an "attempt to be fatuous," as he puts it. To try to
clarify a few things, I, not Eve, suggested *facetiously*, that in
sociobiological terms rape should be part of the sexual repertory of all
men. I didn't say I bought the sociobiological argument, only that it
seems to have those implications.

But we could push that exploration of the argument a little further: a
number of studies of imprisoned sexual offenders reveal a split between
deep weirdos, who are quite dominated by their sexual obsessions, and men
who are extremely hard to distinguish from the non-offending male
population except for the fact that they got caught committing a sex
crime (typically rape). So the 'normal' vs. 'by definition abnormal'
distinction that Lief is trying to operate gets into trouble empirically
as well as semantically.

Eve's case of Gerhardt, meanwhile, may - as Lief suggests - represent the
local culture's attempt to make women wary of certain men ('men such as
this') in case women are failing to learn the lesson of wariness from
simply hearing about what he did. But it equally well may represent the
local culture's attempt to re-normalize all other men by singling out the
Gerhardts are the unusual and weaird. So too is Lief's idea that rape is
"by definition abnormal," and therefore cannot be "normal." By whose
definition, may I ask?

Harriet Whitehead
Anthropology, WSU