Re: The rape thread / instinct vs. culture

Michelle B. Golden (mgolden@EMORY.EDU)
Tue, 17 Jan 1995 11:05:12 -0500

Hello, all.

So you know, the message that Bjorn refers to below was a message sent
specifically to him, as opposed to a message posted to the list. I've
very deliberately refrained from posting to the whole list on this

As I understand it, posting private messages to a public list without the
author's permission is at best a breach of "netiquette" and at worst, not
exactly legal. I realize that this may well have been an honest mistake
on Bjorn's part, but wanted to point it out in any case.

Michelle (

On Mon, 16 Jan 1995, Bjorn Conrad Fry wrote:

> Michelle B. Golden wrote:
> >Bjorn,
> >
> >If male sexual instinct is the cause of rape, we're all in very deep
> >trouble. Maybe elimination of all but a few men is the answer if that's
> >the case.
> Only in as much trouble as we have ever been. Sure killing most males would
> solve the rape problem ... killing most females would solve others. I guess
> if we could get mothers to overcome their maternal instincts and kill
> their male babies as a matter of course, that would be an effective first
> step. We are already doing something akin to that with gender specific
> abortions. I for one, find it hard to believe that women can somehow
> absolve themselves from their male counterparts. Yes, even deny their own
> testosterone based selves, if you will. Not so infrequently it is those
> very women who most choose to cherish and display this side of themselves,
> who lean towards similar draconian measures. It's a curious world.
> >You don't see that our social structure (the so-called "rational" side of
> >men) encourages rape and other forms of violence against women?
> Although I'm sure it happens directly like that, I think that it is usually
> the indirect appeal to our most visceral or base nature in the form of
> commercials, and ads, TV, films, etc. where we rediscover our most
> primitive selves along with the exciting hormones associated with them.
> This can only happen as a direct result of cultural breakdown. Culture
> normally discourages us from acting out our most primal urges. Culture is
> indeed what civilizes us all, women included. The more we are able to
> function in a civilized state far removed from our instinctual selves, the
> less serious the negative impact is when cracks in our cultural fabric do
> occur, either on an individual or collective basis. Culture is not some
> superficial aesthetic set of traditions without purpose. Neither should
> culture not be understood for what it does for us. It should be fostered
> and perfected as the living reflection of human wisdom that it is.
> >Frankly, I'm sick and tired of men blaming their gender's use of violence
> >against women on some sort of uncontrollable instinct.
> I'm not blaming it. And I know it is controllable. Again for simplicity
> sake, as I've said there are two sides to the human being. ... the
> cultural, more social and rational side and the instinctual, primal, and
> primitive side. Human beings, and in this case men, if there is no other
> problem, are always both. In no small way that is what seems to make us
> different from other creatures. Reason, knowledge and understanding is what
> makes us able to control or discipline ourselves so as to be able to
> function socially in the way we do. Indeed our ability to conciously reason
> and understand is what we hold most dear as a species. To deny that is to
> deny that we are human.
> >It not only lets
> >men off the hook, but it also obscures the ways that such violence is
> >encouraged and supported by "civilized" structures.
> This doesn't nor should it let either gender off the hook. Both parents are
> responsible for civilizing their children of either gender. Our societies
> as a whole have the co-responsibility of educating our children as to what
> real constructive thought and wisdom are. Only then can our children make
> the necessary cultural choices that they can actually believe in and
> subsequently adhere to. Little boys, in some ways, might seem to be more
> difficult, outgoing, vivacious, aggressive, and less gregarious or
> precocious as many may attest. What might this mean? As I see it, it means
> that we as social and cultural beings, and yes, also instinctual beings,
> must make the best of what we've got. Our cultures are indispensible tools.
> What we learn to do with them is the key to the way we survive and live.
> Yes, culture can both suppress or bring out our primal selves. It becomes
> our challenge to most often encourage the former and discourage the latter.
> Are differing cultures always of equal effectiveness in this regard? Don't
> different cultural strategies bring with them differing results?
> >Your comment about "less cultured" and "less civilized" men raping more
> >is sheer absurdity.
> Please, read what I wrote. It was a question! I was hoping you might
> furnish the statistics because you seem to have already come to a
> conclusion in this regard judging from your STATEMENT. Are you then saying
> that an asocial or antisocial , is not likely to rape anymore than anyone
> else? Would your culture play a role? If you are talking about the US,
> which US subculture/s are you refering to?
> Back it up with statistics and information on how
> >those stats were gathered. Otherwise, your statement seems designed to
> >express your own (unproven) superiority over other less privileged men.
> >Get over it.
> What stats? I wish I were privileged. Superior? What made you come to that
> conclusion?
> I appreciate your contribution.
> Bjorn Fry