Now that I’ve got your attention…
Let us shed for a moment the things that we have been taught by well-meaning feminists who’s chief goal is to make women realize that it is not their fault for having a sex drive that they got raped. This is worthwhile and useful and frankly, I don’t care if you have to tell a rape victim that the moon is covered in happy singing ponies–whatever gets through and helps her recover is more than fine by me. It is absolutely, completely, and fundamentally not a woman’s fault that she gets raped, and I would sooner remove my larnyx with a pair of pliers than say it is.
However, for the rest of us, let’s actually analyze this statement a bit.
Men are, on average, (in the U.S.) nine times more likely to commit murder. Well, okay, fine. Go down the board for criminal acts, however, and this holds true–ten times as likely to commit armed robbery, six and a half times as likely to commit aggravated assault, etc, etc. It’s not until you get down to the very bottom of the non-violent crimes that women start to catch up–men are only one and a half times as likely to embezzle, for example. The only thing that women are more arrested for is prostitution. The single blip on the chart is infanticide–women are less likely to be violent, but if they are, it’s overwhelmingly towards their own children. (Statistics all from 1992–things could have changed a bit.)
(Interjection: I’m not bashing men. Men are what they are, and they appear to be genetically predisposed to be more violent than women. There is not a single society on earth where women are MORE violent. This seems, to my mind, to mean that men are more likely to be violent based on something other than cultural conditioning–otherwise, you’d expect to find at least ONE where women beat the odds. However, as we all know, plenty of men can keep their tempers just fine, and are honorable, decent human beings who don’t commit acts of murder every time they turn around. My husband gets quite upset if he hits a squirrel with the car.)
Now, what we learn from these statistics is that men are a lot more violent than women, BUT–there are female criminals, nonetheless. There are even female serial killers. There are just a lot less of them. Any crime men can commit, women can commit just as well. Nor is it just the U.S.–run through the industrialized countries, even the relatively peaceful Western European ones, and men are a lot more likely to commit murder, etc. Get into indigenous societies and it goes off the charts–60% of wives among tribes in Papua New Guniea describe themselves as battered, and roughly a fifth of them have to be hospitalized for it, and that’s just at home. Most indigenous peoples bear about as much resemblance to the peace-loving savages of condescending Western literature as they do to Martians. Among some groups, for example, 20-30% of the adult males can expect to die violently. Among the Waoroni of the Amazon, prior to the 70’s, a staggering 60% of both genders could expect to die by violence, virtually all of it committed by males. But still, in all but the most repressive societies, you still get female criminals.
And then we get to rape.
In the U.S., men are seventy-eight times more likely to commit rape. I mean, what the hell? It’s off the chart compared to everything else. Women are more likely, by orders of magnitude, to kill than to rape.
Now, if rape really WERE a power crime, wouldn’t you expect it to be committed equally by both sexes–or at least, for it to fall in line with numbers for other crimes, like murder? The desire for power is at least as universal as the desire to kill. If it really had nothing to do with sex, as is the claim, then why is there such a huge gap?
On the other hand, if it DOES have to do with sex drives, if it’s a case of “I’m so damn horny I’m doing whatever it takes,” rather than “I feel like humiliating someone today,” then you’d probably expect that the member of the species with the overclocked sex drive (comparitively) would be the one doing it. And yep, that’s pretty much what the numbers bear out. And if you view attitudes towards rape among most indigenous peoples, it seems to center around the I’m-so-horny model a lot more than other things, which is why you get “bed-crawling” rapes in quite a few societies (i.e. someone’s expecting their lover, and someone else sneaks in under cover of darkness and takes advantage of mistaken identity.) But hell, even shrimp do that. Furthermore, if you castrate someone, they’re a lot less likely to commit rape. Were rape really, all the time, a power crime, then it should have no effect, but the correlation’s unmistakable–get rid of testosterone, and the violence rate goes way down. Yes, eunuchs can be as cruel as anybody, but, like women, they are far less likely to be doing so than men with all the chemical plumbing intact.
Could it be–god forbid–that humans are committing rape for the same reasons that animals generally do? The desire to get lucky? If you’re a genetic loser, you can’t get a mate by the normal method, then what do you have to lose? (Well, in modern society, since we actually punish each other, unlike auks and blue-footed boobies and so forth, a helluva lot. But we’ll assume the drives haven’t caught up with the law.)
Some things could be skewing our data. I’ll be the first to admit that. For one thing, there’s the fact that a lot of women probably don’t think that women are capable of rape, due to conflicting equipment–well, they are, as it happens. (In fact, many of the reported cases of rape by women are of OTHER women, and if anybody doesn’t have compatible equipment…well, y’know.) T’other big one could be that men are stuck in a position not unlike women for most of human history–it’s humiliating to report that you’ve been raped. By a girl. People will assume that you enjoyed it, etc. So undoubtedly, rape by women, of men, is underreported, and could even out the percentages a bit–but on t’other hand, a heckuva lot of rapes still, in this day and age, go unreported by women, so we’re back up there again. For another thing, our murder rate data could be funky. After all, men are more likely to kill women by virtue of the fact that they’re bigger and stronger and can actually pull it off. Well, true, in which case you’d expect same-sex murder rates to be roughly equal, right? They’re the same size that way. Wrong. Actually, if you take out infanticide, which women are far more likely to commit, nearly 100% of all same-sex murders in industrialized European countries are committed by men, against men. Go figure.
That some rapes are about power and dominance, I’m not gonna question. Particularly when perpetuated against children and women with whom someone’s already got sexual access, then yes, it’s almost certainly tied up in power. However, I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice by perpetuating the “rape-is-a-power-crime” stereotype so universally. Sometimes, it’s all about sex. That doesn’t make it okay, by any stretch of a diseased imagination, nor does it mean that women who like sex are asking for it, or anything like that. Most men have no trouble controlling their sex drive adequately, and anyone who can’t is a deviant who ought to be stopped. But if we keep up this stereotype and continue divorcing rape from any sexual roots, then how can we ever be expected to understand it, and thus to stop it?