The Backlash! - Feminist Issues - Rape - Women as property
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Women as property
By Rod Van Mechelen

One bad idea pop-feminists promote is that men's abhorrence of rape begins with property ownership: "The essence of rape was theft of or damage to another man's property, be it the father or the husband. As a result, rape was originally connected to property, the seizing and devaluing of a possession." -- Jane Dowdeswell, Women on Rape (A Whole woman book)).

This ignores the historical dynamics between women and men. In the past, to be eligible for marriage, men often had to prove themselves able to provide a wife with food and shelter. In a sense, a woman didn't marry a man, but his livelihood. In every essential respect, he was as much her property as she was his.

It also demeans modern men. Historically, rape may have been about property. But that does not dictate what is presently true. Do most mothers consider their children chattel? Are kids no more than property to moms? Would torturing a woman's children be, to her, nothing more than vandalizing her property?

Of course not. Nor is the rape of a man's wife mere "defilement" of a valued possession. The conduit of his love may be occluded by his anguished I-should-have-been-there-to-defend-her shame, but no matter what reasons individual men may have for wishing no harm for their wives, one thing very clear is that most men feel almost as much concern for the safety of most women as they do for their own mothers, wives and sisters. When pop-feminists disparage this genuine concern, they do more than harm men, they hurt women, too.

When the bonds of love are severed by cut-throat commentators, what's left? For men today, it's quickly becoming a matter of self-preservation. No where is this so evident as in the discussions over date rape and responsibility.

What if your date tells you she wants to have sex with you, then when you're in bed about to "do it," she says, "no." If you keep going, is it rape? What if you're already humping away and she says, "I've changed my mind, stop" seconds before you orgasm, if you orgasm, is it rape? The best answer in every case is: Assume it is, get the hell out of there, warn all of your friends she's a rape waiting to happen, and never have anything to do with her again. Always take no for an answer. The less you have to do with women who play such games, the better.

Isn't this being paranoid? Yes, and men have good reason to be paranoid. Pop-feminists are teaching most women, and college students in particular, that even reluctant sex is rape. (Time, June 3, 1991, p 53)

Even though most accusations of rape are dropped, a false charge can destroy a man's career, ruin his reputation, and leave his life in shambles. What do pop-feminists have to say about that? A woman who levels false charges of rape has her "reasons." (Time, June 3, 1991, p 51)

When is it rape, and when is it something else? Susan Brownmiller argues that rape is "a crime of violence and power over women" rather than a sex crime: "It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation, by which all men keep all women in a state of fear." -- Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape.

We should welcome such a broad definition since it allows us to look beyond the limited idea of rape as a crime committed only by men against women. Realistically, rape is an obsolete term that should be replaced with a non-gender specific term, such as Sexual Violence. Indirectly, pop-feminists even admit the whole concept of rape has as much to do with subjective social attitudes as with any objective characteristics of the crime:

Men can never be raped by a woman in the same way a woman can be raped by a man -- or a man can be by another man -- since cultural symbols do not allow female sexual aggression to be humiliating to a man. -- Shere Hite, The Hite Report on Male Sexuality
If rape wholly depends upon what kinds of sexual aggression cultural symbols cause to be humiliating, then women are raping men at breakneck speed. By their own logic, every woman who has ever sneered at and spurned a "nerd's" request for a dance or a date is guilty of rape. Everytime a woman fakes orgasm, she rapes. And every woman who has ever scorned a man's sexual performance has raped, because most men find these forms of female sexual cruelty both hurtful and humiliating.

Despite this, pop-feminists cling to their anachronistic concept like Crusaders of olde swashing their bucklers because, without the means to deny by definition that men can be sexually victimized by women, they would lose the primary basis upon which they persecute men. Consequently, they cannot accept that rape sometimes results from an over-excited libido.

Rape, or sexual violence, is not always about sex. But women who assert it's never about sex just don't get it.

But when rape isn't about sex, it can be, as Brownmiller argues, "a deliberate, hostile, violent act of degradation and possession on the part of a would-be conqueror, designed to intimidate and inspire fear ..." -- Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. So, if it's not about sex, but power and control, then clearly millions of women are guilty of raping men. This is a crime pop-feminists encourage and perpetuate.

They are successfully using rape and many other "feminist" issues, for example, as a "conscious process of intimidation, by which all (women) are putting all (men) in a state of fear" by terrorizing men with the threat of being accused of rape, sex discrimination, a sexual thought, or sexual harassment for any act that the "victim" may believe or say occurred: "Men, too, should be aware that if walking behind a woman, she may assume she is being followed. They should cross over or take a different route." -- Jane Dowdeswell, Women on Rape (A Whole woman book)).

By pop-feminist definition, men are guilty, period. "All men are rapists, that's all they are," wrote Marilyn French in The Women's Room. The corollary to this, which most rightly ridicule, is "all women want to be raped."

Presuming a universal perversity among men is acceptable to many, but Brownmiller asserts our adherence to this absurd notion of human sexuality is in men's best interest: "There is good reason for men to hold tenaciously to the notion that 'All women want to be raped.' Because rape is an act that men do in the name of their masculinity, it is in their best interest to believe that women also want rape done, in the name of femininity." (Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller) The problem with this is, the two go hand in hand. If "all men are rapists," then "all women want to be raped." They are inseparable propositions, each lending life and logic to the other.

Every time a pop-feminist denounces all men as rapists, or as potential rapists, she also brands women as real or potential masochistic matrons of perfidiousness. They do try, however, to obscure the connection by assiduously asserting the former while vehemently denying the latter: It is in their best interests to sell the idea all men are potential rapists.

Until recently, rape was defined as a crime no woman could commit: "rape is the only crime in which by law the victim is female and the offender is male." (Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller) This ignores that women can be guilty of statutory rape. Have sex with anyone too young and, male or female, the act is, by law, rape. In this context, women can be rapists, too. But are they likely to be charged with rape? Rarely, because "our society mistakenly believes that 'girls get raped and hate it, but boys are seduced and love it.'" (Mic Hunter, Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse.)

Why is a girl a "victim" but a boy is "lucky"? Because, no less than the men whom they accuse of sexism, women objectify themselves as sex-objects. Thinking in terms of supply and demand, they see themselves as suppliers of sex and men as consumers. Thus, a boy who is "given" sex to "consume" is lucky, while a girl who "gives" of her "supply" is, by sexist logic, a victim of theft. Objectified by her own gender, her pleasure is made a commodity she must hang onto and exchange for power over men.

For this reason, as "suppliers of sex" all women are subject to victimization, while all men, as "consumers of sex," are like thieves in the night whom pop-feminists prejudge guilty by virtue of being men.

This is particularly evident in Brownmiller's assessment of the predicament of groupies, who find themselves "coerced" into giving away their sex: "(T)he glamour attached to cultural heroes, such as a movie star, sports figure, rock singer or respected-man-in-the-community, provides a psychologic edge that lessens the need for physical coercion until it is too late for the victim to recognize her predicament." (Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller) Personifying men as success objects, these frequently young women pursue the attentions of rich, powerful, sometimes famous walking wallets with a fervor matched only by some young men's pursuit of sexually objectified women.

Recognizing the sexual power these men have, Brownmiller labels them "rapists" who "operate within an emotional setting or within a dependent relationship that provides a hierarchical, authoritarian structure of its own that weakens a victim's resistance, distorts her perspective and confounds her will." (Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller) As most men can confirm, an attractive woman has an almost identical effect on men. Does that mean all attractive women are rapists? If a man's career success makes him a rapist because it gives him a sexual "edge," then shouldn't the same be true of a woman whose carnal success gives her a competitive edge of her own? Just who are the real victims, here?

Pop-feminists assert most women are victims of rape. That it is both common and under-reported. In Great Britain, the 1984 Women's Safety Survey concluded one in six women had been raped. (Women on Rape, Jane Dowdeswell) In the U.S., Brownmiller asserts "one in five (female) rapes, or possibly one in twenty, may actually be reported." (Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller) Their numbers may be true. But ignoring how women victimize men, they are certainly biased.

Do women sexually violate men as often as men sexually violate women? Not according to police statistics. But do those numbers accurately portray reality?

Probably not: Most cases of reported spouse battering, for example, involve a man attacking a woman. Yet surveys conducted independently of reported cases (i.e., police records), show that, in 1975, five husbands were battered for every four battered wives. Ten years later, that increased to more than seven battered husbands for every four battered wives. (Susan K. Steinmetz and Joseph S. Lucca, Handbook of Family Violence.)

Despite this, police statistics show between twelve and fourteen cases of wife battering are reported for every case of husband battering. In other words, only one case out of between seventeen and twenty occurrences of husband battering is reported. If this ratio holds true with rape, then it's possible that, in 1985, perhaps one in three men were raped, but only one in 29 were reported.

This is not as far-fetched as it may sound: Statutory rapes of male victims are seldom reported. What's more, the 1991 study suggesting a new category of rape defined by reluctant consent, found that more male than female college students said they had engaged in sexual intercourse when they really didn't want to. (Time, June 3, 1991, p 53) If reluctant consent sex is rape, then the rape of men may be the most under-reported crime of all. But, all of this begs the question if men cannot, by definition, be victims of rape.


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Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1994 Rod Van Mechelen; all rights reserved.

Rod Van Mechelen, Publisher & Editor,

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