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Rosen writes: "The truth is, women are not safe. Every 6.2 minutes, there is a reported rape. One in five women is likely to be sexually assaulted in her lifetime."

Enough is enough: A student prays for Jyoti. (photo: Reuters)
Enough is enough: A student prays for Jyoti. (photo: Reuters)



Rape: The Universal Crime

By Ruth Rosen, Reader Supported News

24 February 13

 

he feminist writer Susan Griffin called rape "The All American Crime" in Ramparts Magazine in 1971. She was the first feminist to explain that men rape children, elderly and disabled women, not just girls dressed in mini-skirts. In other words, she challenged the belief that that rape was a sexual act, fueled by men's irrepressible sexual drive. Instead, she argued that rape was an assault against a woman, fueled by the desire to control and harm her, not a sexual act at all.

While I became a professor of history at the University of California a few years later, an elderly woman was raped by a man who stalked the campus looking for prey. He finally found a woman in her 90s and raped her in Davis's Central Park. (I can't find the newspaper story, but I remember the terror he caused among the town's women.) In 2012, a 43-year-old man raped a 73-year-old woman in New York City's Central Park and even boasted about how many elderly women he had raped. So, no, rape is not a sexual act.

Griffin was right. Even more, we now know that rape is the universal crime. Men don't need seductive young bodies scantily dressed to incite them to use their overwhelming power over a vulnerable woman. Even though rape has been declared illegal in war as a means of demoralizing an enemy, the Balkan wars revealed the creation of "rape camps" on all sides.

And has anything changed? Well yes, there was a huge outpouring of protest against the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India in December 2012. But after that atrocity, countless rapes followed in Timbuktu, Mali, just weeks later. In every ethnic strife, opponents rape women as part of the spoils of their victory. It's in the newspaper every day with sickening regularity.

Closer to home, I recently received a message from the Berkeley police, notifying me that the number of rapes in Berkeley, California, has doubled during the last year. The twenty rapes that occurred in 2011 jumped to 39 in 2012. Many of these crimes took place near campus, where I live, and some, as you would expect, involved alcohol and drugs, according to the local news station, KGO. Very likely, some of these involved date rape, a term not used until the women's movement coined it.

Then I read a story in the New York Times that women are now among the loudest voices against gun control. They are crowding the shooting ranges, learning how to shoot and protect themselves. Why? Because of fear of rape, fear of gender violence of all kinds, and probably fear of criminals as well as immigrants in the border states.

The truth is, women are not safe. Every 6.2 minutes, there is a reported rape. One in five women is likely to be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Nor is a woman safe in the military. As the New York Times recently reported, "The rate of sexual assaults on American women serving in the military remains intolerably high. While an estimated 17 percent of women in the general population become victims at some point in their lives, a 2006 study of female veterans financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that between 23 percent and 33 percent of uniformed women had been assaulted." A new documentary film about sexual assault in the military, "The Invisible War," is up for an Oscar. Let us hope it has some impact on our culture.

Rape, as feminists have always argued, keeps women off the streets and relegates them to the private sphere of the home. It is a form of social control that makes every woman afraid of moving about in the public sphere. Rape makes every woman somewhat afraid of the night. That is why women activists created "Take Back the Night" protests in the late 1970s: they wanted to reclaim public space.

Is this the kind of world we want to live in? When will rape become as unacceptable and as illegal as slavery is in civilized societies? Not in my lifetime.


Ruth Rosen, a former columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times, is Professor Emerita of History at the University of California Davis and a Scholar in Residence at the University of California Berkeley. Her most recent book is The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America.

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Web site: www.ruthrosen.org

 

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+32 # julillywk 2013-02-24 20:58
Prof Rosne's point is underscored by the vicious sub-culture of murder-porno on the internet -- the fantasy of murdering women and the fascination with it as seen from OJ Simpson to Pistorius.
But not only there-- but the horrible front cover of this month's W Magazine, with the head and bare shoulders of beautiful, white-skinned, dark haired Lara Stone, leaning back with her reddend lips half-opened and a thin bright red ribbon around her neck and tied up over her chin. It is visually shocking and one cannot but think of Nicole Simpson after OJ's first slash. It's horrible and should be universally protested. But it's tolerated as are the hundreds and hundreds of women tortured, murdered and missing in Juarez, Mexico. And nothing is done.
How deep does this hatred of women-- and their mysterious power of birth that men can never have--- go ???
 
 
+9 # bmiluski 2013-02-25 09:50
And lets not forget the rappers and their misogynistic message that no one ever protested or if they did, they were not allowed to do it out loud.
 
 
+5 # womyn 2013-02-25 16:50
I hold all Patriarchal religions responsible for the violence, incest and rapes perpetuated against children and women. These horrific sexual abuses did not occur in society when God was a Woman, pre-Patriarchy paradigm.

As a victim of incest as a child, and rape as an adult, I know only too well what these heinous crimes vilely committed by patriarchal misogynist men against innocent children and women do to alter a woman's life forever.

After many years of hard work, costly counseling, and 12 step programs, I finally consider myself a survivor at age 67 of these horrific violent crimes perpetuated against me by misogynist men which negatively changed the course of my life.

While I have participated in many Take Back the Night events, and other similar events, I am still emotionally affected each and every time I learn of another woman or child being raped, whether it is in the US military or across the world, or when more evidence is exposed with the role the Roman Catholic Church played in not only covering up and enabling pedophiliac priests to continue to sexually abuse little children for centuries, not just decades!

Until women take their power back and leave these patriarchal institutions, I am afraid there will be no positive change in this regard.

Patriarchal religious books were written by men, not God. with a specific (hidden) agenda to control women and children, and to take dominion over Mother Earth's resources.
 
 
+36 # Regina 2013-02-24 21:26
We also have political rape, by such cretins as Akin, Mourdock, et al., and the ghouls enacting vaginal probe laws in all the War On Women states. The actual rapists have a phalanx of enablers in legislatures, who convey the notion that women are here for the taking and tossing.
 
 
+10 # angelfish 2013-02-24 23:36
Well said, Regina!
 
 
+2 # sofi12 2013-02-25 11:48
Yes indeed.
 
 
-46 # fliteshare 2013-02-24 23:27
Offcourse this has nothing to do with little boys growing up in single mom households.
Let's see: Who taught those little boys to treat women like that? Hmmm, they couldn't have picked it up from their fathers, because those were hardly allowed to interact with their children. No four letter words or porn on TV except rape offcourse. And when the kid becomes 15 or 16 his friends tell him, women say always NO even when they actually mean YES. Their proof: "Ever heard a woman say YES?". And how again is this young man to know any better? From his manhating mother blaming all men (including him) for all the wrong decisions she has made in her (and indirectly his) life?
If he is lucky, having sisters might give him pause to recalibrate his skewed views on women.

Keep complaining dear Feminists, the failure is one of your own making and it is about time to start taking responsibility. (something grown-ups do). Until then, expect the problem to get worse.
Oh, I forgot you were only looking for an easy opportunity to play drama queen. After all Feminism was meant to empower women NOT assume responsibilitie s. I know, I can still hear the man-hating feminists screech, "men are responsible". And you know what? I agree, real men always are.
 
 
+27 # The Ice Maiden 2013-02-25 05:39
Wow, fliteshare, your comment is shockingly wrong. You can try to blame women for the current UNIVERSAL rape problem, but when I read your comments it almost makes the case that simple male DNA is the cause for male violence. If a male is raised in a female household where rape is surely NOT seen as OK, then where does he learn it? The suggestion that a young man's friends will justify believing no may not really mean no by asking, "Ever heard a woman say YES?" is just another way of blaming a man's frustration on the fact that a woman CAN say no. Let's rape them because they always say no anyway. Read thru your filter, you see proof that men rape because women made them that way, because women are impossible, but I see a man justifying rape because he's frustrated with not getting his way, not having the right to control women.
 
 
+22 # The Ice Maiden 2013-02-25 05:43
So much anti-female hate here, so much blame the victim. Man up, fliteshare! Women are NOT responsible for male brutality!
 
 
-11 # kalpal 2013-02-25 06:20
As we all know, rape did not exist prior to single mother households. It is entirely the outgrowth of female led households because the woman drove her lord and master away from the household and as such created rape as cultural artefact result of women who failed to comprehend their necessary essential role as a beast of burden subservient to the male who impregnated them.
 
 
+4 # sofi12 2013-02-25 11:54
Very good. You should write for The Daily Show.
 
 
+5 # buster 2013-02-25 09:47
Fliteshare takes my breath away. Is this a woman-hating male justifying his own weaknesses and failures? Wonder if he could understand or even define taking responsibility? Sounds like a blame game to me.
 
 
+6 # sofi12 2013-02-25 11:50
Dear fliteshare, you need to see someone about your unfortunate tendendcy to fly off the handle when you don't know what you're talking about.
 
 
0 # fishmother 2013-02-27 16:12
fliteshare, I understand there's a show on television these days called "Anger Management" starring the angry, misogynist, self-loathing Charlie Sheen. You might like it. He, as you most likely would, denies these character traits and would love to lay them off on mothers, society, feminists and anyone else he’s fantasized a case against. Like Sheen, you may need help to stop blaming the world for your own mean-spirited world view.
 
 
+26 # RMDC 2013-02-25 03:39
Obama and the rest of the US regime tells us that we are threatened by some "terrorists" living in a village in Yemen, Mali, Pakistan, or anywhere, so they spend trillions of dollars to make Americans "safe." It never occurs to them that about half of americans are not "safe" and the terrorists are right here in the US.

Fighting terrorism is the only thing that the good old boys in Washington care about fighting. They don't care about rape. They see it as a personal problem.

Maybe we should re-brand rape as terrorism. Then they might try to do something. It is a cultural problem and it goes very deep. It is in the discourse of the socialization of males as teens. All that can be changed. It takes time but cultures do change with effort.
 
 
0 # Cassandra2012 2013-02-27 11:13
Rape IS 'terrorism'--- a despicable crime of violence and control, not 'sex' by little 'men' who feel and probably are inadequate.
 
 
+5 # Underledge 2013-02-25 05:28
What ever happened to the death penalty for rape? It would seem to solve a good portion of the problem. If it happened, your guilty, good by. Simple.
 
 
+13 # reiverpacific 2013-02-25 09:17
Quoting Underledge:
What ever happened to the death penalty for rape? It would seem to solve a good portion of the problem. If it happened, your guilty, good by. Simple.

I think that castration would be a better alternative.
Imagine having to live without your former physical and mental "leading edge" as it were? I think a lot of guys would prefer death to that and it might even make them think and even repent over the long barren years they face.
I'm no shrinking flower or puritan (wherein resides self-righteousn ess and hypocrisy) but I've never had the slightest desire to have power over anybody.
Isn't love about sharing and expressing feelings of intimacy confidentially, whatever your sex or orientation?
And for those of you who jump on the "single mother" households rationale, much of this is caused by economic inequality, despair and guilt caused by long-term unemployment, racism and high housing costs which serve singularly or in combination to destroy families through the stress of everyday survival in a "Winner take all" society without universal health care, mental help or counseling, a social safety net for all and the shrinking possibility of a decent education.
All this perpetrated by the same ambitious and corrupt, power-seeking suits in a stifling Congress, Senate and Judiciary who excuse or even applaud the causary excesses of Wall Street whilst bloviating about the same "Family Values" they are helping to destroy.
 
 
+11 # Felix Julian 2013-02-25 07:34
Given the global community's mentality about rape (women/girls "deserve it", "asked for it") it isn't a surprise that two commentors (males), think rape is ok. There is no valid reason to blame "single-mom households" raising male children for rape. Just as there is no logical conclusion that divorce or break-ups lead to rape. Both of those arguments are, well, insulting and ignorant, in my view!
When a culture cannot come to grips with the intentional brutality of rape meted upon women and girls (and defenseless boys, by the way) of all ages by men and boys of all ages- in groups and singly- then we fail as the more "intelligent" animal. Blaming someone else, their dress, their "no-means-yes", "raised by a single-mom"...i s the easiest and weakest way out.
When our "culture" contributes to this lack of respect for women/girls/boy s and our children are fed a bounty of brutal, violent, abusive, disrespectful visual messages then the results are going to be predictable.
When college boys are seen as "just kids" after they've gang-raped a drunk girl at a frat party and not been prosecuted- that too is the kind of message that says: RAPE IS OKAY.
When American soldiers are accused of raping their fellow female troops- it was a the trauma of war to blame. Even Generals have gotten off the hook for raping and/or sexually harassing NOT ONLY WOMEN but men as well.
Rape, as a previous poster stated, is NOT about sex...it is about power over someone weaker than themselves.
 
 
+13 # ericlane 2013-02-25 08:06
From my experience, the more repressed women are in a society, the more violence toward women exists. I had a female friend return from 2 years in Morocco and what she told me about the behaviour of men in that country turned my stomach. It seems to me that the word 'respect' for the opposite sex should be taught in school starting in the first grade all over the world. It's hard to do when Judeo-Christian -Muslim religions relegate women to inferior status and Hinduism literally has a caste system. The more a religion represses women, the more violence toward women exists in that society. To end rape, it may be time to get rid of gods that support it.
 
 
+15 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-02-25 08:17
It is patriarchy. Men are in control. We must insist that all elected bodies that represent the people as a whole shall be gender balanced. Our laws are written by men and men vote to cut domestic programs to fund the wars. You will see the horrors of 'sequestration' in the near future. Cut the domestic budget and fund endless wars and keep shoveling money to the banksters. Women would not vote to cut funds for infants and children to spend trillions of dollars to kill people in the middle east. We need to spend our tax funds on the needs of our people here at home. The men are not just raping us they are depriving us of food, shelter, health care and education. Cuts in Social Security and Medicare are coming up. Women and children will suffer the worst of this crime against the working people of this nation.
 
 
0 # corals33 2013-02-25 21:58
Quoting wantrealdemocracy:
It is patriarchy. Men are in control. We must insist that all elected bodies that represent the people as a whole shall be gender balanced. Our laws are written by men and men vote to cut domestic programs to fund the wars. You will see the horrors of 'sequestration' in the near future. Cut the domestic budget and fund endless wars and keep shoveling money to the banksters. Women would not vote to cut funds for infants and children to spend trillions of dollars to kill people in the middle east. We need to spend our tax funds on the needs of our people here at home. The men are not just raping us they are depriving us of food, shelter, health care and education. Cuts in Social Security and Medicare are coming up. Women and children will suffer the worst of this crime against the working people of this nation.

What a sensible person you are whatever gender you are.I am a man and I agree with you one hundred percent whoever you are.We have too any damn professors and not enough people.
 
 
+7 # terrison 2013-02-25 12:39
According to Rainn.org, the author here is using statistics of only girls/women over the age of 12. In actuality, 1 in 3 girls/women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Additionally, if a girl has been sexually abused as a child, she is 2 to 3 more times likely to be victimized again when she is older (often repeatedly through her lifetime.)

Statistics for sexual assault most often focus on only reported cases, and the vast majority of cases are unreported. Up to 90% of child sexual assaults go unreported.

In my own case, it happened when I was 4. I didn't report it until I was 11, and when I did report it, no action was taken. They didn't even contact the perpetrator. He was abusing his daughter as well as myself. I've been re-victimized over 5 additional times since then. I'm talking about rape, here, not attempted rape, not "innapropriate touching" or exposure to pornography, or anything "less".
 
 
+2 # tishado 2013-02-26 18:03
We need to fight to end the demonization of feminism becaue patriarchy is the cause and the whole realization of women's humanity is the solution. Men benefit as well when they learn to be the equal of women and not their oppressors.
 

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