Gavey, N. 2005. Just Sex?: The Cultural Scaffolding of Rape. (first two chapters)

Gavey, Nicola.2005. Just Sex?: The Cultural Scaffolding of Rape. New York: Routledge.

 

Overriding concern for false accusations of men by women, than the impacts and events of rape itself (Brownmiller 1975). The prosecution and abhorrence of rape is often framed by the erasure of rapes by privileged men, and the focus of rape issues on deviants, racial and class minorities. Women, even if raped by a stranger, forthcoming in her reporting, and demonstrated resistance, are often questioned in terms of her behaviors or reputation. Women’s perceived untrustworthiness, lack of knowledge about her own desires or sexuality, or desire for self-harm promote a culture of disbelief and works to silence rape survivors. Methodological concerns of studying rape: fabrication (making up rape events that did not happen), and nondisclosure (not revealing experiences of rape that did happen) – (Koss 1993a); nondisclosure is a much more common problem than fabrication. Social science of 1980s expands past stranger and marital rape to explore non-penetrative or other unwanted sexual acts.

 

“The act of rape is the logical expression of the essential relationship now existing between men and women”  (New York Radical Feminists Manifesto 1971/1974) – where a toleration of rape was met with a condemnation of it – through treating rapes as offenses to one man’s property by another (Griffin 1977) – as a means of intimidation to keep women subordinate and dependent upon men (Brownmiller 1975) – feminist integration and activism in social sciences politicized legal and social review of rape – as an outcome of patriarchal gender relations. Resistance in the early 1990s criticized the newfound statistics on date rape and college-aged acquaintances, noting that women’s participation within sexual activity comes with an inherent danger (relying heavily on pseudo-sociobiological arguments) – noting that if they are to be sexual equals – they must “accept the adventure of sex, accept the danger!” (Paglia 1992: 71). That, ultimately, sex is risky business:  “That was part of the freedom, that’s part of what we’ve demanded as women. Go with it. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go on. We cannot regulate male sexuality. The uncontrollable aspect of male sexuality is part of what makes sex interesting. And yes, it can lead to rape in some situations. What feminists are asking for is for men to be castrated, to make eunuchs out of them” (Paglia 1992: 63).

 

Roiphe (1993) notes that feminist critique of rape infantilizes women – that women are gullible and unable to take responsibility of sexual activity.

 

However, radical feminist critiques of sex, heterosexuality was met with criticism (even by other feminists) – where a perceived prohibition of sex, a connotation of all sex with violence, and the presumption that all sex acts were akin to rape was actually insulting to rape survivors (see also Segal 1987). Feminist dissection of rape acts – where forced intercourse by a date was less likely to be seen as rape vs. that of a stranger, and valued it as a less serious crime (Bridges 1991, Quackenbush 1989) – that date/acquaintance rape survivors were somehow more responsible than stranger rape survivors (Bridges and McGrail 1989, Johnson and Russ 1989), and perceived to have been less psychologically impacted by the incident (Bridges 1991). Out of this, forced sex within heterosexual relationships could often be constructed as acceptable, condoned – or partially the fault of the victim.

 

Rape myths contribute to societies that “tolerate high rape prevalence, by creating a social climate that is hostile to rape victims and by denying the reality of many rapes” (37). Rape myths, then becomes building blocks of a larger rape culture. Women’s silence (nondisclosure) on rapes built upon shame and guilt – sustaining the impact of rape myths, and preventing effective survivor care and needed cultural/legislative changes.

 

CITES:

 

Bridges, J.S. 1991. “Perceptions of Date and Stranger Rape: A Difference in Sex Role Expectations and Rape-Supportive Beliefs.” Sex Roles 24(5/6): 291-307.

Bridges, J.S. and C.A. McGrail. 1989. “Attributions of Responsibility for Date and Stranger Rape.” Sex Roles 21(3/4):273-286.

Brownmiller, S. 1975. Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. Harmondsworth, Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Griffin, S. 1977. “Rape: The All-American Crime.” Pp. 47-66 in Forcible Rape: The Crime, The Victim, and The Offender, edited by D. Chappell, R. Geis, and G. Geis. New York: Columbia University Press.

Johnson, J.D. and I. Russ. 1989. “Effects of Salience of Consciousness-Raising Information on Perceptions of Acquaintance versus Stranger Rape.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 19(14):1182-197.

Koss, M.P. 1993. “Detecting the Scope of Rape: A Review of Prevalence Research Methods.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 8(2):198-222.

New York Radical Feminists. 1971/1974. Rape: The First Sourcebook for Women, edited by N. Connell and C. Wilson. New York: Plume/New American Library.

Paglia, C. 1992. Sex, Art, and American Culture. New York: Vintage Books.

Quackenbush, R.L. 1989. “A Comparison of Androgynous, Masculine Sex-Typed and Undifferentiated Males on Dimensions of Attitudes towards Rape.” Journal of Research in Personality 23(3): 318-342.

Roiphe, K.1993. The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism. London: Hamish Hamilton.

Segal, L. 1987. Is the Future Female? Troubled Thoughts on Contemporary Feminism. London: Virago.

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