Part 15: Rape Culture: A Sense of Entitlement

By January 7, 2014Gender & Faith, Women
In this continuing series, guest blogger Toria helps us consider rape culture and how to better “do justice” for women. Warning: May contain explicit images, language, and/or triggers.
The United Nations performed a study in Asia, trying to get to the bottom of the rape epidemic in that part of the world. They surveyed 10,000 men from Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. One quarter of them confessed to being guilty of rape. Just less than half of them said that they had committed more than one rape, and one in ten men said that they had raped a woman with whom they were not in a relationship. They were then asked what their motive had been to assault their victim. Here are some notable results:
•     The top answer: (~75%): They felt entitled to her body.
•     The second most popular answer: They were bored / they thought it was fun. That was all it took. They were bored and they thought that their victim’s body existed for their own convenience and pleasure, regardless of whether she consented or not.
Other noteworthy results:
•     The third-ranking answer: Rape was used as a form of punishment, or because he was angry.
•     The lowest-ranking answer was because the men had been drunk.
•     The men who had been abused as children were more likely to commit rape.
•     Over half of non-partner rape perpetrators first did so when they were in their teens.
In case anyone is interested, Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea had the highest percentage of admitted rapists at 62%.
Researchers David Lesak and Paul Miller conducted a similar study among over 1880 college students (in the United States, I believe) and found that when the students were asked if they had committed acts that constituted sexual assault or rape without using either of those terms (“Have you ever attempted unsuccessfully to have intercourse with an adult by force or threat of force?”, “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone who did not want you to because they were too intoxicated to resist?”, “Have you ever had intercourse with someone by force or threat of force?”, “Have you ever had oral intercourse with someone by force or threat of force?”), 6% of participants said “yes” to at least one of the questions, and that 4% had committed more than 400 attempted or completed rapes.
These studies and others like them show that people will admit to assaulting or raping someone so long as researchers don’t actually use the words “assault” or “rape,” because those are the words that they associate with crimes. When those words aren’t used, some people genuinely believe that pressuring someone to have sex is acceptable and legal because of what our culture teaches them about consent.

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