Rape is prevalent. Yet, there is no sane reason why it should be except that rape is a tool for instilling fear and ensuring dominance. Rape is anger, aggression, frustration, emotional impotence, a power trip, a threat. Rape is not about sex or being sexual — which is why rape happens not just with a man’s penis, but also with the barrel of a gun, the neck of a beer bottle, the handle of a broom, or other implement of terror.
In talking with survivors who have been raped, the quote that comes to mind is Nietzsche’s, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” But why do so many women have to be brought near “death” to gain so-called strength? And why is associating sex and violence so ubiquitous in our culture? (Oh, yeah, religion.)
Worse, it makes me wonder what men’s definition of rape is. With marital rape, do men understand that they are raping their wives — not having sex? That legal marriage does not equal the right to rape? Does the drunk friend realize the alcohol was not an excuse for rape? And what about sanctimonious, judgmental women who are as much a part of the rape culture as the rapists and callous men who make rape jokes?
In sharing my rape experience and subsequent shame of reporting it, I received several messages from other women who told me of similar situations. I’ve removed their pictures and blacked out their names. These are just a few of the comments I received, but it points to a pervasive problem that still lurks on the fringes of open discussion.