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A Sociological Imagination About Rape

Rape crime is one of the darkest parts of the society. It is maybe the single crime that causes people constrains their lives so much with its fear so it is not only related to society but also affects the society in many atrocious ways. The common assumption about rape is that rapists are abnormal, diseased, insane, or criminal by nature although the fact is usually quite the opposite. Could people consider in this way to make believe themselves that there are only a few diseased and sadist people and the society has not any problem? However a rapist may have some psychological problems like obsessive compulsive disorder or antisocial personality disorder the most rape crimes are triggered by some social perceptions or systems such as misogyny, patriarchy and the speech of rape.

To begin with, there is an immense misunderstanding of what is the difference between sexual violence and sexuality in a lot of people's minds. The most of the rapists say that the action that they had done should not be seen as rape. According to a research, some of them admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word "rape" is not used in the description of the act. They usually insist that the victim also got pleasure or wanted this. These people cannot recognize sexual crime, they do not understand what that means for the victim and they are not only a handful of people. According to a survey, in the US 30% of convicted rapists deny the fact that they commit rape or a sexual crime. Besides in the society, there are some myths about women and rape. Rape myths were first defined by M. Burt in 1980 as "prejudicial, stereotyped or false beliefs about rape, rape victims, and rapists". For instance, "if a woman says no, she actually means maybe", "women fantasize about being raped", "women incite men to rape, men are not guilty" and "rape is just unwanted sex and is not really a violent crime". These myths are very harmful because they lead people to blame the victim and to think that the rapist is innocent. They also make people doubt the victim's reliability and the reliability is very important both legally and personally. These fallacies can hide in a lot of places in our lives such as movies, fiction books, tv shows or even our personal dialogs. They are central to the exercise of power and control, patriarchy and rape culture.

A second dimension to the society adopts the patriarchal perception. Underestimating women's controls over their body is a very important problem. A man who thinks that women are firstly a sexual object that has to pleasure men's desires, he can do anything to a woman who refuses him. On the other hand, such man perceives saying yes for one act as an unlimited consent. For example, there is a concept of "date rape". The majority of rape crimes is committed by someone whom the victim knows. These people try to legitimize their crime by saying that the woman wanted to get in their cars, they drunk together, she came to their houses or the woman is their girlfriend. They can think that these behaviors or situations implies the woman's consent and saying no does not mean anything. They also think that sexual relationship is only about men, they are the active one and the woman should obey them because this is her duty. They believe in that they can use their sexuality for their any claim and aggression. Furthermore, in the society, there is another crime type that is called "marital rape". In Turkey, for a long time marital rape has not defined in the constitution. At the present time, still in over a hundred countries, marital rape is not a crime. Some people still perceive family or marriage as a private area and they think that the law should not interfere with it. However, just like a feminist slogan: "Private is politic". They are not private problems, they are political and sociological issues.

Another point is speech. In many societies, there is a rape culture that includes the speech of rape. People (usually the people who support the patriarchal system consciously or not) tell rape jokes, use some words that imply the act and laugh at them. For instance, after a football match, people almost always suggest that the winner team raped the other, they compare the match with a rape action. This misguided perception is based on the idea that sexual relationship is a delight for only men, women only suffer from that or they lose their innocence because of their sexual desire. Within the context, some men use their sexuality to punish someone easily because sexual relationship is already an unfavourable action for the other, according to them. We can see this fact in all swear words about sexuality. Even when they aim at a man, they insult women or gay people. They always refer to man's power or superiority. This situation both is affected by the society and it affects the society. 

Consequently, rape is a well-rounded and complex crime. It is usually not committed by diseased or insane people. There are some social perceptions that rape is based on, such as some poisonous myths, patriarchy, misperceptions and the speech of rape. Rape crime is not personal mostly, it is related to the society with the all dimensions.



  • Hamlin, John. "List of Rape Myths." List of Rape Myths. The University of Minnesota, 2001. Web. 29 Oct. 2015. <http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/myths.html>.
  • Lisak, David. Rape Fact Sheet (n.d.): n. pag. University of Massachusetts Boston, Mar. 2002. Web. 29 Oct. 2015. .
  • Scully, Diana. Understanding Sexual Violence: A Study of Convicted Rapists. Routledge, 1994.
  • Lonsway, K.A., & Fitzgerald, L.F. (1984) Rape Myths in Review Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, pgs. 133-164. 

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Nedim Yavuz 25.04.2016 00:00:00 civarında dedi ki:
This is the first detailed article which I have ever read about the rape.The article attracted my attention, because nowadays we hear lots of news unfortunately. But nobody clarifies what causes this unpleasent event from the social aspects. For this reason, I want to thank for your enlightening article and I hope so that we will be a conscious society about like issues.
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