Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

Rape — sex or power?

Rape happens every day in South Africa. It is estimated that each year about half a million rapes occur, but only 1 in 9 of these is reported. With roughly 24 million women in South Africa this presents women with a scary picture. It means that if you are a woman and you live to the age of 50, you have a damn high chance of being raped in South Africa. You can debate with these statistics, but that’s not the place of this blog. Even if only 1 occurs, there is something going on. And I’m interested in what that something is. Is rape about sex, or is it about power?

For a long time many women’s groups have advocated for the idea that rape is about power. They have argued that it is about the relationships between men and women, and the “expected” relationships between men and women in a patriarchal political system. To explain, the “expected” relationships say that men should have more power than women, and historically this has largely come from their physical size and economic power. Men have been the breadwinners, businessmen and success stories whilst women have played a background role. This has been intimately tied with masculinity, and in fact being dominant has been one of the central historical traits that have been labelled as “masculine”. Similarly, being sexually powerful, having a good libido and the ability to be sexy to women is part of the script of masculinity that appears cross-culturally throughout history. In summary, men are supposed to be strong, rich and virile.

However, the times they are a-changing and increasing numbers of women are gaining their economic independence. In South Africa especially, they have been given constitutionally entrenched equal legal status. Women have also been granted sexual freedom. They are legally empowered to have sex with whom and when they want to. Women are no longer legally required to have sex with their husbands, boyfriends or partners. They are sexually liberated (in theory). So women too are legally enabled to be rich, and sexually free post 1994. For all intents and purposes, they are equal to men for the first time in the history of the country.

How is rape related? The explanation goes that these changes can make men feel emasculated and powerless. This can result in feelings of anger, and sometimes these feelings can be directed at women. Women represent the unwanted changes in their power status and are thus the perfect object of their anger. Men who do not find some other way to renegotiate their masculinity will take their anger out in a physical way, and the most invasive way to teach women their place is to rape them. The level of invasiveness is unlike any other because during a rape, a man is physically inside of a woman. It takes away women’s sexual freedom, and it is an insult to her dignity.

I have been a firm believer in this explanation for a very long time. In my understanding the way that masculinity and femininity are constructed, renegotiated and formed are essentially political and are not without their links to power. The fact that rape is so invasive, whether it is of a man or a woman, with a penis or an object is linked to this power relationship — it is a demarcation of that most intimate space as someone else’s property. It is a taking-away of the survivor’s power. A re-assertion of the rapist’s power.

Sexual relations are necessarily based around power and as rape is the most unfortunate and damaging of sexual relations, rape is about power. It is about putting women back in their places. It is about taking sexual freedom and showing women that it is not theirs to have.

But there is a second stream of thought that says that this is not the point of rape. If it were about power, men could just beat up a woman (and some do). They could simply kick a woman out, or kick her to show how powerful they are. So what is it, that makes a man choose to use his sexual organs? Could rape be about sex?

If we think that rape is about sex, then we explain that rape is about men’s (socially constructed or physical) needs to have sex with women when they want to. Rape involves the sexual organs because it is the part of the body that is associated with their sexuality, their sexual pleasure and their reproductive power. This explanation also links to biological drives like reproduction and the reproduction of the species.

I have an extremely close friend who has been part of the women’s rights struggle for the 37 years of her life, and she suggested that in her experience of dealing with survivors she has begun to change her mind about what the “cause” or “explanation” for rape is. Through hearing the narratives of rape survivors and alleged rapists, she has come to believe that rape is very much about sex. It is about men wanting sex and women being forced into sex. It is about the inability of women to negotiate the sex that they have, and thus being forced into situations where sex happens to them without their consent. Rape then, for many women and for some men, is about sex.

These distinctions are not about light matters. They define the solution. If rape is about power we must renegotiate power relations, masculinity and femininity, and ensure that equality is something that does not become a situation of equal disempowerment. In order to stop a rapist you have to understand why he is raping, and not understanding this will leave many organisations with the simple task of picking up the pieces. If rape is about sex, new strategies and solutions will need to be devised and enacted to create a better way of living for men and women.

The most disheartening thing about both explanations is that neither provides us with an explanation of why one man chooses to rape and another does not.

  • FishEagle

    A large part of a rape survivor’s recovery will come from the realization that she was the victim of her rapists’ feelings of powerlessness, which was transferred to her through sex. In that respect I think feminists are right. However, I don’t think your conclusions about rape in the present day political context have much merit, to the extent that you have generalized in your post. Rape and violence have always been a part of Western culture, going back to the Dark Ages and beyond to historical times when Western society was much more patriarchal. I don’t believe we have more rapes occurring today than we did back then, even though we are much more likely to talk about it openly. Another contradiction in your thought process is the fact that other societies that have been liberated much more, in terms of sexual equality, have much lower incidents of rape than South Africa. Be careful not to down play South Africa’s horrific rape statistics in your post. Still, I commend your efforts to raise the issue and create public awareness. I take a keen interest in this topic in a personal capacity, having been raped at the young age of three years.

  • Father G

    Jen, I think the real reason for rape is PATRIARCHY. As long as men still believe that women are inferior they will continue to be targets of nasty deeds. Just imagine the things that used to be done by some whites long ago when they thought blacks were inferior. Its the same concept. Truly speaking when most men see a woman they dont see a human being. They dont see a sovereign, spiritual being with a purpose on earth. But, all they see is simply a “bunch of buttocks, breasts and a vagina….”

  • Sue

    Excellent piece, and exactly so – far too often rape is about both power and sex.
    Does opportunity play a role? Not for the woman, but the man. If she is there, and he is there, then is it his right, whether he knows her or not?

    Can education make a difference? Surely it could, and it should start with encouraging a healthy sense of self and self-respect, as surely this will lead to respect for others. Hopefully.

  • Chris

    Rape is utterly degrading for both parties even though rapists like to think it gives them this sick power. But, if you are raped & you are able to over come it, I think that’s more powerful than anything! More amazing is the fact that these women are able to forgive & that takes more strength & courage than a
    anything you could ever imagine. The power to over come and to forgive is greater than any power anyone will ever have over you. To all the survivors, I commend you.

  • Michael Baillie

    A very informative blog, well done!
    I don’t think its as simple as choosing between either option A or B – perhaps in many cases it is a combination of both: rape as power, and rape as sex.

    For example: man and woman are ‘fooling around’, and man thinks fooling around is a precursor to sex. When the woman says ‘no’, and the man forces sex, his actions are linked to sex, but also to power. We can assume that he is ‘turned on’ and wants sex, but then his ability to force that desire onto the woman is undoubtedly about power. And through rape, he further enacts that power, almost bringing it to life.

    Having said this, there are also definitely cases where rape is purely about power, and sex is merely a tool – and as you say a particularly powerful one – perhaps because it is so invasive.

    I look forward to more comments.

  • Judith

    And why does rape happen to babies, young girls and boys, and old women? There are so many unanswered questions including why many women still say of young women who are raped “She deserved it because of the way she dressed”. As women, we have to look at our attitudes and how we educate our daughters in handling their sexuality.

  • haiwa tigere

    I really dont think there is any man out there who wakes up and says to himself “I a going to rape someone today”. Its mostly an opportunity crime.Like a guy seeing a laptop in the back of a car.

    Men have 10 to 40 erections a day (more like 40). Nature must also take the blame for rape.This is not because of dirty thoughts but just natural . Watched my 5 year old wake up with a stiff one and I dont think he has any dirty thoughts yet because I have kept my porn well hidden!

    Does a car jacker acquire a merc because the driver is capitalistic pig-no its because a merc has a better resale value and has been ordered.If driven by a female its even better because they scare easily- a guy might have a gun and shoot your backside.Imagine the same carjacker is having one of his 40 daily turgidities he might rape her because of the opportunity.

    I grew up in the rural areas. Any woman who said yes to sex was a tart.Any first sex with a girl was therefore a rape by current definition of rape.In the villages rape is defined as sex that happens by force between complete strangers.Anything else is seduction.

    Two scenarios:1)female driver car jacked and raped by total strangers.
    2) couple wine and dine go back home fore play and all sex starts girl says no RAPE? EQUAL

  • Atlas Reader

    It’s about the power to have sex entirely on your own I-am-the-boss terms. But, in essence, it’s all about power.

  • Rod of Sydney

    “explanation of why one man chooses to rape and another does not”….. bit misleading and inflamatory sweetheart.

    The huge, vast majority of men don’t rape. Rather say “why one man chooses to rape and the vast majority of men don’t”

  • Owen

    Rape has to be in part about sex, how else does a guy get an erection. He has to be sexually stimulated and perhaps the key lies in sexually frustrated. Men have ‘wet dreams’ if they wait long enough.

    Normally when a guy gets a girl and through normal living he is relatively satisfied. Women always complain that all guys think about is sex. What happens when he does not get normal sexual satisfaction?

    Positions of power are potent aphrodisiacs. So politicians are often guilty of sexual isdiscretions. Tiger Woods was winning at golf and so sexually active with willing partners. Robbers when they have successfully robbed a women then get the ‘kick on’ to go further.

    I once heard of a male rhino trying to have sex with female zebras as he was the only rhino in the game park. I guess that is how evolution and new species occur.

    I think that any male is capable of rape given the right ‘frustrated’ and power circumstances that he finds himself in.

    So in my view, rape occurs when a guy is already in a position of power and is sexually frustrated.

    Note a guy who has worked all day is tired and not so sexy whereas an unemployed guy is raring to go. Hence rape follows a successful crime (position of power), paticularly in africa where unemployment is very high.

    Also this explains why troops (inactive frustrated males) often rape during and after battle.

    Sex follows success.

  • Rod of Sydney

    There is no silver bullet answer. A lack of empathy and selfishness drives most anti-social behaviours.

    Very complex and different for each situation.

    Rape is an ugly outpouring as is violence. Legal prostitution is at least a testosterone outlet which would reduce aggression. Grow up and accept that it is not an evil vice but a reflection of need and necessary for a functioning society.

    They have here in most parts of Aus.

  • Johnathan Haze

    “So women too are legally enabled to be rich, and sexually free post 1994. For all intents and purposes, they are equal to men for the first time in the history of the country.”

    So we given to understand that women were not legally enabled to be rich and sexually free before 1994.

    Only since that magic date, with the advent of a highly developed and civilised government, occupying the commanding heights of ethical behaviour, has a barrage of legislation been passed to allow women to become rich and sexually free.

  • Siobhan

    Why do men rape? Is it about sex or power? If it is ‘about sex’ what difference does it make to the victim? Men have been blaming women for male lack of self-control since the time of Lilith and her equivalents in non-western cultures.

    The truth is that NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO SEX ON DEMAND. Some men cannot accept this principle. They go around demanding that any woman they encounter ‘serve’ them–as they were accustomed to when they were being breast-fed. Demand. Get. When mother says no and withdraws the breast, Boy is enraged. How DARE she deny me what I am ENTITLED to? Of all the ‘perks’ associated with being male, ENTITLEMENT is the least justified and the most widely enforced.

    In sexual relations and all other areas of life men feel ENTITLED and most of them may not be aware they feel this way because the only time they ‘feel’ anything keenly is at orgasm or when in pain. With a sensory vocabulary limited to pleasure and pain, males seek pleasure no matter how much pain they inflict to get it.

    Sex is about power and power is about power because both are about feeling entitled. How do we stop men from raping? Obviously laws don’t work. The punishment never fits the crime. Education? Males cannot be ‘told’ anything by females because it re-creates the primal relationship with the all-powerful mother who can say NO.

    Men just don’t get NO.

  • lady

    Thank you for being honest about the reasons for rape. For so long I have been wondering about the ‘sex’ part but the ‘power abuse’ slant has been so ingrained it was a real no-go zone with women/feminists. I think rape is more about the powerlessness of men to have healthy sexual relationships.That’s why many rapists have problems with erections. Women keeps away from the sex slant because it is such an integral part of your psyche that you don’t want that to be sullied as well. Often that leads to women not working through the whole trauma and having problems with their sexuality afterwards. (Just a few random thoughts from a layman)
    I am doing Gracie Jiu Jitsui as selfdefence. I am the only woman in my class. When I asked the instructor why, she said: They have tried to get woman only classes going but to no avail. Women have told her: “I have been raped already so the odds are against it happening again”
    When will women realise that the reason you got raped was not because of something you did wrong but…because you fitted the profile of a rape victim. The rapist is not looking for a good fight but for a victim. According to Sanet Smit, a self defence guru, in 9 out of 10 cases where a potential rape victim fights back the attack is stopped. Those are good odds. Please protect yourself. Don’t be a victim.

  • Peter Joffe

    Bad men rape women because they can! They know that even if they are caught they will get away with it. 1 in 9 rapes are reported you say?? How many of those repoted cases end up in convictions? Perhaps one in 100??
    Rape is a result of the frot courts, cops and non existent legal system that we have. Crooks and rapists are king and with crime and corruption coming from the very top of our government it can only get worse. When the idiots that are in the prosecuting authority come up against real lawers and attorneys they fail hopelessly. Viva ANC Viva.

  • Zukiswa Mqolomba

    Jen, I think its both. The one is the means of the other. The means (sex for sexual subjugation) and desired expression of outcomes (demonstration of dominance and power).

    Its sick either way.

    Standing in solidarity with victims and survivors of rape in South Africa and the global community; both in the case of men and women.

  • X Cepting

    Why would anyone be cruel or harmful to another? Surely the same moral applies here? The weak taking it out on the weaker? I firmly believe that the overcomplication of matters often is why the answers elude us.

    Sex is meant to be shared. Forcing someone is taking something not offered, i.e. stealing / causing harm, and please let’s not narrow it to women only. Even sheep has this problem in certain countries. The singling out of women in society is what stops them from having equal status to men. It creates the “us” and “them” syndrome. It is very noticable on the workfront where sex, as far as I am concerned, have no place. Men and women working together as people until a person (male/female) enters the equation that raises the sexual awareness of the group by their action or dress. Suddenly there are male and female camps and work becomes less productive.

    If you wish to do something for abused women, fight for women’s status as people. Stop pointing out the male/female differences and it will be less noticable. AND, learn to fight back! A while back there was a report of a woman who successfully stopped herself being raped by stabbing her assailant with a screwdriver. My first thought, and I am sure many other’s were: “Way to go! That I can respect.” Stop asking for “special treatment” and you won’t get it. Simply be a human person.

  • brent

    The last question interests me, why do some rape and others not? My situation is that all the women in my life; grandmothers, mother, aunts, teachers, wife etc were/are decent strong loving no nonsense people. Thus i have huge respect for women.

    This is not a racial/cultural thing as have witnessed similar strong/loving women in all our different communities and seen how their men/boys love and respect them and thus would never rape any women.

    So the rapests, is it upbringing, hard social situation or something different, that is what we should investigate?

    Brent

  • SKR

    Biologically, men are impelled to spread their seed as wide as possible and at the same time, they are driven to want to control the means of reproduction, ie, women, so that their genes are passed on and not a rival male’s.

    It takes a woman 40 weeks to grow a baby (using as much energy in that time as running 30 marathons), while men only have to invest a few minutes to reproduce. So women are far more discriminating in ‘allowing’ someone into their bodies since they want a good return on investment. (a father who can provide, protect, etc) Biologically, men just want to get laid – as often and with as many different women as possible.

    So I would say that rape is about both sex and power. Men want to have sex with as many women as possible – by force or consent; they are historically used to controlling the means of reproduction – so controlling women and ignoring their wishes; and sex is a biologically reaffirming action for a man – he feels more powerful, in control and dominant since his genes have the chance to be passed on.

    So rape can give man both sexual satisfaction and affirm (for himself) his power and dominance. Rape incidences are often high in impoverished communities as the act gives men a sense of higher status, even without the physical resources to show a woman they can offer a good return on investment.

  • MLH

    I think Siobhan is closer with her ‘Boy is enraged.’

    Don’t discount anger. Rejection stimulates different feelings in men to women. Whether a woman rejects a dinner companion, a stranger, a robber, few men handle that rejection well. For the robber, it may just be that he feels slighted (sometimes racially)by someone he perceives to fear or be superior. The date may just feel used and thus taken advantage of.
    Way back when, when girls were not taught they could behave/wear what they like and still retain their rights, they were a lot more careful. Careful is still worth being. One’s behaviour transmits an attitude that can easily be misconstrued. Anger is the likely result.
    Men often hunt in packs. There’s still safety for girls in numbers.

  • Peter L

    @jennifer
    A good start to answering the questions that you pose is to ask the convicted rapists!
    I believe that some research has been done that supports your thesis (rape is often about sex, not just power) – opportunity also plays a part (the abstract of the research that I read also covered male rape in prisons).

    You have ignored the “C” word – culture, or tradition in societies , and here Haiwa is right, as uncomfortable as it may seem.
    The Western definition of rape does not agree with the way rape is defined in some cultures and societies.

    As Haiwa says, some cultures place emphasis on stranger versus acquaintance (was it rape or seduction?).

    Similarly, a MAJOR distinction is drawn between married females (might be considered to be off-limits in a tavern and social setting) and unmarried females (might be considered “fair game” in certain circumstances.)

    Some cultures and societies also do not accept the concept of rape within marriage, which implies that the man – or woman – has the right to have sex at any time of his or her choosing.

    I am not arguing the merits or lack thereof to these cultural / societal beliefs, just pointing out that they exist and need to be acknowledged.

    If one accepts the very strict definition of rape as non-consensual sex, then many boyfriends and husbands have been raped by their girlfriends and wives – who has not had their partner at some stage start fiddling around and then climb on top?

  • Banana

    Good post author. I agree with Rod, rape is for the most part a violent act.
    Its a way of sexually expressing aggression.
    Some rapists will usually try and hurt and degrade his victim, his weapon being sex…
    He expresses his rage both physically and verbally upon the victim during the attack.

    Some rapists however, will fantasise about sexual conquests and rape, hoping that once he overpowers her, she will eventually enjoy the experience
    He needs to believe that the victim enjoyed “it”.

    However,

    Some rapist transform their anger into a sexual and erotic experience. He takes pleasure in his victims torment, distress and anguish.

  • A thought

    When is no yes? Poor taste, but in seriousness, I think rape should be seen on a case by case basis, otherwise if we start lumping all rapists into the same category, we will start to have narrow viewpoints like sexual gratification vs power!

  • MsAnnThrope

    Whatever the psche of rape – the punishment should be the same: castration, unequivocally.

  • Siobhan

    @SKR “…men are impelled to spread their seed…”

    I call that “The King and I” justification. There is a huge difference between being ‘impelled’ and being ‘compelled’. Men who rape ‘compel’ women to gratify a sexual impulse, one men feel has no ‘meaning’. Men love sex with strangers especially when no names–or money–are exchanged. Anonymous sex is the best kind because there are no consequences.

    The pregnant male experiments carried out in the US in the 90s were probably the best form of sex education ever devised. The males had to wear ‘pregnancy halters’ that gradually increased in weight until they reached ‘full term’ –a period of nine days instead of nine months. This was followed by having to care 24/7 for a ‘baby’ (a computer programmed doll) that cried at random times. The dolls even wet themselves and needed changing.

    The result of the experiment was that the male students were unanimous: they finally understood that when girls resisted sex it wasn’t that they were ‘withholding'; they were protecting themselves from the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. Not until they took on the role of a pregnant woman and then a new mother, did the adolescent boys have any concept of the price girls pay for ‘giving in’ to sexual pressure from boys. Sex is an experience for a boy; it can be a life-changing event for a girl.

    Most actions have consequences-except in the case of co-erced sex or rape…

  • Rory Short

    There are very many interesting posts on this topic. I agree with those who say that some of the roots of rape or no rape behaviour lie in the socialisation that a male child experiences during his growth to sexual maturity.

  • Belle

    Instead of asking why men rape, we should ask how men relate to their penises?

    Men seem to regard their appendages as an ego-extension, or an alter ego, perhaps. Some men give their penises names and have whole conversations with this bodypart. Purveyors of boys toys recognise this in marketing strategies forr sports cars and macho 4x4s. The careful, astute, educated man who splashes out irrationally on luxury goods is not doing it for himself … he’s spoiling his little boy.

    And perhaps, because the penis is viewed as a separate ego, its easier for a man to divorce his conscience, or humanity, from the violence depravity of rape? Perhaps this is why men are able to rape without losing self-respect. Dignity is not lost because the ‘other man did it, not me’. It would explain why so many men argue that males generally believe their sex drives to be uncontrollable … underlying the belief that little man is not ‘me’, therefore he is not mine to control.

    An family planning tutor once wisely said that a man sees himself as being morally strong and self-disciplined. Its his cock that stands up with no conscience.

    I also suspect that gun-lovers view their weapons as an unconscious expression of their penile egos. Perhaps the penis is man’s ultimate weapon? … exactly because its without conscience.

  • Siobhan

    @Lady Go for it!

    My personal view is that until all female children are taught martial arts to the point of lethality, the imbalance of power between males and females will never change.

    Males have to feel vulnerable before they begin to understand the sense of threat felt by women every day of their lives. How many of us ever get through a day without feeling the invasiveness of men? On the street, at the shopping centre, at school, walking home from work, waiting for taxi, being in a taxi, in the office, in a coffee shop–women are always ‘on display’. Men ogle, stare, evaluate; women try not to notice.

    Who gave men the right to invade our bodies with their fantasies? Why do they feel entitled to do this? Because every man knows he has the potential to rape–and kill. Men are ‘in charge’ of the imbalance of power and they know it. Even small, stupid, and powerless men-even young boys– know it. All men share a strength advantage over women–even over women body-builders, unless these women are trained in physical combat.

    Martial arts offer the best protection for girls and women against would-be rapists. Unfortunately, infants and elderly women cannot protect themselves in this way which for me always ends the argument over rape, sex and power. Rape is about feeling entitled to exercise physical power at all levels. Rape is about feeling entitled. Period.

  • MuAfrika

    Men are dogs. Period (No pun intended)
    Men have a weakness, the desire, or the failure to control their desire for sex. Depending on a mans view of his image or his self confidence he uses what he has to get what he doesn’t have. Men are sex addicts, money allows men to get sex (No romance without finance) When a man does not have the financial power to smoothen up for sex, he tries various options, R20 prostitutes, school girls, buy me a drink girl. Depending on an individuals self worth the search for sex may take on various forms. A criminal out of 6 years in jail with no money to date and no confidence to charm, is likely to rape, an uncle with no job, no esteem and often called useless infront of minors and elders is likely to rape. A rich/powerful man who is used to getting what he wants believes every woman wants him, so when he takes a date to a hotel room, to him sex is just another step already agreed upon by the lady who agreed to get into the hotel room. There is just soo much left unexpolored because we are always quick to point to the ‘other’. Every South African thinks rape is a ‘black mans crime’ so people prejudiced by their little knowledge always go towards culture, patriachy and all that is still defined as African ways of being. Rape is a problem of society, society makes men.

  • sid

    A real Thought Leader. Maybe I can add 1c. Consider consensual sex as a form contract, a social contract. But as with any contract either party can draw back from consummating the contract at any time. I sense that some SA men don’t accept this withdrawal (pardon the pun). They are used to getting their own way, even if they know it is legally and morally wrong. They see examples of the rich and powerful getting their own way, often when it is clearly legally and morally wrong and without proper censure. Add an evil mix of alcohol, frustration, hopeless education and policing and you have the wicked rape statistics that will mark SA as a bad place to be; particularly for women, and certainly for poor women.

    As the ANC men say; Amandla Awethu. We have the Power.

  • Siobhan

    @Belle

    Excellent! Well said.

  • Rory Short

    @siobhan I do not think it is a simple as you think. Rape is an intertwining of sexuality and power within the male rapist because unless he had a sense of sexual arousal he would not have an erection and the exercise of power over another is also there of course. Because people are individuals the intertwining will be particular to each rapist so it is not a simple situation.

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/jenniferthorpe Jennifer Thorpe

    @Judith: The responsibility should not lie in only educating our daughters. They should be educated, but not to ‘restrict’ their dress or behaviour. Nobody deserves to be raped, however they dress. They should be educated to be able to talk about sex, so that they can say ‘no’ clearly and loudly so that never again can a judge say that there was confusion. The real task of education should lie with educating men about their sexuality, how it need not be about domination and how ‘no’ NEVER means ‘yes’.

    @Rod of Sydney: Skip the patronising ‘sweetheart’ labels. If you have something to say to me, my name is Jennifer. Just to clarify – are you suggesting that rape would disappear if there were more legalised prostitution? I disagree.

    @Owen: There are many instances where the rapist cannot get or maintain an erection. In many cases he cannot ejaculate. In other cases rapists use blunt objects, bottles, brooms, guns and fists to penetrate a woman. It is not only about an erection. I struggle to see how this can be thought of as ‘sexual’. Just because it happens in the vagina doesn’t make it sexual.

    @Jonathan Haze: Undeniably women’s legal situation is better now than before 94. If you disagree explain why.

    @Xcepting: Asking not to be raped and to have sexual safety is not asking for special treatment. These are rights that men and women deserve.

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/jenniferthorpe Jennifer Thorpe

    @Peter Joffe: The scary thing about rape, at least in some cases, is that men have not realised that they’ve raped. Hearing rape survivor stories there wasn’t aggression. It was more like a scary confusion over the issue of consent which is why the new sexual offences act emphasises the issue of consent. There is a need for everyone to ask the question ‘Do you want to have sex with me, or do you just feel like you have to?’.

    @A thought: There’s a legal definition of rape to prevent ‘grey areas’. Each case must of course be considered by a judge in its particularity in order for it to be an example of justice. Nevertheless, there is a clear definition of rape. No is never yes.

  • Ken

    Hi- some very interesting comments and discussion. Has anyone looked at rape in other animal and especially primate species. It may be enlightening. I am sure there will be literature out there on this.