The Psychology of Rape

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It seems clear that Rape is directly associated with a need for power, familial chauvinism, sexual repression, hatred towards women, and perverse curiosity about violence.  However, what really pushes a rapist to that point – is something not spoken about openly. I’d like to take the matter quite seriously and if my words seem more blunt than usual- it is only meant to wake up a sleeping generation of individuals that are under the influence of fear and contempt.

There is a significant difference between what occurs in the mind of a gang rapist and an individual rapist.

In a gang, there’s always a leader(s) that commands respect which could be explicitly expressed sometimes due to economic advantages over the other members. Other times, it is generally accepted that the leadership role exists to establish, and sometimes even reinforce, the behaviour of the pack. A small number of people controlling a much larger group. The role of the leader is to provide access to resources, access to employment, protection from threats/external agents, and provide a channel for facilitating celebration or at least easing of built up pressure. The leader, driven by blind power and a will to reinforce his authority, takes decisions based on the acceptability level of the current environment and the overall voice of the people. The leader must rape, because the opportunity exists and his pack members count on him to take advantage of every open opportunity.

If women empowerment is deemed inconsequential in their region, then social ostracization or even corporal punishment for oppressing women is not a strong enough deterrent for their actions. It all starts from how young boys perceive their father’s behaviour towards their mother – and believe that they have a right to own women from the get-go. And here in lies the diffusion of responsibility for these men. When this larger follower base starts to blindly accept the orders of their leader, it leads to a loss of individual expression. Psychologists frame this cognitive mindset as conformity bias which leads to a herd mentality group-bias. You’re either a part of us, or you’re against us.

When rapists rape in a group, the fault goes to the one that started it, while the others simply join in as mere participants in something that is already ongoing. That’s how they rationalize it – to start with. I’m only taking part in it because otherwise its a waste. She’s getting raped anyways. Might as well join in.

Underlying all of this is the most important aspect of all. Ego. It is the ego of the man that rapes, which gets the best of him. It gets the beast out of him, and he jumps onto the unsuspecting woman whose only crime was that she was of her gender. And all it takes is for one man or woman to insult him or provoke his ego, and therein begins the journey of gaining his ego back. The only way he knows how – by oppressing through words and then through actions.

For individual rapists. An individual that rapes also does it out of ego and frustration. However the latter is instantly dismissed by the easy access to pornography through their cellphones. These men are going through a troubling time of boredom in their lives and try to live out their fantasies through the woman. At an individual level, a large majority of rapes happen via people that the victim knew earlier. And thus it is the fantasy of the neighbour or the friendly chief of police, which plays out in their heads as simply play. A game. Even a large celebration of the union of man and woman. The culmination of repressing recreational procreation, or sometimes even a confused thought that sometimes creates havoc in their minds until expressed completely. These men are sick and have lost touch with reality, to the extent of inflicting pain on another, to get her to love him back.

Taking the extent of violence in these heinous acts, the punishments do fit the crime. There is a lot of debate around the dangers of de-humanizing these rapist individuals. However, the very fact that they derived pleasure through their violence, v/s doing it out of necessity is the underlying fact of the matter. These men have a twisted view of love, and consider silence and screams as one and the same thing.

We steal because we’re hungry or we like money. We murder in self defence or in protecting what’s ours. We rape because we want to own and use. And that’s why rape is considered one of the most heinous crimes in all humanity. The fact that all of this was done because the criminal wanted a little bit of fun. It could have all been avoided had he been to a brothel or a doctor. Or could it have?

Its a deeper question that must be thought about from the ground up. We can start from the schools, start teaching kids about treating young girls equally. We can start from our workplaces, treating women with the same respect as men. We can start looking at our societies as a whole and realizing that we’re all one and the same people, expressing themselves differently. We can be more open with our thoughts and feelings, then victims wouldn’t have to feel alone. If we were more civil to one another, then we wouldn’t be insulting egos. If were more open with one another, then we would be breaking boundaries instead of destroying lives. If we were more open to not defining ourselves as how others define us, we would be truly free to be whoever we want to be. Instead we end up building roles that we need to fulfil, and the moment that we can’t match up to certain standards set by the preservers of this culture, we try to find ourselves by being more like primal animals. And here in lies the groundwork for extreme violence of any sort. The inability of upholding a constant symbol, in a world that’s ever changing in its balance.

But it can be different if we set our hearts to it. It starts from what’s happening around us, and it can end by listening to what’s happening within us. When it comes to stopping this vile infliction of violence and pain to other beings, we must start from within and build cultures that treat women as equal people, equal minds, and equal souls.

 

 

photo credit: United Nations Photo via photopin cc

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