Causes of Rape

Topics: Rape, Sexual intercourse, Statutory rape Pages: 10 (2746 words) Published: April 4, 2007
Causes of Rape

DeShanta J. Ray

Philosophy 308

Instructor Glen Egbert

October 13, 2005
Causes of Rape

This study investigated responses to a questionnaire administered to forty respondents. The subjects, female n=20 and male n=20, were individually selected and given a questionnaire for immediate response. The questionnaire was comprised of 23 statements, 16 were graded on a 5-point Likert Scale and the remaining was used for demographic comparison. The 16 questions were subgrouped to represent four theories of causes of rape listed in Hyde's text (1996). Originally it was determined that men would take the psychopathology point of view whereas the women would take a more feminist view of rape. Due to limited research capabilities the questionnaire was compared using only gender demographics. The results were that both men and women take a more feminist view compared to the other choices (victim precipitated, pyschopathology of rapists, and social disorganization).


Rape throughout time has had many meanings. Prior to the 1970s, the "common law" definition was predominately used. Under "common law" rape was an unlawful act of carnal knowledge of a female without her consent (Reid, 1989). For this study I used a more modern definition of rape. Rape is defined as "nonconsensual oral, anal, or vaginal penetrations, obtained by force, by threat of bodily harm, or when the victim is incapable of giving consent" (Hyde, 1996, p.344). Hyde defines four theoretical views as to why people commit rape (1996). The first theory is victim precipitated. This theory claims, "a rape is always caused by a woman ‘asking for it.' Rape then, is basically the woman's fault. This view represents the tendency to blame the victim" (Hyde, 1996. p.350). This theory also follows Freud's view of the interaction of male and female. "Freud held the pessimistic view that men are inherently sadistic while women are innately masochistic. The application to rape is obvious. Men like to rape and women like to be raped"(Russell, 1975, p. 266). This theory also helps explain why fewer than 50% of rapes are reported (Dupre, Hampton, Morrison & Meeks, 1993). The second theory is psychopathology of rapists. This theory claims "rape is an act committed by a psychologically disturbed man" (Hyde, 1996, p.350). This theory was fostered in the 1950s by Freudian criminologists who defined the rapist as "a victim of an ‘uncontrollable urge' that was infantile in nature, the result of a thwarted ‘natural' impulse to have intercourse with his mother" (Brownmiller, 1975, p. 178). "The rapist is not often ‘starving for sex,' but generally suffers from sexual dysfunction such as inability to achieve an erection or premature ejaculation" (Morse & Furst, 1982, p. 232). Thus the excitement and sense of power from performing the act compensates for the dysfunction. The third theory is the feminist theory. This theory views rapists as "the product of gender-role socialization in our culture. Feminists de-emphasize the sexual aspects of rape and instead views rape as an expression of power and dominance by men over women. Gender inequality is both the cause and the result of rape" (Hyde, 1996, p.350). In a survey of 11-to-14 year-olds found that 51% of boys and 41% of girls said forced sex was acceptable if the boy spent a lot of money on the girl (White & Humphrey,1991). "In Nigeria a husband cannot be guilty of rape against his wife unless a separation agreement or judicial separation is in effect" (Rhoodie, 1989, p. 118). While this arrangement between husband and wife sounds repulsive, it was not until the 1970s that many states in the United States began to change their rape laws to address the marital rape exception. The reasoning for the exception was that by marrying, the woman must consent to the husband's right to sex, wives in unhappy marriages would use false charges of rape against their husbands,...

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Dupre, A., Hampton, H., Morrison, H., and Meeks, G. (1993). Sexual assault. New York: Garland Publishing.
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Hyde, J. S. (1996). Half the human experience: The psychology of women (5th ed.).
Karsten, P. (1978). Law, soldiers, and combat. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Morse, D. R. & Furst, M. L. (1982). Women under stress. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Reid, S. (1989). Criminal law. New York: MacMillan.
Rhoodie, E. (1989). Discrimination against women: A global survey of the economic, educational, social, and political status of women. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
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