More than one in three South African men admits committing rape, one in seven has joined a gang rape, and more than three quarters admit committing violence against women.
These “reasons” may only get at surface issues. What else is going on?
Rachel Jewkes, a lead researcher on the study of violence in South Africa, feels that racism lies behind the abuse.
Rape holds a sexual component, but it is essentially about power. When a large population is oppressed, say through racism – even as manhood is defined as “dominant and powerful” – men may use rape as a weapon to gain a sense of personal empowerment. Rapists are often trying to bridge a gap between their impotent selves and the dominant men they seek to be. Imagine the control they feel when they restrain, take over, and invade another person’s body. Imagine how high and mighty they feel in creating humiliation.
Gay bashing is another weapon whereby some men try to create a sense of male superiority. If women act like men (sexually/stereotypically) how can men keep their sense of dominance? Hence, the need for “corrective rape” in South Africa that seeks to turn lesbians straight.
In one attack Millicent Gaika was beaten and raped for five hours as her assailant screamed, “I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant.” Since the women are often murdered “correction” sounds less likely than gay-bashing as motive.
Others were simply bored. So the eroticized violence of patriarchy comes in handy: Oh, let’s have some fun!
This is helped when women are seen as sex objects, and not people who have their own lives, goals, thoughts and emotions. When women become nothing but objects for sexual pleasure, it’s no wonder that one third of the rapists said they did not feel guilty.
So here we have powerless men trying to feel powerful, who live in a world where violence against women is eroticized, and where women are seen as mere objects. A recipe for epidemic rape.
If you would like to read more and sign a petition on corrective rape, go to change.org
I received this note from change.org: “Several weeks ago, survivors of “corrective rape” started a petition on Change.org to ask the Minister of Justice to declare corrective rape a hate crime… More than 65,000 signatures later, and the senior Ministry officials we targeted are apparently having major difficulty accessing their e-mail because of all the e-mails your signatures are generating! WOOOHOOOO! Well done & thank you!”
Let’s help keep it up!