Dear Friends of Men:
I cannot stop thinking about rape -- ever since the recent stories about the case in Steubenville, OH.
We are very used to reading about the horrific epidemic of violence against women in terms of the victims and statistics about them. What if we look at violence against women by taking a look at the perpetrators.
This struck me very personally recently. I was at a meeting when someone made comments that I felt were probably offensive to women who had been molested or raped. It was a large meeting and I looked around the room knowing that there were women in that room who had been raped. I always say, "You know someone who has been a victim of rape or other violence. You just may not know it."
Then, given how prevalent violence against women is, I looked around this room, with many friends present, and it struck me that there were also perpetrators in it. Assailants. A date rapist. A violent rapist? More than one? I might not know it. I might not know who. But given the prevalence of violence against women, we all know perpetrators.
And, that is why it is so hard to make progress.
Our sons, fathers, brothers and uncles are perpetrators. Our favorite teachers. Our attorneys. Our ministers. Our coaches. Our fraternity brothers. Our neighbors. Perpetrators are not just sleazy drunks with an "R" tattooed on their foreheads and H*A*T*E tattooed on their knuckles.
Rapists are our much beloved family and friends.
We have all seen it. A favorite minister or a star football player is accused of a sexual assault with overwhelming evidence. And, the community rushes to... his defense? Yes. Because we cannot hold 2 contradictory ideas in our minds at the same time: A man can be both a pedophile, a rapist, a seducer of under-aged women and a great athlete, minister and man with a beautiful home, wife and children.
But, everyone in the USA can imagine that a 16 year old girl seduced her 40 year old well educated teacher or minister or a 15 year old deserved to get raped, spit on, peed on, anally raped and photographed because she was drunk or had voluntarily had sex previously? What? What this reveals about how we feel about girls and women is too sickening to think about.
And, we wonder why women don't report rape and assault more frequently? It is more surprising that anyone reports it.
Rape prevention is almost always discussed from the perspective of women. Women can only be so careful. My male friends do not look around the garage before stepping out, My husband does not look in the back seat before getting in the car. And on and on and on and on... Oh, yes... College boys can drink until they pass out in the yard. Maybe someone will draw on them with a marker or, at worse, shave off their eyebrows. A girl who drinks until she passes out gets raped.
So, let's look at the statistic from a different angle and see what we can learn.
+Our men are not loving and protecting their families. They are the leading cause of death for pregnant women.
+Our dear fathers and husbands are the leading cause of death for females 15-44 years of age.
+One of our fathers, sons, brothers uses his penis as a weapon (and also, perhaps, objects) every 6.2 minutes.
+87,000 men use their penises as a weapon on women every year. Or, perhaps 20,000 men rape 4 women every year. We have to know them. They have been failed by mothers, fathers, churches, neighbors and our political and judicial system.
+They numbers of men raping women may be 5 times as high -- or the numbers of women being raped may be 5 times as high. Are over 400,000 of our beloved sons sexual deviants?
+Our much admired soldiers, 19,000 of them, will use their penises as weapons against other soldiers and never pay any price. How are we letting our servicemen disgrace themselves and harm our other precious soldiers in such a horrendous way and never hold them to account?
+1,000 of our dear sons and fathers will murder their spouses this year. If these murders were committed by Muslims, we would have declared a "War on Domestic Violence!" These men have committed the most heinous crime possible -- and ruined their own lives and those of their own parents and children.
+Would we allow over 400,000 crime scene kits to go unprocessed in terrorists attacks? No! Yet, our own men have terrorized 400,000 women and the rape kits have not been processed. We have the money to spend on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya... let's spend it at home on men who are terrorizing women and squandering their own lives.
+Fathers and step-fathers commit 11% of rapes and sexual assaults. We -- mothers, girlfriends, step-mothers, neighbors, teachers -- know or suspect and look the other way.
+Men that we know commit 2/3 of the murders of women. Did we really see nothing coming?
+Non-native men go to reservations to commit rape -- where they know they won't be prosecuted. Isn't anyone in their lives suspicious?
+Our husbands, fathers, sons, brothers choose children as victims. 44% of victims are under 18 years of age. Children are raped by adult men. Our men. Of course the women in their lives suspect something. Speak up!
+Our men: our husbands, fathers, sons, boyfriends, lovers, uncles choose young women most of the time: 80% of women are under 30. But, that is not all by any means. Elderly women are also raped.
+Our husbands, sons, fathers, brothers are partial to raping women they know: 2/3 of women are raped by someone they know! Women feel safe with someone they know -- and, they aren't! 28% of women are raped by a friend!
+Let's reverse roles: Your beloved son is drunk at a frat party. Passed out. A group of gay friends -- maybe he didn't know they were gay -- find him. They put their penises in his mouth and take pictures. They rape him anally -- and take pictures. They pee on him. Screaming with laughter.
Or, maybe it is just one young man who finds him and rapes him anally and orally. Or, a group of drunk girls find him and stick objects in his mouth and anus. Take pictures. Post to Facebook. His drops out of school. Happens to girls every day.
+Our sons do this every day of the year. One young man who took pictures in the Steubenville, Ohio case (Google it) testified that he did not witness any violence and so did not see any reason to notify authorities that a young unconscious girl was having sexual acts performed on her. He just took pix.
Do we want to see video tape or pictures of our sons raping their friends? We don't want to see the lives of everyone concerned ruined forever. The victim bears no shame. The shame belongs to the perpetrators and everyone else involved.
Yet, do some follow up. Some accused rapists will keep their athletic scholarship. Check 2 years down the road.
+1/6 women will be sexually assaulted in her life time. Does this mean that 1/6 of men are perpetrators? How many men do we know are perpetrators? Or that 1/3 men will assault 2 women in his life time?
What to do? What to do? Is it possible that we cannot get anything done in our legal and political system because the problem is so vast and so many men have been perpetrators in some way...
Begin with a conversation. Just have a conversation. Read this article. After dinner. Read it to your children. 7th grade is not too young. Read it in Sunday School. Read it in your book discussion group. Read it at Sunday dinner.
Then, read the edited article below or click and read the unedited version. And, just keep on talking.
With all of my love,
Tom Dispatch / By Rebecca Solnit
Hate Crimes: A Rape Every Minute, a Thousand Corpses Every Year (much edited and reduced)
There is a pattern of violence against women that’s broad and deep and horrific and incessantly overlooked. It’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern.Of course all men aren't violent and a relatively few women are. Increasingly men are becoming good allies -- and there always have been some. Kindness and gentleness never had a gender, and neither did empathy.But the subject here is the pandemic of violence by men against women, both intimate violence and stranger violence.If we talked about crimes like these and why they are so common, we’d have to talk about what kinds of profound change this society, or this nation, or nearly every nation needs. If we talked about it, we’d be talking about masculinity, or male roles, or maybe patriarchy, and we don’t talk much about that. There’s something about how masculinity is imagined, about what’s praised and encouraged, about the way violence is passed on to boys that needs to be addressed.The pandemic of violence always gets explained as anything but gender, anything but what would seem to be the broadest explanatory pattern of all. This should remind us that violence is first of all authoritarian. It begins with this premise: I have the right to control you. Murder is the extreme version of that authoritarianism, where the murderer asserts he has the right to decide whether you live or die, the ultimate means of controlling someone. It’s a system of control.Rape and other acts of violence, up to and including murder, as well as threats of violence, constitute the barrage (sic) some men lay down as they attempt to control some women, and fear of that violence limits most women in ways they’ve gotten so used to they hardly notice -- and we hardly address .It’s why so many intimate-partner murders are of women who dared to break up with those partners.Spouses are also the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S. "Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined,” writes Nicholas D. Kristof.Until relatively recently, our legal system didn't recognize most domestic violence, or sexual harassment and stalking, or date rape, or acquaintance rape, or marital rape, and in cases of rape still often tries the victim rather than the rapist...
This year congressional Republicans refused to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, because they objected to the protection it gave immigrants, transgendered women, and Native American women.Speaking of epidemics, they’re out to gut reproductive rights -- birth control as well as abortion, as they’ve pretty effectively done in many states over the last dozen years.
"Conservatives are still making the association between women's reproductive health care, contraception, abortion and promiscuity -- issues that can only be connected within a patriarchal society and the effort to control women." VCWelcome to Manistan--a word used to describe Afghanistan & Pakistan, but what about the USA?In the United States, where there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes. We have far more than 87,000 rapes in this country every year, but each of them is invariably portrayed as an isolated incident.
The estimated total is perhaps five times as high.
One in five women will be raped in her lifetime,Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta estimated that there were 19,000 sexual assaults on fellow soldiers in 2010 alone and thatthe great majority of assailants got away with it,So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over 1,000 homicides of that kind a year -- meaningthat every three years the death toll tops 9/11’s casualties,
though no one declares a war on this particular terror.There is a backlog of about 400,000 untested rape kits in this
country.Rapists who impregnate their victims have parental rights in 31
states.Current congressman Paul Ryan (R-Manistan) is reintroducing a
bill that would grant personhood to fertilized eggs.11% of rapes are (committed) by fathers or stepfathers.Nearly two thirds of all women killed by guns are killed by their
partner or ex-partner
One of three Native American women will be rapedOn the reservations 88% of those rapes are by non-Native me
who know tribal governments can’t prosecute them.
Statistics from RAINN -- Rape Abuxe and Incest National Network:
44% of victims are under 18 years of age.
80% are under 30 years -- but, no woman is immune from rape.
54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
97% of assailants never spend a day in jail.
2/3 of the perpetrators are known to the victim.
38% of the perpetrators are friends or acquaintances.
1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).1
17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.1
9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.2
9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.2
Lifetime rate of rape /attempted rape for women by race:1
- All women: 17.6%
- White women: 17.7%
- Black women: 18.8%
- Asian Pacific Islander women: 6.8%
- American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1%
- Mixed race women: 24.4%
About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.1
- In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male.2
- 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.1
15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.3
- 29% are age 12-17.
- 44% are under age 18.3
- 80% are under age 30.3
- 12-34 are the highest risk years.
- Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.4
- 3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.5
- Of these, 75% were girls.
- Nearly 30% of child victims /were between the age of 4 and 7.
93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.6
- 34.2% of attackers were family members.
- 58.7% were acquaintances.
- Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.
Effects of Rape
Victims of sexual assault are:
3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.