by Rod Van Mechelen
Copyright 1991, 1992 by Rod Van Mechelen

Identifying the cause of a problem, as most of us know, is half the solution. To prevent rape, we need to know what causes someone to rape. For pop-feminists, there is one simple answer -- only men rape, only men are the problem, therefore the solution is to control men. It should be obvious, however, that like all bigotted viewpoints, this oversimplifies both the problem and the solution.
The causes of rape are many. Ignoring them is like attempting to control an infestation of rodents by building a better mousetrap. Catching more mice is only a part of the answer. Understanding the conditions that allow them to reproduce in greater numbers, and then eradicating or controling those conditions, is the rest of it.

The same is true of rape. Catch the criminals, punish the crime, but also understand the root of the problem and change the conditions that lead to criminal behavior. Like the crime Susan Brownmiller called "date rape."

Lust as a Cause of Rape
Pop-feminists dismiss the idea sexual passion can be a motive for rape. They believe it is impossible for any woman to provoke an overpowering libidinal response in some men.

What if the tables were turned? There are many colognes for men, for example, manufacturers claim are laced with the male pheromone that will "put women in the mood." Suppose a man bathed in it, and the instant he set foot outside his door, women from miles around rushed to ravish him. Would they be guilty of rape? Or would they be innocent by reason of drug-induced insanity?

Women who wear clothes that exentuate their female attributes are bypassing men's civilized veneer to communicate directly to the male libido. Usually, no harm is done because most men have discipline. But somethings, like alcohol or women's provocative behaviors, can erode men's resistance. And sometimes that can lead to rape.

Why don't pop-feminists get this? Because a "reasonable woman" would not be aroused by the same things that arouse men? Because they would not perceive a female rape-victim's clothing or behavior as provocative?

Women and men are influenced by different things. Just as a woman would be unlikely to respond to a female sex-pheromone-laced perfume where a man would, so a reasonable man could perceive certain behaviors and clothing of women as provocative and "precipitant" where a reasonable woman would not. ("Precipitant" behavior is defined as behavior of the victim which contributed to the commission of the crime. See Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller, pp 394 - 396)

To insist men are wrong about what constitutes provocative female dress and behavior is to deny the validity of both the "reasonable victim standard" and the masculine experience. That is tantamount to saying only the female perspective matters, and only men are responsible.

Economic Causes of Rape
Women have their price, and whether in marriage or prostitution, men usually have to pay. The going price of women in the modern "meat market" is determined by how much the average guy must earn before women will start taking the initiative, approaching him, asking for dates and sexual affection. This is the base average dollar value women place on their love and sex.

During the past several years, women's expectations have risen in step with advertisements in everything from Ms. magazine during the 70s and 80s to Cosmopolitan. But Mr. Average is still making an average wage, and reported rapes are on the increase. (Backlash, Susan Faludi, p xvii) Are women's rising expectations causing this?

When prices (female expectations) rise to the point where a significant number of men cannot afford the ticket to women's hearts, the incidence of rape increases, too:

Surveys of the socioeconomic status of rapists in the United States indicate that the vast majority of offenders come from lower socioeconomic classes and are unemployed or unskilled laborers with only an elementary-school education or less. Cross-cultural studies from Denmark and Australia also confirm that unskilled, unemployed, and poorly educated males -- those who lose out in sexual competition -- are more often rapists than other men.
The data suggest that rich men rarely rape, and that rapist and victim most often live in the same neighborhood (82 percent). According to one study, a female living in the inner city stands a one-in-seventy-seven chance of being raped in her life-time. In more affluent areas the risk becomes one in two thousand, and in a rich neighborhood she stands a one-in-ten-thousand chance of being raped. -- Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates, by Mary Batten, pp 125 - 126

Consequently, to the extent women objectify men as success objects, they contribute to the problem of rape.

Rape and the Masculine Protest
During the 1950s, it was common for professional women to exaggerate their female attributes. At that time, it was politically correct to question the femininity of professional women. Why weren't they housewives? Why weren't they raising children and standing by their men? In defense, they wore frilly blouses and flouncy hats with one clear message: "let nobody question our femininity." (The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan, p 150)

Vicarious violence and silver screen sex cannot replace healthy masculinity. Nor can bulging muscles, flashy cars, and other expressions of the modern masculine protest. Ultimately, they fail because they are not real. But they do serve a purpose, providing hope to men who buy into the idea that, if they just do these things, they will be loved and lovable as men.

An increasing number of men, however, have lost, or are losing hope. Some flee to religion, others to drink, drugs, and self-destruction. But how many turn to violence and rape in a desperate attempt to prove their masculinity?

Rape as an Expression of Disempowerment
Years ago, it was popular to say criminals are victims of society: maladjusted women and men needing only sympathy, psycho-therapy and kindness to put them back on their feet. Since then, it has been so well proven that disempowerment is not the end-all-be-all of criminal behavior that, when men are the perpetrators, many reflexively reject the idea. But its application to women is still popular, as the legal concept of the "battered woman syndrome" proves. (As detailed in Man Slaughter, by Steven Englund, the "battered woman syndrome" was established as a legal defense in the precedent setting case of Jennifer Patri. Ironically, Englund reluctantly concluds Patri was anything but a battered woman.)

Regardless, disempowerment is not the sole cause of rape. Realistically, however, it is a contributing factor. During the past few decades, most men have suffered both social and legal disempowerment as a direct result of the socially extensive and politically correct male-bashing. Not coincidentally, there has been a tremendous upsurge in incidents of rape and attempted rapes. (Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller, p 190)

Do the facts confirm a connection? Are rapists really disempowered men? Yes, many are. Brownmiller's statistical portrait of the common rapist compellingly demonstrates this.

This, at a time when many were hearing for the first time about the sexual disempowerment of black men. Eldrige Cleaver touched on this in his classic Soul On Ice: "All our lives we've had the white woman dangled before our eyes like a carrot on a stick before a donkey: look but don't touch." (Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver, pp 9 - 10) Expressing his torment, he concluded, "I became a rapist." (Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver, p 14) It was not an easy time to be young.

Eighteen years old in 1971, I remember well the turbulence of the time. My friends and I expected to go to Vietnam and die. Many did go, some did die. But the war wasn't the only issue. Feminism and the Black Civil Rights movement also filled the news.

Being of Native American descent, I was less subject to accusations of racism than other men I knew, yet because of my fair skin I received my share of hostility and guilt-mongering from feminists and civil rights activists. As men, we were all uncertain of our identity, our sexuality, and our future.

When the hippie-ethic with its exhortation to practice "free love" fell into popular disfavor, and thousands of tortured men returned from Vietnam, what did it mean to be a man? For many, it was a time of profound confusion and frustration. As Shere Hite notes, such disempowerment can cause a person to become "terroristic." (Women & Love, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 641) For a few, that becomes the only way they can express their feelings of frustration and purposelessness: "The typical American perpetrator of forcible rape is little more than an aggressive, hostile youth ..." (Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller, p 192)

If the typical perpetrators are disempowered young men, then the obvious answer to at least a part of the problem is to empower young men. Validate their masculinity, provide them with ethical and constructive outlets for expressing that masculinity, and they will rape less and contribute more. This will work. But, as with so many things that are true, empowerment is only part of the answer, because there are other reasons why men rape. Not the least among them being that millions of women idolize "heroic" rapists.