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How might rape be considered a form of social control to reinforce gender hierarchies - Essay Example

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How might rape be considered a form of social control to reinforce gender hierarchies

The following essay establishes a discussion about the issue of rape and comes to the conclusion that the criminalization of rape is a facade through which the true purpose of rape has been filtered. Rape is a social convention that enables the patriarchal society to continue its dominance through creating fear. A clear connection exists between the criminal act of rape and sex. The act of rape is to use sexual activity as a form of control and power. It is violence and it is sex. It is not intimacy. What divides the act of rape from the concept of human sex is its extreme opposite state from intimacy. Sex as an assertion of power can be seen in the animal kingdom, dogs asserting alpha state through ‘humping’ other dogs, even male on male, in order to assert hierarchy status. Rape in the human world is often used to assert power over others. It is a common part of war, and supports the oppressive force in their assertion of power over a weaker people. Rape is a social convention in prisons, colleges, and institutions, supporting the need for a development of a hierarchy within a closed community. To understand the nature of rape as a method of social control, the effect of rape on the victim must be understood. Thornhill and Thornhill (1990, p. 297) write that “Mental pain has been hypothesized to reflect psychological adaptation designed by selection to detect and cope with the occurrence of social problems that reduced individuals’ inclusive fitness in human evolutionary history”. It is not just the physical violation of rape that is important, but the mental violation that is important in understanding rape. The nature of self control over the body has been taken by the rapist, the ability to protect the inside of the self no longer valid. Self and social value has been diminished, which is only further diminished by the process of law where the individual must be prodded and probed, tested as an object of the crime, and then questioned for the nature of their chosen sexual life as it somehow seems to relate to their victimization (Holmstrom and Burgess 1983, p. 2). A victim of rape is not only a victim of a violent act, but a transformative act from a state of grace and value to one that has been diminished in value and worth. Rape is used as a means of social control through influencing ideas about the nature of the woman in her victimization. Thornhill and Thornhill (1990, p. 301) discusses four means of social influence that is accomplished by rape. The first is injury of the victim. The second is that rape would deny the woman the capacity to choose when and how conception might take place and who is the father of any child that is the result. The third is that the capacity to secure material support through copulation is then circumvented for the woman. The social exchange that is made between the genders in that men provide for women in exchange for sexual access is then denied as a choice to the female. The fourth is that through raping a woman who is bonded to another man, the offender is influencing the male in respect to protection and the quality of patriarchal support that the male might be willing to provide. In looking at this framework, it is clear that rape is a means to disrupt the social contracts that are made between men and women. Brownmiller (1976, p. 8) wrote ...Show more
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How might rape be considered a form of social control to reinforce gender hierarchies? How might rape be considered a form of social control to reinforce gender hierarchies? The act of rape has been discussed in feminist theoretical work as a form of social control that supports the patriarchal society in male dominance over the female…
How might rape be considered a form of social control to reinforce gender hierarchies
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