When Is Rape Okay?

Research into the views of men AND women finds that society is still fairly unhealthy when it comes to when it's 'OK' to rape a woman.

Let's begin with a classic image which has been circulating the internet:

When Is Rape Okay?

Here's the text of the image, in case some can't see it.

When Is Rape Okay?
During a poll of high school students, Jacqueline Goodchilds asked the following question: "Is it all right if a male holds a female down and physically forces her to have sex if ..."

Conditions                                       Percentage of "yes" responses
                                                   MALES        FEMALES
He spent a lot of money on her?                      39%          12%
He is so turned on he thinks he can't stop?          36%          21%
She has had sexual intercourse with other guys?      39%          18%
She is stoned or drunk?                              39%          18%
She lets him touch her above the waist?              39%          28%
She is going to and then changes her mind?           54%          31%
She has led him on?                                  54%          26%
She gets him excited sexually?                       51%          42%
They have dated for a long time?                     43%          32%

The first question of course is, is this real. The answer is yes. This type of study has been done many times and the results are typically in this ballpark.

Here's a few references to it:
Strengthening Families in Canada manual - Session #14, Page 13
Beyond Basics: A Sourcebook on Sexuality and Reproductive Health Education - page 54
In the second report it states that the research is from "Jacqueline Goodchilds of the University of California, Los Angeles."

This article in the Sun Sentinel by Iris Krasnow interviews Jacqueline about her research:
Sun Sentinal / When A Date Turns to Rape
``We found out a lot of upsetting things,`` she recalls of her research targeted at teens 14 through 18. ``For one, we found that a large percentage of both boys and girls indicated that it was OK to use force at times with sex.``

The book "I Never Called It Rape" by Robin Warshaw also explores this research.
"A team of researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles studied the way 432 teens aged 14 to 18 perceived male-female interactions. Concluded Jacqueline D. Goodchilds, Gail Zellman, Paula D. Johnson, and Rose-ann Giarusso: 'We appear to have uncovered some rather distressing indications that a new generation is entering into the adult world of relationships, especially that of sexual intimacy between a man and a woman, carrying along shockingly outmoded baggage.'"
I Never Called It Rape on Amazon

Jacqueline Goodchilds Author Page

It gets worse. This is just what the surveyed students thought when they were NOT aroused. Research shows that when a man gets aroused, his restraint goes right out the window. This study by Dan Ariely and George Loewenstein, published in the 2006 issue of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, literally tested men in a state of non-arousal and arousal.

When Is Rape Okay?

So once the men became aroused, their decision making process in regards to sex was affected. Look at what that does to 'date rape' questions -

When Is Rape Okay?

So in a non-aroused state, 20% of men answered yes to "Would you keep trying to have sex after your date says "no". That is bad enough. But once those men became aroused, the number jumped to 45%. That is nearly half of the men. And OVER half of the men would attempt to get the woman drunk in order to have sex with her. They would be perfectly willing to have sex with a drunk woman. Over a quarter would be willing to drug her!

The Heat of the Moment: The Effect of Sexual Arousal on Sexual Decision Making - full study

In another study, published in the Journal of Social Issues in 1981, Neil M. Malamuth investigated "Rape Proclivity Among Males". He found that men were turned on by videos of consensual sex - but they were MORE turned on by videos where the woman was being raped and seemed like she was starting to enjoy it. Many rapists feel that the women they are raping are enjoying the process.
Rape Proclivity Among Males - study by Neil M. Malamuth (see graphs on page 148)

These men didn't just get turned on by the idea of rape. A study found nearly a quarter of the men had already raped at least one woman.

"Investigators administered an anonymous self-report 'Sexual Experience Survey' to a random sample of 3,862 college students. They found that 23% of the males reported being in a situation in which they had become so sexually aroused that they could not stop themselves from having sexual intercourse even though the woman didn't want to."

Of course, we know they COULD have stopped. However, they didn't feel it was important enough TO stop.

Our Society and Women
It's one thing to "blame" men for feeling this way, but the top report (and others like it) indicate that it's not just men who feel this is OK. Our society is pushing the message that "woman are objects" so strongly that even WOMEN are buying into the mindset. Even WOMEN think it's OK to be used like a sex doll. They think it's fine, if they say no, that the guy does whatever he wants anyway. After all, he's the guy, and she's "only" the girl. What she wants doesn't matter as much.

When is Rape Okay? We can see this message throughout the songs, movies, and TV shows we grow up with. Just one example. There's a parody song called "Jack Sparrow" with The Lonely Island and Michael Bolton. It's received enormous YouTube play. Yes it's a parody - but the reason parodies work is that they accurately mirror a well known situation. The "bar scene" part exactly mirrors many "real" music videos. The guy is leaning over an attractive woman and telling her, "Watch it girl, for I ain't your 'Mister Nice' guy. More like the Meet-Ya, Take Ya Home and F* You Twice Guy." He says it with a smile, and she looks up seductively at him, as if this is exactly how she wants to be treated.

I'm sure we can all think of thousands of songs where the woman is simply an object to be grabbed and mounted. The only reason she's important is that she has big breasts or a big booty and that the guy wants to get her drunk, get her stoned, and use her.

Now, I'll admit here that I adore the Game of Thrones series. I think the acting is superb, the writing is excellent, and the storyline is compelling. With all of that being said, numerous articles have been written about the egregious amount of sex inserted into the series by HBO. This sex wasn't in the original books at this level. The HBO team deliberately ramped up the sexual content to draw in viewers. In interviews, the HBO team even makes comments along the lines of (this is not an actual quote, but a paraphrase) "Yes, we chose actress X specifically because any hot-blooded guy who saw her would want to F* her." So it wasn't about acting talent, or skill conveying a character. No, it was solely about the body of the woman causing a male to get aroused. That was her purpose in life.

When Is Rape Okay? The Game of Thrones series even spawned a new term - "sexposition". This describes exposition (i.e. laying out a scene) with gratuitous sex going on in the background for no purpose at all except to titillate the viewer. Apparently viewers can't appreciate good dialogue or talented acting. They have to have active sex going on in order to stay engaged. A classic example of this is in Episode 7. "Littlefinger" babbles on for quite a long time about fairly mild stuff, about how he once loved Catelyn when she was younger. But in the background two of his prostitutes have a long, drawn out interlude together. That's the main focus of the scene.

When Theon Greyjoy sleeps with the Captain's daughter on his way home, he comments to her off-handedly, "close your mouth when you smile." It's meant to be a scene the viewers laugh at. Why? Because her teeth aren't perfect, so therefore she should stop smiling fully when around men. They might not want to mount her then.

Women are certainly sometimes strong - but when you compare the male characters with the female characters, the males are quite willing to grab any nearby woman and bend her over a table. That's what the women are there for. Women are described as being "a collection of profitable orifices". The Dothraki men grab any available woman and rape her as a matter of course. The Greyjoy take whatever women they come across as their "prize". King Robert pulls any woman he wants into his lap. Craster has sex with his daughters and creates more daughters, building a large harem (the boys are gotten rid of). Littlefinger makes his living selling women. It's just what most men "do".

And remember, this is an "attractive" fantasy world. This is what people dream about as an escape from normal life. The women are hot and available, and the men can just reach out and grab whichever one they currently want to use. Even if she's his sister (we have at least three of those situations).

You might say to yourself, "Well, that's just men. Women want to be treated with respect." Let's take a look at romance novels then - the classic "escape" that many women enjoy. The Wolf and The Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss is lauded by many as their favorite romance novel. It is all about a medieval woman who is repeatedly raped, who grows to like it, and who then wants to marry the rapist. There's also Fires of Winter by Johanna Lindsey. It features an intelligent, strong, highly principled woman in the 800s. The woman gets kidnapped by a Viking and continually raped. And, yes, she finds she likes it and wants to be with him.

Woman are CHOOSING to thrill with the idea of a rapist who is so good he "wins her over". They praise the guy as a worthy hero.

So we have our modern world bombarding us with messages about women being "there for the taking" and that it's OK to ignore them when they say no. It's fine to treat them simply as bodies there to be used. Both women and men are hearing this message so often that they come to think of it was natural and normal.

Hopefully as our society evolves we can move past this. Hopefully someday we can reach a point where women are treated as human beings, and when the thought of using (and abusing) them is no longer a "fun" thing to joke about or extol.

Women's Issues - main page

Lisa Shea Website Main Page