Why yes, this IS a dark and mature topic, how did you know? This post might get a little uncomfortable, and I know my Christian readers are squirming right now, but I think a mature Christian should be able to look at the darkness of the world through a critical lens. That way, we can understand it. I’m no psych professor, just a man who knows men and is studying men, and who was once himself a sexual addict, so I know the links between sexuality and psychology. There’s no single cause/excuse for rape, but this was a topic I ruminated on a while back and came up with something I hope to discuss.
The Bad, Horrible, Awful Excuse
I think you already know what it is, don’t you? You must; you’ve seen it on the news and in the media a hundred times already. What is the number one excuse men give for rape? All together now, 3…2…1 “She was asking for it!” This can mean A) She wore provocative clothing, B) She was a bad person or ticked off the rapist, C) She didn’t say “no” because she was too drunk/drugged, or D) She was sexually enticing and boy, oh boy, if I only had some control of my willie…
It’s obviously a horrible, awful excuse for rape, blaming the victim. So why do guys use it? Well, there are a few obvious reasons, and one not-so-obvious reason I’d like to discuss here.
- He’s lying and hoping you’re an idiot.
- His sexuality is so broken that he really thinks any flirtatious action is an invitation for sex.
- She said “yes” once then changed her mind and he didn’t stop.
- He really, really, really wants it to be true.
Why on Earth would a guy want that to be true? Well, there’s the obvious fact that nobody wants to be a bad guy and so we make up excuses to justify ourselves as not to look in the mirror. However, I think there’s a deeper reason I haven’t seen discussed before.
The “she was asking for it” excuse perfectly fuses two contradicting, yet crucial desires in a man: the desire to conquer, and the desire to be desired.
The Desire to Conquer
Men are conquerors by nature. Believe it or not, this is not automatically a bad thing; no base desire is inherently good or evil. The desire to conquer makes us discover the New World, makes us competitive to get ahead in life, makes us fight back against evil, makes us want to punch cancer in the throat, makes a lawyer fight against rape culture in the courtroom. Now, of course…the conquering instinct is also what makes a man a bully, a warmonger, and even a rapist.
Rape is more than sexuality. Why do you think so many men get raped in prison? Does prison just turn that many men into homosexuals? Does being without a woman that long make you long for man flesh (no, it does not)? Why do you think so many prominent women receive rape threats? Because they’re just that sexy? Click here for an example of a woman specifically targeted not because she was attractive, but because she was a “strong, independent Italian woman.” Rape is more than sex; it’s a conquering device
Rape is the greatest conquering weapon you can imagine because it targets a person’s entirety. There’s the obvious physical conquering including pain and dominance, the mental conquering because of the trauma of rape, and the emotional conquering brought on by the fear, mistrust, and unfortunately, shame. It’s easy to break a person entirely with rape, and very hard to recover from it.
And unfortunately, this is a very sick way for a man to feel like he is strong.
The Need to be Desired Big Time
This isn’t just a female thing: guys want to be special, too. Every man at one point in his life (or several) has this fantasy of being that guy who walks into the bar and makes every woman turn their head and purr, then roar in the bedroom. And let’s face it: sex is a great way to feel good about yourself (especially in a culture that says men must have sex and lots of it to be a real man).
Guys want to be heroes. Unfortunately, many men don’t feel like heroes, or like anything at all. And that desire only grows until a man becomes desperate for worth. And because sex is so powerfully linked to this (both by nature and culture), a man can sometimes take matters into his own hands.
Buzzfeed had some examples of real quotes from sexual assaults that the victims wrote down. Some included “The only time I don’t want to kill myself is when I’m f***ing you,” “Do you like it?”, and even “This is the only way I could ever get a girl like you.” Sad on so many levels.
The Deadly Combination
So what would perfectly mix a man’s desire to conquer with the conflicting desire to be desired? “She was asking for it.” In other words, yeah it was rape, but not really. Her mouth said no, but her body said yes. I truly believe that several men aren’t only saying this to the press or the courts; they’re saying this to themselves, too.
As with any normal desire, suppression is not the answer; channeling is. For example, if you have a problem eating too much, you don’t just stop eating altogether, you channel your eating habits into the right foods and learning to moderate indulgences. Obviously, I’m not saying you channel rape since it’s never acceptable, but you can channel these two desires.
Conquering is the hardest one because, well, there aren’t many acceptable ways to conquer anymore. Sports and video games seem to be the most common outlets, or other competitions with men. However, we must be creative, and teach our men that fighting is not wrong, only fighting for the wrong reasons. How about conquering some social need or injustice? Some sport, exercise, or outdoor adventure to get out the extra energy/aggression? What if you fought FOR something instead of AGAINST it?
Being desired can be channeled, too. First of all, a man must have his own self-confidence. Without it, he’ll cave to social pressures and do anything to feel special. Dozens of books have been written and there are thousands of therapists more qualified than myself to address these issues. But for everybody else, I’d say love. Love a man for who he is, and especially who he is as a man. Love him because he is a man, and help him believe that he is one, not that he will be if he bangs this girl or that.
My Honest Opinion
Personally, I think God needs to intervene in a man’s life if there is to be any REAL cure. No, not the God that says “She deserved to be raped because of that mini skirt.” That god doesn’t exist. The God of the Bible fought for those who had no one of defend themselves, i.e. rape victims (Psalm 82: 3-4).
God can give a man something to conquer, where his strength can be used for good, not evil. Here’s a relevant example: perhaps suiting up in the courtroom and defending the woman who was violated when the rest of the neighborhood is saying “She’s a tramp! She had it coming!”
And God can make a man feel desired. You may not believe in God, but play along for a minute. Imagine that there really is a supreme being of the universe, one who created everything and can destroy it in a blink. Then imagine that this ultimate being think you’re something special, that he actually thinks about you all the time, and wants nothing more than to walk through this life alongside you (Zephaniah 3:17). If you really believed that, you’d think you were something special, wouldn’t you?
There is no one cause/excuse and there is no one “cure” for rape or rape culture. I don’t come here thinking that by following my advice, we can stop all rape. I wish I was that smart! Still, I think that a careful look at the male mind can help us understand why he rapes, even if the causes are multifaceted. Laws, castration, even death penalties simply don’t work. Only understanding, love, grace, and the power of God can ever really turn a bad men into good ones.