Rape as Terrorism?

A few weeks ago, I was out walking, when I realized just how much the threat of rape affects women behavoir. I know, almost instinctually, that I can’t go out alone at night. I know that I can’t hike around the river parkway by my house. I’m told not to wear certain clothing. My actions are often restricted by the threat of rape.
My question is, is rape an act of terrorism? I define terrorism as a violent act meant to keep a specific group in constant fear and restrict their action. I’d like to hear some reactions to this theory.

Are you asking whether or not it functions that way? (obviously it does; it works to curtail your freedom and your sense of freedom, yes?)

Or are you asking whether or not the rapists see it that way?

That’s a more complicated question. The politically correct line on it is that rape is about power, not sex, but I would not put it that way.

My guess is that men who rape see rape as striking out at women, but that they are not smug and self-assured about it but rather would complain that 'them bitches got the world set up so that if I don’t do this, they get to laugh at me and I don’t get what I deserve (sex) and they don’t get what they deserve (to get fucked for being such teases etc).

In other words, I think they are polarized against women, that they see the world as a sexual battlefield; that they feel that as long as women can choose if and when to have sex, women have far too much power, sexually, and they (the men) are supposed to be the winners, that’s the way God meant for it to be.

I think it is specifically a sexual anger, an anger about sexuality and a sense that women are getting away with being cute but not putting out or something to that effect, as opposed to being a nonsexualized antagonism towards women as a gender (e.g., that they rape women because they resent women for competing with them in the world of employment). That’s not the same as saying that they rape because they are so horny they can’t help themselves, though. It may have a lot to do with sex–I think it does–but it is still a crime of power and an act of terrorism.


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Rape has been used as a tool of terrorism, as well, especially in cultures where sexual purity in women is highly valued. You saw it in Bosnia, for example. A villiage was attacked, the men slaughtered, and the women systematically raped.

After being raped, her virginity gone, in many cultures, the woman is just as un-marriageable as a common whore, despite the fact that she was unwilling. So, it’s a sort of tool of extermination to the enemy. If you “defile” all of the women, kill as may of the men as you can, then you’ve got a pretty good start in exterminating the race, with extra points if you manage to impregnate the woman with enemy children.

The intruder sees an enemy woman as something less than human. We always depersonalize the enemy, so we won’t have to feel bad about what we’re doing to them. If we remove them from being “like us,” then we can kick them around with impunity. They become savage to us, evil robot-people without the normal emotions and thoughts.

Rape is one of the reason we who were in the military do not want to see women put into combat. It is not hard to invision a captured woman being raped by the enemy.


The truth is generally seen, rarely heard. Gracian.

John John, call me naive, but don’t men serving in combat positions ever worry about themselves being raped by the enemy?

The threat of violent crime is equally restrictive to men in many urban areas as well.

I don’t think it’s terrorism, simply a fact of life that if your alone in certain places at certain times, your in big trouble.

Oddly enough (please don’t flame me for this,) there may be reasons to believe that some women unintentionally make themselves an easier target for rape by their demeanor.

While in College, I got to play the rapist in a women’s self-defense course. The instructor said that a rapist isn’t looking for a fight, but an easy mark he can intimidate, and quickly overwhelm physically. A rapist tends to choose his victims accordingly.

I have to admit this seemed true. Some of the women I was supposed to “attack” were clearly scared, submissive and “pulled into themselves.” It was very easy to dominate them physically.

After the third or fourth class, when most of the women started getting into it, and reacted aggressively, it became very difficult indeed.

A rapist needs to quickly assert his physical dominance over his victim if he is to be successful. Even when I was supposed to be a “determined rapist,” I was rarely successful by the end of the class. The women had given up their terrorized victim role and started fighting back.

I bring this up, because the instructor used the metaphor of terrorism for rape in this way: If terrorists hijack a plane, everybody knows their role, the terrorists know what there supposed to do, as do the hostages, and the police.

It’s similar with rape. A rapist and a victim have specific roles. If a woman plays this role (demur helpless victim,) there is a greater chance of a succesful rape. If you don’t play the role, often a rapist will look elsewhere for someone who does. Your inital reaction to a physical attack may reinforce the rapists intentions, or scare him off depending on what you do.

The answer is it’s only terrorism if you let yourself be terrorized.

I’ll give you an example:

My father-in-law made my wife take Judo for almost 10 years as a child. Though she is rather petit, she is also very confident physically and this shows in her demeanor. She doesn’t have the “look” of an easy victim. She looks like she would fight like a wildcat. I imagine many rapists would look for an easier target all other things being equal. This is not to say that she could go walking through Central Park at night unmolested, but then neither could I.

This is not to say that all rapes can be avoided in this fashion, but it helps your chances.

John Douglas can be a self-important pedant at times, but his book “Obsession” (with Mark Olshaker) gives some interesting insights into the minds of sexual predators. He also makes the specific point that normal sexual urges are NOT what drives a rapist, but the need to exercise control over someone more “helpless” than themselves.