Men’s responsiveness causes them to be fascinated by genitals. Female responsiveness does not work in the same way. Women (much like children of both sexes) are indifferent to genitals. They may have a mild curiosity about them but many consider genitals to be ugly and smelly parts of the body. If a woman does not feel a sense of loving and being loved, even the idea of genital contact of any kind (including intercourse) can be repulsive. A woman’s emotional pleasure depends on a man’s attitude and behaviour. While a man is attracted foremost by a partner’s physical appearance, a woman is attracted by a man’s mind: his character, his behaviour and his attitude towards women.
For men intercourse is an erotic act that provides sexual gratification and emotional reassurance. So men have difficulty understanding how intercourse can cause women to feel violated. Obviously there is the physical damage: the blood, the pain and the healing process. A victim of rape feels anger, humiliation and hatred that another person has taken control of their body and brutally violated it against their objections. Rape is violent. The victim of rape puts up some significant resistance.
More importantly there is the psychological violation of the victim’s ability to make their own choices. How can we ever walk alone again without fear? How can we face our family and our friends knowing that, even though we tried not to be, we were part of something that is one of the basest and most demeaning experiences anyone can have? How can we ever move on from feeling that our body is ‘dirty’ and that we have witnessed evil and the worst in a human being? There is the fear and disgust that arises when a man forces himself on a woman.
This is the picture we all tend to have of rape. Then there’s sex without consent. This is where the victim is either silent or non-effective in making their objections. They allow their abuser to ‘have their way’ because they are too embarrassed, intimidated or frightened to object. There are also instances where the victim is insensible because they are drugged, drunk or asleep. Date rape, for example, is a conscious attempt by a man to have sex with a woman when she is incapacitated.
Most men recognise the signals that a woman gives out when she wants to have sex. She is smiling. The lead in to sex is mutual. One of the first steps in initiating a sexual relationship is a sexual kiss, which conveys a man’s urgent desire to have intercourse. A woman can communicate her enthusiasm for an escalation by caressing him and kissing back. During intercourse she is co-operating. She is not resisting. Women are shown screaming in pornography as a turn-on. The rape scenario may be a conceptual turn-on but rape in reality is extremely distressing for women.
There have only been a handful of cases where women have been convicted of rape. In one case the woman forced a (chained up) man to have sex with her. The other cases were statutory rape (underage sex rather than forced intercourse) involving teachers and their students. Some women may interpret their own emotional neediness (their desire to be valued) as a ‘sex drive’. The assertion that women are capable of rape indicates the ignorance about the nature of male sex drive and of intercourse as a mating act initiated by the male.
Men are not victims of rape (through vaginal intercourse) because intercourse is an act of male sexual dominance. A woman has nothing to gain by forcing herself on a man. She has no urgent sexual need. If a woman has feelings for a man she wants him to care about her. A woman is not aroused by a man’s body or the prospect of having intercourse with him. So it’s self-defeating to force him into submission. It’s not about physical gratification but about love. She wants to be emotionally significant to him. A man knows if he’s interested or not. If he is not, then he’s gone. Men don’t want to be smothered with love. They hope for a relationship that includes eroticism.
Male rape (by other men) is not so common that men take precautions against it. Men are raped by other men most usually within institutions such as prisons, boarding schools, the armed forces etc. where men are incarcerated without women. Women are rarely convicted of sexual crimes. The National Crime Victimization Survey defines rape as ‘forced sexual intercourse’ (vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by offender). Hence men are only truly raped by other men.
Men are uncomfortable discussing rape. In general, they try to distance themselves from rape. They say very little either in defence of the victim or against the aggressor. They don’t necessarily understand why women should ever object to intercourse but if she is physically hurt then they have to accept that she has experienced something less than ideal. Men don’t want the bad press of rape to be associated with intercourse as a loving act in case it impacts on their own sexual opportunities.
If she’s too drunk, she can’t give you consent. Also, silence is not consent. What kind of creep tries to have sex with a girl who is so drunk that she doesn’t know what’s going on? (Alice Carter 2014)