From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear." --Against Our Will (1975) by Susan Brownmiller, emphasis in original
"Titian's Rape of Europa is highly praised for its luminous colors and sensual textures. But the painting has an overlooked dark side, namely that it eroticizes rape. I argue that this is an ethical defect that diminishes the painting aesthetically." --“Where Ethics and Aesthetics Meet: Titian's Rape of Europa”, (2003) by Anne W. Eaton.
"Rape is a four-letter word. Why isn't it taboo ? The organs and processes of sex and elimination provide us with a set of terms in English which we designate as " dirty words ."--"Rape is a four-letter word" (1975) by Muriel Schulz
Rape is a form of assault where an individual forces another to have sexual intercourse against that person’s will. Most experts believe the primary cause of rape is an aggressive desire to dominate the victim rather than an attempt to achieve sexual fulfillment. They consider rape an act of violence rather than principally a sexual encounter.
Rape is generally considered one of the most serious sex crimes and can be very difficult to prosecute. Sexual violence can also be a war crime under international law. Consent may be absent due to duress arising from the use, or threat, of overwhelming force or violence, or because the subject is incapacitated in some way such as intoxication and/or underage innocence. In some cases coercion might also be used to negate consent.
There is no universally accepted distinction between rape and other forms of assault involving one or both participant's sexual organs. Some criminal codes explicitly consider all kinds of forced sexual activity to be rape, whereas in others only acts involving penile penetration of the vagina. Many restrict rape to instances where a woman is forced by a man. In recent years some women have been convicted of raping men; this is classed as either rape or sexual assault. In some jurisdictions rape may also be committed by assailants using objects, rather than their own body parts, against the sexual organs of their target.
The rape of women by men is the most frequent form of the assault. Male-male rape is common, primarily in correctional facilities. There are an increasing number of female assailants being convicted for the rape of men, and research on female rapists is rare.
In 1563, the Council of Trent expressly declared that legal Catholic marriages had to be done with consent of both parties, but did not require parental consent, essentially declaring forced marriages invalid. This was not universally accepted: for example, in France, women were not granted the right to marry without parental consent until 1793.
The criminal justice system of many countries was widely regarded as unfair to sexual assault victims. Both sexist stereotypes and common law combined to make rape a "criminal proceeding on which the victim and her behavior were tried rather than the defendant".
Adult women were often extremely reluctant to bring up charges of rape: public admission of having been raped was severely damaging to one's social standing, courts tended to be skeptical of the charges, conviction rates were low, and, in the event that the accusation could not be proved, the victim could then be accused of committing adultery with the rapist (traditionally a serious offense that could have been punished by mutilation or even death). Certain classes of women, such as prostitutes, were banned from raising accusations of rape altogether.
In the United States, before and during the American Civil War when chattel slavery was widespread, laws against rape were focused primarily on instances of black men raping white women, real or imagined. The penalty for such a crime in many jurisdictions was death or castration. The rape of a black woman, by any man, was considered legal. In some states during the 1950s, a white woman having consensual sex with a black man was considered rape.
Since the 1970s, many changes have occurred in the perception of sexual assault due in large part to the feminist movement and its public characterization of rape as a crime of power and control rather than purely of sex. In some countries the women's liberation movement of the 1970s created the first rape crisis centers. This movement was led by the National Organization for Women in the U.S. One of the first two rape crisis centers in the United States, the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, opened in 1972. It was created to promote sensitivity and understanding of rape and its effects on the victim.
Marital rape first became a crime in the United States in the state of South Dakota in 1975. In 1993, North Carolina became the last state to outlaw marital rape. The marital rape exemption was abolished in England and Wales in 1991 by the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, in the case of R v R.
In the 1980s, date or acquaintance rape first gained acknowledgment. Rape crisis centers were created to serve survivors of all forms of sexual violence during any phase of their healing process. Rape crisis centers and other community-based service providers continue to grow and serve their communities by providing direct services and prevention programming.
On September 2, 1998, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda delivered a precedent-setting verdict that made sexual violence a war crime. This was followed in November 1998 by the decision of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that acts of rape may constitute torture under international humanitarian law.
Current topics being debated are the marginalized victims of rape—domestic violence and rape victims, marital rape victims, male rape victims of both male and female rapists, female-female rape victims, parental-rape incest victims, and child sexual abuse victims. Other emerging issues are the concept of victim blaming and its causes, male rape survivors, male-male rape, female sexual aggression, new theories of rape and gender, date rape drugs and their effects as well as the psychological effects of rape trauma syndrome.
The ius primae noctis ("law of the first night") is a term now popularly used to describe a supposed legal right allowing the lord of an estate to take the virginity of his serfs' maiden daughters. Little or no historical evidence has been unearthed from the Middle Ages to support the idea that such a right ever actually existed, although it may have simply been a habit of lords that could not be challenged by victims or their families due to the lord's status.
- "Rape is an act of desperation", Camille Paglia
- Types of rape
- Causes of rape
- Marry-your-rapist law
- Rape fantasy
- Sociobiological theories of rape
- Rape culture
- Rape is not about sex
- Rape myths
- Sexual assault
- Sexual coercion among animals
- Comfort women
- Rape in art
- Images of Rape: The 'Heroic' Tradition and its Alternatives () by Diane Wolfthal