“Who would want to rape me?” she says as her father worries about sexual predators. “No one rapes ugly girls.” the young boy declares with a laugh full of scorn as if she should feel safe, even insulted, that someone wouldn’t want to violate her body.
It seems that our society perpetuates this twisted idea that rape is in some way a compliment, that only young and attractive women are victims of this horrible act. The idea that women who do not meet this standard of attraction need not worry because they are not “rape-able”.
How have we allowed this disgusting idea to grow? To become an insult, the butt of jokes? What’s even worse is that some men go out of their way to physically intimidate women and when she reacts in fear, he scoffs “Don’t flatter yourself “. Rape is not about lust or attraction, it’s about control and humiliation.
Rapists are not just men with high libidos looking for the closest available partner, they seek to possess and control, using sexual violation as their weapon, rape is never about desirability.
When we view rape as the result of sexual attraction, we paint it as something less terrible, less immoral. This not simply men being sexually aggressive, this is a crime. We view the “normal” rapist as a young man who forces himself on attractive women, therefore making it about her desirability not his violent nature of control. Making his actions understandable to his male defenders, as if for being a pretty girl you’re “asking for it”.
The media doesn’t help contradict this twisted idea either, with countless portrayals of rape victims in media and film being attractive young girls, many times in high school or college.
But rape can happen to anybody, it is a violent act who’s predators do not see gender, skin color, age or attractiveness.
In London, serial rapist Delroy Grant was imprisoned for sexually assaulting over 203 elderly people. Yet, rather than focusing on the atrocity of these acts the media seemed to focus on the age of his victims. The London’s Evening Standard expressed “bafflement” at a “family man’s sexual attraction to the elderly”, because once again it interfered with their idea that rape must be connected to desirability and how can the elderly be desirable? We tell elderly women not to worry about sexual predator because rape is a crime only inflicted on the young.
We tell girls to cover up or else men will assault us as if our appearances are to blame not their actions.
I am quite happy to remain free of the “compliment” of rape and I am appalled that we have this perverse idea of why rape occurs in our society. It is an act of violence one that occurs out of control and cruelty, not lust. We need to stop believing that rape is any way connected to desirability, for the sake of all victims.