Benderly reports on Peggy Sanday’s anthropological cross-cultural study on rape.- rape is aculturally conditioned macho behavior and a violent crime (not sexual in nature)
Rape-free vs. rape-prone societies
- Less than 1/4, 17% unambiguous rape prone societies
- A large number of societies are rape-free (47%)
- Men and women are valued
- Females respected
- Economic equality
Rape present in remaining 36% of them
Model rape-free society:
- Relatively stable so females make a contribution in terms of economics:
New research suggests that the incidence of rape depends on CULTURAL
1) The status of women
2) The values that govern the relations between the sexes
3) The attitudes taught to boys
Benderly reports that Browmiller’s study contradicts the widely publicized
hypothesis that rape is inherent to the relations between men and women (Susan Browmiller’s Against Our Will, 1975)
- rape is anything but universal
- not coming from a biological drive but rather a CONDITIONED RESPONSE (to the way certain societies are organized)
"Sexual violence is no more inherent to masculinity than football."
Sanday "Human sexual behavior, though based on a biological need, is expressed in cultural terms." Human violence takes many forms, and rape is but one of them.
Sanday consulted a cross cultural sample of 156 societies published in 1969 by George Peter Murdock and Douglas R. White (not all of their findings are reliable for a study of rape.)
Rape is a violent crime with profoundly damaging effects.
- regularly teach aggressive behavior, competitiveness, and the notion that men must overcome women
- less stable societies
- typical American rapist is not sexually deprived
- he is a hostile, aggressive man who likes to do violence to women (women’s movement - led to more
women reporting rapes in US)
Rape-free or rape-prone
rape is culturally conditioned
rape is present in only about half of the 156 societies she reviewed (Sanday)
- value feminine qualities
- enjoy a stability that nullifies the necessity for male physical prowess
RAPE IS NOT AN UNAVOIDABLE FACT OF HUMAN NATURE.
There are cultures in the world where it is virtually unknown.
American women are several hundred times as likely to be raped as are women in certain other cultures.
Sanday found 95 societies in those 156 with reliable information on rape
Rape-free societies Rape-prone 47%
17%-rape used to threaten or punish women
"Rape-present" coined by Sanday for remaining 36%-reports of rape exist,
but the incidence is not known
- some may have little rape
A Model Rape-free Society
Ashanti of West Africa
- Ashanti females are respected and influential members of the community.
- Ashanti religion emphasizes women’s contribution to the general well- being.
- Earth Goddess-main female deity
- women participate fully in religious life taking as important a ritual role as men.
Mbuti Pygmies (Colin Turnbull)
- hunt with nets-live harmoniously with the forest which provides all their needs-food, clothing
and shelter (forest takes offense at anger and discord)
- women share both work and decisions
- No Mbuti attempts to dominate another nor does the group as a whole seek to dominate nature.
- feminine qualities of nurturance and fertility rank among the culture’s most valued traits.
Gusii of Kenya
47.2 rapes per 100,000 population in a year.
normal intercourse conceived as an act in which a man overcomes the resistance of a woman and causes her pain.
no wife respects a husband who fails to take her by force.
The use of rape to conquer unwilling brides or to keep women under tight control.
The US rate, one of the highest in the industrial world, was 13.85 per 100,000.
Practice-gang-rape unfaithful wives among Plains Indians (certain tribes only)
Mundurucu men of Amazon threaten to rape any women approaching the sacred trumpets.
Rape-prone societies (high incidence of rape)
- tolerate violence
- encourage men and boys to be rough, aggressive and competitive
- off limit sports to women (gatherings)
- women take little or no part in public decision making or religious rituals.
- men mock or scorn women’s practical judgment.
- They demean what they consider women’s work.
- Females remain aloof from childbearing and rearing.
- These groups trace their beginnings to a male supreme being.
- men in these societies perceive themselves as civilized animals
Sanday concludes - "Rape is not inherent in men’s nature, but results from their image of that nature." It is a product of a certain set of beliefs, which in turn derive from particular social circumstance.
Rape-prone societies have histories of UNSTABLE FOOD SUPPLIES
WARFARE OR MIGRATION BELIEF System that glorifies masculine violence.
- that teaches men to regard strength and physical force as the finest expression of their nature.
Some rape-prone societies
- restitution to victim’s husband rather than to the victim herself.
- face no danger from predatory enemies
- harmoniously occupy ancestral surroundings neither need or condone such violence.
- food supplies usually fluctuate little from season to season or year to year
- females and males share power and authority
- glorify female traits for NURTURANCE and FERTILITY
- They believe that they descend from a UNIVERSAL WOMB-and are the offspring of a male and female deity
*Such data on hundreds of societies has been available to anthropologists for generations. Sanday is one of the first to dig out broad patterns of behavior relating to rape.
Rape has also been a "non-subject" in anthropology.
Rape is not inevitable.