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The Social Construction Of Rape Essay

1807 words - 8 pages

Oftentimes, the things individuals take for granted as preexisting facts are merely the products of social construction, which exert tremendous impacts on belief and action. Men and women are socially constructed categories inscribed by norms of masculinity and femininity that enables rape to occur. Catharine MacKinnon claims that rape is defined in a male perspective, which lacks the account of female experience. On the other hand, Sharon Marcus argues that rape is a constructed language that scripts the female body. As bell hooks points out, black men celebrate “rape culture” as a mean of expressing patriarchal dominance and endorsing female subordination. In order to redefine rape and to ...view middle of the document...

Hence, a whole account of experience is ignored. MacKinnon also argues that, rape is a traumatizing experience for the victim that has potential long-term negative effects (p. 267).
Marcus touches on the phenomenon of rape as well as rape prevention in “Fighting Bodies, Fighting Words: A Theory and Politics of Rape Prevention.” Her argument is that, rape is a socially scripted language, which promotes male dominance and equates women as “rapable” objects; it is a “linguistic fact” that structures violence. As Marcs has pointed out, rape is not predetermined but is rather created through practices that endorse the “rape culture” that celebrates male power and female powerlessness. In fact, men are not inherently stronger than women; it is rather the rape script that produces a belief that men have more strength, whichin tern “empowers” men to practice male dominance (Marcus p. 372). Rape is somehow legitimate, that exists for men as a mean of exercising power because they can. To say that rape is a speechless, impersonal attack is a misnomer because most rapists develop verbal communication before and during physical aggressive (Marcus p. 370). It contradicts what individuals think rape is: when a woman walking alone at night, a perpetrator jumps out and rapes her; instead, rape occurs in more places, in relationships, and not exclusive to heterosexual relationships. More often, the perpetrator knows the victim personally. Women are rendered “subjects of fear”, thought to embody vulnerability and lack of defense (Marcus p.375). By definition, women are either objects of rape or have been raped already. Marcus also criticizes the self-defense that is scripted by the language of rape, that one should fight back unless the action is effective. It discourages women to initiate any verbal or physical defense when they are in danger of being attacked, whether by someone they know or a stranger.
Bell hooks discusses the social construction of violence within the black community, that black males are only able to express male domination in the form of misogynist ideas and aggressive assertions in sex (p.333). In mass media, contemporary rap music celebrates “phallocentrism, misogyny, and sexism”; voices of the ones who oppose these ideas are rarely heard (hooks p. 333). Masculinity is eroticized and glamorized, that others reject black men who oppose such practices for their lack of masculinity. Hooks provided a personal anecdote of two partners she has had. The first insisted on his sexual desires to be met in the bedroom every time, hooks often felt coerced into sexual acts that she did not want to engage in (p.334). The second partner respected hooks’ will in terms of sex, which made her feel “free and safe” (p. 334). Yet, she received doubt and questioning from her girlfriends, even warning that he might be gay (p. 334). Hook argues that women are bombarded by misogynist beliefs and male domination, and have internalized, normalized them. The...

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