“People dominate animals, men dominate women.” Each is a relation of hierarchy, an inequality, with particularities and variations within and between them. (Cite Orange book pg. 92.) For centuries, women have been viewed and used as a man’s “property”, whether it is being used for sexual satisfaction or for the sake of bearing children and taking care of the home. Men are typically perceived as head of the household and whatever they say goes; anything to satisfy their hunger for power and control. Have women ever had a say about what they want to use their bodies for? Laws against rape may have changed over time, but men’s consistent aggressive behavior unfortunately, has not.
Dating back to the ancien régime, referring mainly to the social and political era established in France from the fifteenth century to the eighteenth century, there are several reported cases of women being attacked and sexually harassed by men to the point where the man’s sword was drawn. In fear of their lives, they were unable able to cry for help with a deadly weapon influencing the outcome of their situation. (Cite Book 1) The court systems “tolerated” this type of violence to the point where the perpetrator had little or few repercussions for his forceful actions.
“Sexual violence was a part of a system where violence reigned almost as a matter of course for no apparent reason [in our eyes]; children were beaten by adults, women by men or by other women, servants by their masters. Sometimes the aggressor broke his stick or his sword on his victim’s back, sometimes he killed him. It would have seemed highly artificial, in such circumstances, to isolate sexual crime from the other forms of aggression that were constantly present, or latent, in the everyday life of ‘traditional’ society.” (Cite Book 1)
Violence and rape were seen as similar crimes in the social world of the ancien régime, considering there were no formal law codes for rape, giving the judge full and unrestricted rule of the punishment to be had. The future conditions of the woman’s potential marital worth were much poorer than any punishment the violator could have received. Once a woman was raped, her virginity was no longer available for her husband to have. “‘Virginity is the ornament of morals, the sanctity of the sexes, the peace of families and the source of the greatest friendships.’ Its existence was a precondition for marriage. To publicly breach it was to compromise honor, rank, even life; a ‘deflowered’ girl inevitably became a ‘lost’ girl. . . ‘The ravishing of virginity was the worst rape of all.’” (Cite Book 1) An innocent woman had now completely lost her worth to society and her own dignity due to a man’s egocentric and merciless actions.
Over the hundreds of years that have passed between then and now, women have been able to gain a vast number of accomplishments for themselves. With the women’s rights movements, among other successful endeavors, one would assume that...