Why do (some) men sexually abuse/rape?

(108 Posts)
tryingtomakesenseoflife Mon 18-Jul-16 06:20:57

Can you help me understand why men sexually abuse. I've experienced a range from a pretty awful rape by a friend - to, in longterm marriage, a low level level of coercion and ignoring consent over certain small acts - and in years past experiences that fall in between like unwanted drunken sex.

This is just background to my post. I'm less concerned about addressing my individual circumstances, more in hearing thoughts about why men do this.

It seems to me like a lot of men to different degrees ignore or push the boundaries re consent. (Not all of course)

Are there explanations or understandings of this, including in a wider context, I don't know exactly what I'm asking. I just want to understand a bit more, like has this always been an issue throughout history? Was it understood differently? What is the link to gender roles? To biology? Are the different ends of the spectrum about the same thing?

I couldn't see another thread addressing this but happy to be directed.

JacquettaWoodville Mon 18-Jul-16 06:57:10

I'm sorry for your experiences, trying.

IMO, rape exists on a spectrum of behaviours where society views women as "not quite" people. For example, statements that women "should be flattered" by catcalling prioritise the catcaller's desire to do it over the discomfort of his target.

Xenophile Mon 18-Jul-16 09:32:15

Rapists rape because they know that the chances are that they will get away with it.

Even if a woman reports a sexual assault or rape, the chances that the perpetrator will end up being punished are low, and once a rapist has got away with it once, they just keep on doing it.

liptolinford Mon 18-Jul-16 09:57:57

On a human level, I find it similarly incomprehensible. I think, though, that the men who commit these acts feel entitled to sex so it doesn't matter to them whether the other person is willing or not.

I think a lot of it is about 'punishing' women, too.

MustStopAndThinkBeforePosting Mon 18-Jul-16 09:59:34

Sorry to hear what you have been going through, I hope you get the strength to get through to the other side, a better life is waiting for you.

Like Jaquetta says it is mostly because the perpetrators don't really think of women as "real people" but as possessions (whether belonging to themselves or belonging to a different man). In their mind, penetrative sex is a way of asserting ownership and control.

There are loads of good decent men who do not think of women like this and who respect their partners. Sadly women who experienced a childhood dominated by a misogynist tend to be attracted to misogynists in adult relationships - it's not an easy cycle to break.

AyeAmarok Mon 18-Jul-16 10:09:00

Rapists rape because they know that the chances are that they will get away with it.

While I do agree with this in some scenarios, I also think a lot of men don't actually consider what they do to be "rape", or "real rape".

Eg, when they keep pushing the boundaries a little even when the woman has said she doesn't want to, they don't think that's rape, just that the woman needed "persuading", and that that is part of normal sexual interaction.

When they go out to bars/clubs looking for women who are drunk enough that they'd shag them, they don't consider the fact that the woman wouldn't do this if she weren't really drunk to be them taking advantage, just normal expectations.

Some would be horrified to hear their actions described as rape. Look at Ched Evans, Adam Johnson, Brock Turner etc. They genuinely don't believe it. That's a failure of education (by their parents, school, society).

It's grim.

Sorry to hear what's happened to you.[flow]

AyeAmarok Mon 18-Jul-16 10:11:23

That's a failure of education (by their parents, school, society). and the criminal justice system

Sorry, missed a bit.

NeedACleverNN Mon 18-Jul-16 10:12:02

Because some people still think rape is a strange man dragging a woman down an alley way or into a bush.

Because men don't like to be told no

Because it's a way of putting a woman in her place

Because it's a way men get to show how much power he has

Because he wants to

tryingtomakesenseoflife Mon 18-Jul-16 11:15:37

God how depressing. I was hoping for some complicated theories. It sounds so basic. ( Not a criticism of responses)

They genuinely don't believe it. That's a failure of education (by their parents, school, society).

So can men in this category be educated to behave differently? And would they then be the same as men who would never do it. If they really don't know any better. Or is there still something more underlying their actions. Could any man push boundaries/rape without the right education etc?

Other than the violent misogynists who just want to rape, I think it has to do with the way society thinks about consent. Women will often survive a rape by freezing and waiting for it to be over, because that is the safest thing to do if she wants to avoid even more harm. And later, if she even bothers to report knowing the reception she'll get, she'll be asked what signals she sent, how was he to know if she wasn't consenting if she didn't fight back, etc. Perhaps she consented, but now she regrets it? Is it really worth ruining his life over a regrettable misunderstanding?

There have been so many arguments on this board that show how many men think of consent not as something that a woman should offer enthusiastically, but as a legal bar that he needs to meet in order to avoid conviction in court. So pushy, coercive men would read that moment when a woman knows he's not going to stop, so it's safer just to squeeze her eyes shut and survive it, as consent. And in the majority of cases, they get away with it, because female passivity is interpreted as consent.

I've tried to word this post in a way that won't be upsetting. I'm so sorry for what you're been put through tryingtomakesenseoflife flowers

JacquettaWoodville Mon 18-Jul-16 11:32:20

"So can men in this category be educated to behave differently? "

I think so.

NeedACleverNN Mon 18-Jul-16 11:33:58

I think some men are raised being told they can do anything they like

A woman saying no, is something they don't like. So they push themselves on her. When she doesn't resist because she has frozen in fear, they take this as a "look at how persuasive I can be" and goes ahead

Xenophile Mon 18-Jul-16 11:37:26

I think men can behave differently, but as it is obvious that rape myths abound, then this can probably best be done in a formal educational context ie. by making sure that consent is a subject that is covered in PHSE lessons from a very young age, and is even covered in Early Years education. Obviously not sexual consent for tiny children, but kind hands, safe bodies type lessons.

VestalVirgin Mon 18-Jul-16 11:47:19

In the end, it is all about men thinking that their desires matter more than the health, lives, and feelings of women.

Whether a rapist rapes because he wants to stick his dick into something, or because he wants to harm a woman, both have the same underlying mindset of thinking that he matters more.

Some rapists may not view what they do as rape (= criminal act) but they sure do know exactly that they are prioritizing their own desires over a woman's lifelong mental health, physical health and happiness.

In my opinion, it is a waste of time to try and analyse rapists in the hopes that an understandable motive comes to light. It is what women are socialized to do - have empathy with men - but what good does it bring?

I don't think we can educate men to not rape women; I think we should focus on making sure no rapist walks free.
The rapists can then spend their time in prison figuring out why they rape and how to not do it again.

ChocChocPorridge Mon 18-Jul-16 11:48:01

I can't believe I'm about to do this, but there's actually a good Doc McStuffins episode on consent (!)

It revolves around tickling, and how, just because someone is laughing, it doesn't mean they are enjoying it, and you should look at how they're behaving and what they're saying.

I think that you really do need to start that early on the whole concept, and work on both sides - both that you should be taking a holistic view of whether a person wants to be doing what you're doing with them, and also, that it's perfectly fine to not like something and to expect someone to stop.

I think that whilst lots of men are horrified at the idea, there are also a large proportion who view it just as AyeAmarok says - of rules-jockeying to get what they want whilst staying on the side of plausible deniability legally

chunkymum1 Mon 18-Jul-16 11:50:18

I agree that, especially for rape that is not 'stranger down a dark alley' too many men, and sometimes women who know them, don't see what they have done as 'real' rape. The same applies to sexual assualt/unwanted sexual advances- even now I hear people making excuses and minimising such actions.

But I think that it goes further than this. I think that society gives out messages that actually encourage this type of behaviour to some degree. There seems to be a sense that sometimes men get caught out and go too far, rather than that unwanted sexual advances are wrong (ie making unwanted advances, even when they know that they are unwanted is OK, as is some level of action so men are unlucky/make a mistake if they misjudge when to stop). I'm not suggesting that all sexual advances (from either gender) are necessarily wrong- but that this should stop as soon as one party indicates that they do not want this.

For example, on the radio the other day there had clearly been some discussion about cat calling/wolf whistling and they were reading out listeners' comments. The general consensus seemed to be that this was OK and actually quite a compliment. TV/media/society seem to increasingly send out messages that boys/men will all spend time looking at porn and this is fine. It is seen as a desirable trait (at least by other men) for a young man to be able to persuade lots of women to sleep with him. Meanwhile young women are expected to be flattered if a man in a club grabs her, makes personal comments, 'dances' against her etc.

Added to this, as some PP have already mentioned, there are instances where it is apparent that people have sex without informed consent where society seems to accept (and I would actually say encourages or at least is amused by)- the most obvious being men who 'pull' obviously very drunk women.

There are also lots of examples in films/TV etc of originally unwanted advances/exploitative relationships leading to happily ever after. So I think many men think that this is what women really want after all. It doesn't help when there are quite a few women who agree.

GirlWithTheLionHeart Mon 18-Jul-16 11:59:27

Wasn't there an 'ask a rapist' thread on red dit a while back? Was chilling

tryingtomakesenseoflife Mon 18-Jul-16 12:04:52

Hmmm. I have just left a marriage in part because I didn't want to "educate" my husband, didn't believe it was that simple. Tbh didn't even attempt to address that aspect.

The rape I referred to (before marriage, not husband) involved violence and very clear lack of consent - not the frozen type of non-consent (that I am starting to understand and makes me feel better to see why a woman would freeze).

BUT it was 20 years ago and before talk about going to a bedroom with someone isn't consent, that people need to be capable of consenting (I was drunk, he wasn't) etc. So if it's about education, debunking myths etc, does that mean the time/context means that a man might not have been aware of what is and isn't consent.

I should add that none of this upsets me. I can see thinking is part of some sort of process, but it's not an upsetting one. So comments don't need to be careful. And I want to consider the issues, not the impact on me etc.

tryingtomakesenseoflife Mon 18-Jul-16 12:05:43

Slow typing, have missed recent posts. Will read now.

differentnameforthis Mon 18-Jul-16 12:07:12

Maybe also because - and proof of this can be found in a thread that is in active at present - when as a teen they assault a girl at school, it goes unchallenged, with many seeing it as "normal"

Mymouthgetsmeintrouble Mon 18-Jul-16 12:10:37

Because the men who do this are assholes who think their desires are more important than the welfare of their victims

Felascloak Mon 18-Jul-16 12:11:29

I think that society gives out messages that actually encourage this type of behaviour to some degree.

Yes totally agree with Chunky. I've had the misfortune of listening to some teenage boys talking about their "conquests" on the bus - I'm obviously so old I'm totally off their radar! But yes, they were very demeaning to the women involved and also alk egging each other on.
I'm sure 99% of what was coming out of their mouths was bollocks but they definitely had weird views on women. (Example - "did you fuck her?" "Yeah but she's so fat I had to roll her in flour to find the wetspot". The trombones)
Films, TV, books all have that trope that no doesn't really mean no and women are persuadable by stalky behaviour.
Plus that very common make behaviour of telling massive lies to get a woman into bed (ie I really like you, I have for ages blah blah blah) then going cold after.
I just think some males see sex as a goal, not fussy about with who or how they get it as they don't quite see women as human sad
I don't know what can be done about it really. It's so deeply ingrained.

caroldecker Mon 18-Jul-16 12:26:22

There are a number of reasons:

Historically, women were not 'allowed' to want sex, so men had to 'persuade' them. There is a common 'joke',

If a lady says 'No', she means 'Maybe'; if she says 'Maybe', she means 'Yes'; if she says 'Yes', she's no lady.

Similarly there was a thread today where the OP did not want her boyfriend to go on a holiday in Spain, due to the 'slutty women' there. The implication being 'normal' women need persuading to have sex.

Women claim to be flattered by it. In a column in the Times last week by Kathy Lette, she finished by saying:

So perhaps we should ban wolf-whistling for any woman under 50 but make it compulsory for women over 50. Now that really would be equality.

From a young age, children learn that pestering can get what they want, and many people try and persuade people to try new things or do something they are reluctant to do. Some men fail to understand this is unreasonable in the case of sex.

VestalVirgin Mon 18-Jul-16 12:28:54

Because the men who do this are assholes who think their desires are more important than the welfare of their victims

This is exactly what I wanted to say, but much more concise than my convoluted post.

Yes. The men who do this are assholes. I think I neglected to mention that, but it needs to be said.

@Felascloak: First step would be to change society in a way that men never get the opportunity to think of women as not human.

mzS1990 Mon 18-Jul-16 12:36:45

I don't think anyone can know exactly why people (men and women rape and sexually abuse).

I bet there's all sorts of reasons. But because we can't comprehend it ourselves, it's hard to understand ....

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