Men Defining Rape: A History

What made it socially (and even legally) acceptable for a man to sexually assault a woman (in most parts of the world)?

But what also made it unacceptable for a woman to ‘not-prevent’ such assaults (without protesting, reporting, stopping or punishing the assailants)???

Read to find out.

Men Defining Rape: A History

—By Erika Eichelberger

Men have been in the business of deciding when it is okay and when it is not okay to rape women for thousands of years.
Check out our timeline of the male notions and common-law statutes that have defined rape over time…
Property theft: The Code of Hammurabi, one of the first sets of written laws, which dates to about 1780 BC (and contains the old “eye for an eye”), defines rape of a virgin as property damage against her father. If you were married, sorry lady: You were an adulteress. Punishment? You get thrown in the river.
God is a dude:Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says if you rape a virgin, you have to give her dad 50 shekels and take her to the altar.
So we know why these five Patna gang rapists thought they could marry the victim.
Please read and share: Men Defining Rape: A History.
Edited to ask:
How do you think does an average Indian define rape?
Is marital rape seen as rape in India?
Do we see rape of sex workers as rape or sort of a protection for sisters and mothers of the rest of the country?
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15 thoughts on “Men Defining Rape: A History

  1. I haven’t seen it mentioned here, so I will. I think every woman (and every man!) ought to read the book that defines and explains the whats and whys if rape, Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. I read it when it first came out in 1975 and got educated. Unfortunately, it isn’t available online.


  2. How do you think does an average Indian define rape?

    Rape happens only when a man cannot contain his sexual urges anymore(generally a woman is responsible for that). He will pounce on any woman in sight. After all “men are men!” Hence, it is the responsibility of Indian women to dress modestly, not mingle with men, in general be cautious and not to go out late at night(after 8). If you don’t do any of that, then you are clearly asking for it.

    Is marital rape seen as rape in India?

    Once married, sex is the duty of a wife and right of a husband. There is no question of rape.

    Do we see rape of sex workers as rape or sort of a protection for sisters and mothers of the rest of the country?

    Protection, of course! Because of sex workers, men at least have a way to satisfy their urges. This way, they will not bother good girls. Even otherwise, rape is not a big deal for sexual workers, or for women who are sexually active.


      • @ Indian Homemaker
        From what I have heard from a policeman friend of mine, it does appear that at times, some of the accusations of rape in the Delhi NCR region have a hidden motive agenda.
        For instance, there were several cases of ‘rape’ that usually involved a man trying to shortchange a prostitute (by paying her less or trying to wrangle in more clients than they bargained for). Since there are no legal recourses for the sex worker to sort out such problems, they often resort to rape accusations which brings the matter to the police, where it is usually sorted out (appropriate payments made to the parties).
        Such cases, even though they are a minority, create a ‘bad apple’ situation for the rest of the women, since the police at times couldn’t tell who is actually a victim and who is making a false claim. While I agree that the North Indian psyche has a rape-positive culture, there are times when an ethical and uptight cop cannot tell for sure whether a woman is really a victim or playing some agenda.


        • “What’s “a rape-positive culture”?”
          Rape positive culture refers to a culture where rape is prevalent AND its gravity as a violent crime is trivalised by the society. It is a term used among people who want to distinguish it from ‘rape cultures’ like that of the United States, where rape rates are high but rape is otherwise considered a serious crime both by the society and the law.
          Some countries, like Russia or Serbia have a unique situation were rape is trivalised in folklore and common talk, but actual rapes are expoentially less prevalent than other cultures with similar levels of violence.


        • @Atheist Indian, while I see where you’re coming from, and completely agree that women can potentially misuse rape laws- it’s important not to lose sight of why the readers of this blog are sceptics when it comes to the actions and agendas of policemen.
          If cops doubts the veracity of a rape complainant, his job is to investigate the matter appropriately. Instead, more often than not, spot judgements are used and a trial by media occurs. Even if the ‘victim’ turns out to be crying wolf, it’s the job of the court to decide that.

          Ultimately, rape is a sexual act occurring without one party’s consent. Sadly, investigations harp more on proving the ‘sexual act’ part- which is easily determined by a good medical exam- and less on the ‘lack of consent’ part- which is the real challenge, requiring good evidence collection, proper interrogation and get-your-hands-dirty type of work.

          I suspect it’s a combination of misogyny and laziness (don’t underestimate the laziness) that leads to mis-management of rape cases in India.


        • Atheist Indian, I understand that there may be some instances where the accusation of rape is false. Isn’t that why we are expected to follow the due process of law whenever a complaint of rape is made? I mean, the accused does not get convicted simply on the basis of the complaint. There has to be evidence to prove that rape has occured and there has to be evidence that proves that the accused perpetrated the rape.

          All that the police are expected to do is that they take each and every rape complaint seriously and try to find evidence that ends up either proving or disproving each complaint. As you mentioned, the problem in our rape-positive culture is that the rape complaints themselves are either not taken seriously by the police or they do not follow due process that means the integrity of the evidence gets contaminated leading to an inconclusive case.

          Even in a country like US (where the law takes rape seriously), the conviction rates are very, very low.

          Also I agree that false rape cases create a ‘bad apple’ situation. But isn’t that the case for every crime? I mean, there are people who file false complaints of theft. Do they create a ‘bad apple’ situation for everyone who files a complaint of theft? Why this kolaveri for rape alone? Is this also because of the rape-positive culture?


        • @ desidaaru12
          I agree that a part of the policemen’s reluctance to deal with rape cases in a professional manner is their inherent laziness and misogyny (which is the basis of this rape-positive culture, so to speak). However, as I said, a few experiences with false rapes and even an honest, ethical and uptight police personell (at least when it comes to more serious crimes, like rape) can be in a spot.
          @ Satish
          “There has to be evidence to prove that rape has occured… ”
          Indeed. However, compared to other crime trials, rape trials are rife with complications. Unlike most other crimes, the feminist push to deal with rape cases seems to be on a ‘guilty unless proven’ path, which has a hell lot of potential pitfalls. It is highly prone to misuse, just like the concept of encounter killing, since the social norms for sexual relationships and courtship leave a lot of leeway in how consent is understood and defined. I am terribly skeptic of the Indian justice and legal system, which is based more on emotional judgementalism, scapegoating and fallacious assumptions rather than professionalism, which is again why I’d like for the process to be more thorough and transparent. This is a country where a man can be tried for rape by a woman’s parents, for the crime of having (socially disapproved) consensual sex or crossing caste/religious ‘boundaries’.
          “I mean, there are people who file false complaints of theft. Do they create a ‘bad apple’ situation for everyone who files a complaint of theft? Why this kolaveri for rape alone?”
          Actually the kolaveri exists for thefts as well, but we are talking about rapes here, aren’t we? Have you ever tried to register a case of automobile theft or house burglary in India? When you report one, the course of police interrogation follows a pattern as if the person who reports the crime is the accused and a liar. And good luck getting an FIR, even if you were physically assaulted or mugged.


  3. Pingback: Can sexual violence against all women be stopped if we legalize prostitution and work our way up from the most socially discriminated class? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  4. Pingback: ‘The woman said she was inebriated when a co-worker took her to a room and raped her.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  5. Pingback: ‘Rape is theft of the victim’s potential to fulfil her destiny from birth, the pivot of her existence, her marriage.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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