Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Myth of Heroic Rape

Rape is an exceedingly terrible thing that can never ever be considered good, right?  I thought that would be the foregone conclusion of any sane, civilized person with even an ounce of empathy but I was wrong.  Some people seem to have come to the worrying conclusion that while rape is usually bad, it can sometimes be a good thing.

I was watching a Rosario Dawson movie called Descent the other day.  She plays a shy, bookish girl who goes on a date with a popular jock and then gets brutally raped by him.  *Spoiler alert if you plan on watching it but I wouldn't recommend it, it's not a good movie* In the end she seduces him, brings her to her apartment for a date, convinces him to get undressed and then ties him to the bed where she proceeds to rape him with an object.  Then her big black friend comes in and brutally rapes the jock some more.  I believe something similar happened in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

However this idea that rape can be heroic and appropriate as long as you're raping a bad person isn't confined to the occasional girl power revenge flick.  It's everywhere.  You see it every time a sex offender gets sentenced to jail and suddenly everyone seems to be gleefully commenting on how he will soon be on the receiving end of several hundred rapes.  Hell I used to do that myself until the full implication of this dawned on me.

If rape is an abominable, soul destroying act that harms another human being to their very core then it cannot ever be a good thing.  Not ever.  Not even when it happens to a pedophile.  We are outraged when some tribal elder in some godforsaken part of the world uses rape as a way to punish a young girl - and rightfully so!  Rape is a crime, not a punishment.  It should never be OK to use as a form of punishment, it should always be an abomination to us.  Always.  Once you start decreeing that some people actually deserve to be raped then you're not even on a slippery slope anymore, you've already fallen down the hole.  

I have no proof of this but I don't think that you can defile someone in this way without defiling yourself as well.  When you rape someone you are doing violence to your own psyche as well.  Nothing about rape can ever be redemptive or heroic.  It's bad enough that in the last decade torture went from something unspeakably wrong to something completely acceptable as long as the "good guys" are doing it.  The same thing should absolutely not be allowed to happen with the crime of rape.

I understand this impulse though.  Whenever I hear of some horrible crime (and unfortunately that's happening a lot) there is that moment when I wish the cruelest of the ancient tortures to be visited upon the criminals so they can be made to suffer for their barbarity.  However I understand that this impulse is not about justice but about vengeance.  This is impulse is neither good nor right and I try not to foster it.  I don't always feel it but I have to believe that violence and cruelty can never be the way forward.  When we indulge in it, it stains us all.  No good can come of it.  So I try to choose not to indulge in such twisted fantasies.  This pervasive idea that violence and death can be good needs to end.  It will not come naturally to us so he have to keep making that choice again and again for as long as it takes.

Or am I just being massively naive now?

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