There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff — we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.
If everyone seeing this today donates $5, we will meet our goal for 2018.
| Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.|
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with !
| It's a|
|Articles on illegal behaviour|
“”You shouldn't abstain from rape just 'cause you think that I want you to;
You shouldn't rape 'cause rape is a fucked-up thing to do.
|—Bo Burnham, From God's Perspective|
Rape is the most extreme form of sexual assault, broadly defined as any sex act in which at least one participant has not given informed consent. Laws and attitudes regarding rape vary widely from culture to culture; in most societies, rape is a heinous criminal offense second only to murder, while in others, it is considered an offense only insofar as the rapist has violated another man's property.
A 2011 study by the Center for Disease Control estimated that 18% of women in the United States have experienced some form of rape in their lifetime, with 12% forcibly raped, 5% experiencing an unsuccessful attempt at forcible rape, and 8% at some point having sex while intoxicated, this being defined as "rape" for the purposes of the study. By comparison, the study estimated that 1.4% of men were raped, and 4.8% of them were forced to penetrate someone (which was not considered to be rape in the CDC study). Moreover, half of the rapes reported in the study were committed by current or former intimate partners. The Bureau Of Justice statistics indicate that in 1.3 per 1000 Americans aged 12 and up are raped per year (however, it is estimated that 60% of rapes go unreported). 
- 1 Legal classifications of rape
- 2 Ways to classify rape
- 3 United States statistics
- 4 Rape and contemporary US politics
- 5 Historical view of "rape" within various religions
- 6 Historical vs. modern views of rape
- 7 Evolutionary just-so stories
- 8 External links
- 9 See also
- 10 References
Legal classifications of rape
Most western countries have several legal classifications of rape, each of which may have different legal outcomes.
Violent or forced rape
Violent or forced rapes are those which generally result in some injury, and which happen under acts of violence or physical control. Several states in the US, a handful of countries in Western civilization, and most Middle Eastern, African, and Asian countries make legal distinctions between rapes that happen when force or violence is involved, and other types of rape, including ones where the threats are psychological or emotional.
This is a description to include "all sex that is not physically violent, but still coerced". Methods of coercion can include threats of future harm, threats to children or loved ones, or threats to stop financial support (as one might see in a marriage), or threats to withdraw emotional support (a kind of addictive control found in abusive relationships). Spousal rape usually falls into this category. In most Western countries, these two types of rape are legally identical. But many if not most of the rest of the world's laws still allow for rape within a marriage.
What may start as consensual sex can also become rape if one of the sexual partners feels uncomfortable or intimidated during foreplay or sex and changes their mind and they communicate this, but their partner refuses to stop. This could happen because of violence, an unwanted sexual position, humiliating language or behavior, refusal to use a contraceptive when the other party insists on it, or simply not wanting to anymore. Sexual consent is not given unconditionally, and can be revoked. However, if cases like this are brought to court, they tend to be much more ambiguous than straightforward rape cases in which no consent was given, and hence it is more difficult to determine a definitive verdict and secure a conviction.
A number of U.S. states have laws requiring that non-consensual sexual penetration be accomplished forcibly, or that the victim have made resistance that was overcome, in order to count as rape. Otherwise, it might be considered a lesser offense such as sexual battery. A shining beacon to the world indeed.
Impaired consent laws make it illegal for anyone who is intoxicated to legally give consent to sex. This is one of the trickiest laws to litigate, if the drug of choice is alcohol or pot, because they are such normal methods of "getting to know you" and "having a good time" that the legal line between "fun" and "rape" is nearly impossible to draw. However, if the victim was quite literally passed out when the sex act took place, or had been plied with "date-rape drugs" such as GHB, it is fairly easy to see how they were unable to give their informed consent to the sexual act.
Rape as defined by statute/law. In this case, it is not a question of whether or not the victim has given consent. The state has defined a particular class (almost always a class based on age) as being legally unable to give consent. So, if a 14 year old girl has sex with her teacher, regardless of how she feels about it, it is unlawful sex (most jurisdictions don't use the term statutory rape).
The danger to this type of law is that there are cases where two kids who are legally able to have sex one day could violate the law the birthday one of them reaches the legal age, or when two minors violate the law despite being close in age and maturity. Most American states have some form of "Romeo Law" which allows teens within a particular age range to be exempted from the statute. Other countries may or may not have similar provisions.
Other statutory classes include those who are mentally retarded, and some cases of people with mental illness.
The rape of children under 14 (or marriageable age or age of majority, depending on jurisdiction) is generally handled differently from the rape of adult victims; the rapist charged under various statutes of child molestation. While a charge of rape will generally be included, the molestation charge alone generally carries a harsher punishment than the charge of rape.
Historically, the question of whether a child as young as 10 consented to sex was one for a jury to decide; for instance, in the 1894 case of Pounds v. State, a conviction of a man who had sex with a 10-year-old girl was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court because the jury was not instructed that it could acquit if it found the girl was capable of consent and in fact did consent. (Georgia raised the age of consent to 14 in 1918.)
For 13% of girls and 5% of boys, their first sexual intercourse is with a statutory rapist, which they defined as sex with a person under the age of sixteen with at least 3 years' age difference. 
Ways to classify rape
Beyond the legal definitions, society tends to classify rape by the situation in which it occurred.
Acquaintance rape/date rape
This refers to rape committed by someone known to the victim. It is often difficult to convict anyone of this sort of rape, as in such a situation it is much harder to prove that any sex was non-consensual. There is also the additional problem that many people tend to blame the victim for such rapes, making it more difficult for the victim to press charges. However, despite any difficulty with evidence, the law makes no distinction even if the party intended to go all the way, said they would go all the way, then said "no" at the last moment. Rape is rape.
"Corrective rape" is the phenomenon in which men rape lesbians, suspected lesbians or asexuals in order to "cure" them of their homosexuality or asexuality (because, as we all know, being forced to do something you don't want to is a sure-fire way to get you to actually like it). It is reported to be an increasing problem in South Africa and other African nations. It is also noted in heavily African-influenced cultures; Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel recorded a song on the theme entitled "Faggot Correction."
Marital or domestic rapes are those that happen within established partnerships. They often do not involve physical violence, but instead threats of violence, as well as emotional threats, threats to withdraw financial support, and even threats to children (especially step-children). Statistics from the United Kingdom suggest that marital rape is the most common type of rape.
Domestic rape is the most commonly experienced rape in the male gay community. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked or downplayed in Western society as rape is usually seen as a crime solely against women.
Historically, rape within marriage was not considered criminal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia until 2003. Even then, all but 17 states still had some elements of the marital rape exemption on their books, such as laws allowing for mental health treatment instead of incarceration of marital rapists. Wingnuts like Phyllis Schlafly or Vox Day overlook marital rape, brushing it off as the result of a dereliction of "duty" on the wife's part.
"Gang rape" is a general term for a rape in which many people assault one victim. Recent surveys show that such rapes are becoming more frequent on American university campuses, especially in situations where there is excessive drinking by the perpetrators and victim.
Gang rape is also associated with real gangs; some gang initiation rituals involve a gang-bang, which is quite often carried out non-consensually, and gang rape can also be used as a form of humiliation and punishment.
In military contexts, the need to keep units operational at all costs can cause conflicts with the goal of bringing rapists in the ranks to justice. The strict military chain of command can also be an issue, if, for example, a commanding officer rapes a subordinate, or abuses their authority to cover up rape committed by a subordinate so as not to compromise a mission, or just to "save face."
Recently, the U.S. military has been forced to acknowledge that it has a significant problem with rape, and is attempting to introduce counter-measures and change its culture by way of preventative action. There is also a problem with rape in the British military.
Prison rape, although mostly committed by men against men, does not usually imply that the perpetrators are gay; it is not generally done for erotic purposes, but instead to punish, terrorize, or humiliate the victim. In US prisons, it has reached epidemic levels.
Prison rape is also carried out by prison guards. This kind of prison rape is also already at epidemic levels in the U.S. In fact, in a 2013 study by the Department of Justice, 8% of inmates at juvenile prisons around the country report sexual abuse at the hands of prison guards. Nine out of ten of the victims were males raped by female guards.
It's often considered socially acceptable to joke about prisoners getting raped or even express a wish that they get raped, as long as the prisoner is male. This is especially true if the prisoner is a sex offender, where some see it an appropriate revenge. However, the prisoners who get subjected to rape tend to be young, small in size, physically weak, white, gay, first offender, possessing "feminine" characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or "passive" — not exactly the kinds of characteristics it would be good public policy to punish with rape.
The act of raping victims in a war is often an act of attempted humiliation for the entire captured society. Raping your defeated victims also acts to intimidate others who may wish to challenge you. War rape has been outlawed as a war crime internationally by the Geneva Conventions since 1949.
The Rape of Nanjing by the Japanese Militarists shortly before WWII begs the question of genocide. The victorious Soviets raped millions of German and Polish women in the invasion and later occupation of Germany and Eastern Europe during and after the war.
Despite that, war rape has been recorded in a number of wars over the last 50 years. This includes the Afghanistan War, the Libyan Revolution, Colombia, Bosnian War, the Gulf War, the Sudanese Civil War, the Syrian Civil War, the Chechen Wars, Nepal and others.
United States statistics
According to a United States Department of Justice report published in 1997:
- 73.5% of all rapes involved only a single offender, who was already known to the victim.
- 91% of rape victims are female. For these victims, 99% of rapists were male.
- 80% of rape victims are less than 30 years old.
- 33% of rapes happen during daytime (6am to 6pm).
- 91.1% of rapes are single-person rapes, only 8.9% of rapes involve multiple offenders.
- For multiple offender rapes, 76% involve strangers. For single-offender rapes, only 19% involve strangers.
- 84% of victims reported that no weapon was used by the rapist.
- About 6 in 10 rapists reported having ever been married. However, about a third of those who reported that they had ever married indicated that they were married at the time of their imprisonment.
Rape and contemporary US politics
An old law in Kansas, still on the books, uses statutory rape to punish gay youth by setting the age of consent differently for homosexual and heterosexual sex: 18 and 14 respectively. The law was upheld even after Lawrence v. Texas said it was unconstitutional to ban homosexual sex, since it was still a state's right to set the age of consent. It would appear that according to the Kansas legislators, gay youth between the ages of 14 and 18 have some sort of mental defect not shared by their straight peers.
Rape and the Tea Party
With the election of Tea Party candidates to local, state and federal government posts in 2009 and 2010, the U.S. right wing have not only redoubled their efforts to do an end-run around Roe v. Wade with more stringent anti-abortion legislation, but have also brought rape laws into their sights.
- In 2010, when attempting to counter President Obama's health care plan, the Republican-controlled Congress attempted to adjust the criteria under which the federal government will pay for an abortion. The Hyde Amendment originally banned all federal funding except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life; the new language would have narrowed the exception to women impregnated by "forcible rape." Hence, anyone who did not resist their rapist during the act — e.g., women who had been drugged, girls who had been molested by their relatives, underage girls who said "yes" even though they were not able to give legal consent — could not have had an abortion paid for through Medicaid. The Republicans backed down on this after much controversy was raised about it.
- As perhaps the sickest example of right-wingers' attitudes toward rape, starting in 2010, various anti-abortion groups collaborated on a "Conceived in Rape" propaganda campaign. This involves highlighting people — men, women, and the ubiquitous cute little children — who are alive "thanks to" rape; the purpose of the campaigns being to guilt-trip pregnant rape victims into carrying their children to term. Of course, this campaign conveniently ignores that there is also a very long list of people who are now dead "thanks to" rape — killed during or as a result of the act itself, or who killed themselves out of shame, fear, clinical depression or, don't you know, lack of access to an abortion.
Missouri Congressman Todd Akin stated days before a major election in 2012 with reference to pregnancies resulting from rape, "It seems to me first of all from what I understand from doctors that's If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Several days later, CNN and Reuters reported that draft language of the 2012 Republican Platform included calls for a "human life amendment" to the US Constitution, federally banning all abortions, with no exception for rape or incest. 
Historical view of "rape" within various religions
Torah/the Christian "Old Testament"
According to Torah and oral tradition from ancient Israel, a woman was the property of her father, then her husband. Her husband had the specific added right to the use of her body. There is nothing in the Torah that would prohibit a man from having sex with her whenever he wished. The Jewish commentary does address the fact that a woman has a right to leave a husband who is beating her, and the husband has an obligation to help his woman enjoy sex, but those are not truly prohibitions against rape.
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 specifically addresses "stranger rape". For a woman to be considered raped within hearing distance, she must call out and others must have heard her (if she wasn't within hearing distance, it's excused). If she is too frightened to make a noise, or the rapist prevented her, well, too bad. A woman who has been raped may be put to death in the former scenario if she is married, and must marry her rapist if she is not.   The rapist has to pay her father some money, but understand, no crime has been committed against the woman. It is the father's (or husband's) property that has been damaged, at least in the "legal" Biblical sense.
War rape is repeatedly condoned in the Old Testament, with the Israelites often being told to "take as wives" the women of those they conquer: in Exodus 31:15-17, after the Israelites have slaughtered the Midianite men, Moses specifically commands that all the adult women and boys be slaughtered and the "women children" be kept by his men. This is repeated in Judges 21:7-11, and Deuteronomy 20:10-14 makes it clear that taking women and children as spoils of war was God's approved way of doing things. In Judges 21 the Israelites have just finished up killing all the Benjamite women and children and need wives for the 600 men they haven't killed (roll with it), so they massacre the people of Jabeshgilead and take their 400 virgin daughters, then abduct 200 "daughters of Shiloh" to make up the numbers. God does not smite anyone for this.
Judaism and the Talmud
According to the Talmud: "A man is forbidden to compel his wife to the [marital] obligation . . . Also without consent the soul is not good". This opinion goes on to be accepted by several rabbis, and the issue of the woman's consent is even used to reconcile two otherwise contradictory passages.
However, according to the Mishneh Tirah of Maimonides: "A man's wife is permitted to him. Therefore a man may do whatever he desires with his wife. He may engage in relations whenever he desires, kiss any organ he desires, engage in vaginal or anal intercourse or engage in physical intimacy without relations, provided he does not release seed in vain." This may be read, however, to merely be permitting any sexual act between a man and his wife at any time (assuming her consent) while not overruling the above Talmudic prohibition on forced intercourse.
Historical vs. modern views of rape
The historical view of rape in the West was one of a sharp contrast between the somewhat anti-sex views taken by the Christian church — the primary determinant of official policy on the question — and more informal, private cultural attitudes. These, taken together, lead many people, specifically men, to believe that they have license to perform acts of rape. Some of these attitudes are:
- The long-standing literary trope that women need to be swept off their feet and physically compelled to like a man. From the mythic tale of the Rape of the Sabine Women right down to the silly equation between "No! Don't! Stop!" and "No, don't stop!", men in Western society have been taught that they must really put the pressure on a woman in order to get her to say "yes" to sex. A few of our beloved fairy tales even suggest that the man raped the woman to wake her, or bring her into his control.
- The somewhat related idea that "no means yes". Girls have been stereotyped as coy, leading men to believe that when they say "no", they are actually saying "yes", but are either playing games or are just too shy to say so.
- The old religious and/or medical myth that it is abnormal for women to enjoy sex, with those that do like it being labeled as sluts. This makes men believe that they might have to force sex on the women who do not enjoy it, and in the case of the "sluts" who do enjoy it, obviously "no means yes."
All of these positions have made the communication between potential sexual partners a highly ambiguous matter, very much subject to interpretation, and if the potential partners interpret interactions differently, it may lead to a "he said, she said" situation, one claiming it was rape, the other that it was not.
Some other lingering attitudes about women and rape that still contribute to the problem today are:
- Plain old-fashioned male chauvinism. Men used to own women as property according to the law (especially in marriage), leading to the idea that men are superior to women and that their needs matter more.
- A somewhat lackadaisical treatment of rape by the legal system in comparison to some other crimes; for example, in Colorado, a first-time conviction for possession of a Schedule I drug will get the convict 4-12 years' imprisonment, while a conviction for rape carries only 3-6 years. This does not exactly make it look as though the massive suffering experienced by rape victims is taken seriously by the law.
- Police officers are frequently charged with not caring about rape victims, treating them as second class, or blaming them for the rape. While this is changing in most places, including the development of special units throughout Europe and North America, there are still lingering attitudes that cause many rape victims not to report the crime.
The American Psychiatric Association has repeatedly rejected proposals to include "coercive paraphilia" as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. One of the concerns raised was that inclusion of this disorder would make it easier for rapists to be routinely subject to involuntary psychiatric commitment once their prison sentence had been completed. Hebephilia's inclusion was likewise rejected; its inclusion could have justified compulsory commitment of statutory rapists.
In recent years, many anti-rape and pro-consent programmes have been founded, especially within universities in North America, raising awareness of the importance of sexual consent. Many of these emphasise that consent must be clear and enthusiastic before sex takes place, since reluctant acquiescence could be considered evidence that some sort of pressure to have sex was applied.
Evolutionary just-so stories
Counter to the traditional sociologist model of rape being predominately driven by power and dominance needs, some evolutionary scientists have pointed out that rape involves a sexual act and as such could have been under selective pressure in our evolutionary past. The primary architects of this view are Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer.
Thornhill and Palmer argue that rape is a secondary mating strategy used by low-status males. The observations that perpetrators allegedly focus in on certain traits and cues related to childbearing is presented as evidence that the psychology of committing rape was under evolutionary pressure (although this doesn't make any sense, since these are pressures that apply to sex in general, and are not selection pressures specific to rape). In addition, Thornhill and Palmer propose that the degree of "distress measures" in victims correlates with the largest risks associated with rape during evolutionary periods, such as risk of pregnancy, and the risk of losing social support. This is where the signs of violence come into play in their theory. They argue that a woman who shows no signs of violence is more likely to suffer social consequences from the rape as people are more likely to question whether it was rape.
While Thornhill and Palmer have published their hypothesis and experimental data in multiple journal articles, the most notorious work was the book they published: A Natural History of Rape. The book and the research has been criticized as having poor data analysis and shoddy methodology. A Natural History of Rape was critically panned in scientific and legal journals as well as by some scientists writing in the mainstream media. An entire book, Evolution, Gender, and Rape, was published in response, debunking Thornhill and Palmer's thesis.
Thornhill and Palmer have responded to their critics several times, calling their arguments straw men. However, they did quite a bit of straw manning of their own, having quote mined Susan Brownmiller's work. This led to a radio debate between Thornhill and Palmer against Brownmiller and Jerry Coyne. Thornhill and Palmer also failed to respond to a number of charges that some research they relied on was incredibly empirically flimsy and offered dubious interpretations of sexual selection.
Nevertheless, "rape is an adaptation!" has become part of the pop evolutionary psychology canon and a talking point frequently invoked by misogynists, thus earning it a spot on the evo psych bingo card. Thornhill and Palmer warned against drawing any inference that rape is acceptable merely if it is an adaptation. They stated that this is a naturalistic fallacy.
Note that no one has explained how this would apply to men raping men, women raping women, or really, any rape that is not vaginal intercourse between a man and a woman of breeding age (or women raping men, for that matter).
- Tea and Consent: For anyone who doesn't understand how consent with sex works.
- "Not rape" stories. Excellent essay about growing up a woman in a sexualized, predatory world.
- Most western countries do not legally distinguish between intercourse and other sexual acts in their rape laws, though a few US States do make such distinctions.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey
- Amnesty International address on the status of women
- Paper discussion various responses to international laws
- Decker, John F. and Baroni, Peter G.. ""No" Still Means "Yes": The Failure of the "Non-Consent" Reform Movement in American Rape and Sexual Assault Law". The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Northwestern University) 101 (Fall 2011): 1081-1169. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23150015.
- Pounds v. State, 20 S.E. 247 (Georgia 1894).
- Freedman, Estelle B. Redefining Rape.
- Crisis in South Africa: The shocking practice of 'corrective rape' - aimed at 'curing' lesbians
- http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/gay.shtml, and book cite for the article: Ratner and Johnson (2003) Non consensual sex by men who have sex with men.'
- Smith, Merril D. Encyclopedia of Rape.
- Why Combatting Rape In The Military Is A Duty Like Any Other
- Why #passMJIA? 50 Facts About Sexual Assault in the US Military
- Rape in the military: exposing the shocking truth
- "Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Report by Youth, 2012." U.S. Department of Justice. Find it here.
- Article 27 of Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949. - Treatment I. General observations
- Leslie Alan Horvitz, Christopher Catherwood (2009). Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide. Infobase Publishing. p. 361.
- Asfour, Hasibah. "Concepts of Social Justice and Islamic Perspective." American Journal of Law and Public Policy 3.1 (2013): 29-34.
- BBC News - How did rape become a weapon of war?
- February 2000, Matthew Limon Case.
- The Old Testament and Rape, this author is attempting to make the argument that Deuteronomy is actually simply about having sex with an unmarried woman. If that is the case, then rape is not even discussed by the Old Testament, which would not be totally out of bounds, since women's rights were very limited in the ancient near east
- One father forced his 14 year old daughter to marry her rapist and she lived with her rapist for several months. In the father's defence it was said he may have been religiously motivated. See Christian Dad Took His 14-Year-Old To Her Rapist and Made Them Get Married
- English Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 100b
- Online Mishneh Torah, Chapter Twenty One, Halacha 9.
- DSM 5 Rejects Coercive Paraphilia, Allen J. Frances, 26 May 2011, Psychology Today.
- See, for example, More than Yes
- Thornhill, Palmer. 2000. Why men rape. Sciences.
- Jerry Coyne and Andrew A. Berry. Rape As An Adaptation. Nature, Vol. 404, on March 9, 2000. See also further commentary from Coyne on Why Evolution Is True.
- Elisabeth A. Lloyd. Science Gone Astray: Evolution and Rape. Michigan Law Review, vol. 99, no. 6, 2001, pp. 1536-1559
- Craig Stanford. Darwinians Look at Rape, Sex, and War. American Scientist, vol. 88, no. 4, Jul-Aug 2000
- Stefan Helmreich and Heather Paxson. Sex on the Brain: A Natural History of Rape and the Dubious Doctrines of Evolutionary Psychology. In Readings for a History of Anthropological Theory, eds. Paul A. Erickson and Liam Donat Murphy.
- Sharon Araji. Review Essay—A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion. Alaska Justice Forum, vol. 17, no. 2, 2000.
- Frans de Waal. Survival of the Rapists. New York Times, Apr. 2000. See also de Waal 2002.
- Evolution, Gender, and Rape, ed. Cheryl Brown Travis
- Straw men and fairy tales: Evaluating reactions to A Natural History of Rape. Journal of Sex Research, Vol 40, 2003.
- Rape on the Brain, Susan Brownmiller
- Theories of Rape, NPR
- Specifically, much of their thesis relies on "sexual strategies theory" (SST) put forward by David M. Buss. See Buss 1989 and Buss and Schmitt 1993. SST has been heavily criticized. For critiques, see, e.g., Eagly and Wood 1999 and 2002, Marlowe 2004, Buller 2005, and Schultz 2010.
- Evo Psych Bingo Card, Boingboing
- "Why Have Social Scientists Failed to Darwinize?". A Natural History of Rape. pp. 108.