When I took this column on, its then-editor made a point to say in a staff meeting, “Don’t repeat yourself.” Dancing on the proverbial dime, I promptly responded, “There won’t be any danger of that.”
Not that I’d done a world of research on domestic abuse or rape: Just having the ability to discern my elbow from a hot rock and at least a modicum of common sense, I could hazard an intuitive leap of faith, so to speak, in man’s inhumanity to woman. As long as the sun came up in the morning and the moon rose at night, men and boys were going to objectify and brutalize women and girls.
Sure enough, years later, there’s no shortage of ways to address this disastrous, chronically ongoing dilemma.
For instance, only last month, MSR ran the HIH installment, “Men’s hatred of women’s power continues to surface in rape violence” commenting on and decrying that, in India, a victim of gang-rape languished two weeks in hospital beds before dying from the attack. The crime was committed in December.
In January, also in India, came the report of a woman being drugged, abducted, sexually assaulted over the course of two days, and then, when the two men and two women were done with her, tossed out of a moving car like so much discarded leavings.
India is hardly by itself in having women and girls savagely dehumanized. These simply are recent reports. As a matter of fact, South Africa, where a 2010 study found that more than one in four males admitted to committing rape, is, Anita Powell attests in a Voice of America article, “the rape capital of the world.”
She documents that upwards of 70 percent of South African women are estimated to have been sexually abused. The article was published within days of an attack in the country’s capital, Pretoria, where five men dragged a young woman off the line where she was registering to attend Tshwane University of Technology, raped her and robbed her.
“South African police,” Powell wrote, “documented more than 64,000 rapes [in 2012]. And, that figure includes only reported rapes. Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes worldwide.”
As for the U.S., a female is raped somewhere in this nation every two minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
It’s common knowledge that a strong reason women and girls don’t report being raped is the attitude many people take against the victim. She must’ve been asking for it by going up to his apartment having drinks on a date. She must’ve been asking for it by walking down that street with a short skirt, revealing top and too much make-up.
You can’t thread a moving needle. A woman can run faster with her dress up than a man can with his pants down. The rationale goes on and on to absolve men of accountability for their actions.
It’s not only men who are in such deliberate denial. It’s not rare to hear women gossip behind a victim’s back, saying the same sort of things, calling her a slut or some such other insult, taking a simplistic view and extending absolutely no compassion.
Tragically enough, victims are known to blame themselves, thinking they must have done something to provoke the perpetrator. They also go through the mental and emotional agony, on top of being traumatized by the attack, of enduring shame and being stigmatized for something that is not their fault.
You really can’t blame the ones who don’t come forward. Reporting the crime stands a good chance of backfiring on them as they are treated, in fact, like they’re guilty of wrongdoing.
The plain fact is that, in this allegedly evolved day and age, women are regarded first and foremost as objects of men’s sexual appetites. In that regard, we have progressed no further than the caveman who clubbed a woman over the head and dragged her back to his cave whether she wanted to go or not.
And it is not going to stop. Accordingly, it will snow in Hell before this column runs out of material.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.
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