It is absolutely shocking to me that the girl who was raped in Steubenville, Ohio is now being subjected to threats and harassment for coming forward, as is the blogger who helped shine a national spotlight on this appalling case. It is a sad comment on how far we still have to go regarding the treatment of women in our culture. It is also a sad comment on how freely rape permeates so much of the society around us.
Some are blaming team sports, media, religion, or whatever they see as the root cause of rape. Yet in fact, rape is pervasive. It happens in every community. It happens to men as well as women. It is mostly perpetrated by men, but women too sometimes engage in rape. It happens among secular people as well as religious. It happens in egalitarian groups. It happens in sex-positive environments as well as sexually suppressed ones. No matter where you turn, rape happens.
Rape is often, but not always, perpetrated for the feeling of power over another. But sometimes rape happens due to a sense of entitlement, and it can even happen as an act of sex—an overly desperate person sees an opportunity with someone in a compromised position, drunk or unconscious, and takes advantage. Rape has many forms, sometimes including only verbal coercion, sometimes merely taking advantage of a person whose wits are not about them, sometimes using massive physical force. It is not as one dimensional as some would have it be, and that just makes the problem more vexing. Continue reading