Criminological understandings of rape
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Criminological understandings of Rape. Dr Nicole Westmarland. Contents. What causes rape? Different schools of thought Early theories Second wave feminist theories Social learning Socio-cultural (social learning/feminist) Socio-biological Cognitive Later feminist theories Multi-factoral

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Criminological understandings of Rape

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Criminological understandings of rape

Criminological understandings of Rape

Dr Nicole Westmarland


Contents

Contents

  • What causes rape? Different schools of thought

    • Early theories

    • Second wave feminist theories

    • Social learning

    • Socio-cultural (social learning/feminist)

    • Socio-biological

    • Cognitive

    • Later feminist theories

    • Multi-factoral

  • The application of theory


Early theories

Early theories

  • Explained rape in terms of ‘uncontrollable’ factors

  • Internal factors: overpowering sexual impulse, an under-developed ego or as a result of unresolved sexual childhood desires

  • External factors: placing the blame on the behaviour of the victim, his wife and/or his mother

  • Criticisms: little empirical support, methodological problems


Second wave feminist theories

Second-wave feminist theories

  • Rape as an act of violence – the influence of Susan Brownmiller (1975) ‘Against Our Will’

  • She described rape as ‘… nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear’ (pg. 15)

  • Rape as a continuation of hetero-sex – the influence of Catherine MacKinnon

  • She argues that force is inherent in any hetero-sex, that it is only when the force exceeds that considered by men to be a ‘normal level’ that it is legally defined as rape.


Social learning

Social learning

  • Social learning theorists view rape in terms of learned behaviours

    • Modelling (e.g. copying rape scenes from films)

    • Linking sex with violence (e.g. pornography)

    • Belief of rape myths (believing untruths about rape)

    • Desensitisation to violence (whereby sexual violence is not seen as serious because of its prevalence on television/video games etc).

  • Studies have found correlations between rape myth acceptance and self-reported likelihood to rape/rape proclivity


Socio cultural social learning feminist

Socio-cultural (social learning/feminist)

  • Scully (1990) – interviews with convicted rapists

  • Found that rapists were not significantly different to other offenders

  • Vocabulary of motive (Mills, 1940)

  • An important part of learning to rape includes the mastery of a vocabulary that can be used to explain sexual violence against women in socially acceptable terms (Scully, 1990 pg. 98).

  • ‘Admitters’ and ‘Deniers’

  • Men who rape do so as a low risk, high reward ‘act of normal deviance’ (pg. 63)

  • Varying ‘rewards’

  • Symptomatic of patriarchal society


Socio biological

Socio-biological

  • Evolutionary theory

  • Maletzky (1996) little research on genetic and evolutionary mechanisms

  • Palmer and Thornhill (2000) A Natural History of Rape

  • Argue existing theories are ideologically rather than scientifically driven

  • Rape should be viewed as a specifically sexual crime

  • rape is a) directly or b) indirectly related to mechanisms which men have inherited from the reproductive success of their ancestors.


Cognitive theories

Cognitive theories

  • Recent interest in cognition-based theories of rape

  • Rapists are able to minimise, rationalise or even justify their behaviour because of cognitive distortions

  • May misunderstand signals

  • May have empathic or social skill deficits

  • ‘implicit theories’

  • Marshall, Laws and Barbaree (1990) - the ‘cognitive gap’ in rape research and theory (pg. 4).


Later feminist

Later feminist

  • The feminist hypothesis: an increase in women’s equality should ultimately lead to a decrease in the prevalence of rape

  • The ‘backlash’ hypothesis or ‘inverted’ feminist hypothesis

  • Whaley (2001) the ‘refined hypothesis’

  • Masculine culture

  • Rape conviction rates


Multi factoral theories

Multi-factoral theories

  • Attempts to classify ‘types’ of rapists dates back to the late 1970s

  • There has been an increase in this type of work in the last decade

  • Generally grounded in empirical research and attempt to differentiate between offenders in terms of their individual motivations


Example groth burgess and holmstrom 1977

Example -Groth, Burgess, and Holmstrom (1977)

  • Rape is not solely about only sexuality or solely about violence

  • There are three factors that are evident in nearly every rape; power, anger and sexuality

  • The need for power and to express their anger were found to be present in up to 95 percent of the cases analysed (Groth, 1979).


Example hazelwood and warren 2000

Example-Hazelwood and Warren (2000)

  • 2 categories of sexually violent offenders

  • The impulsive offender: Criminally unsophisticated, largely reactive in terms of victim selection and behaviour at the scene of crime. Has a diverse criminal history, significant levels of physical violence and generic sexual interests.

  • The ritualistic offender: Diverse paraphilic interests, a pervasive and defining fantasy life and has crime scene behaviours that are carefully developed and executed.


Criminological understandings of rape

‘If she told the truth she would have described me like any other girl would. I try to make a girl enjoy herself as much as possible and she was no exception’.

All quotes from interviews with convicted rapists and quoted in Teague (1993) or Scully (1988)


Criminological understandings of rape

‘Most of the people in this wing have been into exercising power and control over women. And hatred. It’s got nothing to do with sexual intercourse. Nothing at all.’

All quotes from interviews with convicted rapists and quoted in Teague (1993) or Scully (1988)


Criminological understandings of rape

‘The judge was a very clever man, he knew what had happened. He weighed it all up. He said, I take it into account that the woman is not at all afraid of you. He read between the lines. I finished up with eight years. He knew what he was talking about. It was only me, him (the judge) and her knew the real truth.’

All quotes from interviews with convicted rapists and quoted in Teague (1993) or Scully (1988)


Criminological understandings of rape

‘It just blew past. I played some basketball and then went to my girlfriends house and had sex with her. I wasn’t worried or sorry.’

All quotes from interviews with convicted rapists and quoted in Teague (1993) or Scully (1988)


Criminological understandings of rape

‘She said “no, I have my period, I’m a virgin.” I laughed and rubbed her back and she accepted physically. Her legs spread and she thrust up to meet me. It was telepathic. This wasn’t rape. I know what rape is.

All quotes from interviews with convicted rapists and quoted in Teague (1993) or Scully (1988)


Criminological understandings of rape

‘The Rape Crisis people in the paper didn’t half slag the judge off, they really gave him hell. I wrote to him and apologised on their behalf, saying ‘me and you knew what really went on’. But I don’t think he could be seen replying to things like that. The Rape Crisis people said the judge was giving ‘beasts’ licence to wander the country raping people at will.’

All quotes from interviews with convicted rapists and quoted in Teague (1993) or Scully (1988)


Criminological understandings of rape

‘With my victim, it wasn’t sex I was after. I wanted to destroy her completely. The more fright I could see in her eyes, the more I got a kick out of it.’

All quotes from interviews with convicted rapists and quoted in Teague (1993) or Scully (1988)


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