preview

The Social Construction of Rape

Powerful Essays
Oftentimes, the things individuals take for granted as preexisting facts are merely the products of social construction, which exert tremendous impacts on belief and action. Men and women are socially constructed categories inscribed by norms of masculinity and femininity that enables rape to occur. Catharine MacKinnon claims that rape is defined in a male perspective, which lacks the account of female experience. On the other hand, Sharon Marcus argues that rape is a constructed language that scripts the female body. As bell hooks points out, black men celebrate “rape culture” as a mean of expressing patriarchal dominance and endorsing female subordination. In order to redefine rape and to develop effective rape prevention, it is crucial to deconstruct the predetermined assumptions about men and women. Rape is socially constructed, through the ways how individuals possess misogynistic ideologies and endorse patriarchal power, turning the erotic fantasy of male dominance into “reality”.
In “Sex and Violence: A Perspective,” MacKinnon turns her focus to the common definition of rape as a form of violence. The categorizations of rape, sexual harassment, and pornography as forms of violence are problematic in themselves because they do not capture the reality of sex. In fact, much of intercourse is about violence (MacKinnon p. 268), in the way that power and dominance are extremely eroticized, thus to say “rape is violence” is a misnomer. MacKinnon brings one’s attention to the construction of rape, which separates rape from intercourse based on the amount of force applied (p. 268). This definition is especially legitimate in the legal system, which derives solely from a male point of view: it is called rape when there is penetratio...

... middle of paper ...

... sabotages the subject-object relationship. To display an autonomous, free willed being will dismantle the taken for granted passivity and vulnerability of the victim. Meanwhile, it is crucial for women to acknowledge the vulnerability of male genitalia. Yet this is not the final solution to rape, Marcus argues. Rather, individuals need to “frighten rape culture to death” (p. 379).
As a social construction, rape is created in the context of eroticization male dominance and female subordination. It also bases itself on the assumption that gender is a predetermined that distinguishes people into two distinct categories. Although rape is real, it is rather enabled by misconceptions. In order to envision a society without rape or less rape, it is radical for people to recognize that social construction has had enormous impact on how it is practiced and perceived.
Get Access