The purpose of this study is to revisit the concept of
rape as represented by professionals in the literature as well as its
perception (beliefs and attitudes) in the population at large and to
propose methodological improvements to its measurement tool. Rape
is a serious crime threatening its victim-s physical and mental health
and integrity; and as such is legally prosecuted in all modern
societies. The problem is not in accepting or rejecting rape as a
criminal act, but rather in the vagueness of its interpretations and
“justifications" maintained in the mentality of modern societies -
known in the literature as the phenomenon of "rape-myth". The rapemyth
can be studied from different perspectives: criminology,
sociology, ethics, medicine and psychology. Its investigation requires
rigorous scientific objectivity, free of passion (victims of rape are at
risk of emotional bias), free of activism (social activists, even if wellintentioned
are also biased), free of any pre-emptive assumptions or
prejudices. To apply a rigorous scientific procedure, we need a solid,
valid and reliable measurement. Rape is a form of heterosexual or
homosexual aggression, violently forcing the victim to give-in in the
sexual activity of the aggressor against her/his will. Human beings
always try to “understand" or find a reason justifying their acts.
Psychological literature provides multiple clinical and experimental
examples of it; just to mention the famous studies by Milgram on the
level of electroshock delivered by the “teacher" towards the “learner"
if “scientifically justifiable" or the studies on the behavior of
“prisoners" and the “guards" and many other experiments and field
observations. Sigmund Freud presented the phenomenon of
unconscious justification and called it rationalization. The multiple
justifications, rationalizations and repeated opinions about sexual
behavior contribute to a myth maintained in the society. What kind of
“rationale" our societies apply to “understand" the non-consensual
sexual behavior? There are many, just to mention few:
• Sex is a ludistic activity for both participants, therefore –
even if not consented – it should bring pleasure to both.
• Everybody wants sex, but only men are allowed to manifest
it openly while women have to pretend the opposite, thus men have
to initiate sexual behavior and women would follow.
• A person who strongly needs sex is free to manifest it and
struggle to get it; the person who doesn-t want it must not reveal
her/his sexual attraction and avoid risky situations; otherwise she/he
is perceived as a promiscuous seducer.
• A person who doesn-t fight against the sexual initiator
unconsciously accepts the rape (does it explain why homosexual
rapes are reported less frequently than rapes against women?).
• Women who are raped deserve it because their wardrobe is
very revealing and seducing and they ''willingly'' go to highly risky
places (alleys, dark roads, etc.).
• Men need to ventilate their sexual energy and if they are
deprived of a partner their urge to have sex is difficult to control.
• Men are supposed to initiate and insist even by force to have
sex (their testosterone makes them both sexual and aggressive).
The paper overviews numerous cultural beliefs about masculine
versus feminine behavior and their impact on the “rape myth".