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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2014

12 - Rape


In this chapter we consider moral motives for rape. We must emphasize again that our focus is on the perpetrator’s motives, not the victim’s experience or perception of the act, and not our own moral values. From the victim’s perspective (and the reader’s, and our own), the rapist is the epitome of evil – it seems that his actions could not possibly be morally motivated. But as we have already learned, perpetrators do not see themselves the way that victims do, and, as we will demonstrate in this chapter, by our definition, many rapists’ actions are morally motivated to regulate relationships.

It might seem obvious that most rapes are primarily instrumental acts in which the perpetrator just uses the victim like an object for simple sexual satisfaction, and this is sometimes more or less how the perpetrator perceives his action. But more often, forcing someone to be a sex partner against her will is unequivocally meant as the enforcement of AR hierarchy. The rapist controls the victim, making her obey his will, in order to assert his superior AR position, especially when he feels his superiority has been challenged. A man may rape because he feels entitled to demand sex from his partner. He may rape because he feels that his victim has demeaned herself by her “provocative” dress, behavior, or unaccompanied presence in an inappropriate locale – so, since she’s “asking for it,” he’s entitled to give it. Likewise, a man may rape because his attitude is that women in general are “whores” and “sluts” who are “asking for it” and deserve what their immoral status evokes. Other men rape to avenge either the victim’s affront to the rapist’s dignity, or to collectively avenge offenses committed by women, where women are all equivalent. These men feel that they have been humiliated by a woman or women, and avenge their humiliation by degrading the humiliator or any other woman who serves as a substitute. Gang rapes are often motivated by the metarelational desire – the “need” – to belong: raping together is an act of consubstantial assimilation, connecting the rapists in a CS relationship through their body fluids like blood brothers (on consubstantial assimilation, see Fiske, 2004; Fiske and Schubert, 2012).