Carol Forsloff — The more traditional a person is in terms of religious and cultural attitudes, the more apt rape victims will be seen as partly culpable or lying and the rapists behavior excused. In other words, those with traditional views about the role of women in society are less apt to see rape as violent, controlling behavior and the more likely they are to believe in many of the myths about rape.
In 2005 an extensive research report documented gender, age and egalitarian vs. traditional perceptions of women’s roles in society as having considerable influence on how victims of rape are perceived. Those men who see women as having specific roles of mother, wife, caregiver subject to the authority of the male figure have shown to have many of the same sexual arousal patterns as rapists. Younger people are less apt to blame the victim than older people. Women are more tolerant and less apt to point fingers at the victim, regardless of previous sexual experience.
Research over the past 35 years has documented evidence that those men who see women as having more traditional roles are more apt to blame the victim in instances of rape and to believe some of the myths about rape as well. Despite the fact that research has demonstrated that rape trauma is similarly suffered by those victimized by an acquaintance, husband, or former lover or stranger’s attack, previous sexual experience as well as experience specifically with the attacker is often seen as a mitigating circumstance in rape cases. This is in spite of the advances in women’s rights globally.
The more fundamental religious groups with their views about women’s traditional roles more rigidly defined than other groups have an impact on how their members view rape. When women are to be subjected to the authority of the male, rape, defined by social scientists as a violent act, within a marriage or a relationship where there has been previous consensual sex is less seen as that violent, controlling behavior than an act brought about by the woman’s conduct.
Recent news about Todd Akin, a Missouri Representative presently running for the Senate details the Senator’s ongoing perceptions about women as having traditional roles in relationship to the culture. He belongs to the group more likely than those of more liberal views to see rape in the stereotypical ways. Akin has defined himself as pro-life and socially conservative.
Akin continues to be supported by the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer of the who maintains that Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) is now being victimized by the liberal left and was right to claim women can’t become pregnant from “legitimate rape.”
“What Todd Akin is talking about is when you’ve got a real, genuine rape. A case of forcible rape, a case of assault, where a woman has been violated against her will through the use of physical force where it is physically traumatic for her,” Fischer said on his radio program.
“Under those circumstances, the woman’s body — because of the trauma that has been inflicted on her — it may interfere with the normal function processes of her body that lead to conception and pregnancy.”
These are among the myths scientists tell us are part of the traditional and more conservative view about women and rape that cause women to be anxious about reporting the crime. Rape is said to be one of the more under-reported violent crimes against women. According to recent statistics, 44% of victims are under age 18 and 80% under age 30. Two-thirds of assaults are perpetrated by those who know the victim and 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.