What makes a rapist: An overview of the society’s shortcomings

What makes a rapist: An overview of the society’s shortcomings

“I left my office a little later than usual- yesterday. Since I couldn’t find an auto immediately, I started walking on the deserted road facing NSUT (Dwarka, Delhi). I have done it a hundred times, in the past two years, but this time I was scared because I had read somewhere that the Hyderabad rape was planned. I constantly had this thought in the back of my head if I am making a mistake. A mistake that a predator has been waiting for, since some time,” my female friend narrated the incident to me nonchalantly as we were making our way out of an almost empty Malviya Nagar market at 9 on a Sunday evening.

While to some of the readers, this might sound like an isolated incident, impacting one particular individual, but most of the women here would agree that we have been conditioned this way. We are always wary of ‘mistakes’ that we are making; the mistake of wearing a short dress, the mistake of drinking too much at a party, the mistake of going out on a tinder date, the mistake of leaving office a little late, the mistake of taking a walk in the neighbourhood park, or the mistake of just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We take special precautions to not be the next headline, to be read and re-read by people so many times that the letters start bleeding in the conscience of another young girl who still has to figure out her way in this world.

From our parents to our peers, each and every human we know has a trick or two up their sleeves help us protect from ‘getting raped’. We have celebs promoting self-defence and political leaders promoting the idea of staying indoors and dressing properly.

We have been given this onus to protect ourselves without even asking us if we want to be our own saviours. Or without even contemplating if we actually can be responsible for our own demise at the hands of predators who are out on a hunt for someone who is just doing the routine.

Society births rapists; not victims

A victim doesn’t make someone a preparator but the latter actively indulges in crime to turn someone totally normal into a victim. The subject here is the rapist and not the one who has been raped.

But we can’t blame the former alone as well! There is a huge deal of factors impacting the psychology of a human and turn him/her into a violator. The socio-economic and political landscape of one’s physical proximities has a big impact on the behaviour one projects.

A rapist is not an extraterrestrial being or a monster, born with lustful or revengeful tendencies, but the world we are living in teaches him to be one. Madhumita Pandey, a research scholar from Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom, who met 100s of rapists locked in Indian jails as a part of her doctoral thesis, had told The Washington Post in a 2017 interview, “When I went to research, I was convinced these men are monsters. But when you talk to them, you realize these are not extraordinary men, they are really ordinary. What they’ve done is because of upbringing and thought process.”

And this statement by her is entirely true. No one can deny that we live in a patriarchal world. Men, from a very young age, no matter what economic background they are from, are taught that they are superiors and have greater power on the other gender. This leads to them in believing that they can mend a girls’ ways if she is doing something wrong. This packed with repressed sexual identities and limited access to sex education teaches men that sexual domination is one of the ways to declare their power on women.

Feminist activist Susan Brownmiller writes in Against Our Will (1975), “[Rape] is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” She added that rape is not done with the motive to get sex but to assert power.

Power can be a strong reason behind a woman turning a rapist as well. Because the patriarchal model of living promotes sexual desires a power tool and for the repressed, getting hold of this can be a liberating experience.

One of the prime convicts in the very infamous ‘Nirbhaya gangrape’ of 2012 had admitted that he raped the paramedic because he got angry when he saw her “getting too close” with her boyfriend and wanted to teach her a lesson, thus proving this theory.

Money, education, and sexual desires

There is a strong correlation between a person’s economic status and his tendency to turn violent; sexually or otherwise. Lesser economical stability often impacts a person’s psyche negatively and can lead one towards violence.

Also, poor households where people are not well-educated have a very refined power structure, where women often do not even call their husbands by their names. The kids often have access to watch their parents or older siblings indulging in sexual activities due to lack of proper housing and thus privacy. All this has a long-lasting impact on a person’s personality that can trigger strong sexual desires, which due to lack of proper sex education, can lead to rape.

On the other hand, in economically stable and rich households, the lack of sex education, again, makes the men believe that a woman is available for sex if she is going out with them. The popular culture, be it movies or TV shows are often found promoting rape where a woman wearing short clothes is often shown as available.

It trickles down to the power structure that we are living in, where men find it right to violate a woman sexually, just because she agreed to go out with him or had a drink with him.

How can the society stop raising rapists

The first and foremost step is to accept that a rapist is at fault and no victim plays an active part in getting raped. There is no way or means to justify the heinous act. Take the responsibility of a woman’s shoulder and put it on a man’s.

Secondly, we need strong political intervention in education as well as the social department. Sex education needs strong promotion and it should not only confine to the privileged. Poor kids and adults need it too. It is high time that awareness drives are organised by the government, which can teach the possible criminals the implications of their actions. While women are being trained in self-defence, it is important that at the same time, men are sensitised towards their fellow gender. Empower them both!

Stop just telling your daughters how to protect themselves but also actively indulge in conversations with your sons, teaching them how to behave with a woman. Don’t only tell them to protect a woman in distress, but teach them how not to put a woman in a disturbing situation with their words or actions. Make them both responsible!

It is high time that we all work together to empower the daughters and educate the sons so there are no rapists to fight. The judiciary will take its own course to punish who have already done it, but now the focus should also be on how to stop another normal human from turning into a predator.


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