Rape Looking Beyond Sexua Desire





Although there are many underlying motives behind why a man would rape, three of the most conspicuous are anger, power, and sadistic purposes. When an average person hears of a rape, he frequently assumes the offender was reacting to sexual frustration or that he was a demented sex-fiend harboring insatiable and perverted lasciviousness. The rape offender is often accused of being primarily motivated by sexual desires, and by committing the act of forced assault, he is gratifying only his sexual needs. On the contrary, according to A. Nicholas Groth and H. Jean Birnbaum, “Careful clinical study of offenders reveals that rape is in fact serving primarily nonsexual needs. It is the sexual expression of power and anger” (2). No matter what induces these crimes, without a doubt, the only factor they share is rape. However, the influences and circumstances which effectuate rape are as varied and defined as each individual act. Awareness and a conscious effort on the part of all people may not stop rape; nevertheless, through understanding why a man would rape and learning how to recognize the contributing factors, we as a society may be able to prevent some such attacks.
Most people accept one of the most commonly held opinions when referring to this type of forced assault; men rape to gain power and strength over women. A man rapes with the desire to promote his status in society, while at the same time, robbing the female victim, through her body, of her strength and self-esteem. Although not the sole reason, the need to display power tends to be the most significant underlying factor in a large number of the rapes occurring in today’s society. A man who commits a “power rape” does so by means of force or fear. The act is an attempt to frighten and intimidate the victim into submission; he may accomplish this through use of a verbal threat such as, “Do what I say and you won’t get hurt!” Furthermore, the use of a weapon is common: for instance, he might put a knife to her throat; that combined with an order to comply heightens the fear sought by the rapist. The power rapist attempts to compensate for his perceived inadequacies, such as lack of power, control, identity, and authority through the act of rape; he strives to create a situation which will counterbalance these shortfalls. Groth explains, “The intent of the offender is to achieve sexual intercourse with his victim as evidence of conquest, and to accomplish this, he resorts to whatever force he finds necessary to overcome his victim’s resistance and to render her helpless” (26). Typically, the power rapist feels insecure about his masculinity or conflicted about his self-perception; hence the assault by way of force and/or fear is a reaffirmation of his identity.
Unlike the power rapist, who uses force and fear to perpetrate the act of rape, the anger rapist avoids the utilization of fear and focuses on the actual use of force, rather excessive force, to accomplish his goal. His intention, though not often understood, is not to engage in sexual relations; rather, his aim is to express his anger using sex as the chosen weapon. Groth explains, “The anger rapist typically finds little or no gratification in the rape - - in fact, his subjective reaction to the sexual act itself is frequently one of revulsion and disgust” (15). Just as a knife can cut, causing pain and lasting scars, the rapist sees sexual assault as a way to intentionally inflict the most excessive pain possible upon his victim. When the rapist begins to feel out of control and his anger is erupting, he will attack any female who is available. Two common methods an anger rapist utilizes to gain access to his victim are first, a blitz style, catching the victim completely off guard with a violent, sudden, physically brutal surprise attack or second, a friendly, confidence-style approach to persuade the victim of his pleasant demeanor, then hurl a sudden, overpowering attack; without warning he becomes cruel and angry.
In contrast to the anger rapist and in fact, the least common of the aforementioned types of rape, the sadistic rape is fully premeditated.