The Ethos of Evil- Rapists

Rape is such a crime that does not see whether you are black or white, rich or poor, rural or urban, and illiterates or so-called elites.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

In 1976, Samuel D. Smithyman published a strange advertisement in a newspaper throughout Los Angeles. He was searching for rapists for his research. He was waiting for his phone to ring. He was not sure that someone would call him or not.

Later the phone did ring. Nearly 200 times. At the other end of the line. There was a painter who had raped his acquaintance’s wife, a computer programmer who had raped his sort-of girlfriend, and a school custodian who described 10 to 15 rapes as a means of getting even with “rich bastards”.

Smithyman nearly interviewed 50 of them. And published a paper. The findings, he got from those interviews were not that different from the findings of Madhumita Pandey.

Madhumita was 22 years old when she went to Tihar prison (An Indian Prison located in New Delhi) for the first time interviewing a convicted rapist. She interviewed 122 rape convicts during her research in that prison in 2013.

Samuel D. Smithyman and Mathumita Pandey’s research are very rare. It tells us.

How do rapists think? What is their motivation?

If there is a rape taking place, the focus is only on two things.

1- How to punish the accused?

2- How women can take preventive measures?

In India major focus is always on victims, not rapists. Sherry Hamby (Ex editor of Psychology of Violence) does agree with this. If you don’t really understand perpetrators, you are never going to understand sexual violence.

Now let’s come to the point

What is the rapist’s motivation?

Why do they do this?

What can be the solution for this?

There were two things common between Madhumita Pandey and Samuel D. Smithyman’s research. After every rape, the people and the media call those rapists monsters or animals because an ordinary man can’t do these activities.

Many researchers say that when they talk to rapists. Rapists sounded like ‘normal’ people. Pandey explained that when she heard some of the rapist’s talks. It reminded her of commonly held beliefs that were often parroted even in her own household. During the conversation with the rapist, so many times she felt pity for them. Had she forgotten that what they did?

A Canadian researcher interviewed a rapist, who had raped many women and murdered them. He also agrees same as Pandey explains.

It doesn’t mean that their crime is being justified. It means we need to understand the rapist. Then we can solve it.

Some research says most rapists had no remorse and blamed the victim.

Mary Koss, Professor of Public Health said when she asked the rapist

“Why they raped?”

Their answers were surprising. They said we didn’t rape, but they agree that they did forcible intercourse. Which according to them is not rape.

Study shows, even those who have kept sex slaves during wars refuse to accept that they raped. Madhumita says Rapists don’t realize what they did — it is rape.

Some rapist thinks that the victim is responsible. Rapists often convince themselves of an alternative reality. This is called Cognitive Dissonance. There is one more example of Cognitive Dissonance- a 49 years old rapist told to Madhumita Pandey. Who raped a 5 years old girl. The rapist said ‘the victim provoked him. She was the same as her mother, her mother too has a questionable character. So he thought he would teach her a lesson.

There can be many reasons behind this cognitive dissonance.

1- Men’s needs, which include sexual needs

2- Women are sex objects

3- Male sex drive is uncontrollable

To know about this. Madhumita Pandey interviewed 65 murder convicts in Tihar prison. But these criminals blamed themselves for this, not like rape convicts who blame victims.

Madhumita explains, there can be one reason behind this. After a murder case victim doesn’t exist. So the convict feels more accountable for this.

It doesn’t mean, no rapist feels sorry. But mostly blame their victims. But if rapists feel sorry they feel that for another cause and not for the rape. The 49-year-old rapist I was talking about said. Yes, I feel bad, I ruined her life. She is no longer a virgin now, no one would marry her. When I will come out of prison, I would marry her. Which tells us. The rapist has no understanding. He is focusing only on the girl’s honor, not on the torture which she was forced to go through.

Biological Vs cultural theory

Studies have been done which may or may not apply to all rapists. But these studies are divided into two parts.

1.Biological or evolutionary theory

Some say men rape because of these biological or evolutionary reasons. There is an explanation behind this biological theory. It is a reproductive strategy of the male, which spreads their sperm and continues the evolution. If you believe in this theory, then it means every man has the capacity for sexual violence.

2- Societal or cultural theory

If you think, surroundings and culture play a role for rapists. Then it is called Societal. Biological theory can not prove why there are rapes or sexual violence uneven in most countries. Because of the biological theory, the rape rate should be the same in every country. But it is not true. Maybe the biological theory can be true at a point, but sexual violence can’t be explained without cultural theory. We can say these theories play a part in explaining sexual violence.

According to researches, There are different rapists.

For example-

  1. Opportunistic Rapist — Who rapes, according to situation factor. These men generally seek out receptive women but might shift to sexual coercion and rape. If women are not receptive, or if the associated costs, such as an injury or retaliation by the victim, the victim’s family, or society, are particularly low. In this case, societal factors play a major role.
  2. Specialized Rapists — Men in this group are distinguished by being sexually aroused by violent stimuli. These men may possess psychology that produces differences in sexual arousal in response to depictions of rapes versus depictions of consensual sex.

In this case, biological factors play a major role.

What can be done to stop rape?

There is not enough research to solve biological factors. But how we can counter societal factors, there is a solution for that. The first solution is that we have to accept that there is something wrong with our society. If we call a rapist an animal or monster, then the blame goes to the rapist, not to society. But our focus should be on our society and its practices.

Societal change requires an effort from all parts of society. Our society can’t be changed overnight. What is society? — we, our Family, school, people we are surrounded by, and the movie we watch. Until and unless we don’t change these, this problem cannot be solved. Still in India female fetuses are aborted during pregnancy, even though sex determination in India is banned.

According to some researches, Females in India have a lesser height according to their genetics. Because India’s preference for sons has created a nation of tiny people. Still, there are not enough women in the workforce. We have to change this attitude. We have to reform our education system, the legal system, and the political system.

We have to arrange a campaign nationwide to educate people. It is effortless to kill a rapist in an encounter, but it is difficult to interview a 122 rape convict. What Madhumita Pandey did to dig out is what is the rape’s root cause.

“ Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death. ” — Gavin de Becker


Top writer in History (Quality over Quantity). Subject Inclination: Psychology, Science, and Humanity. Editor of The History Magazine.

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