There has been what feels like a rash – an epidemic even- certainly a disease, of recent news about women whose treatment has been so horrific it defies imagination. Not only just has it been this year, but really only over the past month, that these stories have come out.
In some ways, these cases seem to have little in common. The rescue of three women kidnapped a decade ago, held captive and repeatedly raped by three lunatics, who were, we like to think, not like “us.” Three teenage girls who were raped and publicly humiliated for the serious crime of going to parties where they thought wrongly that they could trust their friends, or who were simply acting like teenagers, or for no reason at all. Three girls who were violated, two of whom were so humiliated by the public support of their violators that they committed suicide. Those boys must have been psychopaths, the girls who tormented them mean girls, spoiled. Or maybe we should mourn for the future of these boys, ruined by a single act. Hard to know, opinion seems to be split.
But these are aberrations, are they not? Committed by bad people, people not like us.
Headline, from today: Pentagon Study Finds 26,000 Military Sexual Assaults Last Year, Over 70 Sex Crimes Per Day Not, of course, by the enemy, which perhaps, while vile, would be something our soldiers might be prepared for, but by their colleagues, and by contractors.
What could these all have in common?
Well, one thing they all have in common appears to be men.
Not because all men are like these: decidedly not – if they were, we wouldn’t be shocked and horrified by these stories. Yet there does seem to be something there. But maybe let’s set that aside for now, while we inquire a little more.
What is really, I believe, the key to these incidences is a deep abiding modern problem of “rights.”
Each of these cases are examples where some person, or people, decided that they wanted something – not just an object, like a thief, but something deeply personal, a person’s intimacy, their body, their bodily integrity, their own -not the other person’s- pleasure, and when it was not freely given, they took it.