_Men on Rape_ 1982.
From: Robert Emond
Subject: Rape Language
"Not every man is a rapist, but every man who grows up in
America and learns American English learns all too much to think like
a rapist, to structure his experience of women and sex in terms of
status, hostility, control, and dominance". So says Timothy Beneke
in _Men on Rape_ 1982.
Beneke, says a common theme for men who seek a sexual encounter
is, "having sex is an achievement; the achievement is gaining
possession of a valued commodity; the valued commodity is a woman".
He suggests that there are metaphorical structures that represent our
different views of sex. First we see sex as an achievement:
SEX IS A GAME: If you PLAY YOUR CARDS right you'll SCORE. Your
BEST BET is to go easy or you'll STRIKE OUT.
SEX IS WAR: He got SHOT DOWN while trying to WEAR DOWN HER
RESISTANCE because she knew he was always HITTING on other women.
SEX IS BEING SERVICED BY A WOMAN: She wouldn't PUT OUT FOR ME.
She DID IT FOR HIM, but she wouldn't DO IT FOR ME.
Once consent is gained Beneke says that achievement becomes
performing well sexually:
SEX IS PERFORMANCE: You were GREAT LAST NIGHT. He wasn't able to
FILL THE BILL, but I got RAVE REVIEWS in bed.
SEX IS INSTRUCTION: I know how to SHOW A WOMAN A GOOD TIME. You
could LEARN A LOT from me. He could TEACH HER A THING OR TWO.
Other metaphors show the woman as a commodity that can be possessed
SEX IS A COMMODITY: I never had to PAY FOR PUSSY. Why would a
man rape if he could GET IT FOR FREE. She wouldn't GIVE ME ANY, do
you know any AVAILABLE women?
SEX IS A POSSESSION: I'd like to HAVE HER for a night. I bet I
could GET HER if I want because he's GONNA LOSE that girl.
SEX IS FOOD: What a DISH she was the BEST PIECE OF ASS that I
WOMEN ARE OBJECTS: She's a cute THING. Check THAT out, she is
strutting her STUFF. How would you like a LITTLE BIT OF THAT?
Women are also seen as animals or children.
WOMEN ARE ANIMALS: She's a nice CHICK. What a FOXY lady.
Check out the Playboy BUNNY she's a great PET of the month. Let's
see if we can shoot some BEAVER. What a DOG. She's a BITCH.
WOMEN ARE CHILDREN: Do you like the GIRLS at the office. Hey,
Sexual feelings are seen as being out of control and/or violent:
SEX IS MADNESS: I'm WILD with desire every time I see that
woman I GO CRAZY.
SEX IS HITTING A WOMAN'S GENITALS: He'd like to BANG her BOX.
MASTURBATION IS HITTING ONE'S OWN GENITALS: I like to BEAT MY
MEAT. He WHACKS OFF.
IMPREGNATION IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE: He KNOCKED HER UP.
A PENIS IS A GUN: He SHOT HIS LOAD into her.
Beneke says, "The above examples partially illustrate how a
significant number of heterosexual men structure their experience of
themselves, women, and sex. Most heterosexual men have used some of
the above phrases at one time or another, and some men regularly talk
that way". He says these metaphors address four basic aspects of
sex: status, hostility, control, and dominance.
"STATUS. Clearly, achievement has much to do with status.
Performing, triumphing, instructing, winning wars, conquering, and
being serviced are all activities that confer superior status. And
gaining possession of a valued commodity also gives one status in two
ways: one has status over the woman because one possesses her, and
one is given status in the eyes of other men.
HOSTILITY. To regard women as commodities to possess is an act
of hostility[...]as is thinking of sex as war, triumph, theft,
hitting a woman's genitals, a hunt, or possession.
CONTROL. In achieving possession of a commodity, one is trying
to maintain control, to control the woman's behavior and control
one's own performance.
DOMINANCE. To posses a commodity is to dominate it; to triumph,
win a war, succeed in a hunt, win a game, or be serviced by a woman
all express dominance".
Beneke then quotes psychologist N. Groth who said,"Rape, then, is
a pseudosexual act, a pattern of sexual behavior that is concerned
much more with status, hostility, control, and dominance than with
sensual pleasure or sexual satisfaction". Works by J. Drake and D.
Russel also confirm domination and power as significant components of
Our language makes women's appearance a weapon:
WOMEN'S APPEARANCE AS A WEAPON: She's a KNOCKOUT! What a
BOMBSHELL! She's STRIKINGLY beautiful! That woman is RAVISHING!
She's really STUNNING! She's a FEMME FATALE! She's DRESSED TO KILL!
As Beneke says, a woman's appearance can, "knock a man out,
explode and kill him, strike him, it can ravish him (notice the
reversal-SHE rapes HIM with her appearance), it can stun, i.e., hit
him on the head and again (twice) it can kill him. Everyone, man or
woman, who learns American English and can understand the seven
sentences above at least unconsciously understands a woman's
appearance as a powerful physical force".
Thus sexual aggression become a way for the man to fight back.
"One understanding of the penis as weapon: a means of getting even by
inflicting pleasure (sex is triumph) and at least momentarily
silencing the power of women's appearance". Of course in this light
rape is the ultimate domination and victory over women's power.
Beneke then delves into a "folk theory of sex". "In a metaphor
we understand one thing in terms of another; in a folk theory two
normally separate things may be so collapsed together that it is
difficult to separate them". These terms involve explicit language,
if you find this offensive feel free to skip this message.
*** WARNING EXPLICIT LANGUAGE FOLLOWS ***
According to Beneke the following phrases are folk phrases:
I got screwed by the IRS
"We are able to make sense of the above statements because we not
only understand sex in terms of aggression and degradation, but
because we actually take sex to be that.
SEX IS AGGRESSIVE DEGRADATION: I'd like to SCREW her. I want to
And if sex is aggression or degradation, a penis is a weapon.
'Fuck you!' and 'Get fucked!' are both rape insults. In an insult
one often verbally wishes on someone what one would like to see
happen physically. 'I got screwed' expresses a feeling of
Try saying 'Fuck you!' aloud several times. What thoughts,
feelings, or images arise? Is there anyone you wish to say this to?
In wishing to say this, are you wishing violation and rape upon them?
A rapist who uses his penis as a weapon is acting out A VALUE THAT WE
EXPRESS REGULARLY [emphasis mine]. A man may never relate to women
in a sexually abusive way, but if he uses this language he is
reflecting a view of sex as an aggressive, degrading act".
"This language probably will not change till our conception of
sex changes. For the present, it is important to know what we're
saying and why we're saying it".
At this time I look forward to any comments people might have
about Beneke's ideas.