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«Consuming Others: The Social Production of Rapable Bodies and Rapist Mentalities Submitted by Martin Baxter to the University of Exeter as a thesis ...»

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Consuming Others:

The Social Production of Rapable Bodies

and Rapist Mentalities

Submitted by Martin Baxter to the University of Exeter

as a thesis for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy in Sexuality and Gender Studies

in October 2013

This thesis is available for Library use on the understanding that it is copyright

material and that no quotation from the thesis may be published without proper

acknowledgement.

I certify that all material in this thesis which is not my own work has been identified and that no material has previously been submitted and approved for the award of a degree by this or any other University.

Signature: …………………………………………………………..

Abstract Sexual violence is ubiquitous throughout the Anglophone West and shows no sign of abating. Feminist analysis has long demonstrated that this is a problem grounded in gender relations, patterns of masculine socialisation, and patriarchal social organisation. However, this thesis proposes that the roots of the Anglophone West’s rape culture also extend far beyond matters of gender and sexuality, deep into the core of the dominant culture itself.

Setting feminist theory in dialogue with wider socio-cultural analysis, the research explores the complex relationships between the prevailing ideologies, ethics, systems, structures and practices of the dominant culture and the Anglophone West’s high incidence of sexual violence. In so doing, it reveals that, contrary to popular misconceptions, rape is neither a ‘natural’ nor a ‘savage’ act but a highly ‘civilised’ one which expresses the foundational philosophies of Anglophone Western culture in a sexualised, gendered form. Specifically, it shows that sexual objectification, which presents women as little more than ‘rapable bodies’, is part of a far wider pattern of normalised objectification developing from the Anglophone West’s underlying belief that some lives are worth less than others and so may be legitimately used and ‘consumed’ for personal gain. Expanding this to include analysis of men who commit sexual violence, it also establishes that perpetrators’ ‘rapist mentalities’, or the modes of thought and relation that enable and motivate rapists to commit rape, function as interpersonal, gendered expressions of the Anglophone West’s celebration of and reliance upon exploitation, conquest and coercive rule. Through these arguments, the thesis ultimately demonstrates that rape is not only an act of gender violence but also an inevitable manifestation of the dominant culture of the Anglophone West at large which can be fully addressed and challenged only by expanding analytical frameworks to include broad socio-cultural critiques and diverse social justice activism. In taking this position, the thesis expands understanding of rape beyond the limits of existing research and raises significant issues for both future scholarship and the ongoing struggle against sexual violence.

–  –  –

Introduction

The Scale of Enquiry: The ‘Anglophone West’ and Sexual Violence............13 Methodology: Revisiting and Revising Radical Feminism

Beyond Patriarchy: Expanding the Rape Culture Paradigm

Dissecting a Rape Culture: Structuring the Argument

–  –  –

Nafissatou Diallo vs. Dominique Strauss-Kahn: An Overview

‘Dualistic Thinking’ and the ‘Discourses of Civilisation’

The Civilised/Primitive Dualism

‘Civilisation’, ‘Savages’ and Sexual Violence

Western Feminism, Naturalised Rape and the ‘Primitive Rapist’

Giving Rape its (Pre)History: Brownmiller’s Uncivilised Origins of Rape........71 Beyond Savagery: Brownmiller, Dowd and ‘Progress’

Culture and Rape

Brownmiller and the ‘Typical Rapist’

‘Powerful Men Don’t Commit Rape’: Problems with ‘the Typical Rapist’.........88 Brownmiller and ‘The Subculture of Violence’

Feminism, Rape and Violence

Beyond Subcultures and Scapegoats:

Rape, War and Hegemonic Masculinity

Making War, Making Rapists: Zurbriggen and Causality

Beyond the Military: The Limits of Zurbriggen’s Focus on War

Objectifying and Consuming Others:

The Dominant Culture of the Anglophone West

In a World of Objects:

The Social Production of Rapable Bodies

The Anglophone West: A Superculture of Objectification

The Underlying Philosophy of Objectification

‘Rape Prone’ and ‘Rape Free’: Cross-Cultural Analysis of Rape..................122 Underlying Philosophies and Rape: Native North America and the West......125 Objectification, Rape and ‘Systems of Oppression’ in Western Socio-Political Organisation

Intersectional Objectification and Sexual Violence

Sexual Savages and Objectified Animals:

White-Supremacist Oppression and Rape

Always Consenting: The ‘Unrapability’ of ‘Promiscuous’ Black Women.........152

Trafficked Bodies and Disposable Lives:

Anti-Immigrant Oppression and Rape

‘Fair Game’: Rape and the Objectification of Sex Workers





Complexes of Oppression:

The Intersectional Objectification of Survivors

Abusive Culture: The Civilised Foundations of Rape

–  –  –

Myths and Misconceptions:

The Natural Rapist and the Aberrant Rapist

Learning to Harm Others:

Socialisation and Inhibitions against Abuse

Overcoming Inhibitions:

Three Rape-Enabling Components of Rapist Mentalities

Being a Man:

Self-Interest, Lack of Inhibitory Empathy and a Sense of Entitlement......205

The Normality of Harming Others:

The Anglophone West’s Culture of Abuse

Real Men: Masculinity, Heterosex and Rape Motivations

Patriarchal Power or Personal Power?:

Exploring Domination Motivations

Displaying Dominance: Rape and Power

Conquest and Control:

Sexual Violence in a Culture of Domination

Conclusion

Dominant Culture as Rape Culture:

The Case against the ‘Civilised’ Anglophone West

A Holistic Analysis of the Anglophone West’s Rape Culture:

Conclusions and Implications

The ‘Global’ and the ‘Local’:

Limitations, Further Research and Hope

Bibliography

–  –  –

On December 16th 2012, an unnamed woman was beaten and gang raped by six men whilst travelling on a bus in Munirka district of New Delhi; despite emergency treatment, her injuries—which included the rapists ripping out her intestines—were so severe that she died in hospital thirteen days later. 1 Media response was swift and extensive, with numerous articles and reports from around the world expressing outrage, shock and disgust at the attack. In the Anglophone West, much of this coverage treated the issue as a specifically Indian problem, laying the blame on the country’s ‘deeply entrenched patriarchy and widespread misogyny’ and its men’s ‘murderous, hyena-like male contempt’ for women.2 Recalling the colonial treatment of sati or self-immolation in the nineteenth century, sexual violence in India was presented as a symptom of India’s supposedly primitive barbarism with journalists deploring the country’s ‘medieval attitudes towards women’ and speculating whether ‘gang-rape shame could drag India into 21st century’. 3 Alongside this narrative, however, there emerged another which challenged the implied image of the West as a paragon of gender equality and ‘progressive’ attitudes to violence and abuse. This narrative argued that, Dominique Mosbergen, ‘Delhi Bus Gang Rape Victim has Intestines Removed as Shocking Details of Assault Emerge’ (20/12/2012) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/20/delhibus-gang-rape-victim-intestines-shocking-details_n_2340721.html [accessed 1 September 2013]; Ravi Nessman and Heather Tan, ‘India gang rape victim dies in hospital’ (28/12/2012) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-gangrape-victim-dies-in-hospitalhtml [accessed 1 September 2013].

Soutik Biswas, ‘How India treats its women’ (29/12/2012) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20863860 [accessed 1 September 2013];

Libby Purves, ‘Gang-rape shames could drag India into 21st century’ (1/1/2013) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/gang-rape-shame-could-drag-india-into-21stcentury/story-fnb64oi6-1226545829569 [accessed 1 September 2013].

Priya Virmani, ‘Will the protests against the Delhi gang rape reach rural India?’ (31/12/2013) http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2012/12/will-protests-against-delhigang-rape-reach-rural-india [accessed 1 September 2013]; Purves, ‘Gang-rape shames Soutik Biswas, ‘How India treats its women’ (29/12/2012) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20863860 [accessed 1 September 2013];

Libby Purves, ‘Gang-rape shames could drag India into 21st century’ (1/1/2013) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/gang-rape-shame-could-drag-india-into-21stcentury/story-fnb64oi6-1226545829569 [accessed 1 September 2013].

Priya Virmani, ‘Will the protests against the Delhi gang rape reach rural India?’ (31/12/2013) http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2012/12/will-protests-against-delhigang-rape-reach-rural-india [accessed 1 September 2013]; Purves, ‘Gang-rape shames could drag India into 21st century’.

whilst there is indeed a serious problem with patriarchal violence against women in India, it is by no means an isolated issue unique to the country and its ‘primitive’ attitudes. Drawing on numerous counter-examples, journalists and theorists reported a stark reality that many commentators on the Munirka gang rape were reluctant to confront, namely that rape, as Emer O’Toole argues, is not ‘something that only happens “over there” – something we civilised folk in the west have somehow put behind us’.4 As O’Toole highlights, the supposedly ‘progressive’, ‘advanced’ make-up of Western culture has not produced countries free of sexual violence; on the contrary, Anglophone Western countries have some of the highest incidence rates for rape and some of worst records for dealing with the issue. 5 Importantly, this point can be developed further to suggest that it is, in fact, this ‘progressive’ and ‘advanced’ make-up—or more specifically, the underlying systems, structures and philosophies that enable such ‘progress’ and ‘advances’—that underpin the Anglophone West’s rape problem, and it is precisely this that the thesis will argue.

This thesis will analyse the relationship between the foundational ideologies of the Anglophone West and its high incidence of rape, suggesting that the dominant culture of the Anglophone West is deeply, perhaps even inherently, supportive of sexual violence. It has been argued that the ‘civilised’ West is the most destructive culture there has ever been, a society, as Stanley Diamond notes, founded on ‘conquest abroad and repression at home’, which has been steadily gaining cultural hegemony across the globe through warfare, colonialism and the insidious spread of its culture, ideologies and politics.6 It has been accused of being a culture driven by an insatiable need to dominate the world and everything on it, a culture that has destroyed Emer O’Toole, ‘Delhi gang-rape: look westward in disgust’ (1/1/2013) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/01/delhi-rape-damini [accessed 1 September 2013] The scale of the Anglophone West’s rape problem will be discussed further into this introduction.

Stanley Diamond, In Search of the Primitive: A Critique of Civilization (Somerset, NJ:

Transaction Publishers, 1993), p 1. For the suggestion that the West is the most destructive culture, see: Derrick Jensen, ‘Introduction’, in Listening to the Land: Conversations about Nature, Culture and Eros, ed. by Derrick Jensen (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004), pp. 1–4 (p. 1). For discussion of the West’s ascent to cultural hegemony, see: Peter J. Taylor, ‘What’s Modern about the Modern World-System?: Introducing Ordinary Modernity through World Hegemony’, Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 3, No.

2 (1996), 260–286, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4177186 [accessed 31/5/2011].

numerous indigenous cultures and peoples, routinely enslaved, exploited, abused and killed those it considers Other or inferior, and been instrumental in bringing about the extinction of countless species and the overall degradation of the planet.7 From amongst the list of abuses one might select the oppression of women, and from the many forms this oppression takes, one might further select the sexual violence that is routinely and relentlessly directed at women throughout the world by Western men.8 It is the position of this thesis that this is precisely how rape should be understood: as one facet of the oppression of women, which itself should be understood as one aspect of a great network of interwoven and intersecting abuses that characterises the dominant culture of the Anglophone West.

Importantly, the above is not intended to suggest that rape should not be studied as an important issue in its own right, but rather to argue that dissociating it entirely from the wider network of abuses is to overlook how deeply ingrained in Anglophone Western culture it truly is. Rape is frequently presented as something external to ‘civilisation’, as an aspect of man’s ‘animal nature’ or as a practice that developed in an ancient and violent past, the legacy of which still blights the civilised West to this day. 9 This thesis will suggest that this position is deeply misguided, and that rape in contemporary Anglophone Western society is not an echo of primitive savagery that civilisation struggles to contain and eliminate but something that it has frequently legitimised for use in conquering and enslaving other peoples, and For further discussion of these accusations, and their intersectionality, see: Angela Y.



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