Rapists: The Popular Image Of Rape

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In this article we argue that the popular image of rape, a nonutilitarian act committed by a few “sick” men, is too limited a view of sexual violence because it excludes culture and social structure as pre-disposing factors. Our data come from interviews with 114 convicted, incarcerated rapists. Looking at rape from the perspective of rapists, we attempt to discover the function of sexual violence in their lives; what their behavior gained for them in a society seeming prone to rape. Our analysis reveals that a number of rapists used sexual violence as a method of revenge and/or punishment while others used it as a means of gaining access to unwilling or unavailable women. In some cases, rape was just a bonus added to burglary or robbery.

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