Rape -or- Victims of Misogyny

Dreamer: Jeannie, 22, North American

For the last year or so, I've been having this dream where I'm getting raped. I have the same dream every night and it's very vivid. I can smell this person and see everything except his face and his voice sounds muffled.

I've never been raped or molested so I have no idea where this is coming from. If you could help me I'd appreciate it very much. Thank You.

Mr. Hagen's Reply: Against Our Will

Is Rape a Sex Crime? I believe, fundamentally, that the answer is no. Rape is primarily a power and violent crime. Take a look at Susan Brownmiller's book "Against our Will: Men, Women and Rape". I am including a number of perspectives that might help you to understand abuse (psychological as well as physical), assault and rape.

1. Power and Control Perspective: Rhetoric of Rape

Rape occurs when persuasion fails (i.e., consent is not given). The rapist is most concerned about the ability to control the victim. The rapist achieves the gratification of superiority through the degradation and humiliation of the victim.

2. Anthropological: Policing Gender Symbolic Interaction

Individuals in Western society learn face to face interaction on the basis of shared cultural meanings of roles, rules and relationships. Rape happens when situations are interpreted differently by men and women. Interpretations of a situation can be viewed as dissonant due to cultural pressures on women whose concepts of femininity contain contradictory and confusing personifications. On the one hand women were taught to be passive, receptive and faithful, and on the other, seductive, coy and flirtatious.

Women used such metaphoric exchange strategies to solicit attention and gifts from men. Masculinity by contrast emphasized male conquest of women. Men were stereotypically taught to expect sexual favors for the attention and material rewards bestowed on women. Such stereotypes of women foster a rape culture.

When dating misunderstandings happen, a rape may be seen as intentionally or unintentionally as victim-precipitated. The rapist's sexual advances being allegedly affirmed, the victim may have led the rapist to believe (through the "come on") that the consent for sex was given. Rape becomes a product of the misunderstood dating situation due to the symbolic interactions of the other which are interpreted as implied consent.

3. Feminist Perspective: The Link between Pornography and Rape?

Feminists believe that patriarchal culture is the root cause of rape.

Some media and police forces have not taken the tragic problem of rape seriously. At the time of the Yorkshire Ripper, a British tabloid's headline read Ripper 10-Cops 0. In more recent times, the police in Canada also failed countless women who died at the hands of Robert Pickton. Few Canadians aware of current events (at the time) will forget the Montreal massacre in 1989.

Feminists criticize the institutions of patriarchy especially the family and the law. The law, so they believe, reinforces the idea that women are a form of property. In laws of early patriarchal societies a raped woman was less valuable to her father and therefore he could collect a fine from the rapist as compensation for his damaged property. The law in Canada and in many states in the U.S. also perpetuated such notions and action, in that rape in marriage was not against the law till 1983. Patterns of coercive sexuality are reinforced encouraging assault by turning sexual relations into a battleground of the sexes.

One of a new generation of feminists who followed Brownmiller, Joanna Bourke Rape: A History From 1860 To The Present presents her views on the culture of rape. Bourke still believes that; "Indeed, the jury is still 'out' on the link between pornography and sexual violence." The International Intstitute for Dream Research (IIDR) has posted many interpretations that reveal the dark linkages of the imagination, between pornography and sexual aggression. These include among others; Confessions of a Porn AddictMysteries of Femininity, Pedophilia and The Female Nude.   

4. Biotopographic Perspective: Misogyny and the Horrors of Medusa

Rape is a multi-vocal narrative. The horrors and nightmares caused by battle of the sexes has been most likely going on since the change from a matriarchal social organization to a patriarchal one. It is believed that primitives did not understand the causal link between sexuality and child birth. Once the connection was made, the social order changed to a patriarchal one. The Freudian mythological Oedipus complex, provides a patriarchal generational echo of this collective realization. Patriarchy has been our collective fate. Misogyny towards women is age old. In ancient Greek mythology Medusa shows us the misandric effects, caused by rape. Victims' narratives have traditionally been oppressed and subjugated by the patriarchal ideology. In what seems a lifetime ago, I wrote my first book (self-published) in 1994, Restoration of the Dream: Ending the Patriarchal Myth of the Human Life Cycle.

This rhetorical mythology of patriarchal images, themes and ideas surrounding rape is configured by authority instituted and legitimized primarily in the law, family and society. The dominant narrative structures of patriarchy enforce the culture of rape. A more recent judges' court ruling in Alberta, Canada, cited "not wearing a bonnet" when attending an employment interview as a justification for rape. This ruling was finally overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada. The dissemination of rape narratives have been censored and thereby dissociated from conscious collective memory and relegated to communal screen of dreams. Demythologizing dominant narratives of rape can be achieved through subversion.

The democratic problem and paradox is that subjugated groups cannot rely of free speech. Why? Because their voices have been silenced or at best marginalized and held to be under suspicion. Susan Griffin's Pornography and Silence, tells us; "And the pornographer comes to us, thus, through history, portrayed as not only as a 'libertine,' a man who will brave injunctions and do as he would, but also a champion of political liberty. For within the idea of freedom of speech we would include freedom of speech about the whole life of the body and even the darkest parts of the mind." Griffen argues for the censorship of pornography. I argue that this darkness of the mind needs to be made visible and pornographic narratives need to be subverted and exposed for what they are, namely, gynophobic. We can view the psychological harm and injuries to women in their dreams. The IIDR has posted a dream Cybersex and the Adult Entertainment Industry of a sex worker, what we find in her dream are grotesque body images. These sick (a bug had eaten through her skull and from this hole pus was coming out) and horrifying images were produced by and can be seen as the psychopathological effects of pornography.

Subversive narratives force the articulation of any repressed, forbidden, silenced or oppositional interpretations of women's collective memory. Subversive narratives represent counter-memories to the meanings which produce dominant narratives. Subversion can be seen then not only as resistance to censorship (the control over meaning), but also as an instrument to bypass the censorship of the nightmare, trauma and damage of abuse, assault and rape.

Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar Madwoman in the Attic use the metaphor of the battle of the sexes to show how women's voices have been historically silenced or at best marginalized. Is there anyone in your life forcing you to do things you don't want to do? The vividness of the dream suggests a real person in your life; next time try to see the person's face and listen more closely to his voice. If you want to know more, see "Woman Abuse: Sociological Perspectives" by Walter S. DeKeseredy and Ronald Hinch and "Rape of the Mind" by Joost A.M. Meerloo.

Postscript: Cultural Rhetoric of Sexuality

This interpretation was posted to the IIDR website thirteen years ago (1998). On May 16, 2011  Dominique Strauss-Kahn the French political contender for the position of the President of France was arrested. The criminal charges were related to an alleged sexual assualt. I believe that the rhetorical problem focuses on the cultural "definition" of dating and rape (see point 2). What may be "normal" in one culture may not be abnormal in another. Having lived in Europe, however having grown up in Canada, it is painfully clear to me (having lived in both cultures) that Europeans and North Americans culturally see (and define), and experience sexuality very differently. This case only reinforces much that has been already discussed above.

Hope these thoughts are of help and provide some insight,
Mark H.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.