Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Rape not about sex? Gimme a break!

Published:Tuesday | November 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Last Thursday night in a TV news report on discussions in Parliament about rape, I heard it once too often. That nice-sounding crap, "Rape is not about sex but about power." Give me a 'blouse-an'-skirt' break and pardon my Swahili. How can a sex offence not be about sex?

Educated people must learn to nuance their views accurately. Will we soon hear that 'robbery is not about stealing but about power'?

I can't even say I know what is meant by the rape shibboleth because I honestly don't. Okay, maybe what folk mean to say is that 'rape is not essentially about sex', but even that is still wrong-headed.

I am no lawyer, but it would seem to me that to be successful in a rape case, the prosecution must at least show that non-consensual sexual intercourse took place. Simply establishing that the accused subtly or otherwise unleashed power over the victim could hardly be sufficient in law.

If sex and robbery are about power, not sex, or stealing, why don't rapists and robbers simply tie up, kick, box and otherwise assault and cow victims with angry words of control so that victims know 'a who run tings', then leave, taking nothing?

Rape IS about sex just like robbery IS about stealing, but both may be about other things as well.

And while I am at it, it is conceivable that a man can be raped by a woman, even though an erect penis is necessary for penile-vaginal sex, unless we forget that an erection need not be volitional. Plus, you don't need personal experience to know that a man can [allow himself to] be aroused by a woman but yet he has no intention of having sexual intercourse with her. The same is true for a woman, hence no matter when it is uttered, no means no.

Getting and sustaining an erection is not necessarily synonymous with consent to sexual intercourse. Let the police and people in general understand this elementary fact of life.