“I Like Your Necklace”
My Father

Rape: The Scourge of Our Time

I was all fired up the other day to write about the heinous way women are treated in Afghanistan; the brutal absurdity of imprisoning women for being raped and of forcing them to marry the men who raped them; and how unhealthy it is for a society to give men absolute power over women. I was going to write about how conflicted I am about our leaving Afghanistan: Is it good to leave them to themselves, or is it bad since, obviously, the women aren’t much better off after our ten-year offensive. I even intended to bring in World War II and how we didn’t leave Europe, another scene of debilitatingly horrific acts of violence, until we had defeated Hitler and the evil of his regime.

Then my partner said that I should think about how many women in the military are raped. “Google ‘rape military.’” Then he mentioned a female soldier who accused a man (working for a contractor) of raping her, and how he got off with barely a slap on the wrist. And her, he said, she was jailed.

He’s right: All the wrongs committed against women cannot be dropped on the laps of Afghani men. We can’t just pooh-pooh the men of Afghanistan who conceal women behind burkas and walls, and who torch their schools, and rape them with bestial impunity, because the rest of the world doesn’t exactly present a shining example of gentlemanly behavior.

Women in the Congo, Bosnia, Kuwait, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Rwanda have been raped as a course of war, as they have been during other conflicts, and throughout history. Reports of Libyan soldiers raping citizens have surfaced, as have sexual assaults by Egyptian police against demonstrators.

I googled “us military rape statistics,” and 2,230,000 results came up. That’s a lot of stories about men in the military who rape, and women (in the military and civilians) who have been raped by our representatives.

And here in the US, where we attempt to look down on their mistreatment of their women, well, we actually have a term for when a man doesn’t get that “no means no.” Date rape is not quite akin to opening a door for a woman. And the acceptance of the twisted logic of “she asked for it” by wearing a dress that was too tight or too revealing, or by being out too late, or by drinking too much is a psychic rape of all women. Women do not ask to be violated. No, Americans are not beacons in any one’s night.

People say that in Afghanistan it is an expression of their culture. Yeah, sure. Men take every right from a woman except the right to inhale and exhale and we let “culture” cover for that constant humiliation and exercise of power. Then what is it here? Can someone state as truth that rape is a reflection of our culture because we so degrade women by objectifying and sexualizing them? Have we let the deviants define us?

Is the genesis of these rapes by Afghani men, African rebels, European fighters, and American soldiers the same? Is the problem a universal acceptance of “boys will be boys”? Have we conceded the stage to the bullies?

Googling “rape” brings up 206,000,000 results. No, we cannot breathe a sigh of relief that at least we don’t live there—because we do. Women can be strong, but not as strong as a 200 lb. man with societal support (for what else is indifference?) on his side.

Is rape the scourge of our time? We have defeated illnesses, now we must defeat a sickness.

A person who rapes is sick in the crudest sense of the word. And it is unhealthy to ignore a sickness in our midst. Why is it that we arrest prostitutes and not Johns? Why are we always protecting the men? Why are we protecting those who need no protection?

Maybe we women are being forced back to being the weaker sex because society is unable or unwilling to protecting us. What does that say about American culture?



A positive on the subject of rape (if there can be one) is that at least it's a topic of discussion. Historically, in this country, it wasn't talked about. The woman would be stigmatized and victimized again by being ostracized if she dared to speak of the hideous crime.

Rape is about an imbalance of power whether it's a man raping a woman, a man raping another man or a man raping a child.

How do we stop it? Equality would be a good start. Any culture where an imbalance of power exists and where bullies thrive will continue to support the rape of those in positions of less power. How sad.


Thanks for your insights, Margaret.

The desire for power over is so often the result of feeling lack of self-esteem and lack of control over oneself. It seems that how we raise and what we teach our children needs to encompass far more than the elements of knowledge that can be found in a textbook.

R E S P E C T is that the key?


That is a good place to start. Children learn from their parents, and if they're not taught to respect the rights of others and to feel empathy, how can they begin to understand how to operate and function in society?

So many bad behaviors are passed from one generation to the next. The cycle has to be broken.


I wonder what it would take to break it? Is it awareness? If other family members or neighbors or friends could understand the signs and not retreat back into their homes but speak up. But to who do they speak? People at school? The police? Social services? Child protective services? I bet there are organizations out there, but people don't know about them. Does it all go back to communication? Communicating concern and communicating to someone who can help, without disrupting.

Why are our homes such sacred spaces? Maybe we really do need the village.


I don't know. Stopping ignorance would be a start, but how do you do that? Teaching, talking. As you say, communicating.

Boys learn behavior from their fathers regarding treatment of women. Some are fortunate to take a bad situation and learn what not to do.

As a parent, it surprises me what people don't talk to their kids about.


Maybe I need to rethink my whole sense of optimism. Are things--the way people act and treat each other--really getting any better? Maybe we're more comfortable over the course of history, but not better.

High Hopes

Women, children, boys and girls are not safe from rape in this country. The person raped is so often made to feel like it is their fault. People who molest children out living across the street from the school and people have children in their back yard and no one knows or does their job enough to find out. We are not in a position to judge how other countries treat their women like we are doing a better job. You have to look in the mirror at yourself (your country) and not forget what you saw once you walk away. Women in this country are still fighting for equal rights and fair treatment. The difference, we have the right to fight for it.

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