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Why Do Men Rape?

NCJ Number
Playboy Volume: 28 Issue: 4 Dated: (April 1980) Pages: 112,114,172,224,226,228-230
R Rhodes
Date Published
8 pages

Focusing on various theories explaining rapists' motivations, this article examines the frequency of rape and rape reporting, characteristics of the rapist, and victim defenses.


Rape is defined as the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Reported rape has been increasing steadily in the United States since the beginning of the 20th century and has increased more than 100 percent in the past two decades. The official rate of reported rape in the United States is 34.5 per 100,000 people. Almost 50 percent of those rapes which are reported are not cleared by arrest. Of the 50 percent of those rapes which suspects arrested, about 66 percent are prosecuted. Only 47 percent of those prosecuted are found guilty as charged. The prototypical convicted rapist is most frequently under 25 years of age, shorter than average in height, poor, and a resident of the inner city. The convicted rapist is almost never psychotic. In approximately 75 percent of the cases, the rape is planned rather than impulsive. Rape occurs almost anywhere, usually during the evening hours. Rapes are frequent in college towns, but they are most frequent in cities with populations greater than 100,000. The majority of rapes follow a common pattern involving several stages. These stages include victim selection, victim questioning or testing to intimidate, isolating the victim, and rape. Proceeding through the first three stages, the victim may find it possible to escape. The victim's defense against attack should be vigorous and loud. Rapists are frequently brutal in the sexual attack, but many manage parodies of tenderness. The rapist usually initiated a termination stage after the attack, attempting in various ways to prevent the victim from calling for help until he can get away. Most psychologists believe that rapists are psychologically disordered because of childhood experiences that twist them to behave in socially forbidden ways. One theory is that rape is a reproductive strategy of low-dominance males. The most effective way to reduce rape for the long term is by raising the social and economic status of women and the consciousness of men.


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