- Women, Sexuality and Social Control: Accounting for Rape: Reality and myth in press reporting - Carol Smart and Barry Smart (via sociolab)
It has been argued that rape constituted a form of social control in so far as it represented a means of keeping women ‘in their place’, a way of constraining their behaviour. … It is not rape itself which constitutes a form of social control but the internationalisation by women, through continual socialisation, of the possibility of rape. This implicit threat of rape is conveyed in terms of certain prescriptions which are placed upon the behaviour of girls and women, and through common-sense understandings that ‘naturalise’ gender appropriate forms of behaviour. Both the implicit threat of rape, couched in terms of prevalent social stereotypes, and the conventionally accepted ways to avoid such an experience, being in some places rather than others, doing some things but not others, adopting only specific attitudes, etc., are conveyed, and continually reinforced along with a whole range of cultural values concerning female (and male) sexuality.
The cumulative effect of press reports of rape is to remind women of their vulnerability, to create an atmosphere of fear and to suggest, as a solution, that women should withdraw to the traditional shelter of the domestic sphere and the protection of their men. … In other words, women are to limit their freedom in order to avoid rape. The irony of this kind of advice and the related representation of rape in the media is that they are based on a false premise. Namely that rape is an isolated, socially unstructured phenomenon which affects specific categories of women in special social circumstances. The reality is significantly different, however, for rape may take place within the domestic sphere, among family and friends, as much as amongst strangers. Hence rape becomes a form of social control in a dual sense, first, inasmuch as it is a form of physical coercion and violence, and second, in so far as the fear or threat of rape, as communicated by the media, in literature, on film, and in the press, serves to socialise women into tacitly constraining and limiting their own forms of behaviour and social activity."
(Source: touchthefarthestmoon, via sociolab)