Justification for Rape

Belief in these biologically derived gender differences in sexuality is consistent with rape myths indicating that it is a woman’s fault if she is raped. It is her fault in the context of an expectation that women must set limits on inappropriate sexual behaviors. As discussed, it is presumed that women have the capacity to turn down unwanted sexual activity. This is consistent with the rape myth that no woman can be raped if she does not want to be. In reality, there are multiple factors restricting women’s ability to set sexual limits.

One such factor is the very indoctrination into the belief system de­scribed here that trains women that it is their obligation to serve as sexual caretakers for men. Such indoctrination may even take on religious au­thority. Because of this indoctrination, women may go along with sex they do not desire. A second factor is men’s greater potential physical strength. If a man can physically overpower a woman and is willing to do so, she may be unable to set sexual limits. Only if she puts up a sufficient fight to make clear she was physically overpowered will she be believed by some. A third is lack of support by legal structures for declining sex. Marital or acquaintance rape is difficult to prove in court and so the threat of society standing behind the word of a woman is not an effective deterrent for going against her word. Additional barriers to setting sexual limits will be discussed later in the context of barriers to sexual assertiveness.