According to Christianity, sexual union is God-ordained and God-given having multifaceted biblical purposes; procreation (Gen. 1:28), intimacy (Song 1:13), comfort (Song 3:1), and physical pleasure (Song 1:3). Law follows the same path of morality by chastising rape, which has taken the form of the deviant act of coercing one party into sexual activity by another. This paper acknowledges the presence of male-rape (although not legally) and the different factors for causing rape, but it highlights that the majority of victims to be female- 98% of sexual offenders found guilty are male (Crime in England and Wales:2002/03).
Boseley (2005:33) claims that 'one in three women around the world is likely to suffer physical, sexual or other abuse in her lifetime, usually at the hands of a family member or someone she knows'. Therefore, while rape is a subject of concern for the entire society, feminists alone experience the responsibility of presenting the issue of subordinated women in the limelight. Sigmund Freud considered that everyone is born with the potential to be a criminal in that the basic instincts, if uncontrolled, will lead to anti-social behaviour.
Smart (1976) referred to 'the nai?? ve belief that femininity is the antithesis of criminality'. Hence rape can be a gender neutral crime. Justice Byon White's definition of rape in Florida Star BJF  is that 'ultimate violence of the self', reinforcing the fact that no person is immune from rape. Indeed, male can get an erection and women lubricate despite any coercion or force. Yet, according to Mendel (1995), society recognises males as perpetrators of rape but ignores the possibility of males as rape victims.
Male victims cannot be ignored; male rape is a reality, as the other 2% of guilty sexual offenders are presumed to be female as 95% of rape incidents on men are committed by women (HORS 237). And whilst women's willingness to report rape is changing (Walklate, 2001:108), men are more ashamed and humiliated; causing male-rape to be under-reported. Therefore, critics might argue that rape is not solely a feminist issue. The several publicized cases of female teachers having intercourse with their teenage male students have often been classified as rape.
The example of Deba Lafave; since the male student did not have the age of consent, the case was enclosed as rape even though there was no coercion as most females undergo. Fought for by the feminists, with the female 'emancipation', women from the west enjoy greater sexual freedom and although they have begun to behave in many aspects like men, they have not attained the same level as men in sexual assaults. This essay does not adhere to the radical feminist approach which asserts that all men are violent and all women are victims.
Moreover, when dealing with the issue of rape, 91% of victims are female, 9% are male and 99% of offenders are male (Bureau of Justice Statistics: 1999). Lees (1996) has argued that rape has since been used to foster a sense of 'manhood', which is under threat from rising male employment and the growing number of women entering the workforce. Clearly this gives rise to a feminist issue, for the movement has always worked for gender equality in all fields.
Burgess and Hailstorm (1974) agree that both men and women, who have been victimised in a rape incident, suffer from 'rape trauma syndrome' which causes the symptoms of nightmares, shock, outbursts of anger, fear, and depression. The harm has often more impact on the male victim; 'One of the most damaging insults to be thrown at a man is to call him a woman… The act of coercive buggery can be seen as a means of taking away manhood, of emasculating other men and thereby enhancing one's own power' (Lees,1997:109).
However, it is to be emphasized that the majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are men and the mainstream victims are women, making rape a comprehensible feminist issue. Consequently, concerned women from the feminist organisation of Rape Crisis have been giving help and counselling in local centres to female-victims around England and Wales over 30 years (Rape Crisis). Smart (1995), as a utilitarian, aptly ignores the sexual violence between mother and child, and explains sexual abuse as an outcome of sexual masculinity.
Furthermore, the presence of mother-daughter incest underlined by Fitzroy (1997) is not as alarming as the statistics of fathers as perpetrators which is vividly present on the news (BBC:2004). Supported by the British Crime Survey statistics, with 12,630 rapes of women and only 1,150 male-rapes in England and Wales (Nicholas et al. :2007), rape clearly remains a feminist problem. Without the feminist movement, the public challenge of sexist advertising, pornography, and other forms of sexism remains insufficient. Feminists consider that pornography dehumanises women and thus facilitates rape (Brownmiller:1975).
Although hegemonic masculinity and the subordination of women in a patriarchal world are important causations of rape, there are diverse other complex causes. Rada (1978) discovered that half of the rapists he questioned had been drinking at the time of the rape, a third had an alcohol problem and Amir (1971) noted that both victim and offender had been drinking in over 60% of cases. Lack of empathy with the victim and brain disorders have also been regarded as common features among rapists (Jones:2006). Environmental factors such as moral values, broken homes, poverty, idleness, provocative behaviour and dressing, share in causing rape.
Although it can be argued that rape is a universal problem, the victimised members of rape remain largely women by male perpetrators. Different cultures perceive rape differently. Unlike the Western countries, raped women in Islamic and eastern countries are ashamed and scared of retribution, having a stigma attached and social exclusion (Reuters:2007). One particular atrocity involves the Janjaweed militia, accused of genocide against non-Arab ethnic groups, have used 'rape camps' for the ethnic cleansing of Sudan.
Countless women have been utilised as war weapons (Telegraph:2004). A look at Yugoslavia also makes vividly clear the role of sexual violence and rape as a tool of war. A systematic Serb policy of the repeated rape of Bosnian Muslim women until pregnant and then forcibly detaining these women until they delivered; in order to "cleanse" the ethnic composition of the children. Hence feminists should continue their struggle to alert the world in hope of further favourable changes for women (guardian, 2006).
We live in a society that strives for changes to improve the mode of living, and the law is no exception. The legal and cultural meaning of rape has undergone a significant change mainly due to the work of contemporary feminists starting in the 1970s. Challenging the long-established theory about rape's prevalence, causes and consequences (Brownmiller:1975), the feminist movement questioned the definition, causes, and consequences of sexual assault, introducing date rape, marital rape and 'rape trauma syndrome' into legal and academic discussion.
Supporting post-modern feminism, this essay recognises the occurrence of fundamental shifts and reforms to the patriarchal laws; for today, rape is recognised as a serious traumatic crime with the possibility of obtaining a life imprisonment. In England and Wales, the statutory definition of rape falls under The Sexual Offences Act 2003; a person (A) who intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis without the latter's consent and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
The requirement of consent has proved to be problematic in court in cases involving date rape or marital rape, because of the subjective interpretation by the court, a male-dominated sector. 'Many men believe a woman consents to sex when she accepts a ride from him, goes to his house or invites him to hers, accepts a drink or a dinner' are myths that need to be broken (NAWL, 1981:28). Another false belief that needs to be removed is that men have uncontrollable urges and natural desires and women may only passively consent (Smart, 1995:84).
The rape allegation against Ian Huntley was cleared after the Crown Prosecution Service saw the plaintiff dancing with Huntley in a provocative way on CCTV (BBC:2003). Moreover, with the new legislation, stereotypes need to be rejected for evidential presumptions of consent are now required. The work of feminists has aided the judiciary and the legislator to understand the problem giving a higher threshold to reduce sexual violence.
Few criminologists, who agree that the law has improved, jump to the conclusion that the task of eradicating sexual assault should now be left to the courts only (Los, 1990:171). It is true that rape in marriage became illegal in 1991. Though the law has changed, the social expectation that women should be available for sex still exists, as does the belief that women owe sex to male partners. In Hoyle's (1998) research, nearly half of those answering 999 calls, refused to give classification of a woman reporting domestic violence.
Hence, rape remains a feminist concern for more issues remain to be tackled. According to many victims, the judicial 'rape', where a woman's reputation is put on trial by the court is, as humiliating as the actual rape (Lees, 1997:53). Describing aloud in close detail every part of the body which was assaulted in a public setting is very embarrassing for women. Her story is structured into a standard form of sexual fantasy or even pornography in which 'she becomes the slut who turns men on and indicates her availability through every fibre of her clothing and demeanour' (Smart:1995).
The intimate moment is often published in the press; 'we began to kiss, we were kissing passionately and she really did seem to be enjoying herself… We got down to the floor and I continued to kiss her and I was grinding against her… I then climbed off her and rolled to the side. We continued to kiss and I started to caress her breasts under her shirt. I started to take her shirt off and she lifted her arms… ' (Fletcher:2008). The most widely used defence is to blame the victim.
Education and awareness programs, however, can have a positive effect in encouraging men to take increased responsibility for their behaviour. Despite this optimistic statement, there will always be some men who will not understand and will continue to use sex as a form of masculinity, conquest, authority and control. Feminist activists from Justice for women, concerned about the issue, have therefore been Campaigning to End Rape (CER) over a larger scale; in the media, with parliament, within Trade Unions and NGOs to challenge misogynist media reporting of sexual violence (CER:2008).
Rape remains a feminist issue as the interest group alone struggles and toils as hard as possible to help victimized women. Sexual violence affects men and women differently. Men are not affected by the threat of sexual violence to the extent that women are. Another feminist issue is the higher acquittal rate of rape than for any other crime. Of the 42 who pleaded guilty of rape between June and September 1988, only 9 were convicted of rape (Lees:1997). Therefore 77% of men are set free to repeatedly victimize the women who live in perpetual fear.
Although more effort is being made for victim support, according to the Home Office, the problem is ongoing with fewer than 6% of all rape cases result in conviction (Crime & Victims). And until men do not change their attitude that rape 'is a low-risk, high reward' crime, women will continue to suffer from the patriarchal force. Indeed, men are physically stronger than women, making 'power rape', 'violent rape' or 'force-only rape' which requires violent coercion to occur.
Rape and sexual abuse are crimes that are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women (the greater conformers of the two sexes). Some writers have given a biological explanation to the few male-rapes that have been committed by women; they have an increased level of male hormones (Jones, 2006:315). It is tragic that appalling numbers of sex crimes are perpetrated against women around the world in an age-old but increasingly prevalent form of torture. Rape is a serious phenomenon which must be eradicated.
Unless we acknowledge the reality of the situation, that this is a crime perpetrated by men against women, then we lose our ability to understand how and why it happens and therefore our ability to end it. Sexual violence is a symptom of patriarchy – therefore patriarchy must be confronted in order to eradicate rape and sexual abuse. Not only do we need a feminist groundswell in order to challenge this pervasive and harmful social issue, but also we must actively oppose the oppression of women in all areas of society in order to create a climate where rape and sexual abuse can no longer occur.