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Pavan Amara Headshot

Rape Is Not as Simple as X Versus Y

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This week, the evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins tweeted this to nearly one million followers: "Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think."

Before that, he had tweeted: "X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of X, go away and don't come back until you've learned how to think logically."

Interesting for me, because - there's no subtle way to say this - I know exactly what it's like to be raped with knives involved.

So, I read what he had to say with some degree of morbid curiosity.

Especially because last week I wrote this, a piece summarising exactly how so-called 'date rape' can have psychological effects that very violent rapes do not.

But yesterday I was speaking to a male friend of mine, and he told me he agreed with Dawkins.

He explained: "If someone has been locked in a basement for three days, beaten and tortured, it is worse than a woman being raped by her boyfriend in her own bedroom. That's obvious for anybody to see."

Hypothetically, for a man who hasn't been raped, that's a logical thought process. On surface level, it does seem as obvious as X compares to Y.

In reality, that logic creates a hierarchy among rape survivors. It uses some women's experiences to demean other women's experiences. It places them in a strange sort of 'class system', where some induce more 'sympathy' than others.

And if we rank women's experiences of sexual violence, that will result in only the most heinous crimes being spoken about or taken seriously.

This 'class system' is exactly what creates a silence around rapes where obvious violence isn't involved, and there is no evidence. And that silence leaves rapists free to rape again and again. This so-called logic, where we rank rape survivors into a 'class' decided by violence, forces a situation where we're competing with each other.

I explained that to my friend, and he recognised something even the courts often miss: "Perhaps the violence is a separate crime to the rape itself.

"So, separate crimes of violence can be committed while rape is taking place, and via the rape itself. But that means you can't compare rapes, because the act of forced penetration is rape, and that's occurred in both scenarios."

I think that sums it up. That is why logically you cannot compare rapes, but perhaps you can compare the situations in which they occurred.

Controversial as Dawkins' opinion is, I suspect a majority of people agree with him at first glance. But dig a little deeper, because in reality rape is not as simple as X versus Y.

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