Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Are men turned on by rape?
There seems to be a new surge of sexism in today's popular TV, with shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men depicting women being raped, sexually harassed, and objectified. In these shows, women just take it; they don't fight back. As a woman, and as a survivor of three periods of sexual abuse by men, I find these shows incredibly difficult to watch. My female friends often feel the same way, although they haven't been abused.
My male friends, on the other hand, barely seem to notice the sexism, let alone be bothered by it. And these are men that are supposedly understanding of the women's plight. They'll skip ahead the rape scenes, but only because they see that I start shaking with fear from them. As a man, what do you feel when you see women on TV being the target of sexism or gender violence? What do men think of sexism against women?
THINK BACK TO FREUD for a second. I think most men, at some level, fantasize about dominating women, sexually or otherwise. It's part of our id and part of our genetic heritage (but by no means a justification, obviously). But our superego, i.e., our conscience, says "uh uh uh! you can't do that because people are getting hurt and that's not nice."
There are certain situations in which the superego gets hidden and the id comes out to play. One awful place is in crowds, where people experience anonymity. People commit awful crimes in crowds that they would never commit alone like rape, theft, and murder. The anonymity makes people think they're not responsible for their actions, so the superego fades away, making room for the id to run amok.
Another situation is in the cinema. While watching television, we know people aren't really getting hurt, so our superego isn't as offended. Without that voice telling us "uh uh uh!" we can indulge in our dark fantasies. We can watch women get dominated, we can watch people get hacked up, we can explore all our private paraphilias (fetishes). And that's exactly what we see in modern cinema with shows like Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, and movies like Saw and Secretary. Women usually don't have urges to dominate other women (at least, not sexually), so they're less aroused and more bothered.
In sum, people have competing thoughts and urges--to help, to pity, to conquer, and to hurt. What comes out depends on the interplay between the person and their environment which are constantly in flux. Great question! Please "like" if you can, thanks.