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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Is a man raping a woman a hate crime?

An answer I wrote to: Is a man raping a woman a hate crime?

"A hate crime occurs when a person is attacked because he belongs (or is thought to belong) to a certain group. In other words, the victim is attacked not on his own merits (or at least not solely on his own merits); the group itself is being attacked here.

Might a man raping a woman fall into this category?

There are two main motives male-on-female rape is attributed to: sex and power.

In the case of simple sexual motivation, it is difficult to see how male-on-female rape could be a hate crime, since women are targeted here not because the perpetrator hates women, but because women have something unique that he wants. In a samilar way, if I am a mugger and I target rich people because they have more money, this is not a hate crime - it is just a practical consequence of my preferences and social circumstances.

In the opposite case, male-on-female rape could be a power thing (this is a typical feminist view). Yet if rape is just an expression of power, I don't see how male-on-female rape would necessarily be a hate crime (as opposed to, say, a way of lashing out at the world, or of gaining some power that one lacks in one's personal life) - unless it is specifically power over the female gender that the male rapist desires and enacts. And even then, wanting power over a certain group does not hate make (example: people crying to cut bankers' bonuses) - the defining criterion here is enjoying the suffering of that certain group. Then again, the cries to cut bankers' bonuses might not be such an inappropriate example here...

Of course, sex and power are often inter-mingled, but this does not change the fundamental analysis. Unless a man rapes a woman because he hates women (and presumably is using sex and/or power to express his worldview/feelings), male-on-female rape cannot be a hate crime."
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