Re: [SACC-L] question about rape
- Lori, thanks for bringing this issue up! I had to actually avoid the issue of race for a while because too many of my students were bringing up intense situations of rape and abuse that we as a class were not able to deal with appropriately. Often, our discussions led to unfreezing pent up emotions and developed new alternatives that resulted in even more violence in the victim's home life. We as a class and myself as a professor found that I was not able to be helpful enough. After losing several students due to this process of consciousness-raising without practical results, I sought help from rape crisis professionals and then experts from AAA meetings on sexual curricula. Neither was helpful at all, so I gave up all but engaging rape as one of the issues important to test the notion of cultural relativity and ethnocentrism. The Yanomamo practices are just one that we use in this discussion; I also use dowry abuse, female infanticide, circumcision and other such intense issues.
You bring up exactly what I see as the core of our job as professors in charge of the learning process: to stimulate complex thinking about complex human behavior and the use of our scientific tools of analysis. (what the reactionaries like Horowitz or ideologues of either side of the spectrum do not understand) The discussion of intensely political and emotional issues and whether we can apply cultural relativity to them are best when you engage subjects like circumcision of females or, to a lesser extent, males; rape, such as: "can a spouse be raped" or "can a man be raped by a woman" , or can we from the outside label 'rape' what are normative sexual relations defined by the Yanamamo during mate capture...or, whether it is valid to brand invasion as war if it is your country doing it, or, whether the only country that has used nuclear weapons against another country has the legitimacy to demand all other countries give their nuclear weapons up while we keep ours, because we are "safe and rational". Personally, I find that the greatest change in our culture and our thinking has been centered on gender and gender roles, so that the questions of ethnocentric or critical thought around these gender-hot issues become the hardest to deal with and thus most important for us to use. I hope many respond with their experiences.
----- Original Message -----
From: Lori Barkley
Cc: Bev Onischak
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 3:52 PM
Subject: [SACC-L] question about rape
I have a question from a nursing instructor here about rape. A student of hers said in some cultures rape is culturally acceptable. So, I responded to whom & when--rape by one's husband in Canada is a relatively recent event (prior to that a woman couldn't charge a husband with rape--did she think it was rape, yes!) The Yanomamo rape the women garnered from raids, but do the women find it acceptable--likely not.
So the question to all you wise ones, can you think of a culture where rape is acceptable to both men & women, in any period of time or context?
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