Carrie Wooten

Rape as a Hate Crime

Filed By Carrie Wooten | September 21, 2006 5:27 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement

Those who perpetrate hate crimes are generally motivated by the idea that the group they are targeting is capable of being kept in a state of subordination through the use of fear. Why then are aggravated rape and sexual assault charges not prosecuted as hate crimes? The single identifier for a rapist is his target's sex, something that cannot be easily changed. Women as a group have clearly felt the effects of being targeted, as I don't know many who would be willing to walk around Purdue's predominantly male campus by themselves at 3am. And the fact that society understands that women are targeted is exemplified by constant warnings not to go out late by ourselves, by emergency phones with glowing blue lights on college campuses all over the country, and by the marketing of pepper spray and mace as neccessary weapons of defense. According to RAINN, 90% of sexual assault victims are women. So how, when literally millions of rapes occur each year in this country, do we deny that they are a form of hate, of dominance, of disrespect in its most ultimate and terrorizing form? And if we continue to not consider these acts ones of hate, what does that really say about our collective attitude about sexual violence and human rights?

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Rape is absolutely a hate crime--especially when it is a stranger targeting a woman in public vs. date rape. It is about the hatred of women and stabbing the genitals that symbolize a group the aggressor hates. The erection is secondary to the hate. It's not about sex. And that's what these male legislators cannot understand. Perhaps because rapes/misogyny are more pervasive than bias crimes is why accepting it as a hate crime is so difficult?