Sir Godfrey Gregg
Situational circumstances can bring a shelved fear of rape to the forefront of the conscious mind. These rape phobia triggers arise from parental teaching and experiences of implied and explicit sexual harassment and intrusions. Some factors that trigger a conscious fear of rape in women include:
- Men who honk, whistle, or leer at them as they walk on public streets
- Poor lighting in parking areas or along streets and in the workplace
- Sexual harassment by an acquaintance or co-worker
- Sexually overt commentary by males about their body and appearance
- Obscene phone calls
- Several men with only one or two women in a group of strangers or near strangers
- Witnessing a man exposing himself or masturbating
- Men are known to them or strangers that fondle and grope their body parts
- Stigma of rape exacerbates fear of rape because women fear societal scorn and blame if they are raped.
- While men can be raped by other men, they rarely live with a fear of sexual assault lurking in the backs of their minds. Perhaps in a prison or other confinement situation, the fear may arise, but most men simply cannot truly relate to women’s fear of being raped.
Men can, however, take measures to help alleviate some rape phobia in women. Men need to develop awareness about women’s fear of rape and consider this when approaching them in an isolated or dark area. Even if he has innocent intentions, the woman has no way of knowing that. If men can empathize with this uniquely female fear with even minimal understanding, they will only approach a woman in one of these trigger situations if absolutely necessary, such as to ask directions or ask her to call for help if someone is injured.
WOMEN’S FEAR OF RAPE FOCUSED ON WRONG TYPE OF RAPE
Although acquaintance rape represents the most common type of sexual assault perpetrated against women, they fear stranger rape significantly more. According to anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN, strangers do commit 27 percent of reported sexual assaults. That’s too high a statistic to ignore for most women. However, placing too much focus on stranger rape is problematic in that women tend to discount the possibility of acquaintance and date rape. They put too much trust in male “friends” they actually know very little about. They enlarge the perimeter of their personal boundaries to expose vulnerabilities usually reserved for people they know well. They exposed themselves to total strangers on the Internet and many times set up “blind dates” and we are very familiar with the results which sometimes ends in the death of the individual.
Everyone, women and men alike, should take common sense precautions to stay safe in potentially dangerous situations and to remain aware of surroundings. Women need to get prepared, stay alert and refuse to allow fear of rape to keep them from fully participating in the activities they enjoy and society in general.