Some Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity members at the University of Vermont are alleged to have disseminated a “survey” last week which apparently included questions such as, “who they would like to rape.”
USA Today reports that Wes Lewis, a former Fraternity member, said, “it was not a survey, but it was a series of questions between a few individuals.” (A classic attempt at spin, if ever there was one.)
One of the University officials tasked with investigating the matter was quick to point out that it was, in part, a matter of free speech. (Could this have been what the Founding Fathers had in mind?)
The act of rape, of course, is about unwanted sex using power and domination and is an especially cruel and vicious crime.
Musing, verbally or in writing, about who you would rape if you could, may or may not suggest a predilection to commit the act itself–it may in the end just be a case of immaturity combined with stupidity.
But while these rascals are called to account for their idiocy, it deserves to be mentioned that human sexuality contains a persistent thread of energy or electricity grounded in aggression, domination and subordination. Much sexual gratification is gained through consenting adults engaging in sexual play and acts where they take power over or give up that same power to their partner(s). Video and print eroticism is rife with imagery of “forced” sexual acts involving bondage and the infliction of pain which imply the circumstances of involuntary sexual activity or rape. People must find it enormously arousing or it would not exist as a method of fueling sexual desire.
(The phrase “Jesus Christ” in a google search nets 27,600,000 hits. “Rape porn” gets 49,000,000.)
But, it’s not just eroticism. Thanks to the Internet and the culture it has inspired, there are hundreds of sites where sexual “want ads”, free or otherwise, can be placed and answered. Thousands of these ads use the visual and verbal symbolism of rape and forced sex as people seek out opportunities to fulfill sexual fantasies where, again, they give up or take sexual power.
Of course, one could say that the crucial difference is that these ad-based sexual fantasies are rooted in consensual behavior. That’s true but it’s also true that society tolerates nearly boundless sexual freedom among consenting adults, including sexual gratification through forced-sex fantasy and then figuratively castrates a few young men when their horniness breaks the surface of their fraternal cesspool and comes, momentarily, to our attention.
The very privacy of the act(s) of sexual fulfillment both protect and advance the power of forced sex imagery. The Internet, and the role it plays in matching up sexual partners with those of like-minded desires and fantasies, has made immediate sexual gratification easy though the after effects may be slightly more complicated.
I don’t for a second condone their reckless carnal questions but at the same time I am amused at the Press’s collective gasp of horror when many more than just a few find covert and intense pleasure in the subtext of faux forced sex as a prime motivator in sexual gratification.
After all, fantasy is a “breeding ground” for reality, our sexual hypocrisy notwithstanding.
See you online.