July 19, 2011 / Law & Justice, Safety, Women's History

How is Rape a Cure for Female Behavior?


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

Image from CARA-Seattle.org

During the Victorian Era, medical institutions all over the world established that women were inherently fragile and emotional creatures and that it had nothing to do with the fact that they were drowning in the suffocating waters of patriarchy that condemned them to the domestic spheres of their existence.

Depression over not having a voice or the power necessary to govern their lives, their homes, or their bodies was defined by the medical industry as symptomatic of their “hysteria,” or their womb. Thus, only women suffered from this illness, their symptoms including moodiness, fainting spells, nervousness, and causing trouble by deviating from the accepted feminine norm. The “cure” for this female-dominated illness consisted of complete rest accomplished by sensory deprivation. Some physicians also believed that by stimulating the female’s genitalia until she had an orgasm would “cure” her of her condition.

That was in the 19th century. We would like to believe that we have evolved and gained enough knowledge that would grant such a thing revolting and ignorant on the part of men and the institutions they headed. Sadly, patriarchy continues to reign today, and women are still being “corrected” for acting against male expectations. And this is a global conceit on the part of patriarchal cultures that attempt to enforce their beliefs upon the lives and bodies of women via violence.

Although South Africa has allowed gay marriages since 2006, more progressive than the U.S. laws in this matter, South African male gangs use corrective rape to “cure” lesbians of their sexual preferences. Wow! According to ActionAid500,000 rapes occur annually in South Africa, but the police are reluctant to investigate homophobic crimes against women.  Since homosexuality is taboo, many of them go unreported, are not investigated, and fade into the next one without any justice.

When Eudy Simelane, a professional soccer player, equal rights activist, and the first woman to come out as a lesbian in her region was raped, tortured, and murdered in 2008 in Kwa-Thema, her place of birth, the men accused of this hate crime said that she wouldn’t have died had she not fought like a man. Hers is one of many cases, the hate crimes against women in South Africa becoming notoriously high. Men are taking it among themselves to teach women a lesson about choosing women over them and attempting to “correct” their behavior, or cure them into becoming straight.

According to Mark Gevisser of The Guardian,

One of the wonders of contemporary South Africa is the flowering of an urban black working-class lesbian subculture. Raised with a post-apartheid consciousness of human rights, many young black women have rejected the traditional roles expected of them: they have claimed the right to live independent of men and taken their sexuality on to the streets with a particular subcultural look.

Because no attention is being given to this issue, the rape epidemic continues to be fostered in the area. As a result, many groups have established petitions to end corrective rapes in South Africa. In response to these online petitions, Sokari from blacklooks.org states why the organization dedicated to black women’s voices refuses to sign these petitions. Aside from the fact that by using the pictures of survivors to propagate these petitions, which they deem sensationalist, they also believe that rape is rape and that corrective rape should not be seen as violence against homosexuals only, but violence against women:

Rape is a means of maintaining control and power over women and their bodies and of policing gender and sexuality norms. These norms prescribe what a woman is, how a woman should behave and stipulate that women’s bodies belong to men.

It is for this reason that gay women are being targeted with such malice. Corrective rape is nothing new; it’s an old patriarchal tactic used to control women, their bodies, and their voices. And it must end.

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  • yttik

    Great article, absolutely corrective rape is used against women all over the world, but we have plenty of it here at home too. Our political candidates are constantly being threatened with rape, assault and various forms of violence. It’s in our news, it’s in our comedy, it’s on our talk shows. The message comes through loud and clear, the way to correct women you don’t agree with is to rape them.

  • http://marinagraphy.com marina delvecchio

    Thanks, Yttik. This is one of the main reasons I hope we have more women in power, especially the Presidency. When women have the power, these acts of violence against women will be handled with justice — not the way it’s avoided nowadays.

  • Starbuck

    As much as females do not enjoy the oppression of being told how to ‘vehave’ in this world, one has to consider how incredibly far removed most female exist from their god given purpose on this planet. Which is to bare children. Most African cultures still looks at the functional existence of humans, and do not care for so called human rights most western cultures hold in high esteem. In Africa survival of the species are valued higher than cognitive constructs. Humans are humble and live in nature. But as more Adricans get in contact with western cultures, they become removed from reality (since the individual is of most importance in the western culture), in Africa the tribe is hold higher than the individual.

    If you consider the reality where these men come from, you would
    NEVER have had the ignorance to call it a hate crime. Yes it is harsh, but shows how far they have to go to rectify western contamination.
    If you are dismissing this comment because of spelling errors, you have just demonstrated your western judgemental superiority.

  • samsmom

    Words fail me. Rape as a decontaminate for western behavior. Your spelling is just fine.

  • Kathleen Wynne


    When was the last time you were raped? Until you walk a mile in the shoes of every woman who is abused, both sexually and physically, due to some male view of religion and “a woman’s role in this world to bear children”, as you say, then you really don’t have anything to say that I find credible in understanding why everything you said in your post above is not only wrong, it’s totally unbelievable.

    Obviously, you have proven that men have not evolved as far as women in society and I’m beginning to wonder if they are even capable of it, after what you’ve just written.

  • Starbuck

    Hi Kathleen

    I thought you deserved some more information, I am a black African lesbian, or at least that is what the western culture would call me. I am 33 years old, and lived a life of poverty beyond what (I have realized) western culture has any comprehension of.

    I was raped and beaten since I was 12 years old, since there is a right of passage every girl has to go through on our culture. Some white people showed up ar our village when I was 13 and want to teach is about western culture, after the horrible year I had, I was keen to learn about them, they told us about the woman’s rights and so on, I got so caught up in all the things they told us, that I leaved with the preachers, went to a big city and decided to spend my time with woman. But the western culture became distressing, people’s sense of nature was contortedand I missed my life in the village. I felt lost between two worlds when I got back home.

    There is no way you can comprehend my life, the very least you can do is respect my culture. I was a mess fighting and beaten. The only person that came to my rescue, was our tribal leader. No white people cared about me.
    Black men love and respect woman more then what white woman respect themselves. But western society has a strange way of seeing the role of there sexes.

    I was punished for leaving my tribe, in ways you can not handle, but through all that pain, I finally freed myself from illusions of western society, and find my place and purpose.

    Africa is a hard country, those that can Not withstand hardship will die.

    We do not have to luxceries western society take fir granted.

    This is my life story, pls do not disrespect it.