Not Asking For It: Rape Is Not A Sex Crime

Recently, a decision was made in the controversial rape case against comedian Vhong Navarro filed by student/starlet Deniece Cornejo. The ruling is that Navarro is innocent. I am not surprised–considering the evidence of the CCTV footage among other inconsistencies, it did very much seem like a blackmail plot. But too much has been said on this topic (of Navarro’s guilt/innocence) already–one may argue that the whole debacle has been heavily sensationalized, especially in the face of more pressing social issues.

Especially since it has served to highlight the wrong issues.

If there is at least one issue that needs addressing in all this, it is not if Navarro is innocent or guilty (though I can understand the concern expressed by his fans). Rather, it is how our countrymen view the crime of rape. In viewing the Navarro/Cornejo case, I have realized that many equated rape with sex and sexuality–rape is a sex crime, in the minds of Pinoys. That is why a girl (or guy) is said to be “asking for it” by dressing and/or behaving in a more sexually-charged manner, or by “throwing themselves in the way of temptation.”

In reality, though, rape is not a sex crime at all, but a hate crime. Sex is merely the tool for committing rape–it is not the objective. Instead, the goal of rape is the pleasure of degrading another. It is a crime of anger, a crime of exploitation, a crime of victimizing a perceived “weaker” individual and exercising one’s superiority on him/her.

Rape is a twisted form of natural selection where the rapist says the weak deserved to be punished and the strong may conquer all. No one “asks for it,” because to say that would be to deny a fundamental tenet of human rights, that all men are created equal, and thus deserve equal respect, regardless of the circumstances. Sometimes we cannot help being weaker, or, rather, more vulnerable. Beyond the natural differences in physiology, muscular capacity, and all things anatomical (that fly over my out-of-shape head), vulnerability is a key requirement of our culture. It is tied strongly to trust–when we trust someone we are more vulnerable to them, which could account for why many rape crimes are committed not by strangers but by people the victim knows well–and is seen as a facet of humanity. And this is why rape is so horrifying: it punishes the victim for being human.

(We are all, after all, vulnerable in some way. We all have scars.)

Social mores and ethics have acknowledged that, at least on some level, the weak and the vulnerable deserve protection. A part of us instinctively believes that–it is why we are drawn to nurture infants and children. Rape upends this reasoning, denies the instinct we have to protect the vulnerable rather than resent them and seek to exercise our power over them by force.

It isn’t about sex. If it was, then all rape victims would be conventionally attractive. However, this is not the case. Rather, the common denominator is that they were all vulnerable, either by nature (ex. a child, a disabled person) or due to the situation.

Rape is simply a more physically extreme version of any crime against person: invasion of privacy, stalking, defamation. All of these result hold in common that the victim was, at that point, unguarded, unable to defend themselves, and all result in the same feeling: one of violation. Because something has been violated: a person’s right to safety in their vulnerability.

A person’s clothing or conduct, no matter how immodest, will never justify violence. We do not say the murder victim invited murder because he/she was flirtatious, wore too-revealing clothes, or was sexually promiscuous. Likewise, a rape victim does not deserve to be raped despite any or all of those reasons. A person may invite lust, but lust alone does not rape make. Instead, rape demands a psychology of power and insecurity, of the desire to exercise dominance and control.

This Vhong Navarro issue has been very revealing of our attitudes towards this most taboo of crimes. And while the sensationalized coverage of this case does knowledge of the truth no favors, at the very least, it should become an avenue to discuss why we think the way we do about this issue. Perhaps then, it may be clearer why we can never say someone is “asking for it.”

Because no one deserves violence. No one.

~ARoamingTsinay~

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