A few times this week I’ve come across the “rape axe”. It is described as a condom-like apparatus that has “claws” that prevent a rapist from being able to pull out without being mutilated by said claws. Its aim, therefore, is that should a man rape, he should find this surprise waiting for him… And then he would have to go to the hospital to get these claws remove–basically, turning himself in.
While the idea of mutilating anyone who would do this heinous thing appeals to my angry, broken side, I can’t help but employ some rationality here. What exactly does the Rape Axe actually achieve?
We’ve been singing this song for decades-that rape is about violence and power. Lately, we’ve also started to explore violence as an important sub-culture in RSA. This sub-culture allows all forms of violence against men, women and children to become normal, even acceptable. These are the things we want to address.
In RSA we’ve become so comfortable with fear that we struggle to perceive change (or existence) coming from any place else. Sometimes it feels like we’re jailbirds–scared to death of the outside world, so we would rather get comfortable being afraid. Fear changes nothing for the better. Fear is, typically, what is misunderstood as hate.
The Rape Axe, for me, fails those two important preventative strategies. Firstly, it’s punitive. It doesn’t seek to create behaviour. It doesn’t address the root of the problem, just the symptoms. I keep saying to people that rape comes from the desire for power and from violence. It has very little to do with sex or arousal. That means more rapes with objects will occur (contrary to what you may think, that’s, really, not any better); and anal rape. There will, likely, be many other ways to overpower women without men having to put their penis(es) at risk.
So, it fails to thwart violence, except through fear–which leads to my second point. I don’t want men to stop raping simply because they are scared to be mutilated and caught. (I suspect that this may lead them towards preferentially raping children, whom they KNOW probably won’t have the rape axe–and, additionally, rural women will not be protected from spousal rape in this way. They will not have access to it, and if they do, they will not want to mutilate their husbands). I’m tired of fear being the safest place we have to hide. Fear doesn’t breed love… Or solutions. It breeds unjustified anger and victim blaming. As long as we use fear to thwart violence we aren’t diminishing the problem-merely shifting it elsewhere. We become satisfied that we think it’s gone just because we, now, can’t see it. And while we sleep, it carries on killing us.
While I applaud the intentions of the Rape Axe (and, honestly, in my weakness and anger, would probably buy one) I’m just thinking that as a public interest tool, in a country where rape is a popular, normal subculture (not a country where rape is mostly perpetrated by psychopaths), it becomes dangerous to seek mutilation is the best solution. We need to change the culture! I don’t want to accept that our situation has become so dire that we’ve exhausted all other avenues for solutions. We simply haven’t tried. Let’s start at the beginning.