Author Archives: Caron Gentry

‘Knowing’ Rape

The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict began in London this week. I wish I could believe that a summit attended by Angelina Jolie would end wartime rape. I wish I could believe that a conference attended by political leaders that wield power beyond the silver screen would end wartime rape. But more, I wish we could just end rape. We ‘know’ that rape is endemic in ‘peace’-time societies, such as India, South Africa, and Peru. We refuse to ‘know’ that it is a problem in the US. Laura’s post on Monday was an angry, rightfully so, response to George Will’s inane, ignorant, and, ultimately, violent comment—but he is not alone. I could make something of Rajiv Sinha, the former director of the Indian Central Bureau of investigation, who stated that those who are raped should just enjoy it. But I hate to let anyone continue to think that peacetime rape is a ‘brown’ person problem. It is an everyone and everywhere problem. I am angry, no, furious, and frankly exhausted by academics, pundits, and politicians who construct rape within post-coloniality. This allows for the West and in particular the US to construct itself within an exceptional frame, denying that any problem with violence against women exists within its boundaries.

It was not so long ago that Clayton Williams ruined his chances to be Texas governor by making a comment strikingly similar to Sinha’s. During his 1990 campaign against Democrat Ann Richards, Williams invited a group of reporters to his ranch for the weekend. Sadly it was cold and foggy. But no matter: Williams informed the reporters, like bad weather, “if [rape] is inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” I shouldn’t need to state that the formidable Richards was elected instead. (As a Texan, I feel I can write that this is the last time Texas chose a governor wisely. But I digress.) There continues to be a pervasive minimization of rape and thus a diminishment of victims of sexual violence within the US.

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