Sex and Relationships with Mikaya Heart: Understanding Rape

rape-culture

In my last post, I wrote about abuse; before I move on to more pleasant subjects, I want to say something about rape. Citing my own experience may help people understand what motivates a person to rape another human being, and what our culture needs to do to prevent this happening.

At college in my early twenties, I moved in a circle where most of the women slept around. One of the men in that circle (let’s call him John) very much wanted to be having sex but none of the women wanted to sleep with him, which was at least partly to do with his lack of sensual awareness. He was uneasy with his own body, and that made people reluctant to share their bodies with him. He and I became good friends–he was an interesting, intelligent, generous man. I wasn’t aware that he was attracted to me until one evening when we were walking through campus together, and he suddenly turned and tried to kiss me, pinning me against the wall. I wriggled out from his grip and stormed off, swearing at him. In those days (the early seventies), that kind of thing really wasn’t considered serious, and I only mentioned it to a couple of my friends. When John and I next saw each other, we both pretended it had never happened, although it certainly limited our friendship from my end.

John’s intentions were not to harm me: he simply had no idea about the art of seduction, and he was driven by hormones that he didn’t know how to control. I wasn’t the only woman he treated that way. Although it should be made absolutely clear that such actions are not OK, what John needed was training in the arts of gentle touch and a loving approach. Ideally that would go along with learning how to be at ease within his own body, which would have made him more attractive to others. That wouldn’t be such a difficult thing to teach if it weren’t so utterly outside this society’s way of thinking. He was a product of a culture that promotes disrespectful behavior, and that is only just beginning to change.

A year later, I had a lover whom we will call John2, and we traveled together for several months. Our travels (hitch-hiking around Europe, Iran and India) were not easy, and John2 had what I now recognize as an emotional breakdown. He became weepy, mean, and consistently hateful towards me. I stayed with him partly because it would not have been safe for me to travel alone and partly because he was such a mess that I felt an obligation to take care of him. I even carried his backpack for him at times. When we returned to Europe (where we lived), we stayed with my sister in London that first night, and she put us in a double bed. We had not been intimate for months, so I was astonished when he got on top of me. I fought him off but he was filled with rage, and I soon realized that in order to keep him at bay, I would have to wake my sister. That would be too embarrassing. I left my body and let him have his way—not the first time I had done such a thing for a man, although I am very happy to say it was the last.

John2 was not motivated by sexual desire or hormones, but by the need to assert his superiority over me (his erstwhile caretaker) and re-assert his sense of manliness in the world, which his emotional breakdown had destroyed. Incidentally, it seemed to be effective; I was impressed at how he pulled himself together in the following days. It is relevant that John2 was seen as a very gentle person by everyone who knew him, and he was able to re-adopt that persona, at least on the surface. I’m quite sure he “carefully” forgot what he had done.

An abuser boosts his/her own sense of power by putting another person down. The act of rape takes this a step further–it is the most effective way of asserting one’s superiority psychologically as well as physically. In wartime situations, winners commonly rape the women whom they see as “belonging” to their opponents. The ultimate method of dis-empowerment, it is a sure way of making someone experience helplessness, which makes the perpetrator feel more powerful. Consequently, rape is a useful tool for people like John2, who are divorced from any ability to deal honestly with feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability. When strong emotions threaten to overwhelm them, they quickly get desperate and will resort to all kinds of actions that they might verbally condemn.

I could write pages about how to remedy this state of affairs, but really one sentence says it all: we must individually learn how to treat all other beings with respect, we must individually refuse to go to war in any sense of the word, or to use others in any way to make ourselves feel better. And in order to do that, we have to learn to be honest with ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to lapse into that convenient state of forgetfulness employed by so many abusers.

Mikaya Heart (mikayaheart.org) is an award-winning author and a life-coach, using shamanic methods to teach people how to operate from a place of trust instead of fear. Her next book, due out in September, is Life, Lies, and Sex: A User’s Guide to Being in a Body.

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5 thoughts on “Sex and Relationships with Mikaya Heart: Understanding Rape

  1. Pingback: Sex and Relationships with Mikaya Heart: Moving Beyond Fear And Anxiety | The Dangerous Lee News & Entertainment Network

  2. Livingtruth, it wasn’t perhaps as hard as you think, because I have for many years realized that telling the truth loud and clear to the whole world, is an extremely reliable antidote to any shame I may have had about these kinds of experiences, and it helps people to start talking about these issues, which is essential.
    Rape is about power — it’s about establishing a sense of control. Rapists such as John2, feel frightened and powerless. But you could say that all of sex, all of life, is about power!

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  3. Wow, I’m really sorry that happened to you. And I’m taking a few things away from this post:

    1) We as individuals have to make the difficult choice to honestly face our pain and deal with it properly so that we can love ourselves and others. When we live with our issues and allow them to go unaddressed we hurt ourselves and those close to us.
    2) I have thought in the past that rape was about power but I never considered that those who inflict this kind of pain upon another are trying to relieve their own pain and suffering. It’s quite sad that someone could get to such a dark place that they think the way to feel better is to harm another person.

    Thank you for you being brave and sharing that with us. It couldn’t have been easy.

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  4. Pingback: Sex and Relationships with Mikaya Heart: Breaking Up | The Dangerous Lee News & Entertainment Network

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