By Owen Lloyd / Deep Green Resistance News Service
Trigger warning: This essay includes detailed accounts of sexual violence and may be triggering to some readers.
There has been a lot of talk recently about rape culture. In the aftermath of the Steubenville rape case, reporters used flowery language to describe the malicious victimizers of a sixteen year old girl. Immediately after their conviction, CNN’s Poppy Harlow described them as “two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students.”  NBC’s Ron Allen lamented that their entitlements to “promising football careers” and “dreams of college” could be jeopardized by their short sentence to juvenile corrections and placement on a sex offender registry. 
By contrast, mainstream coverage of the woman who was raped has been almost universally hostile. The Associated Press referred to her simply as “a drunken 16-year-old girl,”  dismissing testimony that she had been drugged, and placing the responsibility for the rape on the victim. On social media, many people echoed this victim-blaming approach, making comments such as “not saying she asked for it but why did you consume so much alcohol in the first place?” and “I guess the lesson she should learn is do not get so drunk where you have no control of yourself.”  Numerous networks including CNN, MSNBC, and FOX also publicly aired the name of the victim, setting her up for reprisal. 
This widespread humanization of the victimizers, and dehumanization of the victims, provides a powerful support network for men who rape, and threatens those who seek justice for the abuses they have suffered.
Corporate journalists have not been the only professionals to come to the defense of rapists, however. Pop psychologist and best-selling author Steven Pinker has long been on a scientific crusade to depoliticize and naturalize rape. In his book The Blank Slate, he writes:
I believe that the rape-is-not-about-sex doctrine will go down in history as an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It is preposterous on the face of it, does not deserve its sanctity, is contradicted by a mass of evidence, and is getting in the way of the only morally relevant goal surrounding rape, the effort to stamp it out. 
Does Dr. Pinker believe that when Pinochet’s police trained dogs to rape women, this was primarily about sex? 
When hundreds of thousands of women in Bangladesh were “tied to trees and gang raped, breasts hacked off, dumped in mass graves, [and] held in Pakistani rape camps,” was this primarily for sex? 
When Roy Norris and Lawrence Bittaker raped and mutilated an adolescent girl “with a pair of locking pliers, hit her with a sledgehammer, and jabbed her ear with an ice pick,” recording the whole scene on audiotape, was this primarily about sex? 
When a journalist friend of mine received rape and death threats from “men’s rights activists” for publishing a story about male privilege, did they do this because they wanted sex?
When the nun Dianna Ortiz was kidnapped by Guatemalan police, who then raped her, burned her more than 111 times with cigarettes, and lowered her into a pit, filled with rats and the bodies of children, women, and men, some of them decapitated, some of them alive, and forced her to thrust a machete into a woman, was this mostly about sexual access? 
It seems to me that if rape is primarily about sex, then the purpose of sex for men is to violate, humiliate, intimidate, shame, silence, and express hatred for women, rather than to unite in love and affection for another human being. Moreover, it would seem that men have sex with women for the same reasons they rape them: to feel the sadistic pleasure of dominating another human being, and ritually bulwark the system of male supremacy. And I would not disagree if he had said this. For men in the dominant culture, this violation imperative is our political mandate. However, Pinker doesn’t equate rape with sex to politicize sex; instead, he does this to frame rape as apolitical. And beyond apolitical, biologically normal and neutral:
First obvious fact: Men often want to have sex with women who don’t want to have sex with them. They use every tactic that one human being uses to affect the behavior of another: wooing, seducing, flattering, deceiving, sulking, and paying. Second obvious fact: Some men use violence to get what they want, indifferent to the suffering they cause. Men have been known to kidnap children for ransom (sometimes sending their parents an ear or finger to show they mean business), blind the victim of a mugging so the victim can’t identify them in court, shoot out the kneecaps of an associate as punishment for ratting to the police or invading their territory, and kill a stranger for his brand-name athletic footwear. It would be an extraordinary fact, contradicting everything else we know about people, if some men didn’t use violence to get sex. 
This is, of course, a tautological argument. He states “obvious facts” about men that are obvious to us because we live in a particularly violent rape culture, and then uses these as evidence that rape is natural. However, we should recognize that rape culture is by no means a universal condition among human beings. In an exhaustive study of 102 cultures by anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday, she found that people in 49 (48%) of these cultures did not practice rape or wife-raiding. 
Furthermore, he naturalizes men’s objectification of women:
Rape is not exactly a normal part of male sexuality, but it is made possible by the fact that male desire can be indiscriminate in its choice of a sexual partner and indifferent to the partner’s inner life– indeed, ‘object’ can be a more fitting term than ‘partner’. 
In another book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, he adds:
The difference in the sexes’ conception of sex translates into a difference in how they perceive the harm of sexual aggression. A survey by the psychologist David Buss shows that men underestimate how upsetting sexual aggression is to a female victim, while women overestimate how upsetting sexual aggression is to a male victim. The sexual abyss offers a complementary explanation of the callous treatment of rape victims in traditional legal and moral codes. It may come from more than the ruthless exercise of power by males over females; it may also come from a parochial inability of men to conceive of a mind unlike theirs, a mind that finds the project of abrupt, unsolicited sex with a stranger to be repugnant rather than appealing. 
So let’s put this all together: according to Pinker, men “obviously” like to rape women, and have no serious qualms about using torture and violence to do so. Men are totally “indifferent” to what women feel, think, experience, or say, and rather see them as objects for sexual gratification. Psychological studies (conducted on men socialized into a rape culture) have shown that men have a poor capacity to feel or understand what torture feels like to a woman. And unlike women, men naturally find “abrupt, unsolicited sex” (Pinker’s euphemism for rape) “appealing” rather than abhorrent.
If anyone has ever bashed men more thoroughly than this, I have never heard of it. Given this portrait, one might think that Pinker would advocate drastic measures to keep men under control: mandatory castration, perhaps, or keeping men under permanent house arrest. But the reality is not that he has taken this extreme stance to vilify men. Rather, he took this stance to silence feminists who, in the words of Andrea Dworkin, “believe in [men’s] humanity, against all evidence.”  Whereas if men are irredeemable as human beings as Pinker suggests, then our behavior as men is conveniently off the hook.
The psychologist Diana E.H. Russell wrote about this sleight of hand in her book The Politics of Rape:
If it is seen as in men’s nature to rape, then it becomes too easily the female’s responsibility not to give them the opportunity. And then the only control the woman has over what happens to her is to stop taking risks. 
If rape is determined by biology rather than political structures, then feminists are unfairly criticizing men for acting like the natural rapists that they are. Thus, Pinker claims that the feminist analysis of rape “slander[s] all men as beneficiaries of the rape of the women they love” and “elevate[s] rapists to altruistic troopers for a higher cause”.
First of all, I find it absurd that he can suggest I am a natural sadist, that I can’t help but treat my partner as an object, that I’m incapable of feeling empathy for women, and that I find the idea of rape appealing rather than repugnant, and then go on to accuse feminists of slandering me. Beyond that he willfully misunderstands the point feminists are making, which is that men as a class benefit from the rape of women as a class, not that men as individuals benefit from every individual rape. The second statement is equally insensible, framed as if supporting a rape culture is an act of “altruism” and male supremacy is “a higher cause”.
So why, according to Pinker, do feminists believe that rape is largely about power?
[I]f I may be permitted an ad feminam suggestion, the theory that rape has nothing to do with sex may be more plausible to a gender to whom a desire for impersonal sex with an unwilling stranger is too bizarre to contemplate. 
So there it is. Women find rape “too bizarre to contemplate”. They’re simply too prudish to understand how “appealing” rape is. In other words men, with their rapist-eye point of view, are the only ones capable of examining rape honestly and objectively.
Pinker also advocates depoliticizing rape crisis programs:
When [far right commentator Heather] MacDonald asked the associate director of an Office of Sexual Assault Prevention at a major university whether they encouraged students to exercise good judgment with guidelines like ‘Don’t get drunk, don’t get into bed with a guy, and don’t take off your clothes or allow them to be removed,’ she replied, ‘I am uncomfortable with the idea. This indicates that if [female students] are raped it could be their fault– it is never their fault– and how one dresses does not invite rape or violence… I would never allow my staff or myself to send the message it is the victim’s fault due to their dress or lack of restraint in any way.’
Fortunately, the students whom MacDonald interviewed did not let this sexual correctness get in the way of their own common sense. 
This victim-blaming approach suggests that if a woman gets drunk and is raped as a result, she failed to exercise “good judgment” and is responsible for what happened to her. In other words, women should give up trying to wipe out rape culture and learn to adapt to it instead. Had Pinker been alive 100 years ago, perhaps he would have advocated “good judgment” lynching prevention guidelines for black people: “Always call whites ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Don’t make eye contact with white women. Don’t whistle under any circumstances. Don’t go where you aren’t supposed to. And always remember that lynching isn’t about propping up white supremacy; white people simply have a biological urge to engage in violent mob murder from time to time. It is your responsibility to adapt to it.”
Having spent so much time writing about the motivations for rape, Pinker finally just dismisses the subject entirely: “The ultimate motives of the rapist are irrelevant.”  In other words, we should deal with rape as a problem located in individual men affecting individual women, rather than as a full-scale war being waged by men as a class upon women as a class. Such an approach is to say, in effect, that rape culture is here to stay, and we should just accept it. I will not.
 The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, by Steven Pinker
 Voices of Resistance: Testimony of Cuban and Chilean Women, edited by Judy Maloof
 Jane Caputi and Diana E. H. Russell, “Femicide: Sexist Terrorism against Women” in Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing, edited by Jill Radford and Diana E. H. Russell
 State Terrorism and the United States, by Frederick H. Gareau
 Female Power and Male Dominance, by Peggy Reeves Sanday
 The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, by Steven Pinker
 The Politics of Rape: The Victim’s Perspective, by Diana E. H. Russell