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Book Review: Rape (Horos)
Reviewed by Jackie MacMillan
Feminist Alliance Against Rape Newsletter Jan/Feb/Mar 1975


Rape by Carol V. Horos (Published by Tobey Publishing Co., New Canaan, Conn.)

Is society guilty only of tolerating rape? Or is society also guilty of actively promoting rape through its institutions? Rape by Carol V. Horos would lead one to believe that rape is a private crime, and merely an embarrassment to society - a social horror!

Chapter One, "The History of Rape: A Painful Perspective" is interesting and informative, but leads Horos to some odd conclusions. She says,

"many of the prevailing attitudes toward rape are remnants from a past which had little or no consideration for women as people. The myths about rape are social commentaries on a woman's place in an ancient world, a world where she had no legal, social or human rights. Even though the status of women has evolved from possession to person, the myths remain the same. In fact, they are so well preserved, our modern laws are based on them."

Horos does not seem to realize that myths about rape are social commentaries on a woman's place as much in today's world as in the ancient world.

Asking "Who Are the Rapists?" Horos turns to male researchers for her answers. She documents a variety of well-known studies on the rapist, all of which explain rape as the result of some form of individual deviation. One category of rapists, as defined by the Bridgewater Study, "has built up rage from some personal experience in their childhood which has lead them to hate and despise women." Is it really a personal experience in an individual's childhood that causes him to hate women, or is the hatred of women institutionalized in society? Isn't every member of society taught, and constantly reinforced to hate women?

A large portion of the book is devoted to rape prevention and self-defense tactics. Horos offers sound advice about preventing an attack or escaping from one. However, the major drawback of Rape is Horos' failure to assert a woman's right to use these tactics. For example:

"One woman walking down a city street at night noticed she was being  followed by a man. He caught up with her and put his hand on her shoulder to stop her. In her mind he was a rapist. Pulling a pocket knife from her purse, she stabbed him in the chest. The man was taken to the hospital, the woman to jail. The man had intended merely to ask directions, not to rape her. The woman was charged with several crimes, among them assault with a deadly weapon. The man had not harmed her nor threatened her with bodily harm. Under the law her overreaction to the situation resulted in her criminal prosecution."

Who can verify that this man's intentions were necessarily innocent? More to the point, however, whether he was innocent or not, the woman's reaction in this case was quite valid. Any good self-defense instructor will advise acting quickly to incapacitate an attacker long enough to run away. The woman believed she was being attacked. It was the man who acted foolishly.

It is important to warn women about the possibility of being criminally prosecuted for successfully defending themselves. However, women are not responsible for rape. Any woman who defends herself against an attacker (like Inez Garcia or Joanne Little) deserves the full support of other women when facing prosecution.