jumbled thoughts on the rapes in katrina’s wake.

every story i read about the situation in new orleans leaves me with another unanswered question. but what i struggle with most is the shockingly high incidence of reported rapes and sexual assaults… how to understand this, try to place it in context, how to wrap my mind around how chaos, starvation, and desperation can lead a person to rape another person. looting, sure. aggression and physical violence, of course. but sexual assault? where does this come from? is it simply because there is no order? no “law enforcement”? is this something that people always want or need to do, some deep-seated drive that’s only kept in check because it’s “against the law”? that fucking scares the living shit out of me. or is it just because people are at the their wits’ end? desperate? i tend not to buy this, because what on earth, if you’re starving, pissed off, and abandoned, would make you want to force yourself on another human being? raping as a war tactic makes more “sense” to me than something like this. at least then there is some sense of an ‘enemy’ that must be somehow ‘punished’ – though rapes of this variety are still, of course, horrific, they can be looked at as having some type of (horrific) explanation. but raping another flood victim is completely unfathomable to me. victims conquering victims to feel more powerful and less victimized? rape is all about control, so how to incorporate this? i have no control over natural disaster and i have no control over being abandoned by my government and being left to die (and, by the way, before this even happened, i had no control over racism, oppression, and poverty) and i have reached a point where i need to feel some type of control, so i make myself feel more in control by exerting the most intimate and jarring type of control (sexual control) over another victim?

is this really an explanation?

and then how do we even begin to reconcile this? are these rapists all evil/despicable people? or people pushed to the edges of sanity who commit evil/despicable acts? can i even take this there? can/should I have compassion for the rapists in this scenario? everything that’s been going on down there has been difficult, mindblowing, and worth discussion and analysis. but the raping has definitely gotten to me on a deeper level. it just seems so out of place to me… or maybe it isn’t out of place at all. i allow myself to follow these lines of thought and I begin to fear that this desire to dominate sexually (and gain power and control by doing so) is lying dormant in so many people – in all of us? – and this is it coming out. these aren’t pretty things to think about, to be sure, and each of us would say we’d never do “anything like that” to another human being. but I’m sure many of the people in the superdome would have said the same, before katrina. the numbers of reported rapes are simply too high for me to believe that each one of these people was already out there raping people. no. there is something about this particular set of circumstances that allowed these rapes to happen.

i’m interested in exploring what that something is. how it happens. what it means. what to do about it.


Comments

jumbled thoughts on the rapes in katrina’s wake. — 1 Comment

  1. I first read about this on women’s e news and I agree that it’s absolutely outrageous. To see more information and reporting on this issue you should check out:

    Rape-Reporting Procedure Missing After Hurricane:
    http://womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2448

    Commentoon–Hurricane Katrina: –
    http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2447/

    Health Workers Fly to Aid Female Katrina
    Survivors: –
    http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2443

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