Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sexual Predation

The prevalence of the term 'sexual predator' in modern parlance, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of sensationalist news stories (frequently told from a sexually conservative perspective), has become problematic.

It is true that there may be such a thing as 'sex crime', which is to say, crime that involves either the sex act, or a sexual motivation - most likely referring to rape; that is, a person having sex with another person against that other person's consent, that may or may not involve physical violence beyond the simple act of being 'penetrated' against one's will (although not necessarily against one's bodily construction).

I am not attempting to minimize the seriousness of the crime of rape, I am merely trying to approach the issue rationally. The problem is that, married to certain extremist views within certain camps of feminism - the radical sort that believes "all sex is rape" - we come to a point where the basic mating behaviors that occur naturally between men and women are being reinterpreted as a form of predation.

Now, classically speaking, predation is an act of feeding - literally. The predator captures the prey, often involving violence, kills the prey, and then eats it. What part of this gruesome process suggests sex to you? I am willing to concede that the 'hunting' of victims that a rapist engages in is a predatory sort of process, but we must be able to separate the sex criminal from the basic sexual urges we all experience.

When a man experiences sexual desire for a female, and even, perhaps, receives some sexual pleasure from the sight of that female, or from fantasies he indulges in about that female, he is not engaging in any sort of 'predation'. When a man pleasures himself to pornographic images of women on the internet, he is not 'preying' on females, he is merely attending to his sexual functions. When a man observes women 'in the wild' (that is to say, in public), and even as he evaluates their sexual desirability in the privacy of his own mind, he is not acting as a predator but merely as a member of a species of sexual organisms.

We must be extra careful not to let language creep infest our own understanding of human sexuality, and not to allow our morbid fascination with news stories about sexual predators infect our faith that the basic mating rituals between the sexes can be free of intrinsically violent and predatory underpinnings.

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