It takes twenty soldiers.
What happened there? How does what could have been a gang rape happen in the middle of a celebration? In the middle of all this feel good, Hurray for democracy! suddenly, there is a very, very
We want to know who attacked Lara Logan (we assume, could be wrong, raped, if it is a brutal sexual assault) , but her nemesis is a faceless mob-- faceless to us, not to her, for Ms. Logan will remember faces. To the world they will be anonymous, like-minded men, unknowns, who made her into a symbol, a something that needs to be stamped out, hurt, taught a lesson. Why?
Reporters tell us that the journalists in Cairo were intimidated, thought to be spies for the West, for Israel. The police rounded up the members of the foreign press and jailed them, interrogated and harassed them before finally letting them go. Go get your story now. See what happens.
Intimidation, jail, one thing. Rape, or sexual assault, quite another, a special type of intimidation, a different type of violence, one that symbolizes dominion. But there are different types of rape, different motives, and this is as good a time as any to discuss them.
Mental health professionals used to think of rape as a generic angry act, an act of defiance. But ignorance and power underscore acquaintance and date rape, acts associated with rape myths. One such myth might be believing that nice girls say no when they mean yes. A man thinking this way might force sex, thinking he has permission-- when really, he doesn't. Rape, if it's forced. No means No, in all fifty of the United States of America.
Acquaintance and date rapes can also be about anger, coercion, blackmail, harassment-- wielding power with sexual aggression. None of it benign. And alcohol is usually in the picture, yes usually, when it comes to acquaintance and date rape. A victim is incapacitated, incapable of fighting, sometimes unconscious.
Jailed rapists, perpetrators of individual stranger rapes, have a different modus operandi, and are diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder. These individuals are considered sociopaths, people who defy authority, who take what they want, who want to hurt others.
Gang rape differs in that it is a crime of passion, but all about the need to bond, to be a part of a group. If there is anger, it is difficult to determine who is angry. Weaved into the psychology of gang rape is group think, a need to find favor from a leader, a person who is influential, charismatic, encourages the crime. The group believes, or wants to believe, what the leader believes, and each member likes the feeling, being a part of something bigger than himself, and follows along.
Gang rape is of one mind, a group cognitive process of coercion. Participants deny their own sense of right and wrong, their own individuality, to do what the rest of the group tells them to do.
Men convicted of gang rape tell us they were afraid not to join in. They were afraid of being left out, afraid of losing status. Sometimes the rape is an initiation into the gang, or the club, the fraternity, even the team-- a way to become a part of something. If you're not with us, you're against us. Becoming one of the gang, male or female bonding, feels good.
In Cairo last week, becoming a part of something, pleasing someone, needing to attach to other men, impressing a leader, enjoying the feeling of power-- all of this mixed into the psychopathology, the sick thinking of every man in that fringe group. And the subsequent conclusion, the sexual assault of Lara Logan.
The politics are unclear, do not matter. What matters is need: the individual need for validation and a universal need for power and control. And unfortunately, one way to achieve that validation is to join in, even when the group corrupts, behaves in ways that are psychologically, physically, and sexually abusive.
One way to power is to show others how vulnerable they are.
Surely, had the Egyptian women who intervened not been there, Ms. Logan would be dead. And we would be watching funeral services on TV.
Linda Freedman, PhD, LCSW, LMFT