October 07, 2022

Why do men commit sexual violence against women?

1. What is the incident of “Room N” in South Korea?

“Room N” is the collective name for multiple chat groups on Telegram, a Korean instant encrypted messaging software. In order to avoid searches, the suspect established multiple chat groups in advance, and constantly created and disbanded chat groups, so it was called “Room N”.

According to the South Korean police, “Room N” is a case that started in 2018. The suspect Zhao Zhubin and others obtained the victim’s personal information by fraud, and then forced the victim to become a “sex slave” through coercion and inducement. And shoot obscene videos for thousands of members to watch online.

These illegal obscene objects not only include obscene photos and videos taken by the victims, but also involve a lot of anti-humane content. Shockingly, the number of members that has been exposed is as many as 260,000.

The victims of “Room N” are all women. Here, the titles of women are usually “XX dog” and “menstrual stuff”. They are not called people, let alone treated as people. What is even more shocking is that most of the female victims are minors, even babies.

South Korean netizens believe that “Room N” is the most dehumanizing case in the 21st century. Because this is not a crime committed by a single person, but a crime under the gaze of 260,000 pairs of eyes, these 260,000 silent audiences are also the murderers of this tragedy.

1. Because men have an advantage in physical strength

From a physical point of view, men are on average taller and stronger than women, and can beat women physically. Men have physical advantages. This is the natural anatomical inequality between men and women, and it is also the physiological basis for men to commit sexual violence.

2. Because sex and violence are physically and psychologically closely linked

The connection between sex and violence is first reflected in biology. For example, human sexual impulses and violent tendencies are all related to the same hormone-testosterone; both are related to the important neurotransmitter-serotonin. Both violence and sex involve high levels of excitement in the autonomic nervous system and stimulate the pleasure and reward systems in the brain.

For another example, neuroscience research has found that in male rodents, the neuro-brain circuits of attack and mating overlap a lot. The genetics of rodents and humans are very similar, so their neural processes are usually very similar to the human brain.

The connection between sex and violence is also reflected in our language. For example, some words that we use to describe sex also have the meaning of attack (for example, “Fuck” in English, which describes both sexual behavior and attack).

It is also reflected in the fact that boys of a certain age will tease and bully girls they “like”. For example, the teacher in “Jin Zhiying Born in 1982” said: “Boys are like this. The more girls they like, the more they will bully her.”

This connection is also reflected in some people’s preference for violent behavior (such as binding, whipping, scratching) as a means of sexual arousal.

Of course, human behavior is not only affected by biological factors, but also restricted by social environment and social identity.

For example, biology determines what we can eat. But society decides what we should eat.

Women are usually physically more vulnerable to attacks, but this does not mean that they should be targeted. The physical advantage of men does not mean that they can commit sexual violence.

3. Men who sexually assault women have certain characteristics in common

(1) They tend to have “toxic” masculinity, including distrust and hostile attitudes towards women. They believe that the relationship between men and women is hostile, and that men have the right to dominate and control women.

(2) Holding inhumane sexual concepts, including preference for frequent and casual sexual relationships, and using sex as a game and competition of conquest, rather than as a way of establishing emotional intimacy.

(3) Repeated sexual offenders usually have strong anti-social personality characteristics. In clinical diagnosis, they may be antisocial personality disorder, sexual perversion, pedophilia, etc.

(4) They hold “excessive perception bias”, that is, they misunderstand women’s friendliness as sexual interest.

(5) Supporting rape.

For example, they may think that “women who dress provocatively, drink alcohol, or go somewhere alone with men want to be raped”, “women can resist rape as long as they work hard”.

For another example, the participants in Room N in South Korea said online that they did nothing wrong, and the girls made even greater mistakes. But this attitude to support rape is not innate, nor is it genetically determined, but is caused by social culture.

However, the incident in Room N in South Korea involved more than 260,000 participants. Are they all psychopaths?

It is possible that most of them are normal people in the Korean social background. They may be police officers, teachers, government workers, ordinary people familiar to everyone, and followers of Korean social norms rather than anti-socialists.

In psychological research, we also found that most sexual violence occurs between acquaintances who are familiar with each other.

This raises the possibility that for these 260,000 people, sexual violence appears to be normal in its context. In other words, in explaining the incident in Room N in South Korea, social contextual factors may be more important than personal characteristics.

4. Psychosocial factors that led to 260,000 male groups in South Korea participating in sexual assault on women

(1) As pointed out by some media, the incident in Room N must be attributed to the long-standing misogyny culture in Korean society—this kind of morbid culture not only devalues ​​women, objectifies women, and even hates women, and Gain pleasure in bullying, humiliating, and assaulting women.

Korean women suffer from the triple oppression of the patriarchal system, chaebol capital, and hierarchical order. The result of this triple oppression is the “misogynistic” morbid culture, which has had a profound negative impact on Korean society invisibly.

(2) On a broader social and psychological level, in fact, many countries have problematic social scripts. Social scripting assigns specific roles and personalities to different actors and puts them on specific tracks.

For example, in the traditional gender order, “insertion represents power and domination, and being inserted represents passivity and submission”; “the role of women is to obey, and the role of men is to ensure that women are obedient.”

Such scripts define women as gatekeepers of sex, men as agents of sex, and then as potential offenders. For another example, rape myths are ubiquitous. Criminals twist women’s camisole or short skirts into sexual invitation signals to justify their violent behavior.

(3) Another problematic psychosocial factor is violent worship. At the level of consciousness, our society sanctions violence. But at the level of the collective unconscious, the opposite may be the case.

As the psychologist Hans Eysenck observed a long time ago, sex was to the Victorian era what violence was to our time. We formally condemned it, but actually rewarded and reveled in it.

Just like in Chinese culture, some parents use their children to express their love.

In American culture, the symbol of patriotism is the soldier, the symbol of personal freedom is the gun, the largest mental health system is the prison system, the most popular sport is football, and the most popular online game is the shooting video game, the most popular The entertainment show is a movie of superhero revenge.

Violence worship is the collective unconscious that allows and pushes men to sexual violence. Generally speaking, if you see a lot of violence, you will see a lot of sexual violence.

(4) The social pathology of “materializing” people. Some media and commentators have seen society’s objectification of women, such as men turning women’s bodies into props to satisfy sexual desire.

But what few people have noticed is that men are often objectified—not as tools of desire and reproduction, but as tools of labor and production.

In a highly competitive market system, workers (in fact, women) are usually regarded as a means to an end, and in the process are deprived of all humanity. This phenomenon is called workplace objectification in the literature.

Capitalists treat workers like the products of their factories: exhaust them and squeeze them out, then throw them away for new ones.

In our social culture, how many people think that the value of men depends on how much property they have, just as the value of women depends on how beautiful they are?

How much fear is hidden behind men’s hard work? They are afraid of being left behind, afraid of not making money and becoming useless objects. Objectified men are not very capable or motivated to treat women humanely.

3. The settlement of the incident in Room N in South Korea requires top-down and bottom-up strategies

Therefore, the reasons for the sexual violence involved in the incident in Room N in South Korea are not limited to the psychological perversion of certain individuals or the unique misogyny culture of South Korea. It also involves broader social and psychological factors.

Sexual violence is never a simple “one or the other” problem, but a complex “one or the other” problem.

Sex and violence are deeply intertwined in our physical and psychological composition. Sexual violence is formed by the dynamic interaction of biological, psychological, environmental, and sociocultural variables.

Therefore, there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to prevent the incident in Room N in South Korea from recurring and to solve the problem of sexual violence. It may not only need a top-down judicial reform to protect women and minors, but also a bottom-up approach to change social and cultural ills.

For example, individuals, families, and communities initiate dialogues and actions to create new social scripts and gender expectations, and ultimately form a new social consciousness.

In the United States, in response to the scandal of American gold medal producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulting multiple actresses, Alyssa Milano and others launched the Metoo campaign in October 2017, calling on all women who have been sexually assaulted to come forward and tell their painful experiences. Tags are attached to social media posts to arouse social attention.

In South Korea, angry people launched five petitions on the Internet, demanding that the South Korean government strictly investigate the scandal and expose the personal information of criminals. In just one week, more than five million netizens initiated and participated in the petition on the official website of the Blue House.

Important social changes often start from the grassroots, or need to be turned into powerful movements through the efforts of the grassroots.