A recent poll in South Africa revealed that one out of three men admits to having committed rape.
One out of three. One-third. That’s 33% of men in South Africa who are self-confessed rapists. Since a few might have felt squeamish about admitting such a crime, we can probably safely assume the percentage is even higher.
Think about it. Imagine that one out of three of your male neighbors has forced someone – woman, child, man – with his penis. Of every three male co-workers, one is a rapist. At the supermarket, big box, gas station, church, you see three men and know that, statistically, one of them has violated another human being.
If three hundred men attend a concert, one hundred rapists have entered the arena.
How does a society function with such a degree of mental ill health?
If one-third of men believe in their entitlement to exert power and control to enter another person’s body, and the other two-thirds are not up in arms about this – believe me, there’s no mass uprising by South African men shouting their anger over such shame – how does society even deal with such harm?
Because these men don’t stop with once. If they get off on force, they continue to use force, and greater force, and more ghastly force, in an effort to feel good. To feel anything, really.
Which means that if you’re a woman, or a child, or a vulnerable-looking man, you go about in a state of terror. All the time. Not one-third of the time, because that one-of-three can pop up in your life at any moment. As you check the mail. When you walk to work. While you pay for bread and milk.
Yet because terror is a hard emotion to sustain (Holocaust survivors are proof of it), and adrenalin eventually runs out, what happens is even worse. Fatalism sets in, or even apathy. One goes about one’s business hoping that horror won’t hit, knowing it might. Hoping then that one can go on living. Hoping that one can eventually push pain into a waiting place, a hold-all for horror.
When over half a country’s population must be on the alert against a third of the remaining half; when a third of men freely admit that they’ve committed dreadful crimes; when any man you meet could be one of them . . .
How does such a society heal?