Okay, I’ll admit the title was meant to get you to read on. While I agree with the underlying point of my title I do think we can blame rapists for their actions because they can choose whether to act on them or not.
So, now that I’ve [hopefully] stopped you from hating me immediately, let me get to my point. We are beginning to agree that we can’t choose our sexuality. We are born straight or gay. This video is a great look at that idea as it asks straight people (most of whom believe being gay is a choice) when they chose to be straight. So, if you’ll agree my central premise that we don’t choose our sexuality then I can move on to my next point.
Sexuality is about who or what we are attracted to; not just male, female, both, or neither, but also the way in which we are attracted to someone. Let me start out with something that seems to follow naturally in my head. If we can’t choose what gender of human we are attracted to, then who says that the person who is sexually attracted to animals has a choice? Yes, they have a choice as to whether to act on their desires, but they shouldn’t be judged for the desire itself if they were born with it and choose not to act on it.
In the same vein, we do not chose what type of person we are attracted to. Some people are attracted to those younger and some to those older. The people attracted to those much older than them are often viewed as gold-diggers but they don’t have problem, but those attracted to those much younger are pedophiles if they act on their feelings. That’s fair. I am not arguing that we should let pedophiles have relationships with children, but again I don’t think we can judge them for how they feel if they don’t act on it. And we do judge people for this. We judge men who like to look at porn of women pretending to be younger girls, but I think that this is much better than actually acting on the desires (I know porn is a whole separate debate).
So, we can’t choose who or what we are attracted to, and in the same way it would seem like we can’t choose what turns us on. Do you remember deciding that a certain thing turned you on? Deciding that you preferred handcuffs or rose petals on the bed? I’m not sure anyone really decides these things. They may choose to suppress desires that they view as not normal, or that are not reciprocated by their partner but I’m not sure they are chosen. At least I haven’t met anyone who tells me they chose their sexual preferences. If this is the case, what about people who are aroused by rape? By controlling someone, and sex without consent? Again, I am not saying that these people are allowed an excuse for acting out their desires but I am saying that we shouldn’t judge them for feeling that way; it isn’t necessarily something they can help. What if you were suddenly told you could only be aroused in a certain way? Could you just change that way?
The point I am making here is not that we should let people off the hook for these sorts of behaviors, but just that we should maybe consider that the people who feel this way aren’t at fault for feeling the way they do, just for acting on it. Often the people who feel this way don’t like it either, but we can probably all agree that it’s really hard to make our brain and our emotions do what we want.