My Blog__ Tit for Tat

September 27, 2011 | By

Stabler, Benson, Cragen, and Cabot, from Law and Order: SVU


Have you ever threatened castration? AKA. "If you ________, I'm going to cut your dick off." Well what would it take to make you actually do it? Turkey’s ruling party is considering implementing chemical castration as a punishment for sex offenders and pedophiles. Well, if you cut off a rapist's dick, will he no longer be a rapist?  If Icould watch any two people debate this issue, it would be Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson, of our beloved Law and Order: SVU, something tells me Stabler would be pro-castration.

It's important to get some of the terms straight here. Physical castration removes the tissue in the testicles that produce testosterone, not the whole enchilada. Chemical castration, as grotesque as it sounds, doesn’t actually entail genital skin melting. Chemical castration requires rapists to take prescription hormones that suppress the production of testosterone to drastically diminish their sex drives. Does taking daily pills to adjust your hormone levels sound familiar to anyone? Perhaps the ladies out there who are boning guys with no intent to procreate? Not so drastic when you think about it that way.

First impulses are probably telling you to say, "those pieces of shit deserve it."  And on some levels, I agree. But we need to be able to think past first impulses and consider what is at stake. Rape isn't just about sex, it is about power, control, harming others and being dominant.  Curvature notes that the conflation of rape with high testosterone levels makes it seem like the will to rape is inherent within natural manliness. Rape is not natural, and being anti-rape is not the same as being anti-man. Castrating sex offenders also ignores the fact that rape is not limited to men putting penises into women, rape can be done with other body parts, to other body parts, and with other objects.

This is a debate that's going on in Turkey, but one that applies to politics happening on home soil too. Republican senator, Emmett Hanger pushed to have physical castration implemented in Virginia's sex crime legislation, but omitted the clause from the bill after being pushed by opposing committee members.  Well, Emmett, castrating sex offenders shifts the focus of sex crimes away from respecting and protecting victims. It becomes about making the rapist into a spectacle. It’s an antiquated, tit-for-tat method of punishment that hinges more on revenge and the satisfaction of the blood-thirsy public eye than it does on justice for the victim or crime prevention. That is all too Foucauldian for me.

Taking measures to prevent sexual violence requires education programs that help change perceptions about rape myths (ie. rape = testosterone).  State money should be spent on victim-support programs rather than punishment for offenders.  And perhaps, most fundamentally, we have to advocate for the rights of women and children, who are the most common victims of sexual violence.

Ruling: castrate that bill.

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