Rape is an act of violence and humiliation that is expressed through sexual means. It is an act that is used to express power or anger. Usually, in cases of rape, ‘sex’ is not the appealing factor; it is largely used as service of nonsexual needs such as displacement of anger or rage and feeling in control. Numerous explanations have been offered to explain rape in humans – learning or enculturation, mental illness, personality differences, drug and alcohol use. However, these factors alone cannot explain the existence of such seemingly complex behavior. The above mentioned factors may increase the likelihood of rape, but cannot explain the complex organized behavior seen in rape.
Rape is the product of a specialized psychological adaptation and is a byproduct of other adaptations in the mind of the offender. These adaptations are a result of attitude formation that the offender has been conditioned to since a young age. Attitude formation largely results from learning. Classical conditioning and social learning at a young age may predispose an individual to carry forward regressive beliefs that are already present in the environment. This causes an attitude shift within the society at large. The concept of women as property or chattel, without sexual rights has a tribal, feudal history that extends from prehistoric times to the present, being passed down the generations. It is no wonder then why rape is stimulated through the cultural representation of women as objects or property over whom ownership is validated, if not willfully then by force and coercion. The sense of entitlement in rapists makes them view women as economic burdens who are not to be treated as equals in male dominated societies. This prejudice is based on simplistic overgeneralization which in turn gives way to stereotypes, where women who work late hours are labelled as immoral.
Rapists usually are men who misread cues given out by women in social situations and may lack the inhibitions that act to suppress associations between sex and aggression. They may also harbor coercive sexual fantasies and are different from other men in terms of impulsivity and antisocial tendencies. A realistic sense of inadequacy through the mechanism of reaction formation is depicted as an exaggerated sense of masculinity. Rapists are incapable of nurturing relationships and their need for sexual violence is also associated with a preference for impersonal sexual relationships as opposed to emotional bonding with many sexual partners and with the inclination to assert personal interests at the expense of the victim. There is evidence to suggest that sexual violence is also a learnt behavior in some adults, particularly as regards child sexual abuse. Alcohol and other drug consumption, having a need to control or dominate women, having anti-social tendencies, having been raised in a strong patriarchal family and having less empathy towards others are some of the factors that predispose a man to turn into a rapist .