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Why Has Humanity Always Fantasized About the Capture and Rape of Women?

Misogyny’s deepest roots are exposed in the endless repetition of stories about capture and rape.

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Castro is a deeply disturbed criminal, but he is not an alien. The sensationalistic coverage of the Cleveland kidnappings, with its rapt attention to every lurid detail, every particle of torture, expresses both our horror at the criminal’s actions and our voyeuristic participation in his fantasy. The comforting notion that we are only trying to understand brutality erases the shared guilt we feel in suspecting that a whole host of psychological, cultural and political structures in our society reinforce the idea that a woman is an object to be taken and owned, a bit of prey to be hunted, a temptation whose behavior can suddenly spark a man’s animal nature. The focus on the criminal’s punishment – will he or won’t he get the death penalty?  -- promises the counterpart of the “happy ending” in the slasher film. And yet once the criminal has been brought to justice, the vicious dynamics of power, the negligence of the legal system, the visual culture dependent on tormented female bodies, and the lingering curse of patriarchy itself, remain largely undisturbed. 

But no matter, soon we’ll get to see the made-for-TV movie.

Lynn Parramore is contributing editor at AlterNet. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of "Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture." She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.