The traditional rationale for prison rape is the lack of women, but most psychologists consider this facile. They see prison rape mainly as a means by which people who have been stripped of control over the most basic aspects of their lives—when to eat a meal, take a shower, or watch TV—can reclaim some sense of power. As one Louisiana prisoner, Wilbert Rideau, wrote, "the psychological pain involved in such an existence creates an urgent and terrible need for reinforcement of [a prisoner's] sense of manhood and personal worth." Others believe that prisoners become rapists out of fear of becoming victims themselves; it's a choice between becoming predator or prey. The psychologist Daniel Lockwood, in his study Prison Sexual Violence, calls this strategy "pre-emptive self-defense."
this got me to thinking about the theory's possible application as a way to explain why it is that male prisoner to prisoner rape happens much more prevalently than female prisoner to prisoner rape, and i came up with the following:
perhaps this article might help explain why men are more likely to rape or be raped by other prisoners than women are. (there's a fair amount of rape of female prisoners, but it tends to be done by male guards and not by other female prisoners. not to say that female prisoners raping each other is non-existant, just much less prevalant than male prisoner to prisoner rape).
meaning: since women's socialized role in society creates feelings of powerlessness, there isn't as urgent a need to try to take power when put into a total institution like a prison, because it's not as much of a transition from "little power over one's own circumstances" to "almost no power over one's own circumstances"... whereas men, used to having nearly total control of their circumstances, can be shocked by the transition and desperate to repair the shock by trying to gain some small control.
please note also i'm not saying anything about all women's agency [capability to make changes and choices affecting their destiny], i'm just generalizing that society still tends to teach women that they are not the authors of their own destiny, and that they should be comfortable with decisions affecting their lives being made for them.
[x-posted to my own journal, feministsanon, sexlessdemons.]