According to the sexual preference hypothesis, men commit rapes because they are more sexually aroused by coercive sexual fantasies and behaviors than by sexual activities involving two consenting adults (Barbaree, 1990). Partial support for this hypothesis is provided by Lalumière and Quinsey’s (1994) meta-analysis of 16 phallometric studies; the authors concluded that “Rapists, as a group, respond more to rape cues than to consenting sexual cues in comparison to non-sex offenders, and non-sex offenders prefer consenting sex to rape” (p. 16). However, rapists exhibited a mean rape index greater than one (indicating a sexual preference for rape) in only nine of the 16 studies. Such results indicate that not all rapists have a sexual preference for rape. Furthermore, the proportion of rapists with such a preference varies considerably from setting to setting, from as low as 25% in a correctional institution (Beauregard, Lussier, & Proulx, 2004), to as high as 61% in a maximum-security psychiatric institution (Michaud & Proulx, 2009). Consequently, although deviant sexual preference is an important explanatory factor for rape, it is not relevant for all rapists (Barbaree & Marshall, 1991). Models of sexual aggression against women take into account not only deviant sexual preferences but also a variety of cognitive, emotional, and situational factors. For example, according to Marshall and Barbaree (1990), the proclivity to rape results from the interaction of: (1) a sexual preference for rape; (2) an antisocial personality profile characterized by impulsive behaviors and a lack of empathy; (3) neurological and endocrine impairments; (4) transitory disinhibitory factors, such as pornography, alcohol, and negative emotional states (e.g., anger, humiliation, anxiety, loneliness). Similarly, Hall and Hirschman (1991) developed a quadripartite model of rape that includes the following factors: (1) a sexual preference for rape; (2) cognitive distortions that support coercive sexual activities; (3) antisocial personality disorders; (4) inadequate coping strategies for negative emotional states. More recently, Ward and Beech (2006), in their integrated theory of sexual offending, suggest that “biological inheritance”, “proximal and distal ecology”,
and deficits in neuropsychological functioning interact to cause clinical symptoms that favor sexual aggression. These symptoms include a sexual preference for rape, emotional problems such as impulsivity, poor emotional control (e.g., anger outbursts), the use of sex as a coping strategy, cognitive distortions, and social difficulties. Cognitive distortions that favor rape include both specific beliefs such as “Women dressed sexily want to be raped” and the underlying schemas that produce them (implicit theories). Polaschek and Ward (2002) identified five implicit theories in rapists: (1) women as a sex object; (2) women are unknowable (women are abusive and manipulative); (3) the male sex drive is uncontrollable (men commit rape because they are sexually deprived); (4) entitlement (men’s sexual needs must be fulfilled by women because they are superior to them); (5) dangerous world (people are allowed to punish those who treat them unjustly) (see also Beech, Fisher, & Ward, 2005; Beech, Ward, & Fisher, 2006). Finally, social difficulties are another clinical symptom that favors rape. These difficulties include deficits in the social skills necessary to develop intimate relationships, loneliness, low social self-esteem, and insecure attachment styles. The three models of sexual aggression described above highlight the fact that a diversity of factors contribute to the proclivity to rape. However, none of these multifactorial theories specify which types of sexual aggressors against women present which combinations of factors. To clarify this issue, three typologies of sexual aggressors against women-by Gebhard et al., Groth and Birnbaum, and Knight and Prentky-will be discussed. These typologies, as well as the pathways models presented in Chapter 2, address the diversity of offending processes present in sexual aggressors against women. According to Robertiello and Terry (2007),
the general theme of all classification systems is the identification of whether the rape was motivated by sexual or nonsexual needs; if sexual, whether it was motivated by sadistic desire; if nonsexual, whether it was motivated by anger, hate, or a need for control and power.