Rape is evil, full stop. To my mind, there is no way to justify it, normalize it, or make it less repugnant. I believe you all agree. The last rape story I heard so heart-breaking. To this day, I wonder how I could empathize with such a degree of pain and carry on. It was about a girl who was raped by her own brothers. She was having her bath when one brother suddenly jumped into the bathroom and raped her. When he was done, the other brother came in and raped her again. She was 13 at the time. The rape continued for years until she got pregnant. Her parents then kicked her out of the house for “seducing her brothers”. Before you start crying, cursing and bemoaning the inhumanity of man, I invite you to ponder with me, the philosophy of rape.

So what does it take for a rape to happen? First, there has to be a person who wants something (in this case, pleasure) and has the power to take it. Then there has to be some other person who will suffer when this something is taken. Rape then occurs when one person, who wants something, and has the power to take it, goes ahead and takes it, at the expense and without the consent of the other.

The rapist never pauses to think about how the other person feels. I want it and I can take it, so I take it. In this unfortunate school of thought, self and pleasure to self, sits on the throne as president. As long as it pleases me, as long as it’s convenient for me, then it is good.

The mind of the rapist is inelastic, because cannot stretch to include the other, being self-centered. He thinks that personal satisfaction is paramount. It is a dehumanizing perspective therefore, because it does not ascribe to other human beings, the same value as it ascribes to itself. Lacking in capacity, it is both defective and myopic. The sad part is that is not just the philosophy of the rapist. From my observation, almost every human being agrees with this philosophy either in theory or in practice; the philosophy of me, myself and I.

When last did you lament about the state of affairs in Nigeria? Like five minutes ago right? Think about how corruption has destroyed our beloved country. I ask you, what is the philosophy of the corruption? Why would one man steal and stash 10 million dollars, when the children in his own village don’t have clean drinking water and die of malaria in droves? What does it take for corruption to happen?

To answer this question I will simply copy and paste from the paragraph above, without altering a single word. “First, there has to be a person who wants something (in this case, pleasure) and has the power to take it. Then there has to be some other person who will suffer and experience pain when this something is taken. Rape then occurs when one person, who wants something, and has the power to take it, goes ahead and takes it, at the expense and without the consent of the other person.” Compared to rape, the act is different but the philosophy is a twin; the philosophy of me, myself and I.

Whenever you encounter man’s inhumanity to man, look carefully and you will see the rapist’s philosophy, sitting pretty in the background. I am a bit amused when people condemn the rapist, not realizing they condemn one from their own family, who has same blood of selfishness running in his or her veins. And I’m even tempted to think, that this pattern of thinking is a fundamental characteristic of the entire human family.

In our pursuit of pleasure and “happiness”, we pollute the air, sea and land, and have driven several animal species into extinction. We, as a species, fail to take into consideration, the well-being of our own progeny, our own children who will populate the world in the future. Our overall tendency is to exploit earth, rather than preserve it. Why? Because we can. Because we want to. We have the power, so we abuse it. We are a race of rapists. We think of no one but ourselves.

But selfishness is rife among organisms and even makes evolutionary sense. After all, it is about survival of the fittest. Even the food chain is linked together by acts of selfishness. The lion kills the deer, inflicting pain and death, in order to feel the pleasure of satiety. Nature seems selfish, and we are part of nature. If selfishness is natural, why then do we cry out against rapist who epitomizes this philosophy? I wonder.

When asked what can be done about rape, interesting solutions are usually proffered. “Rapists should be punished severely”. Do we really think that punishment will stop rape? Perhaps it may suppress the behavior, leaving its root, the perspective, intact. And why is there still rape in countries with an effective criminal justice system? In my opinion, if we want to eradicate rape from the world, punishment will not do it. “Let us teach our sons to respect women”, some opine. So your son learns to respect women but becomes a corrupt chief judge, who accepts a bribe and acquits a rapist. And we are back to square one.

When we are ready to put an end to rape, then we would have realized that the true enemy is the rapist’s philosophy, which is the philosophy of selfishness. If this trait ever served an evolutionary advantage, it now is obvious, that for Homo sapiens of the 21st century, it has become an encumbrance to our collective evolution. If it is pulled out from the roots, only then will rape, corruption, tribalism, oppression, conflict, as well as every other vice it spawns, die with it. We need to replace it with a reverse philosophy; the philosophy of selflessness.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Do to others as you want them to do to you. Selflessness here is not the sort where one disregards one’s own welfare for the sake of another. It only requires you give EQUAL REGARD to your own needs and the needs of your neighbor. It means your satisfaction is important, and the satisfaction of THE OTHER is equally important. Selfishness is therefore an irrational inequality of regard, which leads to a skew in the use of power. It is this skew that makes use, abuse.

What if we are intrinsically selfish? If this trait is truly ingrained by nature and nurture, then a move to selflessness goes against the very fiber of our beings. Selflessness, therefore, comes at a price. It requires intelligent and balanced thinking. It requires that we do violence against the self and its basic tendency ̶ this inequality of regard that bloats and floats on sentimentality not rationality.

We have the capacity to change our own minds and herein lies the hope for humanity. Until we decide to so, and agree that the tendency selfishness is the real enemy, we must live together with our kindred from generation to generation. And the rapist we will always have with us.


Written By

Dr. Emmanuel A. Essien


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