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Date published: 9/1/2002

USTIN, TEXAS--It is not surprising that we want to separate ourselves from those who commit hideous crimes, to believe that the abominable things some people do are the result of something evil inside of them.

But most of us also struggle with a gnawing feeling that however pathological those brutal criminals are, they are of us--part of our world, shaped by our culture.

Such is the case with Richard Marc Evonitz, a "sexually sadistic psychopath" in the words of one expert. What are the characteristics of a sexually sadistic psychopath? According to a former FBI profiler who has studied serial killers: "A psychopath has no ability to feel remorse for their crimes. They tend to justify what they do as being OK for them. They have no appreciation for the humanity of their victims. They treat them like objects, not human beings."

Such a person is, without question, cruel and inhuman. But aspects of the profiler's description fit not only sexually sadistic psychopaths; slightly modified, his comments describe much "normal" sex in our culture.

Look at mass-marketed pornography, with estimated sales of $10 billion a year in the United States, consumed primarily by men: It routinely depicts women as sexual objects whose sole function is to sexually satisfy men and whose own welfare is irrelevant as long as men are satisfied.

Consider the $52-billion-a-year worldwide prostitution business: Though illegal in the United States (except Nevada), that industry is grounded in the presumed right of men to gain sexual satisfaction with no concern for the physical and emotional costs to women and children.

Or, simply listen to what heterosexual women so often say about their male sexual partners: He seems interested only in his own pleasure; he isn't emotionally engaged with me as a person; he treats me like an object.

To point all this out is not to argue that all men are brutish animals or sexually sadistic psychopaths. Instead, these observations alert us to how sexual predators are not mere aberrations in an otherwise healthy sexual culture.


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