Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Non-Reported Rape Equals No Rape?

The Apostate has a follow up post about her definition of rape which I challenged here. Her post is long, but this statement contains the deepest flaw and is, I believe, the foundation of her position.

We fought to broaden the legal definition of rape. Now let’s actually use it: If your rape is not even remotely reportable, it’s probably not rape.
This position is not only wrong it is dangerous. It is also contradictory.

This statement is arrogant in the highest degree and turns her into the arbiter of other people's trauma. She doesn't comprehend their trauma or their reason for not reporting, therefore they must have had no real trauma and no sensible reason for not reporting a rape other than the fact that their claim would be proven to be false.

Note: Apostate let me know she distinguishes between non-reported rapes and not-reportable rapes, but I view that distinction as problematic at best. Who gets to decide what rapes are not reportable and why? Many times a rape isn't considered reportable by the victim because that person expects to be called a liar or to have the report ignored because she can't prove she was raped.

Rapists will take this idea of non-reportable rapes and use it to their advantage. The majority of rapists try to game the legal system and anyone who will give them tools to do so.

The fact that a rape isn't reportable for any reason doesn't magically make it not a real rape. That I point out what Apostate says and disagree with her completely isn't a personal attack on her. If it is then she is participating in a personal attack on all those girls and women who say they were raped, but whom Apostate says are not rape victims.
As an example, the number of young college women who, when surveyed, report they’ve been raped, is outrageous. A fraction of these cases have any basis in fact (judging from how few of them are reported). Most of them are ambiguous situation ‘rapes’ and there isn’t much aftermath for anyone, except that the woman uses the ‘rape’ as emotional leverage.
She is judging these college women and declaring that most of them suffered no trauma based solely on the difference between the number of self-identified victims of rape and the number who report that crime. She justifies her not reporting her rape, but refuses to acknowledge that these women had reasons that were just as valid as hers.

What I see as outrageous is the number of rapes still being committed and the number of people who lash out at certain groups of rape victims while letting their rapists completely off the hook.

End note.

The bottom line is that if a boy or a man knows his victim isn't likely to report him, then he can tell himself that what he wants to do can't be real rape. Not according to people like The Apostate who oppose all real rapes. And if some women "love to be victims" of rape, who is he to deny them their heart's desire?

The impact on his victim stops being a factor. Her real trauma becomes immaterial. If he doesn't have to think about it, then all that matters is getting what he wants. In short, he's been given permission in this situation to be a psychopath.

The real problem here isn't that unreported (or so-called unreportable) rapes aren't real rapes, the problem is that most rape victims don't report because of responses like The Apostate's.

This creates a nasty cycle. People don't report their rapes because of the backlash. Then those responsible for the backlash justify their harsh treatment of these victims because most of these victims don't report their rapes or are hesitant to report. Continued attacks on those who say they were raped stop new victims from reporting. And so on and so forth.

Get a group like her on the jury for a rape committed in a dating/social situation and the odds go way up that even with overwhelming evidence, the defendant won't be convicted and the victim will be branded a liar. What genuine rape victim wouldn't eagerly volunteer to take that chance?

This isn't just my opinion. This is an observable, heartbreaking reality. At least it breaks my heart. I can't speak for The Apostate or others who agree with her.

The contradiction in The Apostate's position comes in her touting of the broadening of the legal definition of rape. In theory her definition of rape is broad, but in reality it is narrow and jagged.

The Apostate agrees based on the details of the case I quoted previously that the 91-year-old woman was indeed a real rape victim. However, what I didn't quote was this: "Authorities say the woman was raped March 3 and did not contact police until urged by friends."

According to The Apostate's statement (quoted above) that means that this 91-year-old woman probably wasn't raped. If she had really been raped this woman would have known her rape was reportable and would have called the police on her own.

The ugly reality is that the backlash against rape victims is so great from those who claim to be against all real rapes that a 91-year-old victim is afraid to report her rape.

Now, The Apostate may claim that I am twisting her words, but what I'm trying to do is untwist them. She may be so entrenched in her point of view that no facts or experiences which I can talk about will penetrate as anything more than "blah, blah, blah" or man-hating lies or wallowing in victimhood.

That's a shame. And it is hers -- not mine or that of other rape victims she refuses to believe.

Update: After I posted the previous section (which I stand by 100%), I read further that she has been a victim of rape and my heart goes out to her for what she has experienced. She wrote:

I’m fully recovered [from gang rape at age 20], and I don’t talk about it because it’s not the funnest subject. It’s not exactly painful because I’m rather desensitized around it. This is something I have never really heard from other rape victims, so perhaps it’s just me, but here’s how it happened. Before I had been so personally exposed to it, I’d always had a woman’s (especially a Muslim woman’s) all-consuming obsessive fear of it: Around every bend was lurking a rapist. If I read about it or saw it in a movie, my reaction was visceral: my pulse would quicken, blood rush to my face, weakened knees, and an uproarious rage.
Being desensitized is a coping mechanism, but it isn't the same as being fully recovered. Been there done that, called myself recovered. But I wasn't. Not deep down and that wound -- even seemingly locked permanently away -- popped up in ways that seemed irrational at the time. I hurt innocent people back then. Other people who weren't nearly as innocent as they pretended to be used my emotional state to hurt me. Frankly, I'm lucky to have lived through the aftermath of my rape.

This explains to me why when she hears other women talking about their rapes which occurred in social situations that she doesn't get it. It also explains why she clings to the idea that if women just make sure not to send the wrong signals to the men around them that they won't have unwanted sex or won't have experiences they call rape with any of these seemingly normal men.

The problem is that feeling safer and more in control doesn't always mean being safer or more in control. That's why I said her attitude makes her vulnerable. The signals she sends of non-consent can be received with perfect clarity by men who will pretend they received a clear signal of consent while knowing that their lie will be accepted as the truth by many people -- both men and women.

What I'm trying to do isn't wallow in victimhood, it is to cut through the bad-judgment bullshit and expose the denied rapes for what they are. One person's decision to exploit another person.

The irony is that the statement of hers which I quoted above is one that the man who molested her in a dress shop at age 9 would likely tell himself. He would also mirror her statement about there being no trauma.

She was victimized by those who bought into the ugly cycle of victim blaming and victim denial and now she is continuing that cycle. And I'm trying to stick my foot out to break the cycle's momentum. I'm sorry if that hurts her, but this is about more than her and it's about more than me.

I don't live in constant fear of rape. Any fear of rape I had before I was raped was directed away from my greatest sources of potential rape. What I do live in is a constant awareness of it and the attitudes which foster rape -- even when they don't mean to.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:24 AM   1 comments links to this post


At March 22, 2007 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. She is quite a character. Anyone who identifies rape in a situation *she* doesn't think is rape "loves being a victim" and are "touchy". People call out her misogynistic bullshit, and make it quite clear why she's 100% wrong and now she's crying "ad hom!"

What a gigantic hypocrite.


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