Monday, March 19, 2007

Who Is Really Trivializing Rape?

Apostate has written a post on rape which holds a position about other women which I believe comes from ignorance rather than malice. Here are some key elements:

I don’t like calling it rape if there is no trauma. [...]

Women are especially not always verbally clear about what they want. Men make assumptions from certain actions. [...]

To call what is merely bad judgment (and bad or unrecallable sex) rape is to trivialize this horrible traumatic damaging crime.

To call what is really rape merely bad judgment -- the alleged rape victim's bad judgment of course -- is to trivialize this horrible traumatic damaging crime. If someone is acting only on assumptions, a report of rape is accurate even if the victim is unconscious and therefore not emotionally traumatized during the rape.

Here's one of these "non-rapes" according to Apostate's definition:
A registered sex offender is accused of raping his 91-year-old neighbor at his Hamilton home after she became unconscious while drinking wine there. [...]

Upon regaining consciousness the woman found that she no longer was dressed, and that Rickert was standing over her, waving her underwear, court records state. An examination at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula found evidence of violent trauma.

Was this woman at fault for not being verbal enough about what she wanted? In this situation most people can clearly see the flaws in the victim-blaming/victim-denying rhetoric. That they don't see the flaws when the victim is 19 instead of 91 is their problem not the rape victim's.

Clarification: in this situation with the details from the alleged rape victim accepted as truth, even Apostate accepts that this was rape -- as I expected she would. The problem with Apostate's position is that in most cases these details are not accepted as truth such as when the victim is 19. Then it becomes much easier for the rapist to con people into believing that what was reported as rape was merely drunk sex and it wasn't his fault that she can't recall giving him consent.

And here's another example:
Prosecutors say the 53-year-old man sexually assaulted the woman after she had fallen asleep or passed out from drinking. She said she woke to find the man she considered a father figure assaulting her. [...]

Through a statement her mother read in the court, the woman described how she had begun to trust the defendant, who had taken her in, as a father figure, even though she had been molested until age 9 by her biological father.
No trauma or damage here, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong.

Clarification: again it is the accepting of the alleged victim's account of events and the nature of her relationship to the man that causes people like Apostate to accept that this was a sexual assault. This man could very easily have tried to spin this situation so that he was only responding to the victim's signals and that she was drunk, but not asleep or passed out. Look how he had been there for her when she needed someone and what does he get for thanks? A woman crying rape. This spin doesn't change the reality of what happened, but it does change how many people treat real rape victims.

There can be no excuses for rape. None. If you excuse rapists because their victims weren't traumatized to your satisfaction, you are part of the problem.

You are also vulnerable, especially if you are a woman. Maybe so far you have detected and deflected all of your would-be rapists, but if you assume this type of "rape" is only due to the woman's bad judgment you might not recognize rapists who are hiding their intentions from you until it is too late.

To see the flaw in this woman's argument even more clearly, read this reaction from Birdeye:

Bless you. Your command of logic and impartial observation is totally foreign to typical women in this country. If all women here thought like this, I’d (happily) be out of a “job” as an MRA.
When the rape apologists are cheering that should tell you something.

The core mistake in this woman's argument is the assumption that all reported rapes between people who know each other or who met in social situations involve 1) men who have innocently misunderstood what the woman or girl wanted or 2) women who truly and legally consented, but later wish they hadn't.

The reality for the majority of rapists is they are looking for situations where they can get away with taking what they want with no real concern for what the other person wants or doesn't want and little worry that they will be convicted of a sex crime or shunned by their buddies.

Most of these rapists likely have great disdain for their knife or gun-wielding counterparts and believe those other rapists deserve to be convicted (for stupidity, no doubt "smart rapists don't need a gun or a knife") and given prison time. I'm sure they also use opposition to "real" rape as a way to prove they aren't rapists.

Update: check out the comments for Apostate's response to this post and my response to that comment which address more issues related to the labeling of many alleged rape victims as people who love to be victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:01 AM   7 comments links to this post


At March 19, 2007 12:53 AM, Anonymous apostate said...

Apostate here. Clarification. I deliberately included the instance of an unconscious person who is raped. You seem to have missed that.

I also deliberately narrowed down what I was talking about: 'date situations that lead to drunken sex.' I also clarify that a rape is always - always - a man's responsibility.

I simply don't agree that everything that is being called 'rape' is actually rape. Rape - one of the most heinous, soul-destroying crimes there is - does not deserve to be trivialized in the hands of people who love to be victims.

At March 19, 2007 10:03 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Apostate, you did narrow it down and you didn't. In your list of what wasn't rape was unrecallable sex. Yet most unrecallable sex occurs because the woman is unconscious or so close to unconscious that it is sure to be unrecallable and the rapist knows this and takes advantage of it.

Date situations that lead to drunken sex is how many rapists spin what was in fact rape and what sometimes wasn't even a date.

Do you really think rapists are going to be honest in how they describe their behavior or the state of their alleged victims' consciousness or whether their victim in fact did say no?

What self-serving rapist isn't going to join in on the chanting of "It was just drunken sex."? After all, there are lots of people who will happily nod in agreement.

My examples were clearly rape to you because of some element I deliberately highlighted which would make them believable to you. Without the elements like age or the father-daughter nature of a relation you likely would have assumed the alleged victim simply "loved" to be the victim and must have been in some sort of date situation.

Every time you are wrong, and I believe it is nearly all the time, you are making a false accusation against a real rape victim and inflicting needless pain.

That's the reason I believe you got praise from a rape apologist. The term re-victimization wasn't coined for no reason.

At March 19, 2007 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I simply don't agree that everything that is being called 'rape' is actually rape. Rape - one of the most heinous, soul-destroying crimes there is - does not deserve to be trivialized in the hands of people who love to be victims. "

Or, in other words, it's only rape if you decide it is. And anyone who disagree obviously just "loves" being a victim. Arrogant, and selfish, not to mention entirely wrong.

At March 19, 2007 7:09 PM, Blogger Karma said...

Its great that you take this on. So many people hold these really problematic ideas about rape BECAUSE no one ever challenges them. You go!

At March 20, 2007 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apostate's comments about rape are nothing new. Does anyone remember Katie Roiphe's The Date Myth?

The only problem is that Apostate thinks that she is saying something new or breaking taboos or critiquing "cultural impulses".
There is nothing intellectually rigourous about Apostate's comment instead she makes up "current trends" ie. "As an example, the number of young college women who, when surveyed, report they’ve been raped, is outrageous."

Outrageous to whom? Why is it so impossible to believe. Obviously because of Apostate's "feeling" that women are confused about sex, rape and their bodies. Very strange. Then she says:

"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."

Where does she get this stuff. The last I read the woman is a paralegal not a rape counselor or sociologist. So where does she have the data to support this information. Nowhere!! She just decides that women like playing victims so trends in rape most be tied to this dare I say-personal attitude and prejidice.

It is ridiculous. Just like she is! Her misogny is nothing new. Then she complains about intellectual censorship. First you have to be saying something intellectual not "intutition based". It seems like she is the censor- censoring women's voice and right to name rape as rape. What a blubbering moron!

At March 21, 2007 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is always risky to ask a question in these debates, but here goes.

What if a woman perfers sex after drinking because, for example, she feels too inhibited otherwise?

At March 21, 2007 6:54 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anonymous, If someone is so inhibited that the person won't have sex until they are drunk, that person either has serious emotional problems or that person is impaired to the level of defenselessness.

Either way the other person needs to leave that person alone. This is true whether that person is male or female.

When it comes to consent, action can never be based on assumptions, guesswork or advice from friends.

The only thing that could alter this is if there is enough of a prior relationship so it is explicitly agreed that sex while drunk is A-OK.


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