Saturday, July 28, 2007

The good old days -- for rapists

So often I hear people lamenting the good old days before rape and sexual abuse became so common and permeated the news.

The problem with this lament is that the good old days weren't so much better except for the majority of rapists and sexual abusers. The rape laws were by and large designed with the intent to protect so-called good men from being prosecuted for harming the women and children around them. Yet at the same time there were more laws restricting who could have fully consensual sexual contact and what parts were to be used where. What we might call ick-factor laws. Infidelity laws showed the self-interest of the law makers when the punishments for the wives who cheated was different and more severe than the punishment for husbands who cheated.

So while there was an official higher level of morality, there was an overt acceptance of immorality. Rape of a spouse was a family matter which meant that everyone else was supposed to ignore it. We see that in the old laws which explicitly exempted maritial rape from the rape laws. In some jurisdictions raping your spouse is still legal and often viewed as acceptable because spouses gave blanket and irrevokable consent when they signed the marriage certificate.

Think about what these "good" old days did to the victims of sexual violence. Only those radical feminists who are still being scorned today -- often by people who call themselves feminists -- dared talk about sexual violence committed by those who didn't lunge at joggers or kill their rape victims. Others who didn't talk about sexual violence often continue to scorn those people for not being inclusive enough. But people can't expose what they don't know is happening. It was the so-called rape-crisis feminists who first dared to speak the unspeakable.

Without them I'd still be locked in my silent torment. So in a way I guess there was some good in those good old days.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:00 AM   1 comments links to this post


At July 28, 2007 11:46 AM, Anonymous Andrew Odlum said...

It is really amazing to look at what people accepted or ignored in the past. One would think that something as atrocious as sexual abuse would always have strong laws to prevent it. It is sad that these laws have only really been enforced for a short time.



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