I've lost count of the number of times people have referred to me and others who are raped by someone they know as someone who was "date raped" in a way that makes it clear that they believe that what happened wasn't a real rape. The clear assumption is that none of those "date rapists" are truly violent people who deserve to be charged with any crime. Sometimes these people will be "generous" and say that what happened to some of the more worthy "date rape" victims was deplorable.
What they fail to acknowledge is that the key difference between those who rape someone they know and someone who rapes a stranger is strategy.
Those who minimize the majority of rapes by calling them "date rape" judge rapists based on the actions of the victim, often with the assumption that the victims must know before being raped that the person who will rape them is a rapist. This thought process mirrors that of rapists who also minimize their actions and who use the actions of their victims to justify rape. "She willingly got in the car with him" is little different from the soon-to-be rapist telling himself, "She willingly got in the car with me so what I'm planning is her fault, not mine. My intentions are written all over my face. Only someone who wants it would sit there so serenely."
Many of these "date rapists" likely use the exact words of non-rapists who minimize "date rape." If a rapist is going to hear my words before a planned "date rape" those words are, "If you don't stop, you are a violent criminal who deserves the same punishment as those you call real rapists. If you do this you are no better than the rapist who breaks into his intended victim's house. Show some character and stop right now."
For this I frequently get called a radical (or worse) who doesn't know what she is talking about.
Which brings me to a recent gang rape case in Washington state that has gotten attention primarily because the 16-year-old girl identified 2 of her 4 rapists to the police through those boys' MySpace accounts. But there is more to this case. She willingly got into the car with the boys and for many people that's all they need to hear to decide this couldn't have been a serious crime.
From the Seattle Times:
Police got a search warrant for MySpace.com records and found descriptions of the attack. "The messages included details of the assault ... and confirmed that four males were involved," Detective Carl Kleinknecht said.
In other messages, two suspects and other recipients exchanged ideas that included possibly killing the girl if she went to police, concocting a cover story and even boasting of the attack.
These messages make it clear that at least 2 of these teenage boys who committed "date rape" knew they had committed a serious crime and they weren't ashamed of their actions. Notice that any victim blaming they had planned would be a well thought out lie meant to protect themselves from legal accountability.
The discussion of murder between "date rapists" and their friends cannot be dismissed as idle talk since 2 of these rape defendants have been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.
Those who minimize "date rape" helped these boys decide that this girl was an acceptable target because she trusted them.
As long as the minimizing and victim blaming continues "date rapists" will continue to feel that they are doing nothing wrong and that they are not violent offenders.
If these boys and their friends hadn't written about this crime or if the police hadn't found their words, I'm sure many people would scorn this girl as someone attempting to ruin 4 innocent lives by lying to protect her reputation. Some people will likely still blame this girl because they need to do this to keep from feeling remorse for their attitudes about other victims of "date rape."
For these people, the victims of "date rape" must be at fault or they must be seen as liars. Otherwise, they would have to acknowledge that they have sided with real rapists and compounded the harm done to real rape victims. That's a personal responsibility they will dodge with every fiber of their being. In their world view personal responsibility is for "date rape" victims only.