Monday, October 06, 2008

A Reality Rape Denialists Don't Want You To Accept Without Getting The Violent Man's POV

From Mail on Sunday: The rape debate: 'I was drunk, so was it my fault?' by Sarah Lassiter:

More than 20 years have elapsed since I drank too much at a party and woke to find a stranger attempting to rape me, but the sensations are seared into my memory.

The weight of him pinning me down, the smell of his smoky breath, the jolt of nausea as I registered where his hands were.

Recently there has been a justified outcry over the revelation that rape victims have had their compensation cut by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, because they had been drinking before the attack.

That man intent on rape revealed the violence behind his "non-violent" rape attempt when his intended victim fought back.

My friend, whom I've known since I was seven, gently led me and her younger sister – also the worse for a surfeit of Lambrusco – up to one of the bedrooms, and laid each of us on a bed covered in a layer of coats. [...]

I woke struggling for breath, hot and confused because a dead weight was bearing down on me, far heavier than a few anoraks, and I was unable to move my lower body or legs. [...]

Amid my revulsion, some primitive self-preservation instinct kicked in. A pulse of fight-or-flight adrenalin jerked through my system and I somehow found the strength to rear up, screaming, hitting out, thrashing my legs.

Shocked, he jumped off and angrily tried to restrain me, pushing me down again. I threw myself at him in terror-fuelled rage, trying to scratch him, hurt him, but my flimsy blows hit the wall repeatedly, until my nail beds were bleeding.

By now it was clear that he wasn't going to be able to keep me quiet or overpower me, so instead he lifted me up – I weighed less than eight stone, so it wasn't difficult – and carried me out on to the landing. Then he hoisted me as high as he could and threw me down the stairs. Because he was bigger and stronger. Because I wouldn't let him rape me.

Despite witnesses who saw this man throw her down the stairs, calling the police was considered futile because of the common and hostile judgments police would make about the victim.

She did what all of us who are too shocked or scared to fight are told we should have done and she's lucky she landed on furniture which cushioned her fall and left her with only cuts and bruises.

I wish this woman's experience surprised me, but unfortunately it doesn't.

Yet so many people continue to automatically side with rapists when they attack the credibility of someone who was raped after drinking. Their official excuse is innocent until proven guilty, but that's just an excuse since those people don't view the rape victim as innocent until proven guilty.

It isn't drinking itself which makes so many rapists so bold, it is the dismissive attitudes about the rape of those who have been drinking or who do anything which can be criticized. Those who make excuses for the sexual violence of men like the one who threw a woman down the stairs help give those rapists the confidence they need to commit their crimes so boldly.

Those in the deepest denial will demand that we never judge rape cases from the alleged victim's perspective. We must instead judge rape allegations solely by assessing the situation from the alleged rapist's perspective.

This results in rapes and rape attempts being judged without consideration of whether someone was actually raped or whether that person was actually the target of a rape attempt.

Under this victim denial model of crime assessment, rapes and attempted rapes must be judged solely by whether the alleged rapist or alleged attempted rapist might feel like what he (or she) did wasn't rape or wasn't a rape attempt.

If a rape or attempted rape can be rationalized or excused as a misunderstanding by the person committing or trying to commit rape then under this victim denial model that means we must refuse to accept that there was a rape or attempted rape even if it can be determined factually that someone was raped or was the target of a rape attempt.

If we used this victim denial model in car theft cases, the only question would be: Could someone think of what they did as borrowing a car? If the answer is yes, then that person should be acquitted since sending someone to prison when all they wanted to do was to borrow a car would be an injustice.

Those who follow the victim denial model will read this woman's experience and because they dismiss her perspective on the actions she reports as irrelevant to assessing this man's behavior, they will be able to see this man's decision to pick her up and then throw her down the stairs as an act of self defense.

He was having what he believed to be consensual sex (she'd been drinking, she didn't say no and was on a bed, duh!) when for no reason he was violently assaulted by her. Instead of seeing him as the perpetrator of an attempted rape of an unconscious girl, this victim denial model causes them to see her as someone who launched an unprovoked attack. Remember, she struck the first blow. Until then he wasn't being violent (from his perspective which is the only one which matters).

For this twisted interpretation to hold up in those people's minds, the idea that rape isn't always an act of violence is required. He wasn't trying to rape her, he was just trying to have sex with her.

These too pervasive attitudes are why a rapist can be having a friendly, casual chat one moment and attempt rape a few moments later.

This transition from safe guy to rapist is made easier if these rapists accept the dangerous idea that normal heterosexual sex is one where verification of consent is unnecessary and unwelcome and where willing girls and women say yes by being vulnerable, say yes by saying no, and say yes by blocking physical advances so they don't appear too eager and where the only genuine no is a girl's or woman's physical absence.

These attitudes are also why so many rapists can be genuinely shocked when the police do take their rape or attempted rape seriously and why they can feel like the true victim when they are rightfully convicted of the crime they committed.

These attitudes also explain why some people call surveys about sex crime victimization invalid.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:03 AM   2 comments links to this post


At October 06, 2008 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will repeat what I have said in some previous comments.

When a woman is intoxicated, whatever the reason, she is helpless. Common human decency says, one human being who encounters another, helpless, human being, should try to help and protect the other, regardless of why the other is helpless. One who attempts or has intercourse with a helpless woman violates basic human decency. Intercourse with an intoxicated woman is rape.

I think it ironic, in the western world, the law of war requires that a soldier protect an enemy combatant on the battlefield when that enemy is helpless. When a woman is helpless because of the circumstance of intoxication, the law seems reluctant to say, That woman should be protected against sexual assault.

At October 06, 2008 10:24 PM, Anonymous Mara said...

Men just don't want the world to know what lousy depraved inhuman creeps they are. I remember my rapist got really mad when I posted blogs on my site years ago expressing how much emotional pain I was in without mentioning his name or anything specific to him. A year later he sent me an email admitting that what happened was rape and he was sorry and that he had done it to other girls. It was okay for me to know it was rape, but he didn't like the idea of the rest of the world hearing about it. So long as I knew and he knew it was okay but as soon as I started posting on my public site he blasted me with angry messages. These guys are messed up. Denial runs deep.


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