Friday, November 20, 2009

Fundamental Conflict Between Rape As Crime Second Only To Murder And Proceeding When Other Person's Willingness Not Certain

Since I started blogging over 3 and half years ago I have watched many people who claim that rape is a crime second only to murder or who use some other way of expressing that they find rape to be horrific quickly shift the focus away from this belief to finding most victims of rape to be at fault for their own rapes.

This gives us statements such as inviting trouble, deserved rape and many other statements which put the responsibility for rape prevention and most rapes onto potential victims.

The claim that rape is second only to murder if mentioned again by these people is used only to dismiss certain rapes because they don't seem horrific to that person. But there is a fundamental problem with this maneuver.

If a person truly believes that rape is horrific and is absolutely opposed to rape then that person will be sure never to commit rape and won't leave their fate as a rapist or non-rapist to chance or probability or within another person's control.

If something when done to a stranger is horrific (stabbing, for example) then it will still be horrific when done to a non-stranger. When this is not the case then the crime itself is not considered horrific at all by that person.

Even so-called non-horrific rapes have measurable long term consequences to the victim beyond STDs and pregnancy. Rape has serious physical health (pdf) and mental health consequences including the increased risk of the victim later committing suicide. This contradicts statements frequently made by rapists and their defense attorneys that being convicted of felony rape is an unjust punishment for an act which was over in minutes or a little longer. The act of murder can be over in seconds, but that doesn't mean the impact of this crime is over just as quickly.

If people truly believe rape is horrific they won't dismiss it as if it has no real consequences for certain victims.

Because of my rape at age 15 I like many rape survivors abused alcohol in an attempt to cope with my trauma and at around the first anniversary of my rape I came dangerously close to dying of alcohol poisoning. The events of that night would not have happened if I hadn't been raped. My boyfriend's decision to rape me twice almost killed me. But many people still dismiss the seriousness of my rape because, "it was just date rape."

People who believe rape is horrific will never be dismissive about the consequences of rape and will hold onto their belief that rape is horrific no matter what. Even the possibility of committing rape will be absolutely horrifying.

When people truly believe that rape is horrific then guessing that proceeding won't be rape will be seen in the same way as guessing that a gun is unloaded before aiming it at another person's heart and pulling the trigger.

Few people would ignore all those who "accidentally" shoot someone they know while looking for any excuse to blame the person who was shot. But many people excuse those who rape someone they know and don't care if that rape victim later commits suicide because of that rape. "The date rapist didn't mean to kill her he just wanted sex that she was withholding unfairly," would be an intolerable excuse if rape was truly believed to be horrific.

They wouldn't need to view the person holding the gun or the person who rapes as evil to condemn that person's behavior and demand that this practice stop immediately. They wouldn't limit themselves to teaching children what to do the next time someone tries to rape them or points an allegedly empty gun at their heart.

When another person seems likely to consent someone who truly believes that all rapes are horrific will find it imperative to make absolutely certain that the other person has freely consented before each sexual action. Miscommunication will not be a possible cause of rape for these people because if rape is even the slightest possibility that will be enough to stop them.

Losing out on potentially consensual sex will be an acceptable price for ensuring that nothing they do harms someone else. Learning later that in an iffy situation that someone was freely consenting will be fine because that is better than learning later that in an iffy situation that someone was NOT freely consenting.

Living with a missed opportunity will be better than living with the reality of becoming a rapist.

This belief doesn't lock boys and men into fear anymore than understanding the importance of treating every gun as if it is loaded locks people into fear. This belief means that the person will not interact with anyone else sexually as if they are an object. Instead they will learn to integrate verbal and non-verbal communication into their sexual interactions and will learn to avoid situations where another person's freedom of choice is limited. Sex will be something they do with another person and never to another person.

When rape, with no exclusions and conditions, is truly believed to be horrific then those people don't need to be sold on the importance of them making sure what they are doing is fully and freely consensual.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:42 AM   1 comments links to this post


At December 03, 2009 1:08 AM, Anonymous Quercki said...

An interesting analogy.


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