Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interconnection of Rape Denial and Minimization Statements

Amanda at The Sexist highlighted these 3 claims which she then debunked:
- “Yes means yes” is dangerous in a world where “no means no”
- Women exploit rape laws to criminalize consensual sex they later regret
- Some rapes just happen on accident
As I saw these theories grouped like this something clicked which led me to write the following comment:

Thanks for taking on these 3 statements. I believe they are tightly interconnected in many people’s thinking and behavior.

“Yes means yes” is the most dangerous to rapists who work to prevent victims from saying no or who lie when their victim did say no. They want the public and the police to believe that their victims are the exploiters and the rapists are the victims of a crime which happens when rape victims go to the police. And they need the belief in accidental rapists in case all that denial fails to hide the truth.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:27 AM   6 comments links to this post


At November 11, 2009 9:37 PM, Blogger LadyJtalks said...

Scary to think and read this. You could have written this post 40 years ago and it would be believable. ladyJ

At November 13, 2009 6:42 PM, Anonymous Sasha, CA said...

Hmm, I actually had a couple of issues with Amanda's post. I kinda doubt that any rape victims "secretly liked it" and although she says that isn't the point, arguing that "a person [who] routinely has sex with people without their consent . . . may catch a few victims who 'secretly liked it'" still perpetuates a very dangerous pro-rape meme. But the part that really blew me away was her assertion that "acquaintance rapes are absent of any obvious malicious intent." WTF?!? I'm a woman who was brutally raped, tortured, and threatened with death by an acquaintance (not a date), and I can't believe a feminist, particularly one who has written some fairly enlightened stuff about rape in the past, would argue that the guy who did this to me didn't have any "obvious malicious intent"! I learned later on that he was also a suspect in the disappearance of a 17 year-old girl, another acquaintance of his. No "obvious malicious intent" there either, I suppose. I'm used to non-feminists having idiotic, preconceived ideas about rape -- especially non-stranger rape -- that have nothing to do with reality, but I didn't expect a feminist to buy into the nonexistent distinctions that supposedly separate acquaintance rapes from stranger rapes.

At November 13, 2009 8:28 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Sasha, I assumed she was only addressing the mythology, but you make a good point about how her approach could support people's beliefs in pro-rape memes.

My rapist/boyfriend had no obvious malicious intent from his perspective. In fact he presented his motives as purely positive -- to show me how much he loved me. But his total disregard for me as a full human being with the same rights as him was malicious.

At November 14, 2009 4:54 AM, Anonymous Sasha, CA said...

My rapist/boyfriend had no obvious malicious intent from his perspective.

Yes, that's what I think Amanda meant, but it's still hugely problematic because it plays into the misconception that acquaintance rapes are very different from stranger rapes. Many (most?) people view acquaintance rape as less serious than stranger rape, not just because the perpetrator is known to the victim, but also because they incorrectly associate only stranger rapes with the commission of other felonies (e.g., kidnapping), extreme physical violence (severe beatings, torture, mutilation, stab wounds, etc.), death threats, murder, serial offenders, and yes, the belief that the rapist has obvious malicious intent. Of course that's BS. Many so-called date rapists are actually serial rapists and countless women have been raped, tortured, and murdered by casual and not-so-casual acquaintances. Personally I have a problem with all attempts to classify some rapes as *more serious* than others (including laws that call for harsher sentences for rapists whose victims are minors) because the flipside of that argument is the very dangerous belief that some rapes are *less serious* than others. We just saw that recently in the Richmond gang rape case: Had the victim been just a year younger, all the guys standing around and watching the rape without lifting a finger to help the victim would have been guilty of a crime. California law is essentially saying that the rape of girls and women over the age of 14 just isn't as serious as the rape of girls aged 14 or younger, and that's a dangerous message to send in a rape culture like ours.

At November 14, 2009 8:29 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Sasha, I agree that the view of some rapes as less serious is dangerously wrong. We need to be careful not to reinforce misconceptions when we refer to the way rapists and denialists can rationalize that a rape shouldn't count as a serious rape.

When people have milder responses to rapes merely because the rapist or rapists were non-strangers then they are helping those rapists commit their crimes and get away with them.

At November 24, 2009 5:09 PM, Blogger Be_the_Survivor said...

I believe thats absolute bull! Some women might believe in saying those things, but you should face consequences that you have made choices for. I was raped at age nine too scared to tell anyone, but that doesnt mean I made it up for attention or that I "secretly enjoyed it". No rape victim can ghet over anything, but the panic.


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