Friday, February 26, 2010

Finding Fault In The Binary Of Guilt

In my post At fault for being a tease, slut or idiot? I addressed the body of the post Blaming the Victim over at Feminist Mormon Housewives. This time I want to focus on one of the comments.
Paul (#8) wrote:

I think that “blame” can be shared. I’m inclined to believe that someone who willingly goes to someone else’s apartment, into his bedroom (or invites him into hers), disrobes, gets into bed, and invites the other into bed, willingly engages in fondling, and then says “No” to sexual penetration, is a tease.

The law says that anything after “No” is rape. To my mind, this rape isn’t in the same league as forcing someone to engage in sexual intercourse.

In the first example, I would assign much responsibility to the woman - so much so that I would be unlikely to vote for conviction. The second example is the opposite: perpetrator bears entire responsibility.

The tougher cases - for which some would “blame the victim”: being out late at night, in the wrong neighborhood, wearing immodest clothing, willingly ingesting alcohol or drugs, making poor choices re “situations/circumstances/places/people” etc.

Unfortunately, the law is binary: either rape occurred, or it didn’t. The perpetrator is either guilty or not guilty. He can’t be “a little bit” or “mostly” guilty. The sex was either consensual, or it wasn’t. Not “mostly” or “a little.”
What Paul is advocating is viewing certain consensual actions of women as equal to the sexual violence of men. Any girl or woman he views as a tease is as bad as the men he acknowledges as rapists.

Once he labels a woman as a tease a man forcing her to engage in sexual intercourse is no longer in the league with a man who forces someone to engage in sexual intercourse. The same violence which Paul condemns as a felony becomes non-criminal.

This thinking clearly provides a road map for how a man can rape and have men like Paul be their accomplices in getting away with that crime.

Rapists and their attorneys love people like Paul. The defense attorney may need nothing more than the insinuation that the victim was a tease to get jurors like Paul to dismiss the evidence proving the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt as just so much noise.

If Paul's thinking is valid then it must be wrong that we have a binary system for all crimes including murder. If Paul walks in a good neighborhood during the day then the man who murders him from across the street without warning is fully at fault for shooting Paul to death.

If, however, Paul is in a bad neighborhood and swears at a mugger rather than immediately handing over his wallet then Paul is mostly at fault for being shot to death. The man who shot him with the intent to kill should not be convicted. Paul's logic tells us so.

Yet unlike the rapists Paul excuses, Paul most likely understands that both of these murderers are a danger to others. Paul's logic prevents him from viewing how the acquittal of certain rapists puts all those Paul views as blameless at greater risk of being raped. In Paul's worldview men who rape someone labeled as a tease can never be the same men who rape children or adults who did everything Paul believes they should do.

There is no evidence to support this worldview so when Paul would vote to acquit men on trial for rape who have been proven to have committed rape Paul has no way of knowing how many people he views as innocent will be subsequently raped by those rapists.

In this scenario would Paul be willing to assign as much responsibility to himself as to all of the rapists Paul would not convict who are serial rapists for all their rapes against those he doesn't blame? He clearly believes that non-rapists can equally share the responsibility for rape. If that belief is good enough for rape victims it must be good enough for men like Paul who would acquit known rapists.

Paul would most likely have voted to acquit a man who raped a woman he knew who agreed to be with him in his car and Paul's bias would prevent him from imagining that the same man could later abduct, rape and murder a Brigham Young University student.

All Paul sees is a major fault in viewing all rapists as guilty of rape because of Paul's harsh opinion of many rape victims.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:41 AM   5 comments links to this post


At February 26, 2010 10:41 AM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Paul's claims are not new because our patriarchal society has for centuries held women and girls responsible for supposedly causing men to engage in unwanted sexuality with them. Note: I say 'unwanted sexuality activity' because patriarchal society deems only the most extreme form of male on female rape -rape all other cases are viewed as non-rape.

Strange is it not that men are not commonly held responsible for partial blame when another male physically assaults or robs them. Nor are men held accountable if their car is stolen or their property is stolen. Instead it is viewed as a crime.

But then - the justification for men raping women is always framed as men supposedly having the inalienable right of 24/7 sexual access to any woman or girl, unless our patriarchal system views such acts as 'real rape.'

What about the innumerable men who believe they are 'god's gift to women' and so all women must automatically succumb to the man's sexual demands. Are not these men engaging in sexually provocative behaviour wherein they impose their notion of sexual allure on to a woman irrespective of the fact she has not the remotest interest in him. Ah but that is once again a case of deflecting attention away from male accountabilty and on to women's - because women but never men are responsible for preventing men from raping them.

Just who defines whether or not a woman/girl is a 'sexual tease?' Last time I checked it was still male-defined since men commonly view women and girls as sexually available 24/7 and just by a male looking at a woman/girl he can immediately define she is 'leading him on.'

That excuse is centuries old and is not only women-blaming it is misogynistic because our patriarchal system has always defined women and girls as 'sexual objects' never as autonomous human beings.

At February 26, 2010 1:23 PM, Anonymous gidget commando said...

That guy sees women as things to be used by men. Things that have no rights to safety or autonomy if the poor widdle fella they happen to be near at any given moment gets a boner. Because the almighty boner rules, of course.

Pardon me while I puke in utter disgust again.

At February 27, 2010 10:47 PM, Anonymous Acey said...

So, according to the commenter, a woman has no rights to set limits on sexual activity? To be okay with fondling or oral sex, but not okay with intercourse? There's no stop between being out of the bed and in the bed?

When I first dated my husband, I decided I'd be more comfortable making out on my bed than on the sofa. So I said, "This is not an invitation for sex. However, I'd be more comfortable doing this on my bed with more room than out here." And then we went into the bedroom and made out. Later on that evening, I decided to have sex with him, but that had not been my plan originally -- a couple of hours had passed. I explained my sexual violence history and my need for explicit consent.

Last year, my husband actually said to me, "But saying 'this is not an invitation for sex' is totally an invitation. I knew I was going to get sex. That's not something you say if you're not going to have sex. You wouldn't have invited me into the bedroom."

I was blown away.

And this is the same guy who sexually assaulted me -- and raped me once-- in my sleep. I totally get the connection now. Entitlement.

At February 28, 2010 5:55 AM, Blogger Alison said...

Oh good Lord. I just flashed back to the start of my relationship with my husband. Seven months of kissing, fondling, playing and never the assumption that sex would automatically follow. It was all the things that Paul listed, and no intercourse, and I trusted him completely. It was a big deal to go that far, for both of us, even though it would be my first time. Even when I said I was ready, he said not yet. What if...?
What if I had collected one of those ridiculous people who think they're entitled to whatever they want? What if he had looked at me in that way? I see and hear so many people ask for things as if to say "Why don't I have this already? I deserve this, don't I?!". It's as though you're committing some crime against human rights by not giving yourself whatever you want.
Ee. Gad. It's breeding entitlement. Is this going to be the "Because I'm worth it" generation?

At February 28, 2010 9:58 AM, OpenID gapingwhole said...

Your logic is impeccable, however, his position is entrenched further than just in the jury. Think of cases or accusations where young girls go to the bar underage, get drunk, go home with some guy and end up crying rape. Look at the wording I used there... that is the exact sentence someone (another woman) told me. Even implicit in the structure is that she is making a false claim as an excuse. Would the same be done if a man was claiming this? Regardless, these kinds of cases are almost unanimously thrown out as they are too difficult to prove.

We've got a lot of system fixin' to do.


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