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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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49 Responses

  1. Scorpio
    Scorpio January 3, 2007 at 8:53 pm |

    Oh very nicely done.

  2. Meredith
    Meredith January 3, 2007 at 9:30 pm |

    Fantastic piece, but I’m pretty sure it came from Tyra, not Tanya.

  3. Betsy
    Betsy January 3, 2007 at 9:35 pm |

    Yeah, what Meredith said.

  4. kje
    kje January 3, 2007 at 10:32 pm |

    I remember a piece very similar (identical even?) to this from when I was in college. Let’s just say it has been around a while *cough*. That being said, I do think that attitudes towards stranger rape have improved over the past *gulp* twenty years. This basically consists of a transformation from “she was stupid so it can’t be rape” to “even though she was stupid, it is still rape.” I AM NOT SAYING THAT EITHER OF THESE POSITIONS IS ACCEPTABLE, just that the second is preferable to the first and I think the use of this scenario may have helped make that progress happen.
    However, since most rape is acquaintance rape, a more pertinent comparison might be, how do police handle it when someone reports that their ex-lover stole their computer (for example)?
    We (my husband and I) have been victims of two crimes committed by people we know over the past 18 months – house broken into/car stolen by former babysitter and her mom and check embezzled by school secretary. In both cases, questions of consent were raised by the police. HOWEVER, they were asked respectfully, as if they were formalities – even sort of apologetically (perhaps recognizing how betrayed were feeling) – like we know that if you’d consented you wouldn’t be reporting this as a crime (duh) but we have to ask.
    My point is, are there crimes more comparable to acquaintance rape which the police do handle well which could be used as models, both for the police and rhetorically?

  5. jennie
    jennie January 3, 2007 at 10:33 pm |

    Very nice. I may have to re-post.

  6. r4d20
    r4d20 January 3, 2007 at 11:34 pm |

    Clever. I’ll have to remember it.

  7. thegirlfrommarz
    thegirlfrommarz January 4, 2007 at 7:10 am |

    Okay, I had a go at updating this for the rape by an acquaintance scenario:

    “Mr. Smith, a large sum of money was taken out of your wallet by a friend while it was in your house on the night of 7th January?”
    “Yes.”
    “Did you struggle with your friend?”
    “No.”
    “Why not?”
    “I was in shock, I never thought he would steal from me. And I thought I might get hurt – if he was willing to steal from me, he might well be willing to hurt me.”
    “Then you made a conscious decision to let him take the money rather than to resist?”
    “Yes.”
    “Did you scream? Cry out?”
    “No. I was afraid.”
    “I see. Have you ever been robbed before?”
    “No.”
    “Have you ever given money away?”
    “Yes, of course–”
    “And did you do so willingly?”
    “What are you getting at?”
    “Well, let’s put it like this, Mr. Smith. You’ve given away money in the past–in fact, you have quite a reputation for philanthropy. How can we be sure that the money was taken from you against your will?”
    “Listen, if I wanted–”
    “You’ve given this friend money in the past?”
    “Yes, but I don’t see what that’s got to do with anything. I’d told him before I didn’t want to give him any more money-”
    “Never mind. What time did this alleged theft take place, Mr. Smith?”
    “About 11 p.m.”
    “You were alone with your friend in the house at 11pm? Why?”
    “Yes. I’d invited him round for dinner. He was a friend.”
    “Dinner? And did you have a few drinks with dinner? A bottle of wine, some beers…”
    “Yes, we had some wine – why does that matter?”
    “So you’d been drinking. Are you sure you didn’t tell him he could take the money? You know, maybe you were feeling sorry for him, feeling bad about telling him you weren’t going to lend him money any more… Are you sure you didn’t give him one last bundle of cash, out of sympathy, but maybe you’re feeling bad about it today?”
    “Hey-”
    “Maybe you’d had a few too many and it’s all a bit hazy? Are you sure you didn’t tell him he could have the money, but you can’t remember it?”
    “No! He stole it from me-”
    “What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?”
    “Let’s see. A suit. Yes, a suit.”
    “An expensive suit?”
    “Well–yes.”
    “In other words, Mr. Smith, you were alone and drunk late at night with someone you had previously given money to in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you had money, isn’t that so?”
    “Look-”
    “Where was your wallet at the time of the theft?”
    “It was on the table.”
    “Right out in the open, huh? Is it really surprising he got the wrong idea? I mean, if we didn’t know better, Mr. Smith, we might even think you were asking for this to happen, mightn’t we?”
    “Look, can’t we talkin about the past history of the guy who did this to me?”
    “I’m afraid not, Mr. Smith. I don’t think you would want to violate his rights, now, would you?”

    Constructive criticism welcomed…

  8. bean
    bean January 4, 2007 at 9:54 am |

    Yeah, this has been around (especially in Women’s Studies classes) for a long time. But, it’s still a good piece, and it’s still good to see it being spread around.

    It’s true, it’s not as much about acquaintance rape as it is stranger rape, but it does still show the lack of logic in many rape myths — like “women shouldn’t go out at night or she’s asking to be raped,” “a woman who has had sex before is a slut, and sluts deserve to be raped,” and “the way a woman dresses can incite rape.”

    I do like the revised version, too, though.

  9. jennie
    jennie January 4, 2007 at 10:26 am |

    I quite like the revised version: girlfrommarz. Nicely done.

    I really like the line of questioning about “Had you given money before?” I think establishing that Mr. Smith had previously loaned or given money to the thief does draw a nice parallel to acquaintance rape—if you’ve loaned money to someone and they take more, yes, it’s still theft, and nobody would argue otherwise.

    Coupla suggestions, just because in some places I was thrown out of the narrative when my back brain said “But who does that?

    Do men usually keep their wallets on the dinner table? I know guys often take wallets out of their pockets when they’re at home, ’cause wallets are bulky and all, but I’d have Mr. Smith say something like “I left it on the hall table.” (Or bookshelf, or whatever. Somepleace more likely to be a standard wallet-storage place than a dinner table.)

    I might not have him wearing a suit, either, if he’s home alone at night with a friend. Again, I’m a girl, I don’t know what guys do when they’re home from work, and the fashion statement doesn’t really matter, but most of the guys of my acquaintance ditch the suit when they get home. You could have him in a sweater, and have the questioner say “An expensive sweater, like the one you’re wearing right now?” and get the point across.

    Those are really venal little quibbles, coming from my editor-brain.

  10. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe January 4, 2007 at 11:21 am |

    Great stuff. This illustrates beautifully the absurdity of the “consent defense.”

    Every time an accused rapist says “She really wanted it,” all I can think is, “OK, stud, then how’d your ass land in court?”

  11. thegirlfrommarz
    thegirlfrommarz January 4, 2007 at 11:48 am |

    Thanks for the feedback, jennie – I was being lazy about changing the suit thing from the original (probably some kind of casual yet expensive clothes would work much better), and with the wallet, I was trying to find a way of replicating the “flaunting her body” stuff women get accused of (hence the wallet being just out there on the table in front of him, where it was “bound” to tempt him). Points taken.

  12. trillian
    trillian January 4, 2007 at 12:02 pm |

    I’m surprised I haven’t seen this before, but I’m glad I have now – it really helps to clarify the absurdity of the kind of resistance many rape victims are met with (and the absurdity of what some people feel compelled to say when the topic of rape comes up). Thank you for sharing it, and thank you girlfrommarz for your revised version especially, since acquaintance rape is the prevailing scenario. I wonder if it would be more analogous if Mr. Smith had been robbed by his wife or girlfriend, or if that would take it out of being an analogy altogether…or if that makes any sense. Thoughts?

  13. trillian
    trillian January 4, 2007 at 12:08 pm |

    I had been a little confused over the wallet sitting out as well. (sorry, that last comment wasn’t up when i posted my first one)

    with the wallet, I was trying to find a way of replicating the “flaunting her body” stuff women get accused of

    Maybe Mr. Smith just has really nice stuff all around, since it’s his house and he’s so rich. That could be construed as flaunting his money w/in this scenario. Hell, maybe his buddy took an antique vase (that would vah-z, because he’s rich) or something instead of cash…Mr. Smith had given him presents before, right?

    wheeee, getting carried away with hypothetical fictional scenarios…maybe less coffee this morning.

  14. Lean Left  » Blog Archive   » The Difference Between Attitudes About Rape and Other Crimes

    [...] bout Rape and Other Crimes by Kevin
    4th January 2007

    I think this sums it up very well.
    This entry was posted on Thursday, [...]

  15. mythago
    mythago January 4, 2007 at 1:40 pm |

    The dialog is more like what would happen on an episode of Law & Order than in an actual courtroom, but I guess that makes it more accessible.

  16. DAS
    DAS January 4, 2007 at 2:28 pm |

    I’ve actually heard this sort of thing in another context, which is in a way rather anti-feminist: i.e. as an argument as to why the wiminfolk ought to wear burkas or something — “you wouldn’t go around showing your cash loaded wallet to strangers on a dark alley, so why go around showing your legs” … or something like that.

  17. DAS
    DAS January 4, 2007 at 2:30 pm |

    The dialog is more like what would happen on an episode of Law & Order than in an actual courtroom – mythago

    You mean the TeeVee lied to me about what actual courtrooms are like?

  18. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon January 4, 2007 at 3:25 pm |

    You mean the TeeVee lied to me about what actual courtrooms are like?

    *Busts out laughing* Too funny!!

  19. Melissa
    Melissa January 4, 2007 at 3:31 pm |

    During the last semester of undergrad, I wrote a feminist op-ed column in the school paper. About half the angry emails I got were from rape apologists. One was a guy I’d known for years but tried to keep his response “anonymous” (shoulda known better than to attempt to fool a journalist). I replied to him with some hyperbolic scenario in which he wakes up to someone he didn’t wish to wake up next to. He seemed to get the picture.

    But I digress. It’s seriously, seriously fucked up that we (women) live in a society where soveriegnty over our own bodies is questioned for any reason or for no reason at all, and men and the state have more authority about what we do with our bodies than we do.

  20. libdevil
    libdevil January 4, 2007 at 4:50 pm |

    My only quibble is with the last exchange, in both versions. No, we can’t bring up his past history. We really don’t want to violate his rights. Even if we think he’s a bad guy. Having robbed somebody before is not proof that he robbed Mr. Smith. Just as having given away money before is proof that Mr. Smith wanted to give him money this time.

  21. Roy
    Roy January 4, 2007 at 4:57 pm |

    I replied to him with some hyperbolic scenario in which he wakes up to someone he didn’t wish to wake up next to. He seemed to get the picture.

    At the risk of sounding stupid: can you expand on this for me, because I, sadly, am missing the picture. =/

    But I digress. It’s seriously, seriously fucked up that we (women) live in a society where soveriegnty over our own bodies is questioned for any reason or for no reason at all, and men and the state have more authority about what we do with our bodies than we do.

    But this picture I’m absolute clear on. It’s definitely fucked up that we (women and men) live in a world where a woman’s soverignty over her body can be questioned for any/no reason.

  22. Sniper
    Sniper January 4, 2007 at 5:22 pm |

    I had been a little confused over the wallet sitting out as well.

    Man, I can’t count the times I’ve left my vagina on the hall table or in my other purse.

    This is not snark on thegirlfrommarz, by the way. I like your piece. I don’t know if one can get a perfect analogy to rape, though, because people who are robbed aren’t under extra scrutiny just for having wallets, unlike women who are raped. Does that make sense?

  23. libdevil
    libdevil January 4, 2007 at 6:47 pm |

    Ah, makes more sense when read that way, Jill. I missed that angle and read it as a snarky indictment of our civil rights, which I’m a little sensitive about in this era of unchecked “law-enforcement” abuses and rampant executive power. I agree that it’s pretty damned silly to admit the past history of a crime victim to assert that he or she is the sort of person who doesn’t deserve the protection of the law.

  24. ACS
    ACS January 4, 2007 at 7:14 pm |

    A lot of the questions that law enforcement officers ask rape victims — and they actually take forms much more invasive than the hypothetical “Mr. Smith” story — are due to the sorry state of rape law, and especially vestigal chunks of English common law that got imported, unchanged, into the American legal system. In order to be able to respond to almost any defense with any effectiveness, some of those questions do have to be asked: not to traumatize the victim, but to strip the defense of effective strategies.

    While educating potential juries is useful, there are basic issues with the crime as currently constituted that make it a difficult crime to prosecute even under the best of circumstances*. First, the fact that the physical evidence resulting from most rape is indistinguishable from the signs of consensual sex. Second, unlike any other crime, one of the elements of the crime is the temporary mental state of the victim (that is, consent), which is compounded by the fact that the actual physical act, sex, is an act which is frequently consented to without coercion. Third, because rape virtually never occurs in public (or, when it does, the “public” is often in collusion with the perpetrator), there is almost never a corroborating witness.

    Since the development of DNA matching has made attacking the evidence almost futile, this puts the prosecution’s entire case almost entirely on the victim. The defense knows this and exploits this. Without major legal reform, even in the absence of more abstract social patriarchy, this will continue to be the case.

    And, unfortunately, I have no ideas about how to handle it.

    – ACS

  25. ACS
    ACS January 4, 2007 at 7:17 pm |

    Right. I think the last exchange is to show how ridiculous it is to dredge up the past history of the victim, when as a society we generally agree that it’s not ok to do that even to an accused criminal. I don’t think it means that we should bring up the accused’s irrelevant past history.

    I think that in most jurisdictions, special evidenciary rules have been adopted to prevent that sort of evidence from being introduced? At least, the two jurisdictions I work in, that’s been the case for at least the past decade.

    – ACS

  26. Jay
    Jay January 4, 2007 at 7:51 pm |

    I think that in most jurisdictions, special evidenciary rules have been adopted to prevent that sort of evidence from being introduced? At least, the two jurisdictions I work in, that’s been the case for at least the past decade.

    Yes. Specifically, in 1978, the Federal Rules of Evidence were amended with the addition of Rule 412, which prohibits the introduction of evidence as to a rape complainant’s prior sexual history, either in general or specific acts, unless such evidence is introduced to address a particular claim of consent or other evidence. So you can still assert that the alleged victim consented on the particular occasion on which the rape is alleged, and introduce evidence to support that, but you can’t introduce general evidence of their promiscuity to suggest consent. Most states have adopted similar evidentiary provisions (though I’m not sure if all have). In any such jurisdiction, this line of examination would not be permitted in court.

  27. mythago
    mythago January 4, 2007 at 10:36 pm |

    The point of rape shield laws is to end the discussion in every single case about whether a woman’s past sexual history and so on is relevant, i.e. more probative than prejudicial. We don’t want some judges saying “Whether she slept with other men is irrelevant” and others saying “Whether she’s a slut is definitely relevant.” Rape-shield laws (which are evidentiary rules) come down to: The accuser/plaintiff’s sexual behavior is not relevant except in certain circumstances, which are set forth as follows. (For example: if there is evidence of recent sexual intercourse, and the defense is trying to show that evidence is from the accuser’s having had sex earlier in the day.)

    You wouldn’t believe how much rape apologists scream about them. Funnily, when you ask them why they aren’t as outraged about, oh, hearsay rules, they shut up.

  28. thegirlfrommarz
    thegirlfrommarz January 5, 2007 at 7:11 am |

    Just to be clear, I’m not a lawyer or trained in law, and I’m British, so I’m definitely not up on what likely lines of questioning would be in a real US courtroom (what happens in a Law & Order courtroom is another matter – I’m far more familiar with that than I should be!). I believe in the US the rape victim is treated as the complainant, is that right? I think under UK law, the rape victim is treated as a witness. I do remember a lot of discussion about that when The Accused came out (about how British women often assume that the system they see in US films and TV programmes applies to UK law, and feel very isolated when they discover they are only a witness and are not allowed to be present in court throughout the court case), so it may have been changed since.

    We do have laws designed to prevent a woman’s sexual history being dredged up in court in the UK too, but they’re also ineffectual – as evinced by our shocking conviction rate for rape (less than 6% of all cases that come to court) – not that I’m saying that’s the only reason why it’s so low.

  29. steve
    steve January 5, 2007 at 7:49 am |

    Sorry to put a counter point, and I am not trying to take away the horror of physical violation, But I have grown up in rough neighborhoods and have been told many times not to flash money around. A mugging is no fun either

  30. JackGoff
    JackGoff January 5, 2007 at 8:57 am |

    But I have grown up in rough neighborhoods and have been told many times not to flash money around.

    By police officers or the legal system after you have been mugged? And if so, did said police officers or said lawyers refuse to do anything about your mugging because you flashed said money?

  31. Reclusive Leftist » Blog Archive  » Because it bears repeating

    [...]

    January 5th, 2007 Because it bears repeating “The Rape of Mr. Smith” was posted in the comments at Feminist [...]

  32. Loosely Twisted
    Loosely Twisted January 5, 2007 at 9:32 am |

    Slightly OT, but I had to mention, in the analysis something clicked with me that should ALSO be in there that for custody or any other place where the law has to decide where responsibility should lie, is that past sexual history should also NOT count against you in those cases as well.

    They used my past rapes against me and said I had been in 3 violent relationships. . . .

    I let you think on that implication. That not only do you have to deal with the police not believing you and calling you a liar, but had you been treated in a facility designed to help you for your rapes, that that will be brought up on grounds it was your fault and your faulty judgement and have your children taken away 20 yrs later.

    Nice circular logic there. Now how do you defend against that? My sexist lawyer didn’t hear it, and was quiet during the entire tirade from the petitioner’s lawer. The judge actually told him to stop and well, it was already said and biased everyone present.

    How these things effect us, needs to be brought out into the open. People need to see the affects it has on women. All too often those of us who feel it, and live through it are too afraid to speak out, for fear of more reprisals and more people who scoff at our experiences as if their believe trumps those who live through it.

    Loosely Twisted

  33. Thomas
    Thomas January 5, 2007 at 9:43 am |

    The victim’s sexual history often is trotted out to prove that she is more likely than not to have consented,

    Jill, rape shield statutes do admit of exceptions, but most are narrow. I’m very familiar with New York’s, for example, and in New York, one of the exceptions is to show an alternate source for physical injury. That only goes to sexual history right before or after the rape.

    In fact, depending on one’s reading of NY law, it may be possible for a prosecutor to argue, “it must not have been consensual, since what woman would consent to a sex act like that,” even when referring to sex of a kind the complainant has engaged in consensually before. For example, IIRC in People v. Williams (I think this was Ct. of Appeals 1993, but I’m doing this from memory), the prosecutor argued that an encounter between one woman and four or five men must have been rape because women don’t consent to that. There was evidence that she had previously had a consensual encounter with a group of men, but the defense was barred from introducing it. So, in my view, NY law at least does not admit of much in the way of exceptions.

    If you have something specific in mind, tell us what it is.

  34. Thomas
    Thomas January 5, 2007 at 10:16 am |

    Jill, I found Williams, 81 NY2d 303 (1993). It says, in relevant part:

    The statutes put to rest the now-discredited rationale that a victim’s past “unchastity” is probative of present consent and recognized that such evidence is typically of little or no relevance and may seriously prejudice the prosecution of sex crimes (see, Ordover, Admissibility of Patterns of Similar Sexual Conduct: The Unlamented Death of Character for Chastity, 63 Cornell L Rev 90). At the same time, by providing exceptions to the general evidentiary prohibition of section 60.42, our Legislature acknowledged that there are instances where evidence of a complainant’s sexual history might be relevant and admissible.
    * * * *
    Defense counsel here proposed that the evidence of the victim’s prior group sex with black males would show her motivation for testifying against defendants. Though given a full opportunity to do so, counsel made no effort to explain how prior sexual conduct with other males would be probative of the complainant’s motive to testify — a connection neither apparent nor logical on its face. Nor did counsel suggest that the evidence might be relevant to the question of consent, even after the prosecutor expressly raised that as a possible theory during the colloquy. In short, counsel gave no explanation of why the evidence was probative, and the Constitution does not compel a court to proceed to a fuller consideration of the evidence until the proponent demonstrates some basis for its admission. The constitutional standard is one of arbitrariness. Here, the court acted reasonably.

    On this appeal defendants offer another theory of relevance: that the prohibited evidence was needed to counter a possible inference by the jury that no woman would voluntarily have sexual relations with three men she had met just hours before on the street. Though that theory was not expressly raised during the colloquy on the offer of proof or at any other time during trial, defendants point out that the prosecutor asked the jurors during summation to consider whether defendants’ account of the night’s events was “a little peculiar”. Defendants claim that at that point the court should have reconsidered its earlier ruling.
    * * * *
    Defendants do not allege, let alone demonstrate, that their alternate theory of relevance became apparent during either their case or the People’s. They cite only a single remark from the People’s summation, a remark which passed without objection or request for relief by them. … Here the new theory of admissibility remains unclear, even with the advantage of hindsight unavailable to the trial judge. Certainly the trial court did not act arbitrarily when, in the absence of an objection, it failed to discern a nascent due process or Sixth Amendment violation in a rhetorical question contained in the People’s summation.

    [Emphasis supplied.]

    So there we have it: the Court of Appeals says that weak or irrational theories of relevance to consent do not suffice to create an exception. On appeal, there was a btter theory: that the prosecution had argued that it was inherently incredible that the complainant would have group sex with guys she just met. But the Court held that the prosecutor didn’t even really argue this, so the trial judge’s decision was not arbitrary, and he properly kept the evidence out. Hard to argue with that.

    Now, if the prosecution were actually to argue, “what woman would consent to sex like that?” then prior consensual experience might at least present an argument — but then, wat prosecutor would argue, essentially, “good girls don’t” when the risk is unlocking the rape shield; so in my view that result is mostly self- curing. Certainly, Williams stands for the proposition that I can get fucked by a dozen men I just met every weekend, and if I get gang-raped by a dozen men, my consensual activities before do not come into evidence.

  35. ACS
    ACS January 5, 2007 at 10:52 am |

    The problem being that, in a court whith a judge committed to regularly violating rape shield laws, or interpreting them broadly, protections for the victim (like all victim protections) are only weakly enforceable. You cannot, for instance, appeal and overturn an acquittal based on evidence that should not have been introduced by the defense.

    – ACS

  36. Thomas
    Thomas January 5, 2007 at 12:24 pm |

    ACS, this is a byproduct of the fact that the criminal justice system is the state against the defendant. There’s no way to structurally change that without scrapping the Constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

    The real fix is to get rid of judges that want to make the rape shield statute weaker. In practice, since doing so helps criminal defendants, those judges have problems anyway — where they are appointed, prosecutors have political pull and want them off; while where they are elected, they are “soft on crime.” Plus, if judges get too wild in making exceptions, it cannot be fixed in the particular case, but the appellate courts can take the next appeal and knock down the expansive readings of the exceptions.

  37. ACS
    ACS January 5, 2007 at 1:06 pm |

    ACS, this is a byproduct of the fact that the criminal justice system is the state against the defendant. There’s no way to structurally change that without scrapping the Constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

    The real fix is to get rid of judges that want to make the rape shield statute weaker. In practice, since doing so helps criminal defendants, those judges have problems anyway — where they are appointed, prosecutors have political pull and want them off; while where they are elected, they are “soft on crime.” Plus, if judges get too wild in making exceptions, it cannot be fixed in the particular case, but the appellate courts can take the next appeal and knock down the expansive readings of the exceptions.

    You’re right, in that, on balance, I wouldn’t be willing to trade the principle of double jeopardy for more enforceable rape shield laws. Still, there are major institutional, legal, and, really, just basic epistemological barriers to the effective prosecution of rape. I don’t mean to devalue the importance of the attitudes in the system, but rape has been conceived of as a chattel crime as long as the crime has existed — you can even see it in the property-crime metaphors and analysis applied to rape (see also: “stolen virtue” and, hell, even the extended analogy that started this thread)

    What I meant to say is that in many ways, rape has an imperfect and mutable legal definition, and the elements of the crime, particularly “consent”, have a tendency to shift underfoot in ways that make it an extremely difficult crime to prosecute. The imperfect solutions we’ve come to — in particular, rape shield laws and victim’s rights protections — just don’t work correctly, especially as technological advancements in policing (especially robust DNA testing) have put an increasing amount of defense focus on the actual testimony of the victim.

    In this sense, I’m a bit of a technocrat, in that I believe that radical social change is necessary but insufficient — without competent solutions to underlying problems in the system, the legal system will continue to produce unjust results.

    – ACS

  38. Nick
    Nick January 5, 2007 at 2:19 pm |

    My thought on this is: why do we need an analogy to explain this to retarded knuckledraggers? Rather, why do they keep throwing up these random situations that are “the same as” rape?

    The analogous situation to being raped, for a man, is, well, being raped. Having your money stolen out of your wallet is a different crime than having your body violated.

    Of course, the reason that these nimrods liken rape to theft is partly that they see women’s bodies as property. It’s also partly that the idea of being raped themselves is so horrific and implausible that it’s not even on their radar.

    A woman who dresses attractively, goes to a club, and gets raped, is in no way similar to a man who goes to a bad part of town and gets mugged. It’s similar to a man who dresses attractively, goes to a club, and gets raped. If given the choice between being mugged and being raped, these men wouldn’t hesitate to choose the former.

  39. jennie
    jennie January 5, 2007 at 2:57 pm |

    Nick, the analogies don’t address the experience of being raped. Rather, this one (actually, these ones) attempt to draw parallels between the sorts of questions that women are frequently asked when they report a rape and the sorts of questions that surround other crimes.

    Nobody’s claiming that being mugged is anything like being raped, beyond the fact that in both crimes one person is a victim.

    It’s the blaming (or the absurdity thereof) that we’re comparing, not the violations.

  40. Nick
    Nick January 5, 2007 at 5:32 pm |

    Nobody’s claiming that being mugged is anything like being raped, beyond the fact that in both crimes one person is a victim.

    Nobody here is, and I’m aware of that. I was responding to the trope of comparing the two crimes that prompted these discussions, and I suppose i wasn’t terribly clear on that. Rape apologists are always trotting out some other, lesser crime as part of their “It’s just like if I did this” commentary, and I wanted to point out the underlying assumption that you have to come up with some other sort of crime to apply the scenario to men.

  41. Mister Nice  Guy
    Mister Nice Guy January 6, 2007 at 4:31 am |

    Loosely Twisted, I have to say that whatever the matter under discussion, it’s a bad sign when the judge is quicker to speak up on your behalf than is your lawyer.

    In fact, if I were a judge, in that situattion, I’d be tempted to say, “If you don’t start doing the job you’re being paid for, I’ll hold you in contempt and adjourn until Ms. Twisted gets herself a real lawyer. And if she complains about you to the bar association, I’ll testify against you.”

  42. Mister Nice  Guy
    Mister Nice Guy January 6, 2007 at 4:32 am |

    I read “The Rape of Mr. Smith” or something much like it in the early 1970s, about the same time as I read the other classsic commentary on how rape is handled in this culture:

    There is no difference between being raped
    and being pushed down a flight of cement steps
    except that the wounds also bleed inside.

    There is no difference between being raped
    and being run over by a truck
    except that afterwards men ask you if you
    enjoyed it.

    There is no difference between being raped
    and losing a hand in a mowing machine
    except the doctors don’t want to get involved,
    the police wear a knowing smirk,
    and in small towns you become a veteran whore.

    There is no difference between being raped
    and being bitten by a rattlesnake
    except that people ask if your skirt was short
    and why you were out anyway.

    There is no difference between being raped
    and going head first through a windshield
    except that afterwards you are not afraid of cars
    but of half the human race.

    Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing all of the time
    on a woman’s hunched back
    Never to stroll alone a sand road
    through pine woods;
    Never to climb a trail across a bald
    without that aluminum in the mouth
    when I see a man climbing towards me.

    Never to open the door to a knock
    without that razor just grazing the throat.
    The fear of the dark side of the hedges,
    the back seat of the car,
    the empty house rattling keys like a snake’s warning.
    The fear of the smiling man
    in whose pocket is a knife.
    The fear of the serious man
    in whose fist is locked hatred.
    –Marge Piercy

  43. mythago
    mythago January 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm |

    The imperfect solutions we’ve come to — in particular, rape shield laws and victim’s rights protections — just don’t work correctly

    Rape shield laws are another kind of evidentiary rule. They “work correctly” about as much as rules regarding hearsay or business records do. But you don’t often see people jumping up and down shrieking about how terrible the excited-utterance exception to hearsay is and the injustice it wreaks on innocent men’s lives.

    Also, how interesting that steve thinks merely being visibly female is the same as “flashing money”. Yes, not being in a burlap sack with an armed husband at your side, in public, is JUST LIKE waving a hundred-dollar bill under the nose of someone who makes that much money in a month.

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