A woman who says she was raped is not allowed to use the terms “rape,” “sexual assault,” “sexual assault kit,” “assailant,” or “victim” in her testimony at trial. Describing the incident as she experienced it is, apparently, prejudicial. Calling it “sex” or “intercourse,” though, isn’t. A law professor had an interesting take: “It’s like saying to a robbery victim, ‘You can’t say you were robbed, because that’s a legal judgement. You can only say you gave your stuff to the defendant,’” she said. “That’s absurd.”
There’s been a lot written about the power of naming and the right to identify your own experiences. There is a huge difference between “sex” and “rape.” Rape is indeed a legal term, but it’s also a colloquial one, and it does have a very different meaning than “sex” or “intercourse.” This woman is being legally compelled to use someone else’s words to describe her experience — words that she believes misrepresent what happened to her. She believes that calling it “sex” amounts to perjuring herself.
There must be rules about what kind of evidence and testimony is relevant and admissible in court. But this isn’t about an extraneous issue — this is about her accusing someone of rape, and her testimony as to what happened during the alleged rape. Using the term “rape” or “sexual assault” is a crucial element to her position; if it was sex as we generally understand it (i.e., consensual) then there was no rape and the whole case is moot. Taking away her right to name her experience undermines her entire case.
(Someone sent me this link but I cannot find the email. Thanks to whoever that was, and if you want to mention in the comments that you sent it, I’ll give you proper credit).
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- Drunk women can consent to sex by Jill March 27, 2007
- So Naomi Wolf is just trolling at this point, right? by Jill January 7, 2011
- Fat chicks should be glad someone would want to rape them in the first place by Jill May 22, 2007
- Sigh. by zuzu April 27, 2006
- Jack Shafer didn’t satisfy the jackass quotient? by evil fizz October 31, 2006