Thursday, May 6, 2010

So who exactly can be convicted of rape?

Recent news coverage, namely this article, has seriously pissed me off. Apparently, skinny jeans are the new chastity belt. According to a court ruling in Australia, any woman wearing them cannot possibly be raped, as they are impossible to remove unaided by the wearer. The government should distribute them to all women and the world will be a safer place. No, really.

Stupidity aside (I'm sure anybody can see that a 6.5st woman can easily slide out of a pair of skinny jeans), this case throws another hurdle at rape conviction, with UK conviction rates standing at a horribly pitiful 6%. It also places the onus directly on the victim, as her clothes are subject to scrutiny in a way that the accused's clothing is not. I wonder, what exactly is the ideal outfit for a woman to wear in order to convince your jury that you were in fact raped? I know from past trials that short skirts and thongs (scandalous!) mean you are 'asking for it,' and you'd better scrub up your sexual history since that will be subject to some lengthy scrutiny. Not to mention your internet history. Because if you have shown any form of promiscuity, sexual desire, or just stayed silent, you probably consented to sex with just about anyone.

Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture? Why is it that victims of rape must go through such an ordeal in order to convince a jury that they have been raped? I am sure many people will look at the above example and feel that the woman in question was not in fact raped, since she openly discussed a group sex fantasy with some strangers online. But what the jury misses in this case, and in all of these cases is this: REGARDLESS of what a woman wears, fantasises about, says (or doesn't say), if she does not consent, it is rape. The woman even explicitly states that she only wanted to have sex with one of the men, but was then raped by the others. How dare the woman discuss her fantasies while also claiming autonomy over her own body? I suppose if I were to fantasise about group sex - even rough group sex - it would be acceptable for my boyfriend to invite his friends over to rape me? And it wouldn't be rape, either, because my sexual liberty means I am open to all sexual encounters and have no say over the boundaries of my own body.

When is this victim blaming system going to be abolished, with the focus placed directly on the rapist in each case? It seems so obvious, but in reality this is not what happens. There is all this chat about the 'grey area' where we can't tell if a woman wants to have sex or not. You know, if the area really is that grey, chances are the person in question is not ready or simply does not want to have sex. Do not pressurise, drug or ply this person with drinks. Do not mistake silence for consent. As others on the blogosphere have already pointed out: only "yes" means yes. It really is that fucking simple.

1 comment:

Kevin McDonagh said...

It's good to see you posting. I am also constantly angered by those who confess an inability to control their compulsions. Blaming anyone but one's self for acting upon a compulsion is pathetic. It's like blaming chocolate for children's teeth decay, fast food for obesity, and cigarettes for lung cancer. People must acknowledge they are not powerless against urges. If a woman is beautiful, naked covered in honey, riding a rodeo bull with attached strap on, this is not plausible acceptance for rape.

The inevitable alternative has been seen with some of the cited examples. A nanny state which helps it's citizens shirk responsibility bans/penalises the blamed goods (cigarettes, fast food). I for one would be worse off without honey, naked/beautiful women and strap ons. So I appeal to all those miserable aliterates who can't resist urges and in fact sympathise with any provoked rape. Take the responsibility to admit you are the problem.