Sunday, November 04, 2007

Guess Whose Fault This Is?

I know this is a little out of date - but it's only just come to my attention. Nauseating stuff.

He starts with an odd line "Isn't it time to acknowledge that it's beyond the capacity of the judicial process to deal with date-rape?"

So what should we do? Legalise date rape? So we'd be saying any woman who intentionally spends time alone with any man effectively consents to any and all sexual acts that he has the physical strength to force her into or indeed the cunning to trick her into (perhaps by physically incapacitating her in some way). Does he mean that? So in response women would have to take chaperones with them on all dates/business lunches/dental appointments/etc. Presumably male chaperones since a female chaperone might be construed to have shown up for a three-way date (and therefore three-way date rape). And of course the chaperones couldn't possibly be guys you weren't related to because what if you got stood up on the date - suddenly that's a new date with the chaperone. And don't bother telling me you should stick with people you trust - because statistics show people you trust do you a lot more harm than people you don't trust! So instead you'd have to pick someone you couldn't be dating - your dad or brother for instance...

Effectively you'd be restricted to never leaving the house without a close male relative. And imagine how many other social ills can be cured simply by LIVING UNDER THE TALEBAN!

In any case the idea that prosecution rates don't seem to be too hot so lets give up is hardly the approach. I mean Harold Shipman killed a lot of older women, it must be really hard to tell if a doctor is quietly poisoning some of his/her infirm patients. So should we legalise doctors murdering their patients? No we should take extra steps to prevent it.

He goes on to explain how all the measures attempted or called for are unfair or unworkable. For instance:

"If evidence about an accuser's lifestyle is ruled impermissible, jurors are left wondering. Might a supposed victim's behaviour indeed have seemed to imply consent? A victim whose lifestyle might have implied the opposite is denied the opportunity to get this across."

No - the point is that a victim's behaviour DOES NOT, CANNOT, and WILL NEVER imply consent. Consent is a process that is entirely specific to the individual situation. Having willingly slept with all ten outfield players from the local football team is not consent for the goalie to do whatever he wants to you. Defences in the past have tried to bias the jury by presenting the victim as promiscuous. Which doesn't seem to hold much water, what is a defence lawyer said "Your honour, the alleged victim often gave money to charity" and the jury would then acquit a poor person accused of robbing them!

And then he goes on what can only be described as a victim-blaming spree...

"When our houses are burgled, we're hardly more likely than rape victims to see the intruder end up behind bars. So what do we do? We fit locks to our doors and windows. We keep our valuables out of sight."

The low prosecution rate for burglary exists because often the perpetrators leave the premises without being seen by the victims or other witnesses, who may be asleep or not at home. We might however find that prosecution rates among those who know the name and address of their burglar are rather more impressive. And as to keeping valuables out of sight, we already know that rape is a crime of violence, rather than of sexual attraction. So-called "provocative dress" affects nothing. Is he calling for chastity belts? Or for women to disguise themselves as men so they're not seen as "available" for rape?

But of course his main point is that feminists are doing it all wrong!

"The insistence of feminist activists that the courts must provide the only solution to rape is surely political. They want a demonstration that the state backs women against men. Yet, in perpetuating the idea that women have no part to play in securing their own safety, campaigners are doing them no favours."

Like every feminist in the universe I think no rape is a better situation than lots of rape with a decent prosecution system. I think educating men and women about their rights and responsibilities is vital. I think a lot could be done, for instance, to address the media messages being sent out to men and women on the subject. Teaching women that rape is their fault and therefore men that they have a "right to rape" is not on my agenda however.

How telling then that he characterises feminism as wanting the state to side with women against men. On the contrary, feminism wants an end to any sense of there being an ongoing conflict between the sexes. Radically in this case they want to end the horror of rape.

And how is telling women that they shouldn't allow their lives to be ruled by fear, paranoia and self-blame somehow "doing them no favours"? Telling rape victims that they have only themselves to blame doesn't strike me as a big favour.

Who allows nasty pieces of work like that into print?


Unknown said...

"They want a demonstration that the state backs women against men."

No, we want a demonstration that the state backs women against rapists.
I thought it was supposed to be Them Crazy Feminists who kept getting the two concepts confused, not those rational level-headed male journalists.

Unknown said...

You've written a lot, used a great deal of hyperbole, argument by absurd analogy and capital letters but I don't acually think you've answered any of his points.
I read your blog because I'm interested in feminist argument, but this post is pointless.

Cruella said...

No actually Paul. For instance he's used an absurd analogy - comparing rape conviction rates with conviction rates for burglary. And I've pointed out how ridiculous that is.

And capital letters, well they highlight what I think are the most ridiculous points.

What do you think should be done to solve the problem of effectively "legal rape" in this country.

Unknown said...

Fair enough; it's your blog and obviously you can write what you want to in whatever style you like.

Clearly I'm not a feminist but I like to read commentary from as many different opinions as I can. I think it's a healthy thing to try and see things from different points of view, and I may not always agree with you, but sometimes you can make me see things from a feminist point of view and it changes my mind.
The main reason I stick around here is because the writing is usually of a decent standard; I think you fell below your usual standards this time and that's the reason for my post.
What do I think should be done 'to solve the problem of effectively "legal rape" in this country'?
Well, I do not agree with your assertion that we have a problem of 'legal rape' in this country. I think the phrase 'legal rape' is contradictory and intended to inflame argument. I do think there is a problem, though. The low conviction rate indicates fundamental flaws in the way cases are brought to court. This must be addressed. There also seems to be something very wrong with the way victims of rape are treated, from the the initial contact with the police, going forward to prosecution. I think we have a very serious problem as a society (and consequently as a jury) with how we define consent. In a recent post, Staghounds advised me to obtain written consent prior to sex if my partner has consumed alcohol. There must a better way of solving the problem than requiring written legal agreements.

Clearly we have very different opinions. But I continue to read your blog because I'm trying to understand your point of view and perhaps improve my own if what you're saying makes sense to me. Streams of outraged reaction just make me switch off. Maybe I'm in the wrong place after all.

Cruella said...

As a guy you have to rape, on average, 50 women in this country before you are likely (i.e >50% chance) to be convicted. That's not far from just being legal.

And if someone's really drunk maybe you should just refrain from sleeping with them until they are rather more sober. Rather than trying to get them to sign something, which in any case, they have the right to retract at any point.

There again when you say "The low conviction rate indicates fundamental flaws in the way cases are brought to court. This must be addressed. There also seems to be something very wrong with the way victims of rape are treated, from the the initial contact with the police, going forward to prosecution.", in fact you are voicing the exact sentiments that feminists have espoused for years and that David Cox is claiming is so ridiculous...

Unknown said...

Those feminist sentiments I'm espousing - I hold them mainly as a result of reading this blog. Inbetween the capital letters, exclamation marks and borderline absolutist sentiment, I think you're generally right most of the time. I just wish it were less sensationally written, that's all.

Cruella said...

I think I'm pretty calm, compared to how angry some of this stuff makes me. And I tend to worry more about rapists being let off scott free than I do about punctuation...!!??%%

Unlixes said...

Seeing as how I don't know him, I don't suppose I have much justification for this comment but, Paul seems massively hung up on the whole feminist thing. To Cruella's comment that his were sentiments that feminists have espoused for years Paul replies that he has garnered his feminist sentiments from this website.

Now. I'm no feminist but I was always of the opinion the more sound-minded feminists don't have "feminist sentiments", they just have, well, sentiments. It just so happens these are generally common to other feminists. The sentiments are usually common sense, just as easily held by anyone without ever thinking they were a feminist.

I didn't love his article either. The implication that women shouldn't trust any men and so should stop leading all men on is a bit of a slight to both sides I would say. If I don't lock my door it's because I don't trust everyone in the world, collectively, as a group of strangers, as that is who would have access to my house. That's a slightly different case to make than don't trust Dave, from work. Because the latter is kinda saying, don't trust anyone you know, no matter how well you think you know them. Not only that but locking your house is Standard Practice when leaving it and is unlikely to make you feel like your being overly paranoid or accusing the people on your street of being theives. If you turned up to your date in a body warmer might make you feel a little out of place in the restaurant and make your date feel a little awkward.

- Uh. I didn't plan to rape you, y'know. Honest.

- Yeah, I didn't really think so but, well, as David Cox says; to wear nice clothes to a date is akin to making out cheques to CASH and giving them to strangers.

Hopefully I don't have to subscribe to feminism to worry a little when someone compares date rape to leaving your front door open.

Cruella said...

God knows what the analogy would be for leaving your back door open...?!