Thursday, 19 May 2011

-Interruption to normal service- Rape being rape is rape, but not all rapes are the same

Hello people,
                    Slight change of pace and subject I know, but this subject has sucked so much of my time because I cannot bare uninformed or over-zealous arguments to beat down intelligent, rational comments.
Firstly, let's start with Slut Walk.
I have devoted a bit of my time trying to figure this out. I have spoken to many different women in support of it, some fanatically, some more sensibly.
My conclusion is that it is a misguided and pointless march.
Interestingly, unlike most causes that start with good and intelligent intentions but run the risk of being hi-jacked by irrational forces, Slutwalk has been the opposite.

Slutwalk was sparked by a Policeman in Canada making some rather blunt and politically incorrect comments. The exact wording changes depending on who you speak to and to what degree they are trying to use the policeman as a reason for the march, but the jist is 'girls should avoid dressing like sluts to help avoid being victimised'.
At it's heart, this is a sad but probably true comment on society.
The biggest obstacle we come up against is information, as so many rapes are unreported also a great number of rapes reported are found not guilty and a great number of rapes that are both reported and convicted (so count towards the figures) are committed by relatives or people where the target is not randomly selected, so 'stranger' rape is quite rare to have statistics on it either way.
However, this is where common sense comes into play.
Most people will say that if you walk through a bad neighbourhood alone with a Rolex on and draw attention to it, you will increase your chance of robbery. This is quite accepted, it is not shifting blame, it's not saying that the victim deserved it, it is purely a statement on statistics.

I have asked a more relevant question to the debate, which woman is more likely to be attacked, Woman A or Woman B where Woman A is with a group of friends and relatively sober and Woman B is lying passed out in an alley with her skirt pulled up.
Chances are statistically small that either woman will be attacked, but in comparison to each other, there would be, I imagine, a hugely increased risk to Woman B. Again, this is not talking about blame as fault is not implied with statistical analysis.
To bring it closer to the offending statement. A woman that has gone to the effort of making themselves attractive and sexual will likely increase the chance of people being attracted to her sexually and with increased attention, the likelihood of a bad type of attention from verbal harassment, pinching of girls bums also increases.

The choice of words may well have been objectionable, but this was, by the sounds of  most accounts, an off the record,throw away comment by someone that is probably a lot more familiar with the subject, seeing as he has to deal with it on a day to day basis, than most of us (thankfully) that is probably logically true even if it is a terrible truth.
This is not a basis for a international march.

Other reasons given

Reclaiming the word slut (slut is an insult and will always be one..used just as much by women to describe other women than by men. There is no need to reclaim it..just don't use it)

Highlighting 'Rape is wrong' (now to me the fact that rape carries a custody sentence as a minimum in most cases and can be 'life' ..I am quite sure rape is acknowledged to be wrong already..except perhaps by rapists, but let's be honest, a group of angry women are unlikely to change their mind)

Combat victim blaming (this is the reason I said was the sensible cause that is trying to hi-jack the irrational core. Victim blaming is wrong and nearly everyone except the really foul fringes of our communities agree. Let's be clear here, there is a HUGE gulf between saying refraining from certain actions can statistically lower risk and saying that if you don't refrain from certain actions you DESERVE the outcome. One is statistical analysis, the other is victim blaming and is unacceptable)

The problem is, this last idea, the hastily added extra by women who want to get angry about something and go on a march but require rational reasoning, for me is too far removed from the core and often leads to the mistake I clarified above between talking about likelihood and how much someone deserves actions against them.

 The second part of the article deals with the comments of Ken Clarke.

A similar over-reaction to sensible comments on a controversial subject. He said nothing that isn't understood by anyone working in the law profession or in fact any other objective person.

Let's firstly deal with the definition of rape in the UK's court process, which is a lot stricter than many country's.

Rape is the non-consensual act of sex performed on an unwilling participant.

The concept of consent is quite blurry in UK law too. For example, a 15 year old is below the age of consent, but if it is mutually agreed, it doesn't class as rape, it is unlawful sexual intercourse or U.S.I. Only at 12 yrs or younger is mutually agreed but non-consensual (due to not being seen as fit to consent) sex considered rape, even if committed by someone of the same age..or younger in the case of a male.

Other countries don't have this complication and consider statutory rape (sex below the age of consent at any age) as rape.

Mutually agreed sex can also be considered rape in the case of adults if one of the parties later decides they weren't fit to consent, even if they initiated and carried out the act.

Say for example we have a Boy -B and a Girl - G.

B and G meet at a party, both are drunk, perhaps B even a little more so.
As the evening draws on, things become sexual and G asks B to go somewhere private with her. B obliges.
G performs a sex act on A and initiates intercourse with B.
After the deed, they lay together in bed, and after a while leave the party to go to their respective homes.

In the morning G wakes up and decides that if she was sober she wouldn't have gone all the way with B on the first 'date'. In other words G has decided due to alcohol, she was unfit to consent. At this point the exchange above becomes rape by law.

I am not here to argue the wrongs or rights of that. However if you look at this objectively, you can see how this crime does not deserve life imprisonment for B, which is the possible sentence he could have faced had he abducted G, threatened her with a weapon and violently had forceful sex with her.

I'd like to think that anyone thinking about this objectively will see this. This is what Ken Clarke said, he also said the first example of rape , i.e. date rape as we would understand can be as serious as the second example in some instances, for example had B specifically medicated G in order to have sex with her that he knew G would not consent to.

The whole 'Rape is rape' argument is misleading because it can mean any different things to different people. Logically rape is of course rape otherwise it wouldn't be called rape, but it is often meant to suggest that there are no differences in the severity of rape. This I hope we have dis-spelled but further evidence is the amount of trauma that the victims go through.

Now I am quite sure the number of people that regret a drunken fumble is quite high and the amount of times this can involve penetration is almost equally high, but I doubt many people would claim their trauma caused from this is equal to that of a forcefully raped victim. It would be interesting to pair the latter with the former and ask the latter's opinion.

Key Points
Blame never lies with the victim in any crime
Rape is rape but not all rapes are equal in severity or seriousness evidenced by trauma caused and circumstances.
Political capital can often be made to try to twist words of sensible people

Hopefully this will be the last time I need to deal with this terrible subject, but I think it's important we don't let the highly emotional subject matter to lead to us losing our rationality.

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