Time to put the world to rights on one particular subject, or at least to air my thoughts about it, the editor of Filament posted this on twitter “Someone once said women don’t need Filament because they have Erotic Review. Here’s Erotic Review on the topic of rape: http://bit.ly/b4a81Z” And although I disagree with the jist of the article, I can see where the author is coming from. This is topic we had argument about in my one and only women’s study class I took at university. In a perfect world a woman (or man) should be able to stagger naked and drunk through the darkened streets and ally’s of a town unmolested. However, this is not a perfect world, and we need to bear that in mind.
According to the Fawcett Society Research suggests between 75-95% of rapes are never reported to the police, out of every 100 rapes reported to the police less than 6 are prosecuted. This means less than 1% of rapes are even prosecuted, we’ll not even go into how many of those are successful. Clearly this needs to change, having said that I agree with Baroness Stern when she says “convictions are not the be all and end all“, but we do need more women (and men) to be coming forward about sexual assaults.
I disagree with the article from Erotic Review on several points: Rape is not just another type of assault, yes people who have been mugged often feel the same feelings of violation and fear that a rape victim does, however, I would argue not to the same extent and in a different way. When someone punches you and steals your handbag they violate you from the outside. With rape you are violated from the inside, not just physically but mentally, as CSI keeps telling me*, rape isn’t about sex it’s about power.
A change is needed in society, not just our laws, but in the way we think about things for more people to come forward if they have been sexually assaulted, and the most important thing, the goal we should strive for, is for the victim to be happy and recover from their experience. If this means a court case so be it, if it means nothing is done, except for the offenders information to be put on a data-base then that is what should be done according to the victim’s wishes.
In reply to Erotic Reviews point about anonymity, in our society someone who has been raped is still seen as damaged goods, unlike someone who has been mugged. There is always the thought of did they invite it? Are they just a slut who changed their mind the net day? Did they catch anything? Personally speaking I wouldn’t want all and sundry knowing or being able to find out that I had been raped. I also wouldn’t want the guy I had accused mate’s banging on my door, threatening me or such like.
In response to allowing a female doctor to examine them, if someone male had just molested me, last thing I would want would be another man poking, prodding and probing me hours after. The right to the doctor/soco of either sex is an elementary one. How many people when face with the examination back out? If such a small measure encourages the victim to help make sure that person doesn’t rape anyone else and undergo an examination after their assault then how can that be a bad idea?
I agree that there does need to be protection for those unjustly accused of rape. A (gay) male friend of mine was accused by a girl he’s dated (he was still undecided about his sexuality) of raping her. She, luckily, didn’t go to the police and in my experience and that of my friends, this is most often the case with false rape claims. Going to the police is a step too far, when someone falsely accuses someone they know of rape, they want their mutual friends to turn away from them, they want people to mutter about them whilst giving them dirty looks. They know their accusation is false and don’t want to risk the police finding this out. What made my friend’s case more ironic is that he is built like a runner bean and is only about 5ft 6, you would have to be a very, very, small, weak woman for him to over power you, he is also the sweetest, gayest guy you could ever meet. I would also ask for some numbers, how many men are falsely accused of rape to the police? And how far do the investigations/prosecutions go? I am not saying one person is more important than another, but what I am saying is that if by changing laws and procedures around rape there is a small increase in false accusations but a big increase in people who have been raped coming forward, maybe it is worth it?
Another question I would ask erotic review is, I am a nympho, I love sex, does that mean I cannot be raped? By the tone of your article the only true rape victims are virginal clean leaving sober innocents. There does need to be examination of the circumstances behind a rape, if both parties are for instance drunk, who’s fault is it (if anyone’s)? And should anyone be prosecuted for it? If she cannot remember what happened, and neither can he, and if sober she would have said no, does this mean she was raped or not?
Now this is where I agree with Erotic Review: I think women do need to be more weary about what they do when they go out, as I mentioned in my first paragraph, this is not a perfect world. It is your choice to take the risk of getting drunk or getting high, it shouldn’t be a risk but it is. And unless the human race undergoes some profound changes in the way the way we think and behave, that is not going to change. Both women and men need to be more careful about what they do when they are out on the town, a gay friend of a friend was gang raped after a night out, he was roofied, he didn’t know what had happened until the next morning and he did nothing about it. He just took it as part of the life style. That is so wrong I don’t even know where to start, what made it even worse was that people at work laughed and joked about it. They accepted it too. Being drunk or high is not an excuse for a victim but it also isn’t an excuse for a rapist, just because someone cannot say no, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t if they could. Perhaps we should urge caution in men, “guy’s if you don’t want to be accused of rape, don’t take that drunk guy/girl home” posters in club toilets? Yes, I’m being a little flippant but actually it might not be a bad idea.
As I said there need to be changes within our society not just our laws to decrease the amount of rapes there are. We need to overhaul our sex education system, there needs to be a mandatory syllabus and a mandatory age that this syllabus be delivered by. This shouldn’t just be about the biology of reproduction but should be about relationships, children, rape, drugs and drinking. Hopefully this would cut down on teenage pregnancy and the type of rape Erotic Review seems to talk about.
In conclusion, am fully in favour of the measures proposed by Baroness Stern, and although I see where Erotic Review is coming from I think it’s a knee jerk reaction at best and scaremongering at worst. Looking at the facts I came to a much different conclusion (and I used the following articles):
From the Gurdian:
Postcode lottery in rape convictions ‘getting worse’ and Focus on rape conviction rates stopping women coming forward, warns Stern.
And from the Fawcett Society website:
Women victims and their downloadable sheet Rape the Facts.
If I was a PhD in Woman’s/Crime/Politics I could write a thesis on this, however, this is just a quick response to the article on Erotic Review and Filament magazine’s response. I also urge people to respond to this with their opinions and if they have any more research at their finger tips to put a link up to it.
* Yeah I know not exactly the best source to cite but delving into a criminalistics book would tell me the same thing.