Some Recent Writings About Rape

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At The Debate Link, describing his fear of being falsely accused of a crime, David Schraub writes (in part):

… First, and obviously, there are some false accusations out there; ideally, having theory and practice available to handle such situations will not be confused with endorsing that situation as paradigmatic. Second, believing that a rape happened is not the same thing as believing that the particular person charged is the guilty party. Remembering that rape prosecutions are part of the criminal justice system writ large, we cannot ignore the racial aspects inherent in this discourse. The racial inequities present in all parts of the criminal justice systems surely are just as extant (if not more so) in rape cases as they are anywhere else. The gap in the theory that currently exists does not fall equally:like so many other things, it disproportionately affects members of subordinated races and classes. Third, not providing avenues for rape defense that are consonant with feminist conceptions of justice drives the accused into the arms of our enemies. We do not expect the guilty, much less the innocent, to forfeit their defense against criminal charge; if the only viable defense procedure is one that denigrates and degrades women, then that is the one they will use. Fourth, perhaps most abstractly, not theorizing in this area makes us the enemy for a class of people which:for better or for worse:has significant social visibility. People who see a given institution or community clamoring for their criminal conviction, without providing any hearing or consideration to their protestations of innocence, will quite understandably be hostile to that institution or community. The American community, to stress, is not clamoring to convict the perpetrators of sexual violence. But insofar as the feminist community only speaks to guilt and not innocence, it can reasonably be viewed in this manner. People who are falsely accused of crimes have (fairly, I think) a lot of moral force in American political discourse. We do not want them devoting that power towards dismantling the feminist project. Bluntly, I don’t think our footing is solid enough to withstand the assault. …

At Adonis Mirror, contemplating a judge’s ruling that a woman could not use the word “rape” in describing what happened to her, Rich writes (in part):

… While Men’s Rights activists might complain about males being raped in prisons, as if feminists are responsible for it and are expected to stop it on their own somehow, they never make any complaints about their brethren making light of sexual assault.

Consider that men even have an acronym for their jokes about prison rape, PMITA or”pound me in the ass.”In the following Google search, you can see the acronym used by both conservative men and liberal peers at The Huffington Post (“I want to see Karl Rove in PMITA prison with no one to pardon him. That would be sweeeeeeeeeet.”)

Or the parody that the Derrick Comedy troupe (a group that performs at the Upright Citizens Brigade) did entitled”Bro Rape,”a supposed parody of Dateline NBC’s pedophile stings. Each of the male rapists was caught with a”big black dildo”in his possession, the punch line being that the single black actor posing as a rapist came to his victim’s apartment with an entire bag filled with them. While the average YouTube viewer might get a laugh out of it, a safe chuckle because the satire ignores the very existence of women, it’s still part of the same cultural prerogative that is working to normalize male violence, whether it’s visited upon other men or women.

If Judge Jeffre Cheuvront finds the word rape unfairly prejudicial in his courtroom, he needn’t for long. Men’s trivialization of the word started over a decade ago when liberal nice guy, Carlin Romano, joked about raping Catharine MacKinnon in the pages of The Nation. He did this to refute that words have physical power and her 1994 book, Only Words. …

Two men who identify as feminists with two very different concerns.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to Some Recent Writings About Rape

  1. schraubd says:

    I’d actually say that these concerns are not that different at all, but represent two facets of the same coin. Recall I argued that, when feminist-acceptable arguments and mechanisms for the accused to defend himself are not present, judges will default back to the theories that are present–ones which show little to no respect for women and which slant the playing field drastically against them. The judge who wouldn’t allow the word “rape” in his courtroom would be an example. I’m not saying that having a feminist-acceptable alternative would stop this judge (he doesn’t exactly sound like someone with progressive views on this subject to begin with), but I think our position would be strengthened immeasurably if we had an alternative we could point to directly in cases such as this. Unfortunately, I have no idea what that alternative might look like, for some of the problems I identified in my post, but I do think it might be worthy pursuit of someone wiser than I.