That’s what too many people still want before they accept that a rape happened. Some of those will be generous and forgive rape victims for not resisting if a weapon is involved and that weapon is being controlled by a stranger.
Many people won’t believe boys and men are rapists if they take sex without going through a stage where the victim shows stereotypical resistance such as scratching at the rapist’s eyes or screaming non-stop. That a victim was sexually violated doesn’t matter, the rape must happen in a way that the victim’s response traumatizes the rapist.
The premise is that if the rapist isn’t traumatized neither is the victim.
The excuse for this is a warped version of reasonable doubt. The doubt becomes not whether the person committed the crime, but whether the person who did the crime is a bad person who sets out to hurt others. Maybe it was nothing more than an honest mistake.
To use the consent defense, what is needed is not proof of lack of consent (stereotypical resistance) but proof that the alleged victim gave true, legal consent. If the alleged rapist says the alleged victim consented then proving that claim should be the defense team’s burden. Unfortunately, many legal statutes are written with the bias favoring men who exploit vulnerable girls and women. Being vulnerable becomes defacto consent.
The sexual violation just happened. A no-fault rape, at best. At worst, the victim had it coming or is delusional because she sees sexual violation where none existed.
To understand the warped view of rape where the defense says it was consensual, think about embezzlement cases. It doesn’t matter whether the embezzler acted from pure greed or to punish the person he embezzled from. What matters is the embezzlement itself. The person took funds he (or she) wasn’t authorized to take. Jurors don’t ignore the evidence simply because the embezzler seems like a nice guy or because the victim trusted him and gave him access to the funds he stole. If the defense claims that the money was taken legally, it is up to the defense to counter the prosecution’s evidence of embezzlement. And if the proof were: “She didn’t say I couldn’t take that money from her” no jury would give that claim any merit at all.
But that’s exactly the logic people buy when they insist on proof of resistance in rape cases.
In addition, this betrayal from within is understood to be a trauma added to the financial loss. But in rape cases when a boyfriend rapes his girlfriend people frequently assume that this relationship reduces the trauma of rape to the point where some people would call her a liar if she calls herself a rape victim — even when they believe her version of events. She may even be told that she has no right to compare herself to someone who experienced the real trauma of rape.
The problem is that there is an assumption that girls and women have a rapist radar. She has to know what’s about to happen before her options run out. If she’s so careless that she doesn’t see trouble coming she’s the irresponsible one. Yet we don’t excuse or decriminalize embezzlement because the victim trusted the embezzler.
This expectation in rape cases is based on the very dangerous myth where people believe that all real rapists are total and obvious monsters and that some women have it coming to them.
Sometimes people attempt to erase proof of resistance to rape by recharacterizing what happened in a way that changes the underlying actions. “He asked her several times and she eventually agreed” sounds innocent while, “he wouldn’t let her out of the room until he got the sex he felt entitled to” shows premeditation and actions meant to overwhelm resistance.
The reason the first statement sounds innocent is that all signs of guilt have been purged. People will often claim they are properly summarizing the truth in their characterizations when in fact they are attempting to obscure the truth.
The same goes when people say a man was unfairly charged with rape after drunk sex. The characterization implies that both parties were equal participants.
This same deception by recharacterization is done toward those who advocate for rape victims. Calling non-violent rape real rape becomes calling all less than perfect sex real rape. Calling the exploitation of women too intoxicated to fight off unwanted sex real rape becomes calling all sex under the influence real rape.
Distort and then make a point about the distortion as if it isn’t a distortion.
When people who say they oppose all types of rape do this sort of distorting at the expense of rape victims what message does that send to rapists?
(crossposted at my blog, Abyss2hope)
Note: Comments are limited to feminists or those who can be respectful of feminists’ efforts to fight sexual exploitation. If you only want to excuse or minimize the behavior of those who harm others, make the person exploited responsible for their own exploitation, call those who label their experiences rape liars, or tell us that we should be focusing on more important issues, please do so elsewhere.