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Posted by on Jul 26, 2007 in At TMV | 6 comments

Filling the Gaps

Can there be a feminist-friendly defense against rape charges? By this I mean, is there a way for a person to defend himself against charges of rape, without engaging in the usual tactics (slut shaming, “she was asking for it”, etc.) that perpetuate the marginalization and degradation of women?

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  • domajot

    Hmm. Very thought provoking. This is a very tough issue, because of its complexity. Hopedully, some useful suggestions will emerge

    A judge recently (I can’t remember the details offhand) banned the use of such words as repe amd assault in a rape trial. Perhaps he was trying to address this issue? This would necessitate crafting a whole new language for testimony, so that rape could be described, but not named.
    My initial reaction is that this puts an additional burden on the woman/victim. I would be interested to hear other reactions, though.

  • Barring the word “rape” from the trial was an atrocious move on the part of the judge. The crime being prosecuted was rape. It has to be called by its name. The women is accusing the man of raping her, not (in the judge’s alternative parlance) “having sex” with her. That was a defendant-friendly move by the judge, but not a feminist-friendly one.

  • Lynx

    I cannot fathom a defense of rape that could possibly sound good short of “I didn’t rape her”. Since nothing can justify rape, their can be no good justifications. At the most a discussion might be had about whether sex was consensual or not. You must start out on neutral ground (lending the male no more and no less credence than the female) and work your way on out, using testimony and medical evidence, I suppose.

    Maybe I haven’t understood the question. Rapists are not in need of “reasons for raping” since there are NO good reasons for doing so. Innocent accused men don’t need excuses, they need say they didn’t rape the woman. Discussion can only be had in the case that there WAS sex, but it is unclear whether it was consensual or not.

  • domajot

    I agree with both David and Lynx, but there is still this lingering problem of the innocent, but accused, in all crime cases.

    Once you’ve been tried for murder, you will always by a suspected murderer in the eyes of many, even if you’re fournd innocent at trial. Just to be officially accused, regardless of outcome, carries a huge weight.
    I have no iedea how, or even if, this can be avoided. It bothers me, nevertheless.

  • I don’t mean justifications, I guess I mean “establishing consent”. The man says the sex was consensual, the woman says it wasn’t. Typically, defense attorney’s will try to show the woman consented by referencing her dress (to prove she was “asking for it”), or her past sex life (to prove she’s a slut). Neither of those are legitimate defenses, but they need to be replaced with something.

  • casualobserver

    I would think if there was something of an existing amicable relationship prior thereto, mutual acquaintance’s testimony to that fact could well work to establish some reasonable doubt of the non-consensuality aspect. If, however, the M met the F two hours prior, you’ll likely need to keep getting other suggestions.

    No sex before 5 dates makes a lot of sense for many reasons…this would just be one.

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