13-Year-Old Accused of Egging on Her Abuser

This past week Rape Crisis England and Wales reported on the treatment of a 13-year old rape victim who was severely victim blamed in court. The 13-year old was described, by the sentencing judge, as “predatory” and was believed to have been “egging her abuser on.” The rapist, despite pleading guilty to one account of sexual activity with a child and two accounts of producing extreme pornographic imagery, was given a eight month suspended sentence and avoided prison.

Apparently the sentencing judge claimed that despite the fact that the child was “egging on her abuser” (stating that this argument was a “fact” when describing her “predatory behavior”) is no defense in the case of a child. Still, the sentencing judge, in a case where the accused pleaded guilty, felt the need to provide some victim blaming while accusing a child of sexualized and predatory behavior.

According to Court News UK the judge also stated that: “You have come as close to prison as is imaginable. I have taken in to account that even though the girl was 13, the prosecution say she looked and behaved a little bit older”.

This might have been the most disgusting comments I have heard in regards to victim blaming and rape culture. Here a child has been abused and the abuser is receiving a lowered sentence, avoiding prison, despite the serious accounts of sexual assault and despite pleading guilty. What we often hear in regards to cases of sexual assault and rape is that it is extremely difficult to prove that rape was in fact rape. The victims also have to defend themselves while their sexual history and past sexual activity is used against them. But, it seems that a guilty plead by the accused is not enough to stop victim blaming and the sexualization of women and girls (often by stating that she really wanted it, was just playing hard to get, or was egging on the abuser). There appears to be no situation in which women/girls are wholeheartedly believed and trusted and are not further victimized by victim blaming attitudes.

Court Claims Victim Of Sexual Assault Could Have Just Been Shy

An article in one of our local papers discussed the assumptions and beliefs of the Swedish legal system as three men were acquitted of rape charges. Two men sexually took advantage of a young woman while a third held a camera, filming the assault, which took place at a party. The assault also involved the attackers using a wine bottle. As if this was not degrading and horrifying enough, acquittal in the case did not pertain to lack of evidence as much as flimsy and stereotypical assumptions about women’s intent and consent. The court stated that: “The men could have mistaken the woman’s attempts to keep her legs together as simply a sign of her being shy or initially hesitant.” The court also stated that: “People involved in sexual activities together sometimes act spontaneously and without asking the other person involved for consent.”

The three men were freed from charges even though the court claimed the woman’s testimony to have been believable, logical, consistent, detailed and more probable than the stories given by the men during their testimonies. Despite this, the court believed that the men were unaware of the fact that the woman did not express consent.  [Read more...]

“Keep Calm and Rape a Lot”

Content Notice: This piece discusses rape culture, sexual assault and violence.

Rape culture is something that we have discussed at length here at Feminists For Choice. Rape culture normalizes and trivializes rape and sexual abuse. Still, there are some people who believe that rape culture does not exist and is a concept made up by angry man hating feminists. We believe that rape culture does exist in many forms and is perpetuated by a culture in which rape is not taken seriously.

So to the critics, read the following and state if rape culture is all in our heads:

Amazon has over the last few days removed t-shirts from the company Solid Gold Bomb, launched in Australia, with slogans that read: “Keep calm and hit her”, “Keep calm and rape a lot” and “Keep calm and rape them” that were on sale on the company’s website. Other t-shirts by Solid Gold Bomb also read: “Keep calm and knife her”, “”Keep calm and choke her” and “Keep calm and grope on”.

Amazon received hundreds of angry complaints about the t-shirts and the message that these t-shirts encourage. Many people are also very upset that Amazon has been making money out of encouraging and trivializing rape, sexual assault and violence against women. Suggestions have been made that Amazon should donate a substantial amount of money to women’s shelters and organizations that work to end violence against women.

There is hardly any better example than this to show how accepted rape culture is. Here we have a giant worldwide company selling t-shirts that perpetuate the notion that violence and sexual violence against women is acceptable. In short, we find it sickening.

Victims of Rape “May Enjoy Intercourse,” According to Indonesian Judge

*Trigger warning: This post discusses rape culture and victim blaming language and might be upsetting.

2012 was not a good year in regards to rape culture and victim-blaming attitudes. We heard some pretty nasty comments that completely ignored the suffering of rape and sexual assault survivors.

Rape culture appears to be fueled by ignorance, as many of the comments showed. Self-nominated rape expert Todd Akin claimed that there is such a thing as “legitimate rape,” and California Judge Derek Johnson said that “the body does not allow rape to happen.” Rep. Roger Rivard passed on his father’s advice by stating that “some girls rape easy.”

This year has begun equally poorly, as another completely ignorant man in a position of authority and power has spoken out about rape and rape victims. This time, it is Judge Muhammad Daming Sanusi, who told Indonesian high court lawmakers that victims of rape ”may enjoy intercourse.”

In a discussion concerning the death penalty for rapists, Sanusi said that “Both the victims of rape and the rapist might have enjoyed their intercourse together, so we should think twice before handing down the death penalty.”

By calling rape intercourse, Sanusi suggests that rape can be consensual. This denies  horrific reports, traumatic events, and accounts of forceful and violent experiences of rape survivors. Rape should not be called sex, or intercourse, or for that matter anything other than rape. Rape is forced on the person, is not the least bit consensual, and not the least bit enjoyable.

Consequences of Rape Culture and Victim Blaming

We’ve previously discussed rape culture in relation to a number of different topics: video games, politics, advertisement, and fuck rape culturechildren’s grammar books (to name a few examples).

Rape culture blames women in a variety of ways. It often challenges their lifestyles and behaviors to infer that they are somehow responsible for rape and sexual assault; or normalizes, trivializes, and defends rape. Rape culture and victim blaming is absurd since we are unlikely to blame a victim of robbery for carrying cash and credit cards, or because they simply left their house and someone later broken in.

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Raping While Supposedly Asleep – Guilty or Not Guilty?

Last spring we wrote a piece for the British feminist website The F-Word which discussed a sleeping disorder called sexsomnia. Sexsomnia is described as a condition in which people behave sexually in their sleep, such as masturbating or even engaging in intercourse.

In the post we were critical of sexsomnia as a defense claim for people who had been charged with rape or sexual abuse. Even though perpetrators have confessed that the sexual assault took place, they also claim to be innocent since they were not aware of their acts. And in some cases, the courts have responded by not invoking a sentence. In order to back up this claim of innocence, some rapists have stated that former partners have told them that they behaved sexually while asleep.

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Not Just Any Kind of Sexuality: The Pornography of Everyday Life

I have a thing for advertisements, especially when they portray sexism, gender stereotypes, or the pornification of sexuality. Elin and I frequently write about advertisements that we find disturbing, annoying, or just plain sexist. And there are many kinds to choose from, as different forms of advertising are everywhere. Some of my favorite analyses and discussions of popular culture and advertising are Jean Kilbourne’s series Killing Us Softly and Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity. I also wrote about the documentary Orgasm Inc, concerning female sexual dysfunction.

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Halo Reach, Sexual Violence and Rape Culture

This post contains explicit language and profanities.

I like to play video games and Halo has been my favorite for many years. Halo 4 came out earlier this month and it made me reflect on Halo Reach, what I liked about the game, and what I did not like. One thing I found very off-putting was the constant bantering and aggressive verbal behavior displayed during matchmaking. That was one reason why I rarely used a microphone while playing.

Here at Feminists for Choice we often discuss the concept of rape culture, which is the notion that sexual violence is in many ways condoned. We often hear or experience the normalization of rape, which often leads to blaming the survivor rather than the perpetrator. This normalization of rape and the use of threats of sexual violence are very common in Halo Reach as players communicate with one another. Interestingly enough, I have never witnessed any females partake in such a discussion, or in the one-sided arguments where putdowns and remarks are constantly made. When it comes to discussions and remarks about rape the message is one of power, domination and subjugation. The verbal threat or use of the word rape is therefore used to display the threat of subjugation and the power and domination certain players hold over others.  [Read more...]

”Some girls rape easy” – Just a Bit of Fatherly Advice

Not long after “legitimate rape” Todd Akin (as Sarah referred to him in an earlier piece), we are again experiencing rape culture and victim blaming. This time, Rep. Roger Rivard supported rape culture and victim blaming by saying that “some girls rape easy.”

According to the Journal Sentinel, Rivard stated that consensual sex can easily turn into rape after the fact – for instance, if the girl changes her mind after becoming pregnant. He said that this was advice given to him by his father when he was young.  

Rivard later said he was misquoted and offered this explanation:

“Sexual assault is a crime that unfortunately is misunderstood and my comments have the potential to be misunderstood as well. Rape is a horrible act of violence. Sexual assault unfortunately often goes unreported to police. I have four daughters and three granddaughters and I understand the importance of making sure that awareness of this crime is taken very seriously.”

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The verb “to rape” and how NOT TO teach English grammar

Some people’s inability to treat rape as the serious act of violence that it is, as opposed to say, a joke, has recently been quite a hot topic. Unfortunately, joking about rape and treating it like it’s really “not that big a deal” is no new thing. However, even having said that I was stunned stupid by the scandal that Polish media (to their great credit) were reporting all over the place last week: rape as a teaching opportunity. An opportunity to teach English grammar no less!

Last week a seriously upset mother called the Polish ombudsmen reporting that the grammar workbook her son is using (“English Tenses – it doesn’t get easier” by Walt Waren) teaches verb declination using examples including the word “rape.” Some of the exercises included translating into Polish:

  • Tom will rape Linda tomorrow.
  • Linda hopes to get raped before the end of the summer.
  • Linda is raped everyday.

Rape culture alert, anyone? [Read more...]