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.

5 Tips On How To Avoid Rape

rape posterWhen I saw a poster outside my apartment complex with big letters saying “5 tips on how to avoid rape,” I thought that this would be further the ideas of victim blaming. Instead, this poster was aimed at men. I truly appreciate this since that removes much of the victim blaming from sexual assaults and rape. Despite the good intentions of the poster and whoever put it up, I still have a few concerns with the information presented and the tips provided. Here is what the poster said (my translation):

Respect a no
Respecting when someone says no is key. It should also be said more often that when a person is unable to give consent, it means no. A person that is intoxicated, sleeping or in any other way cannot communicate a yes, cannot give consent and therefore any sexual act towards this person is sexual assault.

You have a choice
I appreciate the idea, I just think that the phrasing is off. I would have appreciated if the poster said: this choice is only yours or it is only your responsibility. The act of raping someone and the choice involved in that act should not even have to be discussed. Unfortunately, it does. As we have previously experiencened in some of the comments of a post about rape and evolutionary psychology, it is sometimes presented, and believed, that rape is a natural act committed by men against women in order to ensure reproductive success. [Read more...]

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...]

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.

[Read more...]

Apparently, the Female Body Can Permit or Prevent Rape

Many of us were horrified when Todd Akin claimed that in cases of “legitimate rape,” the female body is able to prevent pregnancy. Well, he’s not the only one blaming the victim: recently, California judge Derek Johnsonsaid, in regards to a 2008 rape case, that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen,” that the woman “didn’t put up a fight” and that “I’m not a gynecologist but I can tell you something: if someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted and we heard nothing about that in this case.”

[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.”

[Read more...]

Men advocating against rape

We have written a few pieces recently regarding victim blaming, the notion that women somehow are partly to blame for being raped. Often these assumptions center on women’s behavior or appearance as an invite to rape. Other times, victim blaming occurs as women are seen as irresponsible for being on their own, for consuming alcohol or for not being careful enough.

We need to be aware and critical of victim blaming as rape is never a woman’s fault. It should go without saying that women should be free to do whatever they like without being raped or sexually harassed. Victim blaming is awful in that it transfers blame onto the victim while minimizing the responsibility of the real perpetrator, the rapist. Often times, campaigns that strive to prevent rape are aimed at women and tips are provided to make women safer, as if preventing rape is women’s and not men’s responsibility. [Read more...]

Victim blaming language: “A woman got her dream…”

*Trigger warning: the content of this piece discusses rape and sexual assault, and may be disturbing to some readers.

A recent article featured in the Swedish newspaper The Local (Swedish news in English) reported on a widely covered story regarding the group rape of one woman by seven men (eight men were charged but seven were convicted of rape, their sentences ranging from 4.5 to 6.5 years in prison). The story is horrifying as the group of men repeatedly raped the woman over an extended period of time, laughing and clapping their hands as they did so.

What we will focus on however is the language used by some of the individuals that commented on the article on The Local’s website. Many of the comments displayed stereotypical victim blaming thoughts and language and hardly any of those commenting reacted to the victim blaming, probably a consequence of how normalized victim blaming is.

It is troubling that the newspaper does not appear to screen through its comments since many of the comments are quite disturbing. We also find it interesting that no one appeared to pick up on the victim blaming. Since victim blaming is both widespread and normalized in our society, it is not uncommon to find language that indicates that the woman is at fault. We do believe that it is very important to discuss the language used to place blame on the victim as it trivializes the act of rape, questions the woman’s intent, while simultaneously diminishing the actions of the seven rapists. [Read more...]

Why do men rape? Evolutionary theory has the answer: part two

*Trigger warning: the content of this piece discusses rape and sexual assault, and may be disturbing to some readers.

 In our first piece: Why do men rape? Evolutionary theory has the answer: part one, we discussed rape and victim blaming in regards to evolutionary psychology. We expressed our dislike with the notion that rape is an evolutionary trait. But evolutionary psychology is not the only field presenting misogynist theories concerning rape. Evolutionary biology is also a common culprit. One of us recently came across a book that discussed the enigmas concerning women’s biology and was shocked, surprised and also infuriated with the way that rape was blamed on the “deceptive” female body.

Not only is rape, according to evolutionary psychology, an adaptive trait. It is also, according to evolutionary biology, commonly presented as the result of women’s concealed ovulation. In short, rape is blamed on the very nature of women’s bodies. To explain: in contrast to some nonhuman primates, women’s ovulation is concealed. That is, most women and men do not necessarily know when a woman is ovulating. Different evolutionary theories have attempted to explain this enigma. One of these theories states that women’s secret ovulation is a response to trying to keep control over men and thus control over their own sexual reproduction and sexual partners. At the same time, this theory also discusses rape. If ovulation would not be concealed, different men may try to reproduce with, and compete over the same woman as she signals ovulation, “…leaving women little choice, perhaps, but to accept the victor” (Barash & Lipton, 2009, p. 62). This statement alludes to rape if ovulation is obvious, but the same is true for concealed ovulation, according to evolutionary biology:

 …women pay a potentially devastating cost as a result of their concealed ovulation: it makes them more vulnerable to being raped. Among animals such as horses and dogs, males by and large are sexually interested only when females are receptive. Hence, mares and bitches are only rarely sexually attacked by stallions or dogs because when females aren’t in estrus, males aren’t interested, and when males are sexually demanding, females are too. A possible downside of women’s having evolved to obscure their time of peak ovulatory receptivity may therefore be that they have ended up being more vulnerable to men’s forcing unwanted sex upon them simply because as a result of concealed ovulation, men – clueless enough when it comes to romance generally – are even more clueless as to when women are likely to be biologically receptive (Barash & Lipton, 2009, p. 62-63).

According to these theories, the very nature of women’s biology compels men to rape them, while blame is placed on women’s bodies as they do not signal ovulation or fertilization in an obvious manner (even though the same would be true if they did).

These statements made by evolutionary biologists are extreme examples of victim blaming as they view rape as an innate biological trait that is dependent on women’s faulty biology. If it was not for women’s concealed ovulation rapists would not be so inclined to rape. At the same time, visible ovulation may result in the same consequence, rapists being inclined to rape. Evolutionary theories are male dominated, while advocating for the extraordinary male need for reproductive success as normal, even if reproduction includes rape (which physically, mentally, and emotionally harms women). Women’s bodies are viewed as deceptive, alluring, faulty and deviant, meaning that if it were not for women’s deceptive biology, perhaps men would not have to rape. [Read more...]