Posted in Social Justice

Date Rape is a Crime

Date Rape is a Crime Posted on 19 May 20115 Comments

A picture of a whistling thorn tree

You’ve just had a lovely night out. An amazing dinner with a fantastic guy, who you’ve been seeing on and off for a while. You decide to let the guy give you a lift home, chatting away about nothing. As you open the front door, suddenly you find him standing next to you, kissing you. You’re fine with that, but then his hands begin to wander. You’re uncomfortable and simply not in the mood. You push him away, and he comes back – almost begging to let him “have” you for the night. Ultimately you get tired of pushing him away, and he uses your body for his own pleasure. Afterwards, you feel horrific. Your body feel violated, penetrated because you feel like you’ve been used. You have.

That story is a familiar one for the majority of sexually active women.  Say no, and she’s defined as prudish or incompetent. In fact in many cases, she feels like she’s not fulfilling her role in the relationship if she doesn’t fulfill his needs. And the bigger chances are that these stories involve people who we may know, and may have to meet again – a family friend, an uncle or even a partner. These stories are the ones which may involve a partner who took advantage while we were drinking or tired or even just plain ill. This is NOT sex with two consenting partners – it is forced sex, forced by society and forced to silence by the likes of Ken Clarke.

These are the stories not reported by the mainstream press. These are the stories that don’t go to court. These are the stories that remain hidden behind shutters, while the enactor of that rape remain free. It is humiliating trying to explain a date rape story to a police officer. It’s more humiliating going through the swabbing, the court case (and charges), the procedure of being a victim. So we avoid it. And even when we don’t, only 9% of rape cases actually end up with a sentence*.

On Ken Clarke’s radio interview, Gabrielle’s story is nothing new. Women who charge rapists are faced with long-term anxiety and mental health issues. As a person she has been disempowered, physically violated and mentally humiliated. She isn’t going to be able to forget that experience, especially if she sees the man again walking down her street, saying hello to her neighbours.

But the only way this will change is if the courts become harder on rapists. If women stop being accused of being “sluts” just because they are sexually active. If a woman knows that she has the power to say “no” just as much as she has the power to say “yes”. And all of this has to part of public discourse. Courts need to sentence rapists for longer. And Judges must recognise the clarity of the statement:

Rape is Rape… And it’s a Crime that’s similar to murder.

*I speak as someone sexually harassed by a man masturbating next to me on an 8 hour plane journey. And I speak as someone who has gone through the court system and seen someone walk away without charges because my word and the word of other women was “not enough evidence”.

5 thoughts on “Date Rape is a Crime

  1. That’s not my image of date rape!

    Twice I have been out for drinks with friends, and someone, identity unknown, has spiked my drink with ‘date-rape’ drugs.
    Both times I nearly died in hospital. (OD-ing on one occasion, and due to the low-quality, and impurity of the drugs used on the other).

    The hospital kept samples of my blood, with the classic drugs in it. I was told that because the intention was to poisen, kidnap, assult and rape me, in law what I had suffered was an attempted (date) rape.

    The other day the Justice Secutary kindly informed me that what happened to me was nothing to complain about, and had either of my attackers been successful, that the crime would not be considered serious, violent, and that my willingness would be unclear.

    The justice secutary should be actively clearing date-rape drugs off the streets, not telling women that their suffering ‘doesn’t count’.

    PS – ‘peer pressure turned violence’ rape is serious, etc, but I believe that date-rape is less about the date, more about the forced intoxication. (By my understanding).

    1. Roe, your story is horrific and telling of the continued way that rape is sidelined by the law. We should certainly be fighting together to ensure that this does not happen again.

      I deliberately chose not to mention the harsh problems with drug-rape issues, largely because I had not experienced anything similar.

      My post was to highlight the silent aspect of ‘date rape’ – the side that is accepted as the norm. I hope it has not offended you.

      Solidarity.

  2. In fact ‘date rape’ is a deliberately misleading term because overwhelmingly the vast majority of rapes are committed by males who know their female victims. This includes male work colleagues, male teachers/male lecturers, male priests, male doctors, male neighbours, male relatives and even male politicians, because male rapists do not commonly wear horns on their heads or wear dirty raincoats.

    As regards the statement ‘date rape’ happens primarily when the male sexual predator drugs a woman’s drink in order to render his rape much easier to commit, in fact there is no distinction between drug and/or acquaitance rape.

    Men know they have the innate right of forcing/coercing/threatening women into submission and thereby gaining male sexual access to a woman’s body. The methodology male rapists uses varies but their aims are always the same – to gain sexual access to a female and all too commonly rape her. Commonly men rape not because they are seeking power and control over the woman but because men believe it is their innate right to have sexual access to any woman or girl 24/7. That is why so many men who commit rape refuse to accept they have committed sexual violence against a female. After all one cannot rape a ‘dehumanised female sexual object can one?’

    Until such time as men accept unconditionally that women have the same rights of bodily autonomy and ownership of their sexuality as men then rapes will continue to be narrowly defined from the male supremacist stance.

    Rape continues to be defined by men for men’s benefit and that is why the legal system continues to remain biased against female survivors of men’s sexual violence.

    In other words males are accorded the right of using pressure/coercion and can deliberately ignore what the woman is trying to say. Then too women continue to be trained as female children that they do not own their bodies or sexuality because they are for male usage. Women are never taught that their bodies and sexuality belongs to them but we are taught that men have the right of sexual access if we are perceived as ‘provoking male sexual desire; or if are dressed in a certain way; or if we are perceived as too frigid and not willing to give the male his rightful sexual access to our bodies.’ It is still a win win for men and a lose lose for women.

    Are men ever taught as male children that women’s and girls’ bodies and sexualities belong to the female not the male? Of course not not because male heterosexuality continues to be constructed and promoted as essential for men to conquer women sexually and to ignore the woman’s no but instead wear her down or even better ply her with alcohol and then the male can gain sexual access to the female’s body. Not forgetting of course that any woman who imbibes even a sip of alcohol is immediately presumed by men to be ‘asking for it.’

    So no women do not have the right of sexual autonomy and Kenneth Clarke is a misogynist who yet again demonstrates he believes rape myths.

    An independent Feminist Researcher who specialises in Male Violence Against Women.

    1. I agree with almost everything you’ve said here. That said, it always pains me how comments like this imply that men are totally active parties in the oppression of women (after all, it makes it so much easier to paint a picture of them as raping misogynist bastards), as opposed to the product of cultures that demand ‘macho’ men. I know that women suffer an enormous amount more gendered oppression than men – but to be honest – you try growing up as a young male in the UK – and experience the unpleasantness / pisstaking, etc (from both males and females), that comes with not being hard / strong / aggressive / competitive, etc.

      It’s funny how those liberals that are so quick to ascribe the causes of e.g. the London riots to poverty, or women’s lower pay to sexism / structural factors (to name a few), are incapable of seeing that the same environmental factors exist in creating these awful men that you talk about.

      Misandry justified with the language of feminism?

  3. Sorry, but this article is a bit of a muddle.

    Have you deliberately described the situation at the start of your article to conflate the idea of a situation where one reluctantly has sex, and where sex is forced? It reads like you have. Some women might be motivated to reluctantly have sex in a desire to avoid being labelled as a prude, etc, but while this isn’t a particularly pleasant thing, it isn’t rape.

    And who are people that rape their partners when they’re tired or ill? Again, if you mean that they’re ‘not really in the mood’ because they feel a bit groggy, etc, and have sex anyway, what kind of crime is that? Humans aren’t psychic – I don’t know many people that would be intuitive enough to be in a situation in which sex was a possibility, but who turned it down on the basis that they thought the other party was only going ahead with the act because of deep-seated societal pressures…

    It’s so important in discussions of issues as complex and emotionally-laden as rape, that a real effort is made to define terms well.

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