miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Some people will find this entire entry triggery. I apologise for that in advance, but I think what I am putting here needs saying. I've put the worst bits behind a cut.

Sometimes a person fails through lack of empathy; this is not their fault, necessarily, although it can be if they do it wilfully. But mostly, it's just that they haven't really thought about what it would be like to be another person. There has been a lot of vilification of Ken Clarke today for comments he has made about rape, and I find the revulsion that he has triggered in many people entirely understandable. But then, I have been raped. I suspect Ken Clarke hasn't. And I further suspect that most of the people who think the way that he seems to on the matter of rape have not been raped either. It seems to me that most of the people who think that way have only considered the physical ramifications of a rape: if you are forced to have sex against your will by someone you have never met, there is much more likely to be the use of a weapon and much more likely to be serious physical injury, therefore that is worse than so-called "date rape".

This takes no consideration of the psychological effects of rape whatsoever.

I'd like to put forward four scenarios for your consideration, dear reader, and then there will be a poll. I'd like you to answer for yourself in the poll because obviously, none of us can know how another person will react. As always, if you don't have a Dreamwidth account you can log in with openID (any google, blogger, yahoo, myspace, wordpress, flickr, or lots of other accounts can function as an openID) here.

Scenario 1 You are on your third date with someone you have known for a while. At the end of the evening, which has been a pleasant one, you are tired and just want to go home. Your date wants to have sex. Despite your unwillingness, your date presses the matter, and forces you to have sex against your will. You know that nobody will believe that you didn't do this willingly, because your date is seen as a good person by your social group - otherwise you wouldn't be dating them in the first place.

Scenario 2 You are sitting in your living room watching TV. Suddenly, the door flies open, and a masked person with a weapon bursts in. This person threatens you with the weapon and forces you to have sex with them against your will. You have no idea who they are, and they leave immediately afterwards.

Scenario 3 You are walking home from work. You get dragged into a secluded area by someone you have never met before and forced to have sex against your will.

Scenario 4 You are in an abusive relationship. Your spouse regularly forces you to have sex against your will, and today is no different. You have lost count of the number of times your spouse has raped you.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 26


Which scenario do you think would have the worst PHYSICAL effect on you (tick all that apply)

View Answers

1
1 (3.8%)

2
17 (65.4%)

3
15 (57.7%)

4
15 (57.7%)

Which scenario do you think would have the worst PSYCHOLOGICAL effect on you (tick all that apply)

View Answers

1
11 (42.3%)

2
9 (34.6%)

3
3 (11.5%)

4
22 (84.6%)

Which scenario do you think would have the MOST LONG-LASTING effect on you (tick all that apply)

View Answers

1
5 (19.2%)

2
5 (19.2%)

3
1 (3.8%)

4
25 (96.2%)

Which scenario do you think would have the worst OVERALL effect on you (tick all that apply)

View Answers

1
2 (7.7%)

2
3 (11.5%)

3
2 (7.7%)

4
26 (100.0%)


For me, scenario 4 is the worst by far. Each individual occurrence is at least as bad as scenario 1, and it keeps happening, and you have no way of knowing when or if it will end. If you tell anyone what is happening, it is extremely likely they will say to you why don't you just leave? ignoring the fact that countless statistics say that leaving an abusive relationship is the most risky thing you can do, in terms of your survival. You can't rely on anyone for support, and the situation is ongoing.

Scenarios 1 and 2 are both equally bad to me. In both you are having your world shaken. In 1, your judgement is called into question. You trusted this person enough to go on several dates with them, and they have shown they cannot be trusted. How many other people you trust can't be trusted? How many people whom you think you know and love will not believe you when you tell them your date has raped you, because your date would never do a thing like that, and it's not rape-rape if you didn't fight back hard, and anyway, it was the third date, shouldn't you have been giving up by then anyway?

At least in 2 people will believe you have been raped, but the sanctity of your home has been breached. Your safe place no longer feels safe. Is ANYWHERE safe?

Scenario 3 is still bloody awful, but for me it's the least awful. The physical damage to my person is likely to be more, but in my mind, I can depersonalise the attacker and rationalise it. I don't have to look my attacker in the face every day and pretend everything is normal. Nobody is going to disbelieve me (unless I was wearing revealing clothing, or had had a drink), and the police will investigate the matter thoroughly. There is the prospect of closure, of seeing my attacker punished, which is just not there in scenarios 1 and (to an extent) 4.

I can understand what people are saying when they say that you can't classify rapes; that each rape must be considered on a case by case basis, and that ranking types of rape is wrong. I can understand it, but I don't fully share that view. I do rank types of rape. I classify them and I rank them. The problem is that I give far more importance to the psychological damage caused by rape, and therefore my rankings are radically different from the rankings of those who only consider the physical damage caused by rape.

For me, I can conceive of cases of date rape that would be less awful than some forms of stranger rape, for example if if a stranger rape happens in a place where you previously felt safe, like your home. But if all other elements of the crime are equal (level of force applied, etc.) date rape is a lot worse than stranger rape. Where I do agree with those who say you can't categorise rape is that each case should be considered on its own facts, and no case of rape should automatically fall into one sentencing bracket or another.

But then, I think that about ALL crimes.

Re: Another scenario

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Aaah, sorry, yes. If you mean "We were both drunk, and after the fact I decided that you raped me." then I suspect that that is very rare.

A quick google finds a variety of different sets of stats, but the most reputable ones seem to put it somewhere within 2% and 8%, which is apparently in line with most falsely reported crimes.

Re: Another scenario

Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Absolutely. I mean, personally I don't want to be having sex with anyone who isn't entirely enthusiastic and encouraging about the prospect of sex with me. A failure to be solidly sure that someone wants to have sex with you before you start indicates a fairly massive empathy failure to me.

(Sadly I've known too many people who are terribly low in empathy. I like to think that none of them fell _that_ low on the chart though).

And yes, if at least 92% of rape allegations are true then the risks of false allegation are low enough that we shouldn't be overly worried about them.

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