Ladies, I”ve got something to tell you it”s unfortunately something you probably already know. If a guy rapes you, there”s almost nothing you can do about it. It starts from the beginning a guy is likely to be stronger than you and capable of forcing himself upon you. If force doesn”t work, coercion (GHB, etc.) almost certainly will. After the deed is done, you”ll probably only tell your closest friends certainly not the police. If you”re brave enough to go to the police, they”ll probably pat you on the head and tell you that there”s not enough evidence. If they decide you”ve got a case, it”s probable that the courts will disagree. And if the courts figure that you”ve been raped, the guy”s probably going to get the equivalent of a stern talking to.
And through all of this not to mention the rest of your life you”ll be looked at as “that poor girl who was raped” or, worse yet, “that bitch who cried rape.”
Sad, but true.
Usually I find feminist complaints about the patriarchal nature of society to be nothing more than hogwash. (I actually heard someone trying to explain the “fact” that the letter “M” is patriarchal in that it not only is the first letter of “male,” but it is also an upside down “W.” And since there are more words that start with “M” than “W” you get the point.) But in terms of rape, I totally understand. Rape, as word, has no meaning anymore rape jokes are seen as tasteful because rape is considered funny. People cringe to hear pedophile jokes, but ones about rape are always greeted with laughter.
Furthermore, rape is the only crime for which the victim is somehow guilty for having a crime perpetrated against her. If I got my car stolen, no one would seriously condescend me by saying “Well, you asked for it.” It doesn”t matter if my car is nice, it doesn”t matter if it was parked in a bad part of town, it doesn”t even matter if I leave it unlocked, keys in the ignition, idling in front of Chesey”s in Ypsilanti. I might be accused of being unsafe, perhaps even dumb, but no one would honestly say “Hey man, you really wanted your car stolen.”
But rape? “You asked for it” is the knee-jerk response. You can be dressed up in a mu-mu with earmuffs and army boots on, but you still asked for it you”re still a woman of loose morals.
With that much stigma attached to rape, coupled with the near impossibility of getting justice, is it a surprise that women don”t report it?
The number of women who bear the burden of rape alone is significant. There are two relevant crime databases in this country the Uniform Crime Report and the National Crime Victimization Survey. The UCR compiles police reports from across the country while the NCVS anonymously surveys a wide range of American households. According to the UCR, roughly 90,000 rapes were reported last year. But according to the NCVS which allows people to report crimes without anyone knowing about it 300,000 women were raped. Less than a third of all rapes get reported for the other 210,00 rapes, women weighed the desire for justice versus the social stigma attached with reporting rape and decided that the stigma was too much.
Let me repeat that, in order to stress the horror of that sentence: 210,000 women weighed the desire for justice versus the social stigma attached with reporting rape and decided that the stigma was too much.
Let me address the other side for a moment (fitting, since “the other side” is the gender to which I belong). Some guys think that women call any bad sexual experience rape. “She obviously didn”t get off and then decided to call it rape.”*
I don”t even need to argue against this line of reasoning it”s absurdity is self-evident. But among the less chauvinistic of my species, there is serious confusion regarding what rape is. If a girl has been drugged with GHB(eta), she”s the victim of rape. If a girl is drunk and passed out, she”s the victim of rape.
But what if both parties are drunk, not passed out and certainly wouldn”t be caught holding hands (let alone copulating) if it weren”t for the alcohol? Is that rape? And if it is, who did the raping, since both parties were drunk? What if the girl”s drunk (but not drugged or passed out) and the guy”s sober? He”s sleazy, yes, but is it rape?
The ambiguities aside, it”s still clear that rape is a tremendous social problem. Even if I were to take a spectacularly sexist view and suggest that fully half of the women who reported rape on the anonymous NCVS are just “whiny bitches,”** that still leaves 150,000 rapes per year, of which 60,000 are not reported nearly half.
The stigma of rape is that heavy.
It”s disgusting that women don”t have a chance when it comes to rape. I, for one, would rather live in a place where, if my car got stolen, I don”t have many options. My car can be replaced. A woman”s sense of safety and dignity? Not so much.
*Yes, I have actually heard this.
**Yes, I have actually heard this, too.
Manish Raiji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.