Heavyweights (and lightweights and everything in between)

Sorry for going AWOL on you there! This weekend was my father’s 60th birthday, and I had friends down to visit, as well as almost more family than I can handle. But here we are, happily continuing our Feminazi series. Friday Finds and Absurd Sexism of the week will be continuing per usual this coming weekend, despite it being a holiday (you’ll need SOMETHING to read in between setting off fireworks and sparklers, eh?).  


Today, we delve further into the “rape” subject, as Mr. X apparently had a problem with the dialogue concerning rape when he was making this list. Needless to say, I'm getting a bit tired of repeating myself.


Number 8.

…you mock the idea that men can be raped anywhere other than prison, and shrug-off prison rape except in cases of a male guard raping a female inmate.


This one is almost not worth responding to. I know of no one except already chauvinistic men who openly mocks prison rape or mocks the idea of male rape. Most feminists I know take the issue very seriously, and as I’ve already stated, just because mainline feminism does not usually acknowledge male on male rape or female on male rape, it does not mean that we do not find these issues important. The people who question whether or not a man can be raped are, most often in my experience, men themselves, not feminists (and I don't mean this as a "no True Scotsman" sort of thing, but in that the people who question it are not those who self-identify as feminist, either).


I seriously don't have much more of a response than that. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse at this point – the feminist dialogue on rape, yes, does focus on it as a woman’s issues, because it mostly is. Not acknowledging a nuance in the goal of going after the most efficacious argument may be a technique that needs to be refined, but it is hardly an issue unique to feminists, and this isn’t the Oppression Olympics.



Number 9.

…you believe “rape” includes consensual sex that a woman later regrets, or that a woman who had a sip of wine or half a beer before engaging in consensual sex was actually under the influence of alcohol and therefore unable to give consent.

Here’s the thing, Mr. X: Rape is defined, most often, by the victim, within the parameters of the law, and as I’ve said, repeatedly, 60% of rapes don’t actually get reported, and if they are, there’s only a statistical likelihood of 1 in 2 of someone actually being arrested, an 80% chance of conviction, followed by a just under 70% chance of actually spending time in jail. The odds that a rape case actually makes it to trial are few and far between because the victim is put under a massive amount of scrutiny, either by the police, the attorneys involved, or the media. A rape victim, coming forward, has a number of obstacles to any sort of justice, and if she was drinking or behaving poorly that night, then the chances decrease massively because there is this odd impression that “she deserved it.” So there’s not exactly an inclination for rape victims to proclaim consensual sex was rape.


“Regret sex” being pinned as rape, I have already covered, is a myth. Again, the burden of proof is on your end – give me statistics of innocent rapists, show me, through facts and figures, that false rape or “regret sex” is epidemic.


Sex under the influence of alcohol is actually a massive area of debate concerning consent, but I’ve never heard anyone argue what Mr. X says here in the last part of this statement.


At the risk of getting too personal: I’m an extreme lightweight when it comes to alcohol. I start feeling buzzed after half a glass of wine, which is why I don’t drink very often (also because I’m usually providing the transportation, and driving buzzed is a bad idea). We cannot judge another person’s capacity to consent by our own alcohol tolerance, which is why we need to trust victims.


And that, buddy, is why this list makes me so angry. Feminists, on the whole, argue that we need to trust a victim’s testimony because in rape cases, as it is often the only thing a case has to go on. If you are drinking with a girl, and you are afraid of being accused of rape the next day, don’t have sex. This isn’t CSI – there’s no forensic way to really tell if someone was raped (don't believe me: examine the evidence in the recent “cops raped me while I was passed out drunk” case in NYC…in which the cops were found not guilty, despite having a confession on tape).


And trusting the rape victim isn’t something society does well.


ETA: This argument about having sex after drinking, surprisingly, came up in the comments section of a Jezebel article today, in light of Bristol Palin's discussion of how her virginity was "stolen" and she shouldn't have been drinking. The user "YouCanCallMeAwesome" wrote a pretty succinct response better than I could:


No. You have to be impaired to the point of being unable to give consent. There's a big difference between that and what you're saying [about drunk sex being rape]  - you can be "impaired" without being "impaired to the point of being uanble [sic] to give consent." In terms of what alcohol does to your body, you become impaired after one drink in that your reflexes become slower, you start to lose small-muscle control, you're less alert and more relaxed, etc.

I'm not implying that Bristol wasn't impaired to the point where she couldn't give consent. I'm just trying to say that simply because someone was drinking alcohol even to the point of being "drunk" does NOT automatically make it rape. It's also not automatically date rape just because one person was drinking/impaired and the other wasn't. At least legally, the issue is ALWAYS going to be whether the person is in a condition to give consent and in fact did so. From her statements in the video and the book, it seems like she is implying that she was too drunk to consent, but I don't think that's 100% clear. In any case, I think it's irresponsible to go around making the blanket statement that if you're drunk and you have sex, it's date rape.