Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What Counts As "Rape-Rape"?

Because, honestly, I think that being a 13 year old who is intoxicated and drugged by a forty-three year old who then proceeds to have sex with the scared 13 year old would be "rape-rape" at least 3 different ways. Not, apparently, according to Whoopi Goldberg, who said on The View:
"I know it wasn't rape-rape. It was something else but I don't believe it was rape-rape. He went to jail and and when they let him out he was like "You know what this guy's going to give me a hundred years in jail I'm not staying, so that's why he left."
I've avoided the Roman Polanski arrest, because it seems so cut-and-dried, and other have covered it and covered it better than I could ever hope to. I rolled my eyes at the "He's such a great artiste" arguments that erupted from the anti-arrest side, and nodded along to the "What part of 'he raped a 13 year old' do you not understand?" crowd.

But this? This just makes me squint and look at my computer sideways. And, it makes me experience the strange vertigo-like sensation I get when I'm especially angry. My cheeks don't feel pins-and needlesy, though, and that is because this particular argument isn't incredibly shocking. It has, after all, been made before. By people in comments sections, in the "it was consensual" defense, and in the "she had sex before" defense. This defense has been made for many, many other accused rapists, and accused child rapists, in the past. Like R. Kelly.

These are, invariably, incredibly bad defenses, especially when the victim in question is under the age of consent. Because in that situation, it doesn't matter if the 13 year old high as a kite and three sheets to the wind didn't say no. S/he can't actually say, "Yes", and have that be the defense in court. Because sleeping with a 13 year old when you're 3 decades older than her, even when she isn't drugged up, is enough to make it "rape-rape". Because that is the exact definition of statutory rape. Add in the drugs, the alcohol, and the fact that the victim was scared, and it is all "rape-rape". Maybe Whoopi doesn't know this, but having sex with someone you've plied with drugs and alcohol counts as rape-rape no matter their age.

Otherwise, what we're dealing with here is the belief that some rapes don't count as much. If the victim had sex before? Not rape-rape! If the victim isn't bloody and bruised, showing she put up a fight? Not rape-rape! If the victim took off all of her clothing in front of the rapist? Not rape-rape! If the victim didn't say 'no', and often, even if she were below the age of consent? Not rape-rape! And that? Is bullshit. Because statutory rape is really rape. Because drugging someone in order to facilitate a sexual act does really count as rape. Because coerced sex, sex where the victim is too scared to voice dissent, is really rape.

The mythical 'real' rape victim, the person who never had sex before, who never walked the streets alone, who was home before dark, who carried mace to the store, who never dressed 'provocatively' and only wore white, cotton granny panties, and who was sitting at home knitting socks for the poor when s/he was violently assaulted, doesn't negate all of the rapes experienced by those who didn't always follow the rules - the ones who have had sex before, the ones who have walked alone, the ones who have been drunk around the other gender (or even the same gender). Those rapes are rape-rapes. Those rapes count as real rapes too.

Shame on Whoopi for suggesting otherwise.

(h/t Jezebel)


Emily said...

Broadsheet had a good post on this:

The way people have reacted to this is really disgusting. How can anyone think he shouldn't be punished?

petpluto said...

How can anyone think he shouldn't be punished?

You know, I was typing up a snarky reply, because the reasons given as to why he shouldn't be punished are just *so* ridiculous, but all together, they're just sick.

In truth, I can't understand how anyone could. It is just so profoundly disturbing.

petpluto said...

In other news, I love Kate Harding.

mikhailbakunin said...

This was clearly statutory rape, and Polanski should've been arrested a long time ago.

It's not really surprising that Woody Allen would be in Polanski's corner . . . but Whoopi Goldberg? Weird.

Hollywood really needs to get its shit together.

petpluto said...

This was clearly statutory rape, and Polanski should've been arrested a long time ago.

It is also clearly just rape, no matter the victim's age, because she was given drugs and alcohol and did say no before, during, and after the assault.

The fact that there is no way to create a "he said-she said" surrounding the statutory part and people I would normally respect (like Scorsese) are lining up to defend him considering both that and the grand jury testimony just makes it all the more appalling.

mikhailbakunin said...

Really? I was under the impression that the girl said it was consensual, but I guess that's just what Sharon Tate's sister said.

I think we disagree over the burden of proof with regard to rape trials, but it doesn't really matter in this case.

If it was forcible rape, Whoopi Goldberg's statment is even more absurd.

petpluto said...

I was under the impression that the girl said it was consensual, but I guess that's just what Sharon Tate's sister said.

If you want to, read the Grand Jury testimony:


It's more than abundantly clear that this was rape under pretty much any definition devised.