Today in Rape Culture

[Trigger warning for rape, rape apologia, and victim blaming]

[TW] Winnipeg Free Press under the succinct headline "Rape victim 'inviting,' so no jail":
A convicted rapist will not go to jail because a Manitoba judge says the victim sent signals that "sex was in the air" through her suggestive attire and flirtatious conduct on the night of the attack.
Queen's Bench Justice Robert Dewar called [convicted rapist Kenneth] Rhodes a "clumsy Don Juan" who may have misunderstood what the victim wanted when he forced intercourse along a darkened highway outside Thompson in 2006.

Rhodes and a friend met the 26-year-old woman and her girlfriend earlier that night outside a bar under what the judge called "inviting circumstances." Dewar specifically noted the women were wearing tube tops with no bra, high heels and plenty of makeup.

"Don Juan"? I see what you're doing there. To hell with that.

I'd say the whole "forced intercourse" thing indicates that the rapist knew damn well what the victim wanted, namely, to not have "sex" with him. Which is exactly what makes Mr. Rhodes' actions rape, not sex. Which is exactly why the court convicted Mr. Rhodes of rape. Because he's a rapist.

But, since we've all heard stories like this over and over and over and over again, I'm sure the rapist was a nice guy, and this rape wasn't really, like, you know, "rape rape." I'm sure it was some sort of magical no-big-deal, not-really-rape/"gray rape" that totally exists (except for how it absolutely doesn't).

Judge Dewar? Do enlighten us with your oh-so-novel arguments.
Dewar said the case was not "typical" of ones the courts often see and shouldn't be viewed as a precedent.

"There is a different quality to this case than many sexual assaults," he said. "Not all guilty people are morally culpable to the same level. This difference is not to be reflected in conviction. It can be reflected in sentencing. Protection of society is not advanced one iota by putting Mr. Rhodes in jail."

The judge clearly isn't making some sort of argument about the general efficacy of prisons in keeping society safe-- he's talking about the particular case of Mr. Rhodes (who, if you recall, is a rapist). While it doesn't fucking matter, Mr. Rhodes is not, to my knowledge, a particularly atypical rapist, which also means that there's a pretty decent chance that he'll commit rape yet again. If he was in prison for three years, that'd be three years during which, at the very least, he wouldn't be able to rape someone who's not in prison. So I'm not sure how iotas come into the discussion here.

Oh! Rapists in Manitoba also now know that there's an even greater chance that they'll be able to rape women and face little or no consequences. And! Women in Manitoba also have yet another reason to believe that the criminal justice system will ridicule them for coming forward and accusing their rapist-- even in those rare instances where the court finds said rapist guilty. Which is all my long-winded way of saying: What the fucking fuck?!?

Alas, permit me to talk about the victim's manner of dress.

First, I don't give a damn how the victim was dressed. Lots of people wear lots of clothes for lots of reasons. Just because someone is wearing heels and makeup and a tube top (or whatever), does not automatically mean that ze is looking to get laid. Example: I am wearing heels and no bra (alas, no tube top today) as I write this, and yet I'm mostly looking to finish this post and then to grade some papers-- teh sexy, it is very much not.

Second, I don't give a damn if the victim was looking to get laid. As Liss pointed out [TW] several years ago, it is possible for a person to send a signal that ze's looking for sex, while simultaneously maintaining hir autonomy in the matter of if, when, how, and with whom such sex may take place.

Consent is not merely a mythical concept when one chooses to make it so in violation of other peoples' autonomy. In other words, there is no excuse for rape. Ever.

Via @KateHarding (in turn, via @JessicaValenti)

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