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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

& Debates - Responsibility (Again)

My attempt (registration still required) to revive the previous debate, after seeing a post on Raging Right-Wing Republican (and references that post):
The first paragraph is pretty much how I feel about the matter. Nobody asks to get raped, but certain things (wearing skanky clothes, getting drunk on a date, etc.) are playing with fire. The rapist is always the Bad Guy ™; there's no question about that. But only a complete idiot would hand a Bad Guy another chance to do something bad!

Imagine you're driving through a traffic light. The light is totally green, and you're following every letter of the law. Then some psycho goes zinging through the intersection, unmistakably running the red light, and is headed straight for you. You have two options: continue, reassured that the guy is completely in the wrong, and the accident will be his fault, or slam on the brakes and avoid the accident completely (let's assume you still have time to do so)? You'd have to be a friggin' idiot to do the former, yet people try to justify that in things like this topic. That you didn't stop doesn't excuse the law breaker - the guy that ran the red light - but the fact is that you could have prevented it and you didn't. And with something as painful as rape (or car accidents, for that matter), do you think you'll CARE that it wasn't your fault, after it happens?

To me, date rape is something of another beast. I consider rape to be, by definition, one person forcing sex on another, when they know that the other is not willing. The real distinction of date rape is that, while common rape is pretty clear about what happened (it's extraordinarily rare for a woman to consent to sex with someone she knows nothing about, and isn't even on a date with), date rape is significantly more muddy, as it's very difficult to prove that it meets that definition. That men tend to misunderstand female signals as sexual invitation (and not understand when 'no' means 'no', especially when hormone-crazed) is thoroughly documented in social psychology, and things get even more difficult if the girl had previously consented to sex with the guy (as it makes it that much more difficult to tell whether she meant no, or was just playing*).

This is one of the definitions for arguing lack of responsibility for a crime in court: when the perpetrator did not, at the time of committing the crime, have the ability to tell right from wrong. If the guy doesn't know the girl doesn't want to have sex (in his mind, they're having consensual sex), how can you say that he could tell what he was doing was wrong (as most people would not consider consensual sex in and of itself a crime)?

This, of course, leads to even more sticky issues. Even if the guy didn't know that the girl wasn't willing, the (substantial) damage was still done, to the girl. What do you do with a real victim without a real criminal?

* And even worse is the (halfway commonly held) belief that girls that say (and perhaps mean) no will still enjoy the sex once things get going (a common porn scenario). Although this doesn't fall under the same category as mistaking 'no' as play, as in this case the guy may know, at the time, that the girl does not want sex (and thus meets the definition of rape).
UPDATE: Perhaps I should clarify something confusing, a little. It sounds like me saying that being raped is not the fault of the victim is contradictory to me saying that the victim was playing with fire. Here's what I mean: I believe that it takes a special disposition (either by nature or by nurture) to rape. I don't believe that people lacking this disposition will end up raping girls just because they were wearing skanky clothes. I do believe, however, that someone disposed to rape will be more likely to rape a girl like that. It's not the girl's fault that the guy was disposed to rape, but it wasn't very bright to intentionally do something that increased the probability of being raped, either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with you justin.
so many things is frakked that no one has common sense to figure it all out.
keep this comin man.