Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"The Rape of Mr. Smith," still relevant today

This is old (been around since 1975), but to this day it continues to be a great example of problems in the justice system that are unique to rape survivors, namely victim blaming. It is from “The Legal Bias Against Rape Victims (The Rape of Mr. Smith),” by Connie K. Borkenhagen in the American Bar Association Journal. April, 1975. (via this PDF) Sharing it for anyone who has never read it:

In the following situation, a holdup victim is asked questions by a lawyer.
Laywer: “Mr. Smith, you were held up at gunpoint on the corner of First and Main?”
Mr. Smith: “Yes”
Laywer: “Did you struggle with the robber?”
Mr. Smith: “No.”
Laywer: “Why not?”
Mr. Smith: “He was armed.”
Laywer: “Then you made a conscious decision to comply with his demands rather than resist?”
Mr. Smith: “Yes.”
Laywer: “Did you scream? Cry out?”
Mr. Smith: “No, I was afraid.”
Laywer: “I see. Have you ever been held up before?”
Mr. Smith: “No.”
Laywer: “Have you ever GIVEN money away?”
Mr. Smith: “Yes, of course.”
Laywer: “And you did so willingly?”
Mr. Smith: “What are you getting at?”
Laywer: “Well, let’s put it like this, Mr. Smith. You’ve given money away in the past. In fact, you have quite a reputation for philanthropy. How can we be sure that you weren’t CONTRIVING to have your money taken from you by force?”
Mr. Smith: “Listen, if I wanted –“
Laywer: “Never mind. What time did this holdup take place, Mr. Smith?”
Mr. Smith: “About 11:00 P.M..”
Laywer: “You were out on the street at 11:00 P.M.? Doing what?”
Mr. Smith: “Just walking.”
Laywer: “Just walking? You know that it’s dangerous being out on the street that late at night. Weren’t you aware that you could have been held up?”
Mr. Smith: “I hadn’t thought about it.”
Laywer: “What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?”
Mr. Smith: “Let’s see … a suit. Yes, a suit.”
Laywer: “An EXPENSIVE suit?”
Mr. Smith: “Well – yes. I’m a successful lawyer, you know.”
Laywer: “In other words, Mr. Smith, you were walking around the streets late at night in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you might be good target for some easy money, isn’t that so? I mean, if we didn’t know better, Mr. Smith, we might even think that you were ASKING for this to happen, mightn’t we?”

The worst part? This is from 35 years ago. What has changed since then? If you wanted to, you could find examples of victim blaming in some court room every single day. Like, say, this one. "She didn't say no," one of the accused men said. "She didn't say, 'No, get off me'. She didn't do anything. She just lay there." Another accuser "told police while he had not had any conversation with the girl, he was 'certain' she had agreed to his participation, but in a second interview said he was not sure what she said but recalled 'she didn't say no'."

Do you hear this? 

For the gazillionth billionth time: If you see a woman (or teenage girl, in this instance) drunk to the point that she is going in and out of consciousness and/or throwing up, and you think you should "have sex" with her, DO NOT DO IT. That is RAPE. If she is passed out, you are raping her. Also: Just because she didn't say no doesn't mean she said yes. Those are not the same thing, especially in these cases. Furthermore? If you want someone to consent to having sex with you, having a conversation would help.


Eric said...

two things: 1. remove the gun, and the story is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT 2. if you're drunk and you have sex with someone else who is drunk, most states see that as the two have raped each other

Rosie said...

1. How is the story so different without the gun?
2. I don't know if you're speaking in generalities or not, but the story I'm discussing doesn't indicate that the accused men were drunk.

kleauklo said...

so the Twin Towers were calling to be brought down , where they?
Building high raise towers could be seen as calling for puting them down ?


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