Monday, January 14, 2013

Asking for It: When is Rape Acceptable?

Yes, for those of you who were wondering, it's tape over them.

The proper answer, as everyone knows to reply out loud and in public, is never.  However, there is always a private, whispered, "... but...., if s/he was really drunk, dressed inappropriately, if I could see their ankles, on the wrong side of town, etc. wasn't s/he really asking for it?"

There is another instance that our culture seems to feel that rape is acceptable, not only acceptable, but just, even laughable.  Yes, I know we wrote a post about rape never being funny, but that isn't exactly true is it?  There is one type of rape that comedians of all stripes feel free to make fun of; which would be prison rape.  We seem to feel that prison rape is a satisfactory extra-judicial punishment for certain kinds of criminals.  When Sandusky was sentenced to prison, how many people nodded fiercely when the notion that he would "get his" in prison came up?  Prison rape is the subject which launched a thousand comedy sketches.  Which is why we seem to feel very complacent about doing anything to stop sexual assaults in prison.  One one hand we acknowledge that sexual assault is wrong, and if a judge explicitly sentenced someone to be raped in prison, there would be widespread outrage.  On the other hand, we seem to feel that criminals deserved to be tortured with more than just serving out a sentence locked away in prison.  Prison rape seems to satisfy our thirst for visceral, physical revenge.

But making light of rape also seems to lead pretty directly to this guy:


The guy is Michael Nodianos, who is on video making fun of a rape victim, as the rape is actually happening.  He notes that she is unconscious, and makes light of the entire situation.  When some of his peers express a minimal amount of concern over the situation, and Nodianos's callousness (not nearly enough in my opinion), he easily handwaves their concerns away.  Most of the rest of his peers laugh about it as well.  There is a definite feeling, extremely common, that if a woman has made herself vulnerable in any way, especially by drinking, then she is "fair game" for rape.  That her lack of ability to say no equals consent to anyone around who is willing.  Which is a defense that comes up repeatedly in cases like the Steubenville rape case.  Often in such cases you will hear men being compared to drooling dogs who have had a steak set in front of if men, like dogs, have no moral or ethical reasoning abilities, and lack any self-control.  Thus the fault doesn't lie with the man in question for committing the crime, but the person who put such irresistible temptation as an unconscious person in front of the man, who in no case should be required to control himself.

So while I would love for the answer in our society to be that rape is never acceptable, obviously that is not the case.  We feel that rape is excusable or justifiable in many instances.  In some cases we even hope that certain people will be raped, though they have been sentenced to be punished in other ways.  Does this contribute to the epidemic of rape that we have in our nation?  Undoubtedly so.

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