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Tory MP says MEP’s rape comments ‘appalling’


3:04 pm - May 23rd 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Tory MP Louise Bagshawe has become the first Tory to speak out today and criticise Tory MEP Roger Helmer for his comments on rape on his blog.

On Saturday, Helmer wrote (emphasis ours):

Let me make another point which will certainly get me vilified, but which I think is important to make: while in the first case, the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.

So if degrees of culpability vary widely from case to case, how are we to establish an appropriate sentence in each case? Easy. We appoint people called “Judges”, and let them decide.

Feminist bloggers and tweeters immediately hit out, saying he was blaming women for being raped.

Tory MP Louise Bagshawe said Helmer’s comments were “appalling” on Twitter.

She then added:

He speaks for himself alone. A woman (or man) always has the right to change their mind. What if their partner insults them (one example)

A petition has also been launched against Roger Helmer and a Facebook campaign set up.

Roger Helmer previously asked why it was not “OK for a psychiatrist to try to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual?” and has also said that the word homophobia was a “propaganda device”.

He is also a big climate change denier and has hosted several conferences promoting denialism.

Update: No 10 has now issued a statement distancing themselves from the Helmer too:

This is clearly not the view of the Conservative party or the UK delegation in the European Parliament, and does not reflect the comments made by Ken Clarke.

The Evening Standard has picked up on Helmer’s comments too.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Gordon Bennet, where do they find em?

2. Mark Sheppard

@Cylux

The Pre-Cambrian, I think…

@3 Judging from his replies in the comments @the link provided by Mark, I think we might have to look a bit further back than that…
He really is a catch isn’t he!

Now that amounts to something a politician should resign over.

6. Mr S. Pill

The question is what does a Tory representative have to do to get sacked? Ken Clarke’s weird categorisation of not-serious rape, Dorries’ blame the victim mentality, now this sick fucker’s statement – and this is the new, modern Conservative Party? David Cameron – if he really does want to show that his party has changed – should sack these utter scumbags without hesitation.

Roger Helmer’s comments are out-of-touch, appalling, and offensive to both men and women. Given Roger Helmer’s previous comments on homosexuality, he needs to be removed from his post.

PETITION http://www.petitions24.com/sack_roger_helmer_mep
FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sack-Roger-Helmer-MEP/163004563763864
EMAIL sackrogerhelmermep@hotmail.com
TWITTER @SackRogerHelmer

If the party – and its membership – had changed, it wouldn’t be selecting people like Helmer in the first place. Yet they keep turning up.

9. Kulvinder

Although its pretty clear there are varying levels of seriousness when dealing with sexual assault and the sentencing of the offender may be affected by the actions of the victim re ‘consensual sexual activity on the same occasion and immediately before the offence took place’ or when ‘faced with a greater degree of provocation than normally expected’ (whatever that actually means – the SGC are unhelpfully vague); saying the victim shares some of the responsibility is obviously bollocks.

You really have quoted Helmer out of context here Sunny. You could have at least included the two hypothetical examples he cited.

Louise Bagshawe seems to be implying sex becomes non-consensual if one partner ‘insults’ the other. This seems bizarre to me, when sex tends to be one area of life where ‘insults’ are used to make the activity more dramatic and for many people, horny. It could be referred to loosely as ‘dirty talk’.

Yes feminists ‘hit out’ at Helmer’s comments. And Clarke’s, and Hitchens’ and Dorries’. Feminists are very good at ‘hitting out’ and not so good at coming up with logical arguments and ideas themselves about sex, gender and violence.

Louise Bagshawe seems to be implying sex becomes non-consensual if one partner ‘insults’ the other. This seems bizarre to me, when sex tends to be one area of life where ‘insults’ are used to make the activity more dramatic and for many people, horny. It could be referred to loosely as ‘dirty talk’.

No Elly,

Louise Bagshawe is not saying that sex will become non-consensual if one person insults the other, she is saying under certain circumstances it may.

For a comment to dismiss misreading with an example founded in misreading is not very constructive.

12. Watchman

Sunny,

Helmer here uses the examples of what is presumably premeditated stranger rape and spontaneous date rape in an established couple, and nowhere does he say either was anything other than wrong.

If you are going to attack this at least make it clear on what grounds you are doing so – is it because all rape is equally serious (which leads to some questions, but is a valid point) or is it because you feel that the comments you cite out of context somehow imply Mr Helmer thinks rape is not a problem (a difficult position to maintain, considering his equivalent example is murder…).

Overall thought, this sort of mindless cutting and pasting is not good for debate – it is just simple vilification.

None of which is to imply Roger Helmer is not an absolute idiot at times – but at least engage with his whole argument, not just the piece printed by Sunny.

13. Akheloios

His ‘two cases’ example is awful.

1. Someone stalks a woman and leaps from bushes to violently assault and rape her.

2. A woman says ‘stop’ when two people are in bed together, and the man continues on regardless of her wishes.

He claims these are two different kinds of rape. He’s wrong. Both are exactly the same kind of rape, but in the first case, the man is also guilty of a violent attack. The punishment for the rape should be exactly the same, that the man in the first case should have an extra charges laid against him when taken to court is a separate matter.

14. Mr S. Pill

How anyone can defend Helmer here is beyond me. Let’s read those words of his again:

the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.

What he is saying is that a) the woman who has been raped is in part at fault and b) men are insatiable sex-beasts who can’t control themselves.

Frankly it’s offensive to everybody concerned.
Roger Helmer MEP is a misogynist and an apologist for rape. To read it any other way is to be blind to his obvious odious views – he probably thinks that the outlawing of marital rape was a step backwards, too.

15. Watchman

S.Pill,

I am happy to accept Mr Helmer is a mysoginist. Since he condemns both forms of rape he menitons however, I don’t think he is an appologist for rape.

Akhelios has the right idea – he sets out a coherent position that is at least as valid as that of Mr Helmer (and one I agree with) – but attacking without setting out where you think Mr Helmer is wrong (and without showing you’ve read the whole comments) is rather weak.

16. Mr S. Pill

@14

I have read all the comments, here at over at the creep’s place. Sure, he says that both are wrong – but I rather suspect he’s playing lip-service there. I repeat: he claims that it is partially the victim’s responsibilty that she has been raped in the 2nd case here. Let’s not mince our words – that’s rape apologism by any standards.

17. Mr S. Pill

@Watchman again

If you want to know where I think Helmer is wrong, I’ll set it out very simply:

1) No means no. Even if you are in bed with someone and both undressed, hell even if you’re doing every but full sex if your partner does not want to have sex you do not have sex with them. End of – it’s not a very hard idea to grasp.

2) Men are not insatiable sex-beasts, despite what Helmer says. Anyone who can’t control themselves is entirely responsible for their actions and it matters not one bit whether the woman is partially clothed, fully undressed, in bed, or whatever. I (and I suspect plenty of others) have managed to sleep in the same bed as a naked woman and (gasp!) not raped her. Helmer would think that odd – most people with brains would think it normal and how things should be.

3) It is not the woman’s fault if she is raped. Not even partially. Not 0.0001%. I don’t know if this needs any clarification.

@9 Actually Louise Bagshaw was giving an example of why someone might change their mind – from being insulted – and thus consent being refused after having been previously given.

As an aside, good on Louise for calling him out!

19. Akheloios

I’m with Mr. Pill on this one. The second example is highly sexist towards men as well as being an apology for rape.

People can control themselves during sex, by saying that someone is incapable of stopping after a someone says no, you reduce the rapist to nothing but an instinctual animal, which they’re not, they’re making a conscious choice to ignore the wishes of the other person and continue.

It’s no different from saying that women should be covered up in public because they cause lecherous thoughts in men who then can’t control themselves, and as many of the people commenting on Helmer’s site have said, women in Burqas get raped too. It’s just another sexist excuse for why women are abused and making men out to be a victim of their sexuality.

It’s not about a lack of control in the middle of passion, it’s about people not taking no for an answer, and continuing regardless.

I’ve been in bed with someone in the middle of heavy foreplay when they said stop, and I bloody well put my dick back in my pants. So should anyone else in the same situation.

Consider the following scenario.

Every night for a week a woman goes to a bar, meets a different man, invites him back to her flat and into her bed. Each night she initiates sexual intercourse but part way through tells the man to stop because she has changed her mind.

The first six days the man stops and leaves. The seventh day the man continues against her will.

Questions.

Is the seventh man a rapist?- Yes, of course.

Does he deserve to be punished for rape?- Undeniably, yes.

Do the actions of the woman bear any responsibility for the crime having happened?

I rather think most rational people would say yes.

And if the rape occurred on the first night?

Helmer is a fool, but I am not sure that what he said was as entirely unrelated to reality as some here would have us believe.

21. Mr S. Pill

@19

“Do the actions of the woman bear any responsibility for the crime having happened?

I rather think most rational people would say yes.”

What led you this conclusion?

@pagar: “Do the actions of the woman bear any responsibility for the crime having happened?

I rather think most rational people would say yes.”

So let me get this straight: your argument is

1) If a person is rational, what they say is rational.
2) If you were rational, you would agree with me.
C) What I just claimed is rational.

No, no, christ no. Go take a leap, pagar, and take your circular argument with you. The woman in your example does not “bear [some] responsibility for the crime having happened” any more than a person who is stabbed bears some responsibility for being in the path of the knife. I, a rational person, say so.

19
This is an unlikely example and to suggest that it mitigates against the woman is nonsense. I agree with @21 it’s an old sleight-of-the hand trick of suggesting your answer is rational/intelligent/sensible suggesting that disagreement is irrational/unintelligent/nonsensical.
But let’s turn that one around, surely the woman has learnt over a period of time (6 times) that the normal response of men is to stop, why would she expect anything different?

24. redpesto

Akheloios:

2. A woman says ‘stop’ when two people are in bed together, and the man continues on regardless of her wishes.

That’s going to be assault, at the very least (presumably there is a right to withdraw consent as well as grant it). It’s also why some people use a safeword (as saying ‘stop’ might be part of the fantasy role-play). Either way, the other party (whether male or female) should just stop in that scenario.

Sadly, pagar may be right that most would blame the victim – significant proportions hold backwards views.

@Leftoutside I did not misread her comments I read them in a different way to you. she did not say ‘may’ she gave an ‘insult’ as ‘one example’ of how sex can turn to non-consent.

I thought it was a bad example when ‘dirty talk’ is such a part of sex for so many people.

@QuietRiotGirl: Okay, but her exact words were “A woman (or man) always has the right to change their mind. What if their partner insults them (one example)”. I don’t think one can arrive at your reading without ignoring the prior sentence. With that preamble, it’s clear that her point was that an insult itself alters or may alter the consent status, but that it’s one reason a person might change hir mind and withdraw consent.

*that her point was not that an insult itself alters

29. Chaise Guevara

@ QRG

I agree with nliu here. Unless there’s further context to her comment that I’m unaware of, it really doesn’t read as saying an insult is necessarily a withdrawal of consent.

The problem with the “reasonable expectations” idea is that said expectations should be reversed after you try to initiate sex and your partner refuses you.

30. Chaise Guevara

… not to mention that it basically states that repeatedly having sex with someone mean’s it’s partly your fault if they rape you.

31. Akheloios

@pagar

So essentially it’s a matter of time?

If the same woman had sexual relations with the same men over a period of 7 years instead of 7 days, most people would consider it rape, and rightly so. Why does your hypothetical 7 days make any difference?

It’s tautologous but non-consensual sex is non-consenual, no matter when it is, or what the circumstances are. There are no mitigating factors to rape.

I’m not sure what point you were trying to make, you pointed out the absurdity of your own hypothetical situation in the very next line when you asked if the woman would be considered raped on the 1st night not the 7th.

Pagar,

Just a hint – if you’re going to try an argue on the basis of what a rational person might think, you might try starting with a considerably less implausible scenario.

“This is clearly not the view of the Conservative party or the UK delegation in the European Parliament, and does not reflect the comments made by Ken Clarke.”

Kick him out of the party then.

The Stern Review on Rape Reporting collected some disheartening statistics (page 51):

26–29 per cent (male and female) feel that a woman is at least partially responsible for her own rape if she had been drunk or was behaving in a flirtatious manner (2005)

17 per cent think a woman is partially responsible for her own rape if she was walking alone in a dangerous or deserted area (2005)

21 per cent of people feel that a person should take responsibility for being raped if they act flirtatiously (2010)

64 per cent of people feel that a person should take responsibility for being raped if they drink to excess/blackout (2010)

39 per cent of 18–24-year-olds think a person should accept responsibility for being raped if they go back to the assailant’s house for a drink (2010)

“26–29 per cent (male and female) feel that a woman is at least partially responsible for her own rape if she had been drunk or was behaving in a flirtatious manner (2005) …”

There’s a serious imprecision with these stats, revolving around the word ‘responsible’. Many people would say that if you could have conceivably prevented something by acting differently, you are partially ‘responsible’ for it occurring. So that as a society, say, we are collectively responsible for what happens to the most vulnerable, or that parents, similarly, are partially responsible for their child’s behaviour.

I’d like to know how many of that 26-29 per cent – and in the other statistics quoted – think that as a result of the woman’s ‘partial responsibility’, the rapist’s responsibility is in any way diminished. It’s not a pie chart.

Let’s imagine that many of the 26-29 per cent are older people who believe that anyone drinking and behaving raucously is putting themselves at unnecessary risk of all manner of events which they would then bear ‘partial responsibility’ for – from being hit by a car, to being attacked, to choking on your vomit after passing out. They are very unlikely to retract their opinion, no matter how sympathetic they are to the victims of accidents or crimes, because they don’t recognise the heavy-drinking culture as being one where people take reasonable and proper precautions.

Jon @34, the first, second, third and fourth statistics there were from research conducted by ICM on behalf of Amnesty International.
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_16619.doc

Can we please distinguish between someone unwisely behaving in a way liable to put themself in danger, as the woman in Pagar’s implausible scenario does, and moral & legal responsibility for a serious crime which only – ever – lies with the perpetrator?

38. the a&e charge nurse

[33] “26–29% (male and female) feel that a woman is at least partially responsible for her own rape if she had been drunk or was behaving in a flirtatious manner – so presumably Helmer cannot be characterised as a loan nut?

I still think the term ‘insult’ was poorly chosen. This is a woman who thinks promiscuity is morally wrong. I doubt she has much time for S and M sex either. The problem with feminism sometimes is it just goes with anyone who is seeming to take a feminist perspective against its perceieved ‘enemies’. Louise Bagshawe is not my ally when it comes to sexual politics and she has never said anything useful about them as far as I am concerned.

Anyone far more alarmed by stats as high as 8% of people believing the woman is ‘totally responsible’? From that same Amnesty Report. Jesus.

Also, while I agree with Larry that that’s an important distinction to make, the real indictment of our culture isn’t so much how many people think the woman is ‘partially responsible’ but how much time we seem to spend focusing on that. When burglary crime statistics come up, MPs don’t jump up to give us examples of valuables left in sight and keys left under mats. They focus on how to deal with the criminal. Why isn’t that the case with rape?

Jon
I would think it is not the case with rape because to prove rape you have to prove that consent was not there. If it is assumed that all claims of rape are valid, then that automatically means the person accused is the criminal. This is different from burglary where there is a crime but often you do not know who has committed it. In a rape case you have the ‘criminal’ there, usually, so to assume he is guilty is wrong.

People never take this into account in feminist debates it is very annoying.

42. So Much For Subtlety

30. Akheloios – “It’s tautologous but non-consensual sex is non-consenual, no matter when it is, or what the circumstances are. There are no mitigating factors to rape.”

Of course there are mitigating factors to rape. Alcohol consumption for instance – by the man. Even childhood abuse has been used by women charged with rape of one sort or another as a mitigating factor. Every rape case is likely to produce some claims of some mitigating factor.

36. Larry – “Can we please distinguish between someone unwisely behaving in a way liable to put themself in danger, as the woman in Pagar’s implausible scenario does, and moral & legal responsibility for a serious crime which only – ever – lies with the perpetrator?”

Implausible? Let me introduce you to Paul Ibbs:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1987/46.html

2. The circumstances out of which the charge against the applicant arose were unusual. The complainant, a mother of four children, had been living with a man near the house occupied by the applicant and his wife, Katrina. Two of her children, both young, lived with her. The complainant was befriended by the wife and, when the man with whom the complainant had been living required her to leave their house, she and the two children went to live in Ibbs’ house. The applicant was attracted to the complainant and Mrs Ibbs, at the applicant’s request, asked her to have sexual intercourse with him. Prior to the night of 29 November 1986, the complainant twice had sexual intercourse with the applicant. On that night, the applicant again approached the complainant to have sexual intercourse. In evidence the complainant and the applicant agreed on the sequence of events that evening, though their evidence differed in some respects. After the applicant first effected penetration, the complainant objected that it was not right and that Katrina was her best friend. The applicant then withdrew and asked Mrs Ibbs to speak to the complainant, which she did. These events may have been repeated. Finally, after speaking with Mrs Ibbs, the complainant said: “Well, let’s get it over with”. The applicant again effected penetration. The complainant became upset during intercourse, saying “it’s not right”. Nevertheless, the applicant continued to ejaculation. The complainant tried to push him away, but the applicant said that that occurred “right at the last minute”.
….
3. In sentencing the applicant, Kennedy J. said:

” From the questions asked by the jury I proceed
upon the basis that you are not criminally liable
for the last act of initial penetration … Your
criminal responsibility results from the
continuation of penetration either after she had
withdrawn her consent or after any mistake on
your part had ceased to be honest and reasonable.
On the evidence I find it difficult to identify
the period of the continuation after the critical
moment. It is however enough to say that it was
an appreciable time, perhaps up to 30 seconds,
after she commenced to try to push you away from
her.

So in other words, he was convicted of rape because of what started as a mutually consentual sexual act, finished up with him taking 30 seconds to stop.

I am curious, who here thinks that justice was done in this case? Who thinks that it is rape if it takes a man perhaps 30 seconds to notice consent has been withdrawn? Who thinks the woman in question has no share of the blame?

As it turned out she later admitted that she lied, she and the wife had arranged to falsely charge Ibbs with rape to get him out of the house. Nice.

“This is different from burglary where there is a crime but often you do not know who has committed it. In a rape case you have the ‘criminal’ there, usually, so to assume he is guilty is wrong.”

I’m not sure how this affects my point. A person who claims to have been robbed might be conning the insurers. There may be no ‘crime’ at all. Or the police may have the wrong person. ‘Until proven guilty’ works the same in all cases.

But only in the case of rape do we seem to spend so much time pontificating on the victims’ role in the alleged crime, undermining them by trying to come up with outlandish imaginary scenarios where they could conceivably be blamed.

44. Mr S. Pill

@41

“As it turned out she later admitted that she lied, she and the wife had arranged to falsely charge Ibbs with rape to get him out of the house. Nice.”

So you rather long-winded story has no bearing on this discussion whatsoever, then. Thanks for that.

“I am curious, who here thinks that justice was done in this case?”

Were it not for the lie, I would.

42 @Jon I don’t think it is like other crimes. I will blog about this as I was meaning to anyway and I want to lay my arguments down clearly.

But try and think about it a little more in the meantime you might see what I mean. Especially when it comes to ‘date rape’ or relationships.

This was an article on Spiked magazine … which is very unpopular with many people on the left. It’s headline is:

This rape debate is demeaning to women
The current debate over the law on rape rehabilitates the Victorian view of women as helpless victims.

It’s a pretty controversial, and I’m sure would have Radio 5’s Victoria Derbyshire raising her voice and challenging the woman who wrote it were she to interview her on her programme. She makes points like this:

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 declared that consent must be ‘active, not passive’; in rape cases, consent is now taken to mean agreement rather than the absence of a refusal. So if a woman goes along with sex, but doesn’t make it explicitly clear that she is actively consenting to it, it can be deemed to be rape. The government has even moved towards ensuring that no agreement can be taken as consent if it is given under the influence of alcohol. As Cavendish pointed out: ‘In our zeal to protect women, are we going to legislate so that a drunken man is accountable for his deeds, but a drunken woman is not? Why do we encourage women to see themselves as victims?’ Absolving women who engage in sexual liaisons – whether drunk or sober – of responsibility for their actions is not liberating; it’s demeaning.

49. So Much For Subtlety

43. Mr S. Pill – “So you rather long-winded story has no bearing on this discussion whatsoever, then. Thanks for that.”

I am sorry you are unable to see the problem here. But I don’t think it is the fault of the rest of us. Do you?

44. Jon – “Were it not for the lie, I would.”

Sorry but you would equate a woman changing her mind half-way through a formerly consentual sexual act and the man taking all of 30 seconds to realise and stop with some stranger grabbing a woman from behind and raping her? You would ruin a man’s life over those 30 seconds? Seriously?

You really think that there are not moments where if someone quietly said they changed their mind you would not notice for at least that long?

42/Jon: But only in the case of rape do we seem to spend so much time pontificating on the victims’ role in the alleged crime, undermining them by trying to come up with outlandish imaginary scenarios where they could conceivably be blamed.

Not just rape. Domestic violence too. I wonder what the pattern could be.

46/damon: So if a woman goes along with sex, but doesn’t make it explicitly clear that she is actively consenting to it, it can be deemed to be rape.

Certainly, for their own safety, her partner should be doing more to check for consent in those circumstances. However, the article is wrong on two counts:

1) If the woman actually was consenting in that scenario, why would it get reported to the police? I know I don’t go to the police to report every detail of all my sexual encounters so that they can decide if they were potentially non-consensual or not – have I been failing in my citizenly duties?

2) The Sexual Offences Act 2003 does not contain anything about “active consent” in its wording. The act of rape – and many of the other offences under the Act – requires three things:
– the physical sexual act
– the victim to have not consented (if they consented, no matter how they expressed it, quite obviously no crime)
– the perpetrator not to have a reasonable belief in consent (which is why it’s a risk not to have active consent – but it’s not automatically illegal [1])

[1] Someone who has no reasonable belief in consent but actually has consent is not, in that situation, a rapist. But they will rape someone sooner or later if they carry on like that.

48/SMFS: and the man taking all of 30 seconds to realise

If someone is taking 30 seconds (that’s really quite a long time) to realise that their sexual partner has gone from consenting to a state where she is not enjoying the activity so much she just wants it to stop, I think it’s fair to say that he’s not paying anywhere near enough attention to the situation, to the point of wilful ignorance.

The myth that men need a clear unambiguous loud No to recognise a lack of consent is a bunch of misandrist garbage that completely ignores men’s capacity for empathy, observation, and common sense.

(I might give him a slightly lesser sentence than your hypothetical stranger rapist, just because the latter has also committed some non-sexual assaults, but I’d certainly throw the book at both of them)

I don’t really care about his life being ruined at that point – he’s already ruined at least one person’s life himself, and if he keeps sleeping with people with that wilfully ignorant attitude to their consent, he’ll probably ruin several more too. He brought that upon himself.

Thanks Damon that spiked article is interesting. There was also a post by a policeman about how many rape accusations are in fact bogus. But I won’t post it here I don’t want to get the wrath of the liberal feministas!

The debate needs to be opened up but everyone – conservatives, feminists, ‘lefties’ are doing their best to keep it closed. And, as that spiked article says, to keep women as victims.

52. the a&e charge nurse

[49] ahh, the etiquette of what body part can, or cannot be inserted into another person – for example, is it tantamount to rape if an uninvited finger is inserted into your arse while penetrative sex is taking place, or between thrusts should one enquire if it is OK to insert a finger, and perhaps even whether there is a preference for the index, middle or ring (no pun intended) finger – come to think of it – is an uninvited tongue in the mouth a form of oral rape even though other forms of kissing might be acceptable (admittedly some individuals do specify a no tongues policy).

It seems to me that we are heading to a sexual climate were couples might need written agreement, perhaps something akin to a ‘prenup’ as to what exactly is and isn’t allowed in the boudoir before the act itself takes place?

It is often said that the bedroom is a very dangerous place so one way to substantially reduce rates of sexual offending would be for all parties to steer clear of it unless they think the potential risks are really worth it – mind you, given the I want it, and I want it now sort of culture we live in, I am not optimistic that any such change is likely any time soon?

53. Cynical/Realist?

There’s (to me) a fundamental misunderstaning of what ‘responsibility’ or ‘culpability’ is. I could stay in my house hiding under the bed. I may see this as a sensible precaution at getting run over. My friend could throw caution to the wind and just walk sensibly on the pavement (madman!) and get mown down by a joyrider. Now, is my friend partly culpable for being mown down because he didn’t take all precautions like sensible me?

Of course there are sensible precautions (less silly ones) we can all take in our everyday lives. I might not wander the streets in a bad area while rat-faced in case I get mugged. Women may not do the same for different reasons. And there is always an argument about whether you should live your life or mitigate against the world outside – and the extent to which you go one way or the other. But that doesn’t even come close to touching on assigning fault in a crime.

In any crime situation you may look at the victim and see what in their actions opened the opportunity up. But it is never, ever, ever the victims fault – the fault lies utterly with the criminal. And thats true as much or more in rape as in any situation.

54. So Much For Subtlety

49. cim – “If someone is taking 30 seconds (that’s really quite a long time) to realise that their sexual partner has gone from consenting to a state where she is not enjoying the activity so much she just wants it to stop, I think it’s fair to say that he’s not paying anywhere near enough attention to the situation, to the point of wilful ignorance.”

Except there are moments when it is hard to pay attention to anything else. It is not such a long time. If she is kicking and screaming, sure. But if she just quietly changes her mind – what does she need to do before it is rape and how long should it take to notice?0

“The myth that men need a clear unambiguous loud No to recognise a lack of consent is a bunch of misandrist garbage that completely ignores men’s capacity for empathy, observation, and common sense.”

Men in general perhaps. But *all* men? *All* the time? Especially if a yes has been given.

“(I might give him a slightly lesser sentence than your hypothetical stranger rapist, just because the latter has also committed some non-sexual assaults, but I’d certainly throw the book at both of them)”

Unbelievable.

“I don’t really care about his life being ruined at that point – he’s already ruined at least one person’s life himself, and if he keeps sleeping with people with that wilfully ignorant attitude to their consent, he’ll probably ruin several more too. He brought that upon himself.”

Sorry but what ruin has he brought on anyone? The trauma associated with taking 30 seconds to get your point across is what exactly? Can we agree it is not quite on the same scale (on average anyway) as the OAP raped in her own bedroom by a violent stranger? He did stop. He did not sleep with people with a wilfully ignorant attitude to their consent. He showed that he was determined to get consent prior to sex. Turning her down before she was comfortable with it. And then all he did was not notice her change of mind quite fast enough. For this you would ruin a man’s life? How many seconds would be acceptable to you? Three? Thirteen? Is three seconds before stopping rape?

55. So Much For Subtlety

51. the a&e charge nurse – “It seems to me that we are heading to a sexual climate were couples might need written agreement, perhaps something akin to a ‘prenup’ as to what exactly is and isn’t allowed in the boudoir before the act itself takes place?”

Yeah. We used to have something like that. It was called marriage.

is it tantamount to rape if an uninvited finger is inserted into your arse while penetrative sex is taking place

Has anyone suggested it is, let alone been prosecuted for it?

@54 You’re not related to Stephen Green of Christian Voice perchance?

51/a&e: Well, that would depend if there was:
a) consent to do that
or
b) a reasonable belief in consent
If there was neither, yes, it’s illegal. Why shouldn’t it be in those circumstances?

It seems to me that we are heading to a sexual climate were couples might need written agreement, perhaps something akin to a ‘prenup’ as to what exactly is and isn’t allowed in the boudoir before the act itself takes place?

On the one hand, the straw-idea of written agreements is absurd. On the other hand, getting rather than assuming agreement to a particular sexual act before doing it is entirely reasonable (especially if it’s an act one hasn’t performed with that partner before)

53/SMFS: How many seconds would be acceptable to you? Three? Thirteen? Is three seconds before stopping rape?

That would depend on the circumstances. I’ll illustrate with a non-sexual offence. The man is instead driving along a country road (national speed limit) in his car. While driving, he enters a village (speed limit 30) but does not slow down immediately, as he missed the speed limit sign.

After 30 seconds of driving through the village at 60mph he finally notices that there are more houses about than there were a couple of minutes ago, and slams on the brakes. A passing police officer flags him down.

Is it worth ruining his life with a charge of dangerous driving? Should the number of pedestrians he ran down or nearly ran down be taken into account when making this decision? What if he only took 13 seconds to notice the change in speed limit? Three? Would “but I previously had consent from the government to drive at 60” be laughed out of court as a defence?

Back to rape – exactly how long after consent is withdrawn someone will no longer be able to claim “reasonable belief in consent” depends heavily on the circumstances, and is a matter for the court to decide case by case. Three seconds? Probably. Thirteen seconds? Possibly. Thirty seconds? That would have to be very unusual circumstances.

However, if the answer is “long enough that your sexual partner is upset by it” and especially if that’s followed by “and takes the unusual and rare step of reporting you to the police”, then it was too long whether or not it was strictly legal.

cim @49

If the woman actually was consenting in that scenario, why would it get reported to the police?

In the article I linked to it also says: ”More than four out of five rape allegations are made against friends or acquaintances. As alcohol and/or drugs were involved in over half those cases, Cavendish puts this down to ‘the culture of binge drinking’. But this avoids the more complex picture. Today, various rape-awareness activists and state feminists are themselves helping to blur the boundaries between sex and rape, encouraging women to regard themselves as violated, abused and traumatised for having gone to bed with a man without thinking it through in minute detail.
.
So it’s people being not in their right minds, and might hardly remember how much – if any – consent was given. Is it against the law to have sex with a drunk person?
And you kind of lost me with the wording of a couple of your other points about the difference between passive and active.

– the perpetrator not to have a reasonable belief in consent (which is why it’s a risk not to have active consent – but it’s not automatically illegal [1])

[1] Someone who has no reasonable belief in consent but actually has consent is not, in that situation, a rapist. But they will rape someone sooner or later if they carry on like that.

It’s around this area that Ken Clark was getting chased down the stairs by the woman from Channel 4 News having questions about this fired at him. And it’s difficult enough to understand when the words are written down like here.
The line is ”rape is rape”. But it does sound a bit dogmatic. As if it is or not is a judgement call, first by the woman and then by the authorities. (I think).

damon,

Is it against the law to have sex with a drunk person?

If the person does not have “capacity” to “consent”, they cannot consent.

see the Times report on R v Bree
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/reports/article1755931.ece

or the judgement
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2007/804.html

Heh, there’s a stereotype that’s been coined from observation of rape debates called “Mr How Do I Not Rape Someone? It Is So Difficult”
Just thought I’d add that here 😉

58/damon: Is it against the law to have sex with a drunk person?

I’m not familiar with the case law on this topic, but the answer is neither ‘Yes’ nor ‘No’. If they’re drunk to the point of unconsciousness or their drink was spiked, then unambiguously yes, by statute law, that is illegal. Otherwise, depends on how drunk they were – “drunk” covers a whole range of things – and whether the court feels that their capacity to consent was affected by that.

If it actually gets reported to the police, I think we can safely assume that something happened that they wouldn’t have consented to sober, and it will depend on the circumstances of the case as to whether the defendant can make a defence that they nevertheless had a reasonable belief in consent.

If it doesn’t get reported to the police, then either that’s because it was consensual, which is entirely fine (and of course legal!); or it wasn’t consensual but the victim doesn’t feel that they wish to report their rapist to the police, in which case the precise letter of the law is relatively unimportant.

Cavendish’s argument seems to be a long-winded variation on “if you’re drunk it was partly your own fault”, which I don’t feel needs any further response.

And you kind of lost me with the wording of a couple of your other points about the difference between passive and active.

Okay, to rephrase. If someone has “active” consent, then they can be pretty sure that consent actually exists, and that therefore what they are doing is not rape.

If someone only has “passive” consent then that implies to me that they are assuming that consent exists, without taking steps to actually check. If they are right in that assumption, then everything is fine – but they’re taking a risk. If they are wrong in that assumption, and consent does not exist, then it is rape. Under the circumstances, it seems rather unwise for anyone who does not want to be a rapist to proceed under an assumption of consent without checking first.

The main change from before 2003 is that from then on only a “reasonable” belief in consent counts, whereas before as long as the rapist could self-delude into thinking consent existed, it didn’t matter if there was any actual evidence for this or not. I don’t think that’s an unwelcome or unreasonable change in the law to have made

63. the a&e charge nurse

[60] a pre-fuck (as opposed to prenup) written agreement circumvents any misunderstanding and provides documentary evidence for any subsequent legal claim – just as some sex workers provide an inventory of available services, so a couple keen on a casual encounter could sign up (or perhaps more importantly exclude) whatever it is both parties regard as permissible.

The disinhibiting effect of alcohol allied to a surge of hormonal activity might have the effect of making some individuals less than objective when certain acts are taking place.

64. Mr S. Pill

@48 SMFS

“I am sorry you are unable to see the problem here. But I don’t think it is the fault of the rest of us. Do you?”

Yawn yawn yawn. You gave a long-winded story which could’ve had some bearing on the discussion…were it not for the fact that the story was false. It’s as nonsensical as Pagar’s “contribution” upthread (@19).
If your theories surrounding rape are so correct, why not find a real situation to use? Could it possibly be because you were looking for something potentially ambiguous to inflame the situation here, but all you could find was a false allegation ?
For such a verbose troll you do make some fundamental errors of logic.

As for your comment @54 “We used to have something like that. It was called marriage.”, I assume you don’t believe that rape can happen within a marriage then?

65. Mr S. Pill
66. the a&e charge nurse

[63] “I assume you don’t believe that rape can happen within a marriage” – rape has been part and parcel of marriage (not all marriages of course) and in some cultures, sadly, there is tacit approval for this sort of violence.

According to the UN, “In many countries sexual assault by a husband on his wife is not considered to be a crime: a wife is expected to submit. It is thus very difficult in practice for a woman to prove that sexual assault has occurred unless she can demonstrate serious injury” – in other words sexual violence is embedded in the culture so it is hard to see how this sort of rape can be reduced until the culture itself changes?
http://www.un.org/rights/dpi1772e.htm

In liberal democracies (outside of marriage) rape could be reduced dramatically if the known risks were considered more carefully by both parties before spending the night alone together – and given that consequences can be so dire for all concerned why not sign up in advance to the rules of the game?
Other forms of protection (such as a condom, etc) is part and parcel of sex nowadays so why not make more explicit the legal considerations so that it is absolutely clear what is or is not permitted?

Mr S. Pill @64, that is indeed a handy guide for how not to rape people.

This woman Helen Reece from that Spiked magazine that so many people dislike, had something to say about this today, and she says part of the problem is with section 74 of the 2003 Sexual Offences Act. That it was the widening of the scope of what was meant by consent that has caused a bit of this bother.

This legal reform has changed rape from a rare and aberrant crime to an occurrence that is – though not ideal – certainly commonplace. While rape reformers have been fervent in their insistence that rape is both extremely common and unbelievably heinous, this involves walking such a tightrope that it is inevitable that occasionally someone like Ken Clarke will fall off.

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/10541/
Some people just refuse to engage with those people though because they are said to be contrarians. And like this guy Roger Helmer, climate change deniers too. Although why that was mentioned in the OP I have no idea.

68. Mr S. Pill

@65

“rape has been part and parcel of marriage (not all marriages of course) and in some cultures, sadly, there is tacit approval for this sort of violence. ”

Well, yeah. It wasn’t outlawed in the UK until 1991.

65/a&e: if the known risks were considered more carefully by both parties before spending the night alone together

The vast majority of rapes are not the result of some unintentional misunderstanding about what constitutes and signifies consent. They are the result of a deliberate disregard for whether or not the other person consents or not, carried out, often in a premeditated fashion, by serial sexual predators (who, give or take, constitute 5-15% of men [1], so they’re not possible to avoid meeting)

People who are actually interested in whether their partner(s) consent, and whether their partner(s) are actually enjoying themselves, are so vanishingly unlikely to rape someone “by accident” that they don’t need a written contract, and furthermore, as they’re being open to the possibility that their partner(s) might withdraw consent later, wouldn’t consider such a contract to be worth the paper it was written on anyway.

The “known risk” is that your partner might turn out to be a rapist. Given the odds, and the lack of giant R’s on their foreheads, the only risk management is to never let [another] man within ten feet of you, on pain of death. So can we please stop talking about what “risks” rape victims allegedly shouldn’t have taken? There is absolutely nothing that victims can do to prevent it.

[1] 5-15% of men, depending on exactly what questions you ask, will admit to rape, sexual assault, attempted rape, or attempted sexual assault, in an anonymised survey, provided that the word “rape” is not itself in the question. Most of those men will admit to several such acts.

damon/66: Or, summarised. “Rape is such a terrible crime that it can’t possibly be commonplace. Maybe if I ignore the problem it will go away.”

What about section 74 “For the purposes of this Part, a person consents if he agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.” could possibly be considered overbroad? That’s pretty much the standard legal definition of consent used everywhere else.

I admit, I’m not sure how someone expressing that view gets a reputation as “contrarian”, since that’s pretty much been the view that’s got the most airtime for decades “Rape is really terrible, but only certain rare stranger assaults actually count as rape, in contradiction to just about every piece of actual scientific research on the subject.”

67/Mr S Pill: Yep. And even then, it was outlawed through the Law Lords finally declaring, on an appropriate appeal case, that it was absurd to declare marriage to be complete irrevocable consent to all sexual acts. All of the legislative attempts to criminalise marital rape failed.

71. the a&e charge nurse

[68] “They (rape) are the result of a deliberate disregard for whether or not the other person consents or not, carried out, often in a premeditated fashion, by serial sexual predators (who, give or take, constitute 5-15% of men [1], so they’re not possible to avoid meeting)”.

But the 10-15% of sex predators you refer still need a window of opportunity (if we leave random sex attacks to one side for the moment) – so how does a women determine if the man she is with for the night falls into the sex predator camp or if he is one of the 85-95% who is unlikely to be planning his next rape? (if we accept your claim about premeditation).

While risk cannot be abolished completely the number of rapes would reduce dramatically if each partner spent more time getting to know each other then entering into a contract about the boundaries of their sexual preferences.
Such a development would create a climate in which each person would need to give greater considerations to the implications of what they were both agreeing to.

Now I know this would result in a loss of spontaneity, excitement, and dare I say even danger but given the consequences of being raped wouldn’t it be a price worth paying?

If a couple meet, consume alcohol and end up in bed on their first night together are they not contributing to a situation that makes it very difficult for a jury to ever get beyond the ‘he said’, ‘she said’, sort out of stuff once the worst has happened (assuming there is no collateral evidence, a factor usually implicated in low conviction rates).

Up-stream consent was mentioned but no third party is required to corroborate the presence or or absence of capacity – the rapist simply says, yes, she agreed, and fully understood the implications of the choices she made leaving a jury with the invidious task of deciding ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ that the accused’s version of events is untrue.

cim @69

damon/66: Or, summarised. “Rape is such a terrible crime that it can’t possibly be commonplace. Maybe if I ignore the problem it will go away.”

Not really. I just look and see if it’s possible to move these kinds of arguments on a bit. From where the ‘anti-Clark drama’ of the last few days ended up, and with some of the threads on LC.
I have no problem with people taking the stances they do, but it’s fair to say there were aspects of it that were over done – like Ed Miliband calling for Clarke’s resignation for example.

That woman I linked to in that Spiked article spoke about this subject at weekend event last autumn. In a session called ”Rape and the law: he said, she said?”
http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/2010/session_detail/4115/

I had a listen of that again today. It’s a bit different to the kind of thing you would hear from your common or garden feminists. They have as ”recommended reading” for the talk, this article by that Claire Fox woman off the ”Moral Maze” radio programme.

No means no. But what about yes?

New rape laws will put the thorny question of consent at the forefront of adult sexual relationships.
Will that do more harm than good?

http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/guest-commentary/no-means-no-but-what-about-yes-1.1039025

My point is only, that I find that kind of debate quite interesting, and some of the more mainstream debates on the left quite stiffling. And I wonder why sections of the left just refuse to engage with that kind of opinion/analysis.

@ SoMuchForSubtlety

“Sorry but you would equate a woman changing her mind half-way through a formerly consentual sexual act and the man taking all of 30 seconds to realise and stop with some stranger grabbing a woman from behind and raping her? You would ruin a man’s life over those 30 seconds? Seriously?”

Just look at how much an effort you’re making here to drive a wedge between two acts that are fundamentally the same. In both cases, a man made a very conscious decision to ignore the wishes of a woman and go on penetrating her. Why on earth would I not want to equate the two just because of differing events led up to that point?

You seem to want to warp the universe to breaking point to create this incredibly unlikely, entirely hypothetical scenario of a woman who says no and a man who somehow doesn’t notice, or is ‘confused’. As has been pointed out, you can’t even produce a single real life example of this happening. No one can. We’re far off into the realms of the imagination here. You might as well be asking us: is it rape if you go back in time and rape yourself? Or is it rape if you have to rape someone to escape being raped by them?

The only difference I see between the two scenarios is a classist one – where the stranger who grabs from behind is a ‘proper’ rapist because they’re obviously some weirdo prole scumbag, while the gent who finds himself in the happy position of being able to rape someone immediately after the break-off of consensual sex is obviously a decent bloke at heart. It’s the same distinction we seem to make when we chortle at celebrities shoplifting and send them off to rehab for kleptomania.

“My point is only, that I find that kind of debate quite interesting, and some of the more mainstream debates on the left quite stiffling. And I wonder why sections of the left just refuse to engage with that kind of opinion/analysis.”

Happy to do so as soon as this supposed open-minded debate and analysis stops looking like a blatant sidetrack so that we can all avoid confronting the fact that we still have a fundamentally sexist culture that tacitly encourages rapists and doesn’t seem particularly bothered about catching them. Armchair debate about troubling details is all very lovely when we know that all reasonable steps and measures are being taken – until then, it seems rather cowardly.

74. So Much For Subtlety

62. the a&e charge nurse – “a pre-fuck (as opposed to prenup) written agreement circumvents any misunderstanding and provides documentary evidence for any subsequent legal claim – just as some sex workers provide an inventory of available services, so a couple keen on a casual encounter could sign up (or perhaps more importantly exclude) whatever it is both parties regard as permissible.”

No it doesn’t. As with the case I cited. A woman can consent, sign and then change her mind. If she has agreed to sex, signed the agreement and then decides she doesn’t want to have sex after all, it is rape, no? A pre-f*ck is legally worthless.

63. Mr S. Pill – “Yawn yawn yawn.”

I do like debating with you Mr Pill. You do so much of the heavy lifting for me.

“You gave a long-winded story which could’ve had some bearing on the discussion…were it not for the fact that the story was false.”

The story was not false. The allegation was false. However it still stands as an example of the real world, as opposed to the theories we are mostly dealing with.

“If your theories surrounding rape are so correct, why not find a real situation to use?”

He got four years. That’s pretty real.

“I assume you don’t believe that rape can happen within a marriage then?”

And again you fail the basic logic test. Obviously in British law, as it stands, there can be rape in marriage. The point was that marriage used to be seen as a contract that meant sex was allowed. Not rape. We re-defined it. Now we all accept there can be rape within marriage even though marriage is still a legal contract that allows for sexual intercourse. In the same way that a pre-f*ck is not a solution to the problem as we would still have to admit that there can be rape within a pre-f*ck.

75. So Much For Subtlety

72. Jon – “Just look at how much an effort you’re making here to drive a wedge between two acts that are fundamentally the same. In both cases, a man made a very conscious decision to ignore the wishes of a woman and go on penetrating her. Why on earth would I not want to equate the two just because of differing events led up to that point?”

Sorry but did you even read anything about the case? He did not make any sort of decision to ignore her wishes. He went out of his way before they had sex to make sure that she was sure she wanted it. He turned it down because she was not entirely sure. When she did consent, there is no evidence that he was ignoring her wishes. Simply that it took him 30 seconds to realise what she was saying, what she wanted, and hence to stop.

How can you possibly conflate the two?

“You seem to want to warp the universe to breaking point to create this incredibly unlikely, entirely hypothetical scenario of a woman who says no and a man who somehow doesn’t notice, or is ‘confused’. As has been pointed out, you can’t even produce a single real life example of this happening.”

He got a four year prison sentence. I have given you the court transcript. I don’t want to get angry here but if you can’t be bothered reading enough of this thread to notice that *it*is*a*real*case* why are you wasting my time?

“No one can. We’re far off into the realms of the imagination here. You might as well be asking us: is it rape if you go back in time and rape yourself? Or is it rape if you have to rape someone to escape being raped by them?”

Do you have any other clever comments to make or would you like to deal with the actual reality and what I have actually said?

76. So Much For Subtlety

68. cim – “The vast majority of rapes are not the result of some unintentional misunderstanding about what constitutes and signifies consent. They are the result of a deliberate disregard for whether or not the other person consents or not, carried out, often in a premeditated fashion, by serial sexual predators (who, give or take, constitute 5-15% of men [1], so they’re not possible to avoid meeting)”

I bet they are not. I bet that the vast majority of rapes in the UK are exactly what you originally described – misunderstanding about what constitutes consent, usually with alcohol involved.

“So can we please stop talking about what “risks” rape victims allegedly shouldn’t have taken? There is absolutely nothing that victims can do to prevent it.”

I am opposed on ideological grounds to even thinking about what victims of crime should do to avoid being victims, but in the British where I live, I would think that there are things women could do to avoid being victims of rape – not drinking so much, so late, and hanging out with strangers for one thing. That is not to say they should. There is plenty that victims of rape can do to avoid being a victim. They should not have to, but they could.

“[1] 5-15% of men, depending on exactly what questions you ask, will admit to rape, sexual assault, attempted rape, or attempted sexual assault, in an anonymised survey, provided that the word “rape” is not itself in the question. Most of those men will admit to several such acts.”

So your evidence does not support your claims above? If the word “rape” is not being used, what are they admitting to? Attempted sexual assault? Having I been so drunk that I have kissed a girlfriend who was also so drunk that proper consent could not have been given? It is hard to remember so far back to my teen years but I believe so. I must be part of that 5-15% then. That does not make me a serial rapist. More lying with statistics.

77. Mr S. Pill

@73 SMFS

“The story was not false. The allegation was false. However it still stands as an example of the real world, as opposed to the theories we are mostly dealing with.”

OK, I should’ve clarified as I wasn’t aware that you were particularly stupid: the allegation was false. Ergo, the situation that you described did not happen; as it did not happen (and is grossly unlikely to ever occur) it has no bearing on the discussion. Clear yet? Or do you need more help with reading comprehension?

“Obviously in British law, as it stands, there can be rape in marriage. The point was that marriage used to be seen as a contract that meant sex was allowed. Not rape. We re-defined it.”

*shoots fish in barrel*

If you think rape is merely an issue of semantics and apparent legal definitions then you have a troubling mindset. If a woman was forced to have sex against her will with her husband pre-1991 what would you call it? Because I and 99% of right-minded folk would call that rape.

78. Lynsanity

?”But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says ‘Stop!’ The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on.”
That still sounds like rape to me, and I don’t know what men he’s talking about unable to restrain themselves like bitches on heat, but I suspect that most men aren’t like some kind of uncontrollable machine. Maybe he’s been in that situation himself and thinks it’s ok. He does look like a potential rapist let’s be honest.

So your evidence does not support your claims above? If the word “rape” is not being used, what are they admitting to? Attempted sexual assault?

It’s a cunning survey that asked questions which Mr “How do I not rape someone? It is so difficult” could not fail to trip himself up on and out himself as a rapist. Generally by asking about specific circumstances along the lines of say “Have you ever forced a girl to do something sexual that she didn’t want to do?”, or “Have you ever slept with a girl when she was passed out?” etc.

I bet they are not.

Then you should be able to find a reputable study showing that.

I would think that there are things women could do to avoid being victims of rape – not drinking so much, so late, and hanging out with strangers for one thing

Well, you might well think that. But you would be wrong even on the narrow terms of “things women could do but shouldn’t need to”, never mind the broader case of not blaming victims for their attacker’s actions and existence, because none of those three are at all effective in practice. The modal rape victim is raped by someone they know reasonably well, in their own home, while sober.

(Even if they did work, it would just mean that the rapist picked someone else, so it’s not actually helping overall, which is another reason it’s so ridiculous)

If the word “rape” is not being used, what are they admitting to?

Acts that meet the legal definition of rape, quite obviously. (Similarly, if I ask “have you ever taken goods from a shop without the knowledge of the shop staff, and without paying” and the respondent says “yes”, then they are admitting to shoplifting despite the word “shoplifting” not being in the question)

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/ has a good summary – with the question text – for two such studies. You will unfortunately need a bunch of journal subscriptions to read the studies – and their references – for yourself. I’ve read the Lisak and Miller paper; the summary on that page is accurate.

81. So Much For Subtlety

76. Mr S. Pill – “OK, I should’ve clarified as I wasn’t aware that you were particularly stupid: the allegation was false. Ergo, the situation that you described did not happen; as it did not happen (and is grossly unlikely to ever occur) it has no bearing on the discussion. Clear yet? Or do you need more help with reading comprehension?”

Keep digging Pill. You’re doing a slap up sterling job of it. The allegation was false. The man was real. The charge was real. The trial was real. The sentence was real. The prison term he served was real. The confession of the woman that the allegation was made up was also real.

So to recap – while we are on the subject of reading comprehension – I have provided actual transcripts of the trial, I have provided the judge’s actual words, I have provided a link to the official record of the trial. And you still don’t get this whole “reality” thing. Impressive.

“If you think rape is merely an issue of semantics and apparent legal definitions then you have a troubling mindset. If a woman was forced to have sex against her will with her husband pre-1991 what would you call it? Because I and 99% of right-minded folk would call that rape.”

That is an interesting question. I don’t think rape is a matter of semantics. But crime resides in the mind of its perpetrator. Rape may well also lie in the mind of the victim. If the victim doesn’t think it is rape, and if the perp doesn’t think it is rape, is it rape? You want to force your own definition on British society in the 1950s do you? That is fascinating. Whether it would be rape or not is not an issue I am confident on commenting on. I will merely point out that British society and British law did not so define it at the time.

Nor do I agree 99% of the population would agree with you. On anything.

82. So Much For Subtlety

78. Cylux – “It’s a cunning survey that asked questions which Mr “How do I not rape someone? It is so difficult” could not fail to trip himself up on and out himself as a rapist. Generally by asking about specific circumstances along the lines of say “Have you ever forced a girl to do something sexual that she didn’t want to do?”, or “Have you ever slept with a girl when she was passed out?” etc.”

Yes except the details mentioned were rape, sexual assault, attempted rape or attempted sexual assault. So the question design is all important. Which means we have to know who designed it and what the questions were. Because you can trivially produce the result you want this way – as with the Australian study that proved one in four women were sexually assaulted by defining a man whistling at them as a sexual assault. So first of all we would have to make sure that the “rape” question was separate from the “sexual assault” question. Then we would have to check the definition of sexual assault. Then we would have to separate out the attempts at both. So, if I was asked if I had woken up one morning in an amorous mood and placed a hand on a sleeping partner (something I expect that every man on the planet has been guilty of) and I said yes, would they define that as a sexual assault? Would you?

79. cim – “Then you should be able to find a reputable study showing that.”

As should you. I notice you haven’t.

“The modal rape victim is raped by someone they know reasonably well, in their own home, while sober.”

Although given the underreporting it is next to impossible to know.

“Acts that meet the legal definition of rape, quite obviously.”

Or sexual assault. Or attempted sexual assault. Or attempted rape. There has been a little discussion of this recently in the US over the 1-in-4 college students have been raped statistic. Someone else pointed out that the victims often do not describe what happened to them as rape. So if they don’t think it is rape, is it actually rape?

“http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/ has a good summary – with the question text – for two such studies.”

Which are irrelevant for your purposes. As they involve an unrepresentative sample of the population – and they have produced an unrepresentative result. To quote that webpage:

“Of all 120 admitted rapists, only about 30% reported using force or threats, while the remainder raped intoxicated victims.”

So you claim the modal rape victim is sober. Their modal rape victim was not. Both claims cannot be true. Their sample of college students clearly says little about mankind as a whole. Both studies also report lower numbers than 15%.

83. Mr S. Pill

@80

“The allegation was false. The man was real. The charge was real. The trial was real. The sentence was real. The prison term he served was real. The confession of the woman that the allegation was made up was also real.”

You really don’t see the problem do you. The allegation was false: therefore the situation/crime as described in court did not happen. Yes the man was falsely accused etc etc but we’re not talking about false allegations of rape, we’re talking about situation where there has actually been a rape/something that could be construed as a rape. So it’s a nonsense to use your case as some sort of “gotcha” moment.
Do you see, yet? Probably not, as the rest of your ramblings “You want to force your own definition on British society in the 1950s do you? ” etc etc show you up as the rape apologist you quite clearly are. Frankly you bore the shit out of me with your increasingly heavy-handed diatribes and sarcastic innuendoes, & I cannot be bothered to continue this discussion. No doubt you’ll claim victory at this juncture, frankly I couldn’t care less what you think about anything. I just hope you are never in a position of power at a legal level & I hope you never speak to/at a rape survivor the way you talk here.

84. So Much For Subtlety

82. Mr S. Pill – “You really don’t see the problem do you.”

Because there isn’t one for me. You f**ked up and are now trying to squirm your way out of trouble.

“The allegation was false: therefore the situation/crime as described in court did not happen.”

Yes but the law existed, the trial occurred and the prison term was served. In part. I am sure it is of comfort to prisoners to say to themselves “this isn’t happening” but actually it is. For the purposes of our discussion it really does not matter if the crime occurred or not. What matters is that Ells was actually convicted. And people around here think that, on the evidence put forward at trial, he was as deserving of his sentence as a brutal stranger rapist.

“Yes the man was falsely accused etc etc but we’re not talking about false allegations of rape, we’re talking about situation where there has actually been a rape/something that could be construed as a rape. So it’s a nonsense to use your case as some sort of “gotcha” moment.”

He went to jail. That looks like a gotcha moment involving something that could be construed as rape to me. The falseness of the allegation is beside the point.

“Do you see, yet? Probably not, as the rest of your ramblings “You want to force your own definition on British society in the 1950s do you? ” etc etc show you up as the rape apologist you quite clearly are.”

Keep on digging Pill. I am happy for you to make my case for me.

“Frankly you bore the shit out of me with your increasingly heavy-handed diatribes and sarcastic innuendoes, & I cannot be bothered to continue this discussion.”

Sarcasm is not something I do Pill. Projection is not helping either.

85. So Much For Subtlety

Incidentally, Australia does seem to be an odd place for rape law. Because there is also an Old Age Pensioner who was appealing his conviction for a 1963 rape. Of his wife. At a time when raping your wife was not a crime. She filed a complaint some 30 years later and he was convicted. On the basis of what the law ought to have been.

I believe he has just had his appeal turned down.

I am curious. Does anyone think that he is actually innocent of this crime?

86. Tom (iow)

One thing that does worry me a bit with the definition of rape in the SOA 2003 is that if a partner withdraws consent mid-act, there always has to be a scintilla temporis where the other person is both penetrating their partner, and aware that they no longer consent, before he is able to react and withdraw. It might be one second, but as the law is written that one second amounts to rape and is in theory punishable with life imprisonment: and with a very inflexible view that ‘rape is rape’ this scares me a bit. I would hope judges would be sensible enough to interpret some additional mens rea requirement into the law in this situation.

@SMFS The obvious answer for that case from down under you keep banging on about, is that had the women not been lying, then yes justice would have been done, but since she was lying then it was a miscarriage of justice.

The court text you lonked way back up even states that in the 30 seconds scenario that didn’t actually occur, that upon being told to stop, having consent withdrawn, he ognored her wishes and carried on to climax anyway. Fairly open and shut instance of rape there, had it not been for it being fabricated.

Tom (iow)@85 – agreed but isn’t that where the jury is important?

SFMS @84 I’m surprised at that case you’ve described because England at least has a tradition of being against ex post facto law (with the odd exception); looking at Wikipedia, apparently there isn’t such a strong tradition in Australia.

@84 I don’t. The law change was just. Allowing it to apply retrospectively is also just. I fail to see why I should feel sorry for a man who was able to evade justice for his actions because of antiquated ideas and laws.

Jon @72

Happy to do so as soon as this supposed open-minded debate and analysis stops looking like a blatant sidetrack so that we can all avoid confronting the fact that we still have a fundamentally sexist culture that tacitly encourages rapists and doesn’t seem particularly bothered about catching them. Armchair debate about troubling details is all very lovely when we know that all reasonable steps and measures are being taken – until then, it seems rather cowardly.

If that’s what you think, fine. I’m not really that fussed.
But what you said there does sound a bit overly dramatic.

85/tom (iow): but as the law is written that one second amounts to rape

I don’t think it does. I think the law as written basically asks “was a lack of consent wilfully or negligently ignored?” In the situation you describe, it was not.

I agree that you could if you wanted read it as stating that mental reaction time was okay but physical reaction time was not, but that would be completely absurd and I can’t imagine any case for that being what the law means.

More importantly, I can’t imagine a single situation in which anyone who stopped as soon as possible would end up needing to argue over the details of the law in the first place. The law doesn’t need to be ultra-precise in those cases because consensual sexual activity is not going to come to its attention. Any case that comes to the attention of the law is going to be one where someone’s behaviour has seriously upset someone and was clearly dangerously wrong. Anyone who is actually paying attention to whether their partner(s) consent is not going to be the rapist in that situation and needn’t care exactly what the letter of the law is.

SMFS/81: So you claim the modal rape victim is sober. Their modal rape victim was not.

The modal rape victim is sober. The modal rapist is more likely to use intoxication than physical force if they use one of the two. There’s not necessarily a contradiction between the two statements.

“If they use one of the two” is fairly crucial, since the study didn’t ask about other methods for subduing a victim – psychological assaults are common but harder to define a question for.

Additionally, the study found that the “overt force” rapists committed more rapes on average than the “intoxication” rapists, and the “intoxication” rapists include those who used drugs other than alcohol.

Not necessarily a contradiction.

Although given the underreporting it is next to impossible to know.

Well, true, but given the massive disparity in the BCS data between acquaintance and stranger rapes, that would imply multiple tens of thousands of stranger rapes that were neither being reported nor discovered by the BCS. It seems rather implausible that almost every study would have a massive undercount of stranger rapes, given that those are the rapes that tend to be taken most seriously and considered “real rape” by the justice system, the most likely to be reported to the police, and so on.

So if they don’t think it is rape, is it actually rape?

In no other area of law do we require the victim of a crime to have accurate knowledge of either the legal or colloquial definition of the crime, so I don’t see why we should start here. (And, for that matter, the psychological effects on the victim don’t appear to be particularly dependent on whether the victim uses “rape” or another word or phrase to define it, so the law shouldn’t either)

As they involve an unrepresentative sample of the population

They are hardly the only two studies completed, though. http://www.ncdsv.org/images/RapeFactSheet-UndetectedRapist.pdf (page 2) has a summary of several other studies, carried out on different samples. The percentages vary a bit between studies, but are all relatively consistent.

Furthermore, given the number of rapes that occur each year, there are only two basic explanations regarding the number of rapists:
1) Lisak and Miller, and other studies, are broadly accurate with 5-15% of men committing a few rapes each. This does add up to the number of rapes committed in total being about what crime surveys find.
2) These studies are not accurate, and there are far fewer rapists – but each rapist commits hundreds of rapes. On that measure, the infamous serial rapists such as Worboys are just average. That seems implausible.

@ SoMuchForSubtlety

Let’s leave aside the fact that this supposed ‘grey area’ rape didn’t actually happen. (I did read your original post – you’re the one who seems to insist on forgetting or glossing over the inconvenient fact that it’s not a genuine incident since that is, according to you, irrelevant for the purpose of the discussion.)

Let’s focus instead on this bit of tosh:

“Simply that it took him 30 seconds to realise what she was saying, what she wanted, and hence to stop.”

I’d like you, next time you get the opportunity, to walk in on two people having sex and time how long it takes them to react. I’d be surprised if you get beyond a couple of seconds. (And if you’d agree with that proposal, then I guess you don’t need to go ahead with the experiment.)

So the idea that it takes someone 30 seconds to react to resistance or verbal messages because they’re somehow so lost in the moment is so much fantasy. If the man in this case, or in any other, genuinely didn’t register any such protestation, his only defence can be that no such protestation was given and that the woman is either lying or has convinced herself she did something she didn’t – hence, no rape occurred.

A defence of “She wanted to stop, but it didn’t sink in for half a minute” is beyond the belief of anyone who isn’t straining their brain to convince themselves that the ‘grey area’ rape is possible simply for the purposes of muddying the picture. So you’re still where you’ve always been – with no example, concrete or otherwise, to convince us that there is some third category of ‘softer’ rape.

“A defence of “She wanted to stop, but it didn’t sink in for half a minute” …”

I should amend that to “She indicated she wanted to stop …”

Clearly, if she wanted to stop but made no indication, and wasn’t coerced, and had previously consented, no rape occurred.

In this case, as Cylus says, it’s an open and shut case, and the miscarriage of justice only occurred because of false witness testimony.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Tory MP says Roger Helmer MEP's rape comments 'appalling' http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  2. John Sargent

    Tory MP says Roger Helmer MEP's rape comments 'appalling' http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  3. natalieben

    Tory MP says Roger Helmer MEP's rape comments 'appalling' http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  4. Ross Pollard

    Normally I would be happy that Roger Helmer MEP has stepped away from his homophobia, but not for this http://bit.ly/iTPqmR

  5. Jess Haigh

    Fair play to @LouiseBagshawe for calling out @RogerHelmerMEP > http://bit.ly/mJDC9M (from @libcon)

  6. sunny hundal

    Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  7. Andy Shaw

    Here's the story on Roger Helmer, who I referenced earlier: http://bit.ly/iTPqmR An utter Neanderthal even by Tory standards.

  8. neilrfoster

    Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  9. Nat Guest

    Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  10. Broken OfBritain

    Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  11. Jennie Kermode

    I'm glad the Tories have distanced themselves from Helmer http://bit.ly/mJDC9M But what about Dorries, Aitken, Tamiz, Wake, Stewart, etc…

  12. Calm Confusion

    Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  13. Manisha

    Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  14. Holly Steel

    Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  15. Amber of the Island

    Tory MP says Roger Helmer MEP's rape comments 'appalling' http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  16. Brian Duggan

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  17. sunny hundal

    Well done to @LouiseBagshawe for calling out @RogerHelmerMEP's comments. Need more independent Tories http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  18. Sack Roger Helmer

    No 10 statement "This is clearly not the view of the Conservative party or the UK delegation in the EU Parliament." http://bit.ly/m78BMF

  19. Riven

    Well done to @LouiseBagshawe for calling out @RogerHelmerMEP's comments. Need more independent Tories http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  20. Elly

    http://bit.ly/mJDC9M The Bagshawe comments about rape. Sunny Hundal insists on writing about women, sex, gender when he is ignorant about it

  21. Feminist Letters

    More Tory woman hating and victim blaming. They are all coming out of the woodwork now. http://bit.ly/m78BMF via @SackRogerHelmer

  22. Gareth Jones

    http://tinyurl.com/44hlxrd #Tory MP says MEP’s rape comments ‘appalling’ – and BLOODY RIGHT TOO SACK HIM!

  23. Debbie

    Tories now rapidly distancing themselves from @RogerHelmerMEP's "appalling" comments on rape http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  24. Pucci Dellanno

    Unfortunately, this is just another #tory day. RT @libcon: Tory MP says Roger Helmer MEP's rape comments 'appalling' http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  25. Conservative MEP joins UK's Ken Clarke in victim-blaming hole | Women's Views on News

    […] of story from Liberal Conspiracy, May 23, […]

  26. Noxi

    RT @libcon: Tory MP says Roger Helmer MEP's rape comments 'appalling' http://bit.ly/mJDC9M

  27. Michael Bater

    Tory MP says MEP’s rape comments ‘appalling’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/mfZjo2V via @libcon

  28. Sack Roger Helmer

    Tory MP says MEP’s rape comments ‘appalling’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/NBU7WyQ via @libcon

  29. Lewis MacKenzie

    Tory MP says MEP’s rape comments ‘appalling’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/NBU7WyQ via @libcon

  30. Martin

    What is it with Male Tory MP's & their inability to STFU about rape?
    http://t.co/xGcHe1H

  31. John Edginton

    What is it with Male Tory MP's & their inability to STFU about rape?
    http://t.co/xGcHe1H

  32. Jeffrey Newman

    Tory MEP: Women 'share responsibility' for rape http://bit.ly/mjpscN. Probably he won't be welcome on #slut-walk

  33. Lisa Northover

    Tory MEP: Women 'share responsibility' for rape http://bit.ly/mjpscN. Probably he won't be welcome on #slut-walk

  34. Christine Quigley

    Just seen Roger Helmer MEP resigning at end of year. I'm sure the EP won't miss his comments on homosexuality, rape: http://t.co/gOsdwi5P

  35. Christine Quigley

    Just seen Roger Helmer MEP resigning at end of year. I'm sure the EP won't miss his comments on homosexuality, rape: http://t.co/gOsdwi5P

  36. Ian Robinson

    @cat_elliott @Channel4News http://t.co/Yc0831gU





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