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Real Rape For Real Feminists – Guest Post By Henry @henrymcg

August 23, 2012
 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/21/julian-assange-rape-denial
 
Julie Bindel has treated us to an article about men of the liberal left commenting on the Assange rape case. I have some issues with her piece, which some commenters seem to think is devastating logic, but which in fact barely makes sense or holds together as an argument.
 
Galloway is – I take it – of the opinion that, as Assange and the woman in question had already had sex earlier that night, we can’t sensibly use the terms ‘rape’ or ‘sexual assault’ to describe what happened there. It’s a point of view – not necessarily mine – but he is quite right to point out that not all situations are morally equivalent, and that we should be uneasy about the law treating them as such. He also speaks of “a reign of intellectual terror” on these issues, and this is surely accurate. I certainly hesitated to submit this piece of writing for Graunwatch.
 
When Galloway disagrees with Bindel’s definition of how ‘rape’ should be interpreted – he’s perhaps not arguing about the letter of the law, but how he thinks it should ideally work – Bindel dismisses his arguments, saying that he is ‘spout[ing] rubbish about what “real rape” really is’, and brands him a “rape-denier”.
 
Part of Galloway’s controversial statement was the following:
 
‘It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said, “do you mind if I do it again?”. It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning’
 
To which Bindel responds:
 
‘Most rape falls into the category that Galloway has decided is simply “bad sexual etiquette”, ergo most women are lying, and most men are the victims of spurious accusations from women who should read up on rape legislation’
 
It’s not clear if she believes that most rape falls into that category or whether she is parodying a point of view which I have not seen expressed by Galloway or anyone else. I do not know where the idea that he or anyone else thinks that “most women are lying” comes from. Are most rapes second sex acts in the same night? I think we’d all say that in fact most rape DOES NOT fall into that category. If Bindel put 2 and 2 together, in the proverbial sense, one wonders if she might arrive at the answer 5.
 
She then seems to infer that he or others (it’s not clear who – no example quotes are given) are defending Assange only because he is the founder of Wikileaks – a website of which some of the liberal left approve. No quotes or examples are given in support of this, but it’s nothing to do with what Galloway’s statements – as far as I can tell.
 
Let’s be clear – Bindel’s piece contains an appallingly constructed argument, but feminist commenters lapped up the idea that some men were claiming that Assange’s wikileaks links meant he shouldn’t face justice – despite no evidence that anyone ever said it or thought it. Maybe this is good politics, but as journalism…
 
Similar arguments, however, appear in the Guardian’s editorial (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/21/politicians-rape-case-of-denial-editorial) and in a piece by Hadley Freeman (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/21/everyones-talking-about-rape). 
 
In my view there is an important debate to be had about what should constitute rape, but Bindel sidetracks it by a lot of talk about legal specifics and ‘rape denial’. Similarly the editorial helpfully informs us that “all rape is serious”. It talks of Galloway’s “pig-headed ideological preconceptions” but does not explain why they are so or engage in debate. These pieces have added very little to any discussion of rape – I wonder if those working at the Guardian even realise this.
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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    August 23, 2012 12:30 pm

    The primary problem is that there appears to be only one vague definition of rape in law especially as these feminist and anti Assange persecutors define it, and that’s having sex without previously having specific permission. That’s such a ludicrous definition of rape when having sex can be consensual, taken for granted, inconsiderate or taking advantage of right through from unwanted sex within a marriage up to violent stranger rape on some footpath at night.

    Clearer the law is in a mess here in not having clearer definitions and degrees of rape unlike manslaughter or murder but many fail to accept this and in the case of Assange have embarked on some smear campaign to discredit him even before any charge has been brought. But aside from Assange, lets spell out the ‘sex acts’ above and try and see what is right or plainly wrong in a true moral sense that would warrant a charge.

    Obviously ‘consensual’ sex hasn’t any issues but ask yourself this, how many times would a man ask his partner Is it OK tonight dear ? let alone get a written statement to that effect. The act of good sex is an unspoken act for both parties that doesn’t require any words.

    Then we might come on to ‘taken for granted’ sex act where a husband (or wife) might expect to have sex without any preliminaries or taking in consideration whether their partner was in the mood. Is this rape, again with the feminist beating their drums they would probably call it rape.

    ‘Inconsiderate sex’ after a partner has just returned home from work and being tired out. As with taking for granted, it might be ‘bad manners’ but an offence, I don’t think so.

    The next one is the most problematical as forcing yourself on your partner when they aren’t in the mood is very difficult to define in law. It can rightly be said to be rape if there was some sort of struggle with a partner resisting but what if it was just passive resistance by her just lying there, is that rape !

    After this point it becomes very easy to define rape although there are still different degrees of rape. Forced sex when the other party has clearly said no at some party is rape and against children its most definitely the most heinous form of rape alongside stranger rape.

    Only sexual acts involving children and adults or stranger rape can usually (but not always) be seen as being rape, and in ALL other scenarios unless there was a third party present to verify what went on, its nigh on impossible to prove innocence or guilt over rape.

    Lets face it, some women claim to fake orgasms and wail ‘no, no’ just to reinforce their sexual acting, does a man have to stop and ask her does she really mean it if it truly was an orgasm !

    • August 23, 2012 1:37 pm

      good points. I made similar points in a discussion at Heresy Corner blog.

      I said:

      http://heresycorner.blogspot.com/2012/08/todd-akin-undiscovered-feminist.html

      I think feminists and their pals pick up on outrageous statements by the likes of Akin and Goldberg in order to nonconsensually ram their misandry down our throats. I am choking on it.

      By emphasising how these awful people think that some rapes are not ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ feminism reinforces the idea that ALL RAPES/SEXUAL ASSAULTS are equally horrific and damaging to ‘victims’ who become a lumpen mass of poor, mute, defenceless women.

      Give me a break.

      The women in the assange case may indeed be traumatised by the experience of having dated Saint Julian, but from all the accounts of the events and subsequent events, their experiences sound LESS BAD than others I have heard about.

      I would rather be ‘inserted’ in my sleep by someone I don’t even care for very much than repeatedly beaten and forced to have sex by a husband of many years and father of my children for example, who I am terrified of.

      But by saying this I am called a ‘rape apologist’ by feminists and lumped together with Akin and Polanski for that matter, as someone who tries to undermine the seriousness of all sexual assaults (on women). For let’s not forget. Men get raped too. But in the UK a woman cannot ‘rape’ a man according to criminal law. A penis is required for that.

      so here we are, using a couple of pricks to demonise all penises.

      QRG

    • August 23, 2012 3:10 pm

      Many good points here.

      “there appears to be only one vague definition of rape in law especially as these feminist and anti Assange persecutors define it, and that’s having sex without previously having specific permission”

      Such stringent rape laws would mean a transfer of power to women, and one is forced to consider the possibility that this power is the single ideal that the Guardian-feminist crowd hold dear – they don’t seem particularly intellectually concerned with anybody’s relationships or feelings (male or female), nor with protecting freedoms.

      The editorial I linked to above speaks of “male politicians” and “attempts to deny women’s rights over their bodies”. Despite saying that “all rape is serious” the writer omits to mention that rape also happens to men. Or will the reply to that be the derisory #whataboutthemenz on twitter?

      “It can rightly be said to be rape if there was some sort of struggle with a partner resisting but what if it was just passive resistance by her just lying there, is that rape[?]”

      Quite. And a thousand other types of scenario, some of which you’ve outlined. And when someone with different views opens the debate on whether a particular scenario ought really to be called rape, the debate is rather shut down with accusations of “rape-denial, and “pig-headed ideological preconceptions”. Does the Graun not want a rational debate on these issues?

      • Mike permalink
        August 23, 2012 3:48 pm

        Exactly.

        One other aspect I’ve posted elsewhere specifically in relation to the Assange case where he apparently fancied and had ‘seconds’ in the morning.

        What if a female partner woke first, was feeling horny and decided to take matters ‘literally’ into her own hands to wake a sleeping partner for ‘seconds’. I doubt for one moment any man would cry ‘sexual assault’ in the way the Guardian-feminist crowd cry ‘rape’ in similar circumstances.

        As always its one rule for them and another for those who oppose their crazed rants. As you rightly said, they don’t want rational debate when any facts or examples trash their spurious case but resort to name calling instead. Sadly the media has also jumped on this bandwagon of character assassination of Assange instead of keeping to the facts.

        I personally don’t care for Galloway at all and not that much for Assange as far as their characters traits are concerned, BUT I do agree 110% with Galloway that the automatic jump by feminists from having ‘seconds’ to rape is untenable.

  2. David permalink
    August 24, 2012 8:12 am

    Of course they have added very little to the discussion – when your argument is as weak and illogical as those from the Grauniad tend to be, the only way you can convince people is by demonising and silencing the opposing argument.

    • August 24, 2012 6:17 pm

      Once in a while – usually when the Graun are attacking toffs – someone posts details of the education of all these writers – nearly all Oxbridge, though I don’t believe Bindel was on this list (what about her editors? The tiresome Alan Rusbridger was certainly on it)

      My point being: whatever happened to the Oxford tutorial? I thought Oxford used to actually teach people how to think, argue, debate…I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the teaching in action, though not Oxbridge myself.

      This education is justly world famous, but it also gives us journalists who resort to this lowbrow silencing and name-calling..

  3. redpesto permalink
    August 24, 2012 8:50 am

    Nope, sorry, not going there: it’s turned into a pissing contest between two groups incapable of acknowledging the validity of each other’s position. Or as the Guardian’s Libby Brooks put it: ‘Because it’s possible to be pro-women and pro-whistleblowers.’

    See also:

    ‘We are Women Against Rape but we do not want Julian Assange extradited’

    Glenn Greenwald: ‘The bizarre, unhealthy, blinding media contempt for Julian Assange’

    • August 31, 2012 9:09 am

      ‘Because it’s possible to be pro-women and pro-whistleblowers’

      I don’t think that’s the issue. In his video, Galloway talks about the alleged “set-up” of Assange. Then he says – in effect – let’s leave all the Assange-politics aside, and talks about whether the scenario actually constitutes rape.

      He does so in a hilarious way (I’m not even going to talk about these ladys’ political connections, I’m not going to talk about…etc”). But basically this is a high-profile case where once again we run into definitions of rape. Different states define the term differently, it variously gets used for underage sex, for situations where people have been drugged, gang rape, rough sex gone wrong, ‘conventional’ sex gone wrong, and so on.

      And now we’re running into more grey areas – and that’s unsurprising. What if a woman changes her mind during intercourse? What about situations where consent was not verbalised but no physical force was used? Are these codified for by the law?

      And finally what about the scenario where the woman claims sex was initiated during sleep (what if the man claims she was awake? What then?). And it’s claimed, on the other hand, that the victim took Assange to a BBQ the same day, and continued writing friendly tweets..

      It needn’t have anything to do with Assange -if that’s your problem. But it seems there are political pressures to extend what we can call rape and an urgent rational discussion is needed – it won’t do to say “not going there”

      • redpesto permalink
        August 31, 2012 10:15 am

        “it won’t do to say “not going there”” – given the number of conflicting scenarios you outline (most of which hinge on the issue of consent), and the fact that there are two distinct, yet intertwined issues – the allegations of rape (hence feminist concerns) and the possibility of Assange ending up in a cell next to Bradley Manning (hence the wikileaks’ supporters) – it’s argument I find difficult to ‘take sides’ in, much as I like commenting on this site (and elsewhere).

    • September 6, 2012 8:41 pm

      In response to the lazy tiresome pseudo-criticism of the Guardian for being this or that or whatever (as though every sensible right-thinking person of course agreed), I’d just point out that the two contrary “See also:” links posted by redpesto were also from the Guardian.

      • September 6, 2012 8:52 pm

        they are examples of the Guardian taking two ‘contradictory’ positions I think.

        and if you’re not lazy then I invite you to write a guest post. It doesn’t have to be about the Guardian you can write about any article in the press or blogosphere you like!

        QRG

      • September 7, 2012 10:59 am

        The original post was fine, being a criticism of a particular article. It was some of the comments I was referring to.

        As to writing a guest post: well, thanks. If something in future takes my fancy I’ll let you know :)

  4. rightoverleft permalink
    August 24, 2012 3:47 pm

    I see the BBC on World Have Your Say have been running with this subject for the last hour or so. It’s like the Guardian broadcast through your TV screen

  5. August 24, 2012 7:08 pm

    Yes the recent figures about the ludicrous number of newspapers the BBC buys confirmed the what we all knew in that regard. The very noticeable ideological similarity to the Guardian from our national broadcaster puts all notions of their ‘impartiality’ to bed

    Ludicrously the BBC argue that this is not the case. Yet every time I switch on, I see or hear something like what we got with “Saturday review” last week – hosted by Bidisha, reviewing “lefty protest songs” (their phrase) with great approval, talking about the surprise of having a “good tory” in a drama, calling Jesus a socialist.. And so much more – it’s a wonder they squeezed all that propaganda into 30 minutes

  6. September 3, 2012 11:21 am

    redpesto:

    “there are two distinct, yet intertwined issues – the allegations of rape (hence feminist concerns) and the possibility of Assange ending up in a cell next to Bradley Manning”

    As I said, why not forget about Assange for a minute! You can (and should) quite easily think through this scenario with an anonymous man and woman – careers and politics unknown.

    Of course I gave many different scenarios. They weren’t supposed to be applicable to the case in point, but to show how many different situations a simple law is trying to deal with, all open to interpretation. Contrast this with Hadley Freeman’s repetition of the simplifying mantra that “rape is rape is rape”

    I guess not everyone will “take sides” in the issue of where the boundaries of definition of rape should be. But a number of people will be male or have sons or brothers who will maybe have sexual intercourse at some stage (!), and whose lives could be seriously affected if the law is constructed and interpreted without proper consideration – things may go that way, legally.

    So I would suggest that issue is worth more than a shrug of the shoulders, intellectual posturing, or political point-scoring.

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