The rape myth in action
Laura // 27 March 2009
In what to me seems like a clear example of how rape myths contribute to the appallingly low rape conviction rate, a man has been acquitted of raping a woman who he readily admits to having sex with because the judge and jury refused to accept her claim that she was ‘too drunk’ to give consent:
About five bottles of wine were consumed by the three in the house over the evening before the friend left – leaving Bacon and the woman alone. Bacon told police: “I thought she gave me the come-on – the body and eye contact was there and she did not give me the brush-off.” He said the pair went upstairs and had sex, but in the morning she accused him of rape.
Because eye and body contact and not telling someone to stop is consent to penetrative sex, right?
What I find so depressing here is that the judge and jury believe the woman would go through all the hassle and stress of bringing this guy to court if she believed the sex was anything other than rape. It seems that the idea that women frequently lie about being raped is so prevalent that it is now seen as the norm. Not only that, but their view of women – or women who accuse men of rape at least – is so low that they believe her incapable of judging for herself what happened to her.
Yes, she was drunk – Yahoo kindly point out that ‘blood samples taken from her showed the woman would have been at least twice the drink-drive limit at the time with memory loss and loss of inhibitions likely to have taken place’ – but so was he. Why should his story be believed over hers? Again, this idea that innocent men are getting banged up left, right and centre has skewed the public’s perception of justice. The norm, according to rape myths, is that women frequently lie about being raped, and men accused of rape are generally innocent victims who must be protected from jail and a criminal record at all costs: forget about the woman who is left with the double trauma of being violated and let down by the justice system.
It’s misogyny at its finest, and unless we challenge these rape myths, unless the public and members of the judiciary start developing some compassion for women, unless they start seeing as us human beings capable of judging when our bodies have been violated, rather than stupid, vindictive liars, rapists are going to continue to get off scott free.