Rape ; 'We Should Abolish the Crime of Rape and Expand the Assault Law, So That, Say, Attacks on Children Would Be Seen as Far Worse Than Penetration of a Grown Woman"
Greer, Germaine, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Alison (not her real name) lived with her eight-year-old daughter in a rented farm cottage. For some weeks she had been having a relationship with one of her workmates, which she had ended. Late one evening, the workmate came to plead his case, then to argue, then to bully. Finally he forced himself upon her.
Alison knew that, if she screamed and struggled, her daughter who was fast asleep upstairs would be the only one to hear. She dreaded the thought of the child's waking up and running downstairs to find her mother being sexually assaulted. She saw herself as having no option but to get it over with as silently and quickly as possible.
That night Alison was raped. That is what rape is: intercourse with a woman against her will. Now, because of some more than usually muddled thinking on the part of legislators, men too may be raped. The old crime of forcible buggery has become male rape - as if women, too, could not be forcibly buggered.
Once upon a time we knew the difference between the orifices involved, and the possible consequences, but that was then and this is now. Judges still give far heavier sentences for attempted male rape than they do for fully consummated female rape. The new nomenclature has not produced any new thinking about the nature and gravity of sexual assault. Or the inequality of men and women before the law.
When Alison turned up for work the next day she was so pale and with-drawn that her workmates were worried. Eventually, one of them managed to find out what was wrong. To all the women, it was obvious that Alison had not consented to sex.
The men, however, seemed to think it was a storm in a teacup. He hadn't knocked her about, had he? But of course he had. She felt despoiled, used "like a spittoon" and was disgusted with herself. The wound to her self-esteem will probably never heal. The perpetrator knew that he had damaged her and was gratified. At work, he behaved as if nothing had happened. Alison gaveup her job, tookher daughter out of school and left the district.
Alison made no complaint to the police. If she had done, she would probably have been treated with great skill and sympathy, and the people who dealt with her would not have let themselves be seen to doubt her version of events, but there wouldbe little that could be done in the way of redress. The fact of intercourse could be proved, provided that she had not washed since the event, as could the identity of the man involved.
Thus the whole issue would turn on the question of consent. There were no witnesses' the child slept through the whole thing. The man would say that she eventually consented' she would say that she eventually submitted. Any halfway decent lawyer could have destroyed her case in cross-examination. She would have had to relive the rape countless times, before different groups of strangers, retelling the humiliating narrative over and over again, only to see her tormentor finally triumph over her, because it was simply his word against hers. All he had to say to escape punishment was that he thought, or believed, that her silence was consent.
The law of rape is anachronistic, unworkable and should be struck down. Tinkering with it has resulted in a huge expenditure of resources and effort by police forces which have little enough of either, in return for no improvement whatsoever in women's chances of redress. The fault lies in the very concept of rape itself.
The crime of rape is not committed against the victim, but against the state' the victim is Exhibit A in the case of Regina vs the rapist. As a piece of evidence, the victim must be interrogated and tested in every possible way, because rape is considered to be so grave, second only to murder.
It is not women who have decided that rape is so heinous, but men. The only weapon that counts in rape is the penis, which is conceptualised as devastating. …