We consider the complex interactions between rape culture and epistemology. A central case study is the consideration of a deferential attitude about the epistemology of sexual assault testimony. According to the deferential attitude, individuals and institutions should decline to act on allegations of sexual assault unless and until they are proven in a formal setting, i.e., a criminal court. We attack this deference from several angles, including the pervasiveness of rape culture in the criminal justice system, the epistemology (...) of testimony and norms connecting knowledge and action, the harms of tacit idealizations away from important contextual factors, and a contextualist semantics for 'knows' ascriptions. (shrink)
Soon there will be sex robots. The creation of such devices raises a host of social, legal and ethical questions. In this article, I focus in on one of them. What if these sex robots are deliberately designed and used to replicate acts of rape and child sexual abuse? Should the creation and use of such robots be criminalised, even if no person is harmed by the acts performed? I offer an argument for thinking that they should be. The (...) argument consists of two premises. The first claims that it can be a proper object of the criminal law to regulate wrongful conduct with no extrinsically harmful effects on others. The second claims that the use of robots that replicate acts of rape and child sexual abuse would be wrongful, even if such usage had no extrinsically harmful effects on others. I defend both premises of this argument and consider its implications for the criminal law. I do not offer a conclusive argument for criminalisation, nor would I wish to be interpreted as doing so; instead, I offer a tentative argument and a framework for future debate. This framework may also lead one to question the proposed rationales for criminalisation. (shrink)
This article argues that rape myths and domestic abuse myths constitute hermeneutical injustices. Drawing on empirical research, I show that the prevalence of these myths makes victims of rape and of domestic abuse less likely to apply those terms to their experiences. Using Sally Haslanger's distinction between manifest and operative concepts, I argue that in these cases, myths mean that victims hold a problematic operative concept, or working understanding, which prevents them from identifying their experience as one of (...)rape or of domestic abuse. Since victims in this situation lack the conceptual resources needed to render their experience sufficiently intelligible, they are suffering a form of hermeneutical injustice. Attending to this distinctive case sheds new light not only on the functioning of social myths of this kind but on the nature of hermeneutical injustice itself, since the case of the victim who accepts myths is importantly different from other cases of hermeneutical injustice discussed in the literature to date. In practical terms, this analysis supports calls for juries in rape trials to be warned about rape myths at the start of the trial, and may have implications for calls for statutory Sex and Relationships Education in schools. (shrink)
Sex robots are likely to play an important role in shaping public understandings of sex and of relations between the sexes in the future. This paper contributes to the larger project of understanding how they will do so by examining the ethics of the “rape” of robots. I argue that the design of realistic female robots that could explicitly refuse consent to sex in order to facilitate rape fantasy would be unethical because sex with robots in these circumstances (...) is a representation of the rape of a woman, which may increase the rate of rape, expresses disrespect for women, and demonstrates a significant character defect. Even when the intention is not to facilitate rape, the design of robots that can explicitly refuse consent is problematic due to the likelihood that some users will experiment with raping them. Designing robots that lack the capacity to explicitly refuse consent may be morally problematic depending on which of two accounts of the representational content of sex with realistic humanoid robots is correct. (shrink)
Social epistemologists use the term hermeneutical injustice to refer to a form of epistemic injustice in which a structural prejudice in the economy of collective interpretive resources results in a person’s inability to understand his/her/their own social experience. This essay argues that the phenomenon of unacknowledged date rapes, that is, when a person experiences sexual assault yet does not conceptualize him/her/their self as a rape victim, should be regarded as a form of hermeneutical injustice. The fact that the concept (...) of date rape has been widely used for at least three decades indicates the intractability of hermeneutical injustices of this sort and the challenges with its overcoming. (shrink)
This paper shows how the mythology surrounding rape enters into a criterion of reasonableness which operates through the legal system to make women vulnerable to unscrupulous victimization. It explores the possibility for changes in legal procedures and presumptions that would better serve women's interests and leave them less vulnerable to sexual violence. This requires that we reformulate the criterion of consent in terms of what is reasonable from a woman's point of view.
Rape, claims Ann J. Cahill, affects not only those women who are raped, but all women who experience their bodies as rapable and adjust their actions and self-images accordingly. Rethinking Rape counters legal and feminist definitions of rape as mere assault and decisively emphasizes the centrality of the body and sexuality in a crime which plays a crucial role in the continuing oppression of women.
One of the most significant shifts in current thinking on war and gender is the recognition that rape in wartime is not a simple by-product of war, but often a planned and targeted policy. For many feminists ‘rape as a weapon of war’ provides a way to articulate the systematic, pervasive, and orchestrated nature of wartime sexual violence that marks it as integral rather than incidental to war. This recognition of rape as a weapon of war has (...) taken on legal significance at the Rwandan and Yugoslav Tribunals where rape has been prosecuted as a crime against humanity and genocide. In this paper, I examine how the Rwanda Tribunal’s record of judgments conceives of rape enacted as an instrument of the genocide. I consider in particular how the Tribunal’s conception of ‘rape as a weapon of war’ shapes what can be known about sexual violence and gender in the Rwandan genocide and what cannot, the categories of victims legally recognised and those that are not, and the questions pursued, and those foreclosed, about the patterns of violence before and during the genocide. (shrink)
In 2012, the politician Todd Akin caused a firestorm by suggesting, in the context of an argument about the moral permissibility of abortion, that some forms of rape were. This seemed to imply that other forms of rape must not be legitimate. In response, several commentators pointed out that rape is a and that there are. While the intention of these commentators was clear, I argue that they may have played into the very stereotype of rape (...) endorsed by Akin. Such a response, I claim, actually obscures a range of sexual harms, including some that may not rise to the level of being a crime. I also offer some thoughts on the moral psychology behind anti-abortion arguments of the kind advanced by Akin. (shrink)
Rape conviction rates have fallen to all-time lows in recent years, prompting governments to explore a range of strategies to improve them. This paper argues that, while the current legal impunity for rape cannot be condoned, increasing conviction rates is not in itself a valid objective of law reform. The paper problematises the measure of rape law that conviction rates provide by developing an account of (some) feminist aims for rape law reform. Three feminist aims and (...) associated measures are explained—all of which look beyond conviction rates to qualitative and victim-centred outcomes of criminal justice processes. Applying these measures, I argue that strategies designed solely to increase conviction rates are more likely to work against, rather than in support of, feminist aims. The paper thus underscores the need for continued feminist engagement with rape law reform, broadly conceived, notwithstanding its acute limitations for feminist anti-violence politics. (shrink)
Empirical research has distinguished moral judgments that focus on an act and the actor’s intention or mental states, and those that focus on results of an action and then seek a causal actor. Studies indicate these two types of judgments may result from a “dual-process system” of moral judgment (Cushman 2008, Kneer and Machery 2019). Results-oriented judgements may be subject to the problem of resultant moral luck because different results can arise from the same action and intention. While some argue (...) luck should not bear on persons’ culpability, Victor Kumar has argued that the tendency to hold unlucky agents responsible for harm is justified by consequentialist aims of punishment (Kumar 2019). In contrast, judgments that focus on acts and intentions may be primarily retributive. Kumar claims that judgments focused on results track external, public harm because this increases the reliability of punishment and better achieves instrumental aims, including deterrent effect. In this chapter I examine rape cases using Kumar’s theory of punishment. Rape involves outcomes that are not publicly available. If judgments of punishment depend on outcomes, then we would expect such judgments to be less stable for those instances of wrongdoing that lack public outcomes such as rape, because such judgments would rely instead on often biased and unreliable inferential processes to establish the presence of mental states, which are essentially private. In this way Kumar’s theory actually predicts the way in which we see criminal justice institutions fail with regard to arrest, prosecution, and punishment related to rape; and we might expect similar failures for other crimes that lack publicly available results. In sum, a fundamental problem with institutionalized punishment centered upon results may be that some crimes sit within a moral blindspot. (shrink)
This essay examines how rape of women and girls by male soldiers works as a martial weapon. Continuities with other torture and terrorism and with civilian rape are suggested. The inadequacy of past philosophical treatments of the enslavement of war captives is briefly discussed. Social strategies are suggested for responding and a concluding fantasy offered, not entirely social, of a strategy to change the meanings of rape to undermine its use as a martial weapon.
Moral responsibility theorists and legal theorists both worry about what negligence is, and how it might be a ground of blameworthiness. In this paper I argue that negligence suitably understood, can be an appropriate grounds for mens rea in rape cases. I am interested in cases where someone continues with sex in the mistaken belief that the other person consents. Such a mistaken belief is often unreasonable: a wilfully blind agent, one who deliberately ignores evidence that there is no (...) consent, is clearly not exculpated by his ignorance. However, there may be circumstances in which a man’s mistaken belief in consent is reasonable in the circumstances, then he is not culpable. Thus it is important to be clear about what we mean by a reasonable mistake. Many critics (e.g. Duff, Baron and others) have argued that it is not possible to make a reasonable mistake about consent, that any such mistake must involve culpable carelessness. Consent is so important that we should always double check. Not to do so is reckless, and in that case there is clearly culpability. In this paper I argue that it is possible to make a mistake that is reasonable, at least in one sense. Someone in the grip of sexist ideology might not understand how important consent is, and not through carelessness, but through sexist ideology that they have non-culpably and non-voluntarily absorbed. In that case it is not obvious that the man is culpable. I go on to argue that so far as the law is concerned, there is good reason to hold that even those who have ‘reasonable’ beliefs culpable. Having a reasonable belief in consent may be, but is not always exculpatory. We usually think a reasonable mistake does not count as negligence because a reasonable mistake is not failing to know something that you should have known. I argue that we should understand negligence—not knowing something you should have known—in a moralized sense, so that people who are ignorant through being ideologically blinded can be held to have the mens rea requisite for rape conviction. -/- . (shrink)
What exactly is rape? And how is it embedded in society? -/- Hilkje Charlotte Hänel offers a philosophical exploration of the often misrepresented concept of rape in everyday life, systematically mapping out and elucidating this atrocious phenomenon. Hänel proposes a theory of rape as a social practice facilitated by ubiquitous sexist ideologies. Arguing for a normative cluster model for the concept of rape, this timely intervention improves our understanding of lived experiences of sexual violence and social (...) relations within sexist ideologies. (shrink)
: Because "rape" has such a powerful appraisive meaning, how one defines the term has normative significance. Those who define rape rigidly so as to exclude contemporary feminist understandings are therefore seeking to silence some moral perspectives "by definition." I argue that understanding rape as an essentially contested concept allows the concept sufficient flexibility to permit open moral discourse, while at the same time preserving a core meaning that can frame the discourse.
Because “rape” has such a powerful appraisive meaning, how one defines the term has normative significance. Those who define rape rigidly so as to exclude contemporary feminist understandings are therefore seeking to silence some moral perspectives “by definition.” I argue that understanding rape as an essentially contested concept allows the concept sufficient flexibility to permit open moral discourse, while at the same time preserving a core meaning that can frame the discourse.
In 1977, Michel Foucault suggested that legal approaches to rape define it as merely an act of violence, not of sexuality, and therefore not distinct from other types of assaults. I argue that rape can not be considered merely an act of violence because it is instrumental in the construction of the distinctly feminine body. Insofar as the threat of rape is ineluctably, although not determinately, associated with the development of feminine bodily comportment, rape itself holds (...) a host of bodily and sexually specific meanings. (shrink)
If we [women] have not stopped rape, we have redefined it, we have faced it, and we have set up the structures to deal with it for ourselves.[T]he definition of rape, which has in the past always been understood to mean the use of violence or the threat of it to force sex upon an unwilling woman, is now being broadened to include a whole range of sexual relations that have never before in all of human experience been (...) regarded as rape.In 1989 the philosopher and self-described feminist Christina Sommers published a short essay — ‘an opinion piece,’ she called it — that was eventually developed into and published as a philosophical article. In this essay Sommers criticized ‘feminist philosophers’ for being ‘oddly unsympathetic to the women whom they claim to represent.’ Specifically, Sommers accused these philosophers of ignoring the ‘values of the average woman’ and of being caught up in an ‘ideological fervor.’ To emphasize her point that the so-called feminist philosophers have lost touch with ‘the average woman,’ Sommers wrote that ‘One must nevertheless expect that many women will continue to swoon at the sight of Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O'Hara up the stairs to a fate undreamt of in feminist philosophy.’. (shrink)
Rae Langton and Caroline West have argued that pornography silences women by presupposing misogynistic attitudes, such as that women enjoy being raped. More precisely, they claim that a somewhat infamous pictorial, “Dirty Pool”, makes such presuppositions. I argue for four claims. (i) Langton and West's account of how pornography silences women is empirically dubious. (ii) There is no evidence that very much pornography makes the sorts of presuppositions they require. (iii) Even "Dirty Pool", for all its other problems, does not (...) make the presuppositions that Langton and West claim it does. (iv) Langton and West misread “Dirty Pool” because they do not take proper account of the fact that pornography traffics in sexual fantasy. (shrink)
In Tess of the d’Urbervilles, the innocent Tess is the object of Alec d’Urberville’s dishonorable intentions. Alec uses every wile he can think of to seduce the poor and ignorant Tess, who works keeping hens in his mother’s house: he ﬂatters her, he impresses her with a show of wealth, he gives help to her family to win her gratitude, and he reacts with irritation and indignation when she nonetheless continues to repulse his advances, causing her to feel shame at (...) her own ingratitude and confusion as to what is right. Tess, anchored both by her own sense of virtue and her distrust of Alec’s character, continues to hold out until one fatal night when, through Alec’s machinations, they are lost together in a wood. At Tess’s insistence Alec leaves her to scout out the path home. When he returns, he ﬁnds her asleep under a tree. Hardy does not go into detail at this critical juncture. Rather, he reﬂects “why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and practically blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive; why so often the coarse appropriates the ﬁner thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong woman the man, many thousand years of analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our sense of order.”. (shrink)
If rape is evaluated as a serious wrong, can it also be defined as non-consensual sex (NCS)? Many do not see all instances of NCS as seriously wrongful. I argue that rape is both properly defined as NCS and properly evaluated as a serious wrong. First, I distinguish the hurtfulness of rape from its wrongfulness; secondly, I classify its harms and characterize its essential wrongfulness; thirdly, I criticize a view of rape as merely ‘sex minus consent’; (...) fourthly, I criticize mistaken attempts to discount the wrongfulness of rape for those who do not value sex; fifthly, I contrast two models for weighing interests, according to one of which rape is not seriously wrongful; finally, I sketch a defence of the view that our sexual integrity ought to be a central interest of ours. (shrink)
College campus-based surveys of sexual assault in the United States have generated one of the most high-profile and contentious figures in the history of social science: the ‘1 in 5’ statistic. Referring to the number of women who have experienced either attempted or completed sexual assault since their time in college, ‘1 in 5’ has done significant work in making the prevalence of this experience legible to the public and to policy-makers. Here I examine how sexual assault surveys have participated (...) in structuring the ontology of date/acquaintance rape from the 1980s to today. I review the foundational work of feminist social scientists Diana Russell and Mary Koss, with particular attention to the methodological practices through which the concept of the ‘hidden’ or ‘unacknowledged’ rape victim emerged. I then examine a selection of early 21st-century sexual assault surveys and highlight the ongoing preoccupation with survey methodology in responses to their results. I argue that the survey itself has been a central actor in the ontological politics of sexual assault, and only by closely attending to its performativity can we understand the paradoxical persistence both of critical responses to the ‘1 in 5’ statistic and of its effective deployment in anti-violence policy. (shrink)
This article charts a genealogy of marital rape law reform in South Australia in the 1970s, arguing that the new laws were based on constructing the marital rapist as a certain kind of man. South Australia is a significant case study, as it was one of the first Western jurisdictions to attempt to criminalise marital rape. Despite South Australia’s generally progressive politics, the legislation was highly contested, and resulted, in the end, only in a partial criminalization. To overcome (...) the strident opposition to rape law reform, we show that supporters explicitly developed a discourse focusing on concepts of sexual normativity and deviance. The marital rapist, it was argued, had deviated from patriarchal standards of masculine decency: this, not the rape itself, was crucial to determining whether his conduct was unlawful. (shrink)
New York defines rape as forced penile vaginal penetration, which means only women can be rape victims. Given this definition, rape should always be considered a type of hate crime and thus eligible for sentencing enhancement because the perpetrators target victims based on their group membership. Such a narrow definition of rape is problematic because it fails to acknowledge oral and anal rape and overlooks the fact that men can also be raped. I argue that (...) regardless of the type of sexual assault that occurs, rape should be considered a hate crime when the rapist chooses the victim based on gender, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation and the rape reinforces the patriarchal and heteronormative hegemony. (shrink)
This book offers a critical feminist perspective on the widely debated topic of transitional justice and forgiveness. Louise Du Toit examines the phenomenon of rape with a feminist philosophical discourse concerning women’s or ‘feminine’ subjectivity and selfhood. She demonstrates how the hierarchical dichotomy of male active versus female passive sexuality – which obscures the true nature of rape – is embedded in the dominant western symbolic frame. Through a Hegelian and phenomenological reading of first-person accounts by rape (...) victims, she excavates an understanding of rape that also starts to open up a way out of the denial and destruction of female sexual subjectivity. (shrink)
This article is a defence of a differentiated offence of rape. A differentiated offence is an offence which can be completed in a number of different ways that cannot be captured in a simple definition. It is argued that such an offence would meet several concerns that have been expressed in the feminist literature about the law of rape. It would assist certainty, it would reduce the extent to which the offence focuses on the conduct of the complainant, (...) it would allow the law to express that violence is central to the offence of rape where violence is present, but it would also allow convictions of rape where there is no violence. The argument is developed through critical engagement with the law of rape as set out in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Sexual Offences Act, it is argued, fails adequately to meet the concerns outlined above. (shrink)
England and Wales have recently experienced wide-ranging rape law reform and a galloping rape reporting rate but no comparable increase in rape convictions, leading many erstwhile law reformers to turn attention to attitudes. In essence, their argument is that reform has proved relatively ineffective because a range of agents hold ‘rape myths’. Despite the broad consensus that this approach has attracted, I argue that the regressiveness of current public attitudes towards rape has been overstated. The (...) claim that rape myths are widespread may be challenged on three grounds: first, some of the attitudes are not myths; secondly, not all the myths are about rape; thirdly, there is little evidence that the rape myths are widespread. To a troubling extent, we are in the process of creating myths about myths. This process functions to close down, not open up, the possibilities of a productive public conversation about important and at times vexed questions. (shrink)
Argument about changes in the law of rape are logically dependent upon a prior definitional account. For any legal definition of an act, one can sensibly ask if that definition is right. To know whether the law is sound, one must first understand of what it is that the definition is a definition. For many parts of the criminal law, and the law of rape is one, the definitions on which the law moves are concepts perfectly accessible outside (...) and apart from the law. I have two aims for this article. The first is to argue for a particular conception of rape as the best understanding of the constellation of acts we conceptualize as rape. The second, less direct, is to show that traditional methods of conceptual analysis can contribute to legal and social scholarship and reform. (shrink)
In this paper, I aim to shed some light on what rape myths are and what we can do about them. I start by giving a brief overview of some common rape myths. I then use two philosophical tools to offer a perspective on rape myths. First, I show that we can usefully see rape myths as an example of what Miranda Fricker has termed ‘epistemic injustice’, which is a type of wrong that concerns our role (...) as knowers. Then, I show that it is important to recognise that rape myths are instances of misogyny. This word is of course a more familiar one, but I'll be drawing on a specific philosophical account of what misogyny is, developed by Kate Manne, that I think is useful here. Finally, I briefly consider some upshots of these claims. (shrink)
In an article recently published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, the legal scholar Helen Reece argues that the prevalence and effects of rape myths have been overstated and the designation of certain beliefs and attitudes as myths is simply wrong. Feminist researchers, she argues, are engaged ‘in a process of creating myths about myths’ in a way that serves to close down and limit productive debate in this ‘vexed’ area. In this article we argue that Reece’s analysis (...) is methodologically flawed, crudely reductionist and rhetorically unyielding. We locate Reece’s analysis within the wider theoretical field to show how her failure to engage with feminist literature on rape other than in the narrowest, most exclusionary terms, yields an approach which impedes rather than advances public understanding and panders to a kind of simplistic thinking which cannot begin to grapple with the complexity of the phenomenon that is rape. We conclude by emphasizing the continuing commitment of feminist researchers carefully to theorize and map the fraught field of progressive legal strategizing in order to identify and counter the kinds of risks and shortcomings of political activism with which Reece is rightly concerned. (shrink)
Philosophers have identified the harm involved in stranger rape in various ways. This article reviews these with a view to making sense of surveys on date and acquaintance rape and minor sexual assaults: how much should these be bracketed with stranger rape as a major and traumatic violation? Or are some of these incidents closer to bad manners? It concludes that rape is a violation of autonomy that should be condemned because of the extreme unhappiness caused (...) to the victim. It is argued that this criterion can be used to make sense of lesser sexual assaults whereas some of the other criteria philosophers have used to condemn rape tend to bifurcate sexual experiences into acceptable on the one hand and seriously traumatic on the other, with little space in between. (shrink)
This article returns to a philosophical conundrum that has troubled feminist theory since the topic of sexual violence has been taken seriously, what I call the problem of the “heteronormative sexual continuum”: how sexual assault and hegemonic heterosex are conceptually and politically related. I continue my response to the work of Nicola Gavey, who has argued for the existence of a “gray area” of sexual interactions that are ethically questionable without rising to the category of sexual assault, but whose analysis (...) did not explicitly articulate what these two categories share or what distinguishes them from each other. After summarizing Gavey's position, I summarize my previous articulation of the common ground between instances of sexual assault and examples of sexual interactions in the “gray area.” I then develop a theoretical account of how the two categories differ, arguing that the victim's agency plays different roles in the two types of interactions. Both the fact of that distinction—that we are capable of providing a philosophical account of the difference between sexual interactions that fall into the gray area and those that constitute sexual assault—and its particular content are crucial for the development of a tenable feminist sexual ethics. (shrink)
Rape is a form of violence that causes destructive consequences to both the physical and spiritual health of women. Due to its taboo nature as well as the societal response to the victim, rape is especially harmful and results in han, a Korean concept that signifies a compressed suffering. The continual torment caused by han damages the rape victim’s spiritual health and ultimately leads to spiritual death. This article offers a definition of spiritual death and explores how (...) the experience of the violent act of rape within a rape culture constructs han. Specifically, the victims’ inability to express pain as well as assumed qualities of shame, self blame, and invisibility are examined with a focus on the societal response’s ability to provoke these qualities, further contributing to the emotional and spiritual trauma which results in a spiritual death. The possibility for multiple spiritual resurrections through various practices including the application of the traditional practice of Han-Pu-Ri, a Korean shamanistic ritual that releases han is discussed. (shrink)
The distinction between 'kill' and 'help to die' is argued by analogy with the distinction between 'rape' and 'make love to'. The difference is the consent of the receiver of the act, therefore 'kill' is the wrong word for an act of active voluntary euthanasia. The argument that doctors must not be allowed by law to perform active voluntary euthanasia because this would recognise an infringement of the sanctity of life ('the red light principle') is countered by comparing such (...) doctors with the drivers of emergency vehicles, who are allowed to drive through red lights. (shrink)
Debra Bergoffen’s Contesting the Politics of Genocidal Rape shows us beautifully what is gained by considering rape as a consequence of genocide. What gets lost here, in relation to considering cases of rape that are not the result of such, such as gang rape, “mass rape,” or other instances of rape? Is rape qua rape a human rights violation of a sort that is articulated within the context of the “right to sexual (...) integrity”? Can a case be made, even in “non-wartime” societies where rape occurs systematically as an instance of patriarchy and misogyny, that rape is a human rights violation of the right to sexual self-determination? Or is it the case that the conditions of wartime rape merit a different set of considerations in order to locate it as a human rights violation? My comments attempt to think through some of these questions with Bergoffen. (shrink)
Legal definitions of rape traditionally required proof of both force and nonconsent. Acknowledging the difficulty of demonstrating the conjunction of force and nonconsent, many feminists argue that rape should be defined based on one element or the other. Instead of debating which of these two best defines the crime of rape, I argue that this framework is problematic, and that both force and nonconsent must be situated in a critique of social power structures. Catharine MacKinnon provides such (...) a critique, and she reframes rape as a matter of gender inequality. However, rather than rejecting the force/nonconsent dichotomy, MacKinnon focuses exclusively on force, which she thinks can be reconceived to include inequalities. Considering the #MeToo movement and feminist efforts to use Title IX to address campus rape, I argue that the concept of consent is more flexible than MacKinnon suggests and that “affirmative consent” can challenge this liberal model. In requiring active communication, affirmative consent shifts responsibility for rape, opens space for women’s sexual agency, and allows for the transformation of rape culture. Thus, I argue that rape should be defined by the use of force, the lack of affirmative consent, or the presence of both elements. (shrink)
Standards of reasonability play an important role in some of the most difficult cases of rape. In recent years, the notion of the reasonable person has supplanted the historical concept of the reasonable man as the test of reasonability. Contemporary feminist critics like Catharine MacKinnon and Kim Lane Scheppele have challenged the notion of the reasonable person on the grounds that reasonability standards are gendered to the ground and so, in practice, the reasonable person is just the reasonable man (...) in a gender neutral guise. These critics call for the explicit employment of a reasonable woman standard for application to the actions of female victims of rape. But the arguments for abandoning a gender-neutral standard are double-edged and the employment of gendered standards of reasonability is likely to have implications that are neither foreseen by, nor acceptable to, advocates of such standards. Reasonable agent standards can be dropped, in favor of appeals to the notion of a reasonable demand by the law. However, if reasonable agent standards are to be retained, gendered versions of such standards are not preferable to gender-neutral ones. (shrink)
In Athens and other ancient cultures, a woman, whatever her status and whatever her age or social class, was, in law, a perpetual minor. Throughout her life, she was in the legal control of a guardian who represented her in law. Rape, as unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman, warranted a capital charge in the Graeco-Roman world. It still carries a capital charge in some societies and is considered a felony in others. As for adultery, it may be prosecuted (...) in some cultures while in others it is a matter to be decided by the family council. This paper examines laws concerning the abuse of and exploitation of women in ancient and modern societies, especially within the context of their biologically determined roles and sexual culture. It also seeks to establish the socio-legal rights of women, especially those who were traumatised and sexually abused. The research method is mainly content analysis. It employs sources such as legal evidence in the form of recorded speeches of the Attic orators along with literary accounts, historical or legendary and epigraphic inscriptions. (shrink)
Feminist critics of evolutionary psychology are often accused of committing the naturalistic fallacy, that is, of inferring certain normative conclusions from evolutionary psychology’s purely descriptive accounts. This article refutes the accusation of the naturalistic fallacy, by showing that evolutionary psychology’s accounts of human behavior are not purely descriptive, but rather grounded on biased value judgments. A paradigmatic example is Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer’s well-known book A Natural History of Rape. I argue that at least three biased judgments are (...) at work in Thornhill and Palmer’s evolutionary psychology account of rape: (1) adaptationist approaches to evolution, (2) willful ignorance of cultural and social context, and (3) binary understanding of gender and sex. In that Thornhill and Palmer’s account cannot hold without the three biased value judgments, it is not a purely factual description of rape. Therefore, feminist concerns over its normative implications do not commit the naturalistic fallacy, as it is not the case that they infer a normative conclusion from a pure description. (shrink)
Lack of consent is valorized within popular culture to the point that sexual assault has become a spectator sport and creepshot entertainment on social media. Indeed, the valorization of nonconsensual sex has reached the extreme where sex with unconscious girls, especially accompanied by photographs as trophies, has become a goal of some boys and men.
Justice for rape victims has become synonymous with punitive state punishment. Taking rape seriously is equated with increasing convictions and prison sentences and consequently most feminist activism has been focused on reforming the conventional criminal justice system to secure these aims. While important reforms have been made, justice continues to elude many victims. Many feel re-victimized by a system which marginalizes their interests and denies them a voice. Restorative justice offers the potential to secure justice for rape (...) victims, but feminist resistance has resulted in few programmes tackling such crimes. In After the Crime, Susan Miller evidences the positive outcomes of a restorative justice programme tackling serious offences including rape and recommends their development. However, her vision is ultimately limited by her recommendation of only post-conviction restorative processes and the implicit endorsement of the conventional criminal justice system. I argue that feminist strategy and activism must rethink its approach to what constitutes justice for rape victims, going beyond punitive state outcomes to encompass broader notions of justice, including an expansive approach to restorative justice. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Nellie Wieland argues that silencing in the sense put forward by Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby has the unpalatable consequence of diminishing a rapist's responsibility for the rape. We argue both that Wieland misidentifies Langton and Hornsby's conception of silencing, and that neither Langton and Hornsby's actual conception, nor the one that Wieland attributes to them, in fact generates this consequence.
Rape is a form of violence which exists from the ancient times in history. But it has been used to express power over women by men. Although we believe in Islam, which give us a charter of human rights long before it was recognized by the world, it has been interpreted to support some ideas which are misquoted or not explained with their contexts. Similar condition is in the case of marital rape which is an issue not acknowledged (...) in Pakistan. This issue was initially raised by women rights activists. The issue is hushed up because it is considered that once married women give up her right on her body. Since forced sexual relations between a husband and wife are not legally considered cases of “rape” the question arises whether or not a wife herself views the incident as a “rape”. There are two important issues, which must be researched in the case of marital rape. The first area is victim offender relations and the second considers the element of power. (shrink)
How can we eradicate violence against women? How, at least, can we reduce its prevalence? One possibility offered by Catharine MacKinnon is to harness international human rights norms, especially prohibitions on torture, and apply them to sexual violence with greater rigour and commitment than has hitherto been the case. This article focuses particularly on the argument that all rapes constitute torture in which states are actively complicit. It questions whether a feminist strategy to reconceptualise rape as torture should be (...) pursued, suggesting that we retain the label ‘rape’ due to its gendered meaning and powerful associations. It is also claimed that we may lose sight of the commonality of rape in calling it torture, as well as obscuring the varied responses of women survivors. Finally, the article canvasses the idea that we recognise the different circumstances and contexts in which rape takes place, which may mean different criminal offences for different rapes; for example, preserving the label ‘torture’ for those rapes in which state officials are participants. (shrink)