Dead than Defiled?
(Vol.119 No 8 August 1999)
This article is
included in 'Illicit Sex and the God Machine'
Recently, the idea that the law should recognise degrees of rape,
surfaced fleetingly, only to be immediately attacked from opposite
directions by the disparate forces of feminists of the 'Women
against Rape' tendency and people who think rape is all in the mind
(women's minds of course).
I for one, agree that there are degrees or categories of rape just
as there are of murder and assault. In the same way that we do not
equate violent killing during a robbery or on the street, with
killings for which there may be mitigating circumstances, similarly
we differentiate assaults, & we should be able to discriminate
between rape as part of violent attack and an incident, perhaps
sordid or unwanted sex after a party or date during which one or
both parties under the influence of alcohol or drugs let the fooling
around go too far. The law should recognise this difference.
If all killings regardless of the circumstances attracted the
maximum penalty, many killers would go unpunished for fear of
injustice. We accept murder, causing death, and manslaughter, the
Americans have degrees of murder. As the situation is at present,
with no differentiation between 'proper' rape and 'date' rape many
rapists are given the benefit of the doubt & walk free, the
women accusers branded as liars. The current conviction rate is
about figure 10% .
What is interesting for secularists is the degree to which the issue
of rape in general is coloured by cultural attitudes, engendered and
reinforced by religions. That a woman's worth depends on whether she
is a virgin, a mother, has sex inside or outside of marriage, is
called a 'spinster' a 'slut' or a 'whore', has ten children or is
childless, must be challenged
Traditional religious ideas of chastity, virginity and the worth of
women in relation to fertility and sexuality are still reflected in,
and dictate current attitudes to rape and raped women. (not to say
women in general).
Women are expected even encouraged to feel guilty, sullied, dirty
& worthless when they have been raped.
The popular picture painted by the media accentuates this view (to
its own ends) and women are encouraged to wallow in trauma & at
least some must feel that there is something wrong with them if they
feel angry, humiliated for a while, then get on with their lives.
Forced sex is in no way acceptable whatever the situation, but
certainly it in no way compares, even as a weapon, with other
serious personal attack maiming and killing! These extreme
attitudes seem to me to be putting the sex act itself out of all
proportion to its real importance. The media obsession is
another aspect of the same lack of proportion & feminists who
take on this view uncritically, are in my opinion playing along with
the notion to the detriment of most women.
The most serious manifestation of this idea is the fact that there
are whole cultures in other countries and cultural groups in this
country today in which a woman is considered better dead than
defiled. Fathers and brothers will pursue and kill daughters
or sisters for disobeying or being forced to disobey their cultural
rules. Marital or sexual 'crimes' can lead to women being beaten,
imprisoned, maimed or outcast from their families.
Once again the reluctance to seriously examine the roots of these
attitudes in order not to upset the religionists, and the
unwillingness to criticise aspects of culture, however harmful for
fear of being called racist by upholders of these cultural-religious
values is preventing discussion in the wider media. As usual
politicians are unwilling or unable to address these issues