January 13th, 2010
|10:20 am - Her morals go out the window|
I really don't want to think or post about this type of thing, but I think it is significant for us. Five men have been cleared of raping a woman after it emerged that she had expressed sexual fantasies online.. To make it clear, it is not disputed that they had sex with her. She says she went to meet one of the men to have sex with him, and was then held against her will and forced to have sex with all of them.
Prosecutor Michael Leeming formally offered no evidence after reading excerpts of MSN chatlogs of her conversations before the alleged offence. He said: "It is right to say that there is material in the chatlogs from the complainant, who is prepared to entertain ideas of group sex with strangers, where to use her words 'her morals go out of the window'.
No doubt therefore, people would not be persecuted for shooting guns at men who express fantasies about just such a scenario. And so on.
It's the problem with a lot of rape prosecutions - there are no witnesses except for the people that were there, who are usually the defendant and the victim. Without any circumstantial evidence either way as to what actually happened there, don't they pretty much _have_ to dismiss the case?
It's horrible, but I'm not sure what else they can do.
I think for example they could take evidence and consider the case, without dismissing it out of hand. For example - did neighbours hear her screaming for help? Was she hospitalised for injuries? Did any of the accused post fantasies online about raping women? (Surely as relevant as her fantasies)
I don't know, and nobody ever will, as the prosecution declined to offer any supporting evidence they might possess.
Absolutely. But I'd like to hope that if there _was_ supporting evidence it would have been raised. That's probably just me being naive though.
'Trial collapsed' and 'The prosecutor... formally offered no evidence' means the trial did not proceed through to a conclusion in that way.
I agree that cases are difficult, and I have friends who I believe have been falsely acused of assault, but I think to label a woman's sexual fantasy as 'evidence' shows a complete misunderstanding of fantasy, of fiction itself.
a complete misunderstanding of fantasy, of fiction itself.
I did a fair chunk of reading last term that suggests to me an awful lot of people don't have fucking clue what the word fiction means
I see that in some of the Harry Potter backlash and so on. What area was it particularly for you? Historical research?
Yes, mostly in the areas of history: Virginia Nicholson in Singled Out
, Carolyn Steedman in Dust
in her analysis of Middlemarch
and Mary Barton
, and these two essays
(History and Fiction
and Academic Fictions
) by Kate Grenville who appears to be having an ongoing battle with various historians in regards to her fiction and what she's said about it.
The law could be adjusted so that the victim's prior sexual history is not relevant to the case. Because it is not.
Just as if a person withdraws consent, the fact that they had given consent is no longer relevant and no longer justification.
This was character assassination, not evidence.
Presumably in this case they'd argue that it wasn't prior sexual history - it was part of the conversation between her and the accused, and thus relevant. Which brings us back round to "Just because you fantasise about something, that doesn't mean you want to do it.", which is what the OP was about.
|Date:||January 13th, 2010 10:42 am (UTC)|| |
I was discussing this at work, and this was the comment by a friend on noting how patchy the reporting seemed to be on this story:
> yeah, what made me think there might be some unreported stuff was the judge's directions to the jury - "This case depended on the complainant's credibility. Not to put too fine a point on it, her credibility was shot to pieces."
> so she presumably was found to have lied to the court.
It still feels horrible and nasty. I still think they got away with rape. Ugh.
The issue that particualrly rankles with me is using her online comments as evidence.
As I say to Andy above, I literally do not think that a person of either sex fantasising about an act (sexual or otherwise) is evidence that they would welcome that act. For example someone who writes a Robinson Crusoe fantasy would not welcome being stranded on a desert island. I mean that's so obvious it just sounds silly to even say it.
Obviously, I'm not imagining you are taking the counter view, I'm just taking the opportunity of this reply to rant a little :-)
|Date:||January 13th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)|| |
Yes, I totally agree with you. Describing a fantasy does not equal a desire to enact that fantasy in real life, and it's horrific to suggest it does.
|Date:||January 13th, 2010 10:56 am (UTC)|| |
(and I think, more to the point, even if she had expressly *agreed* to act out the fantasy with these but had withdrawn her consent on being confronted with the reality of it being about to happen, then that would be entirely her prerogative.)
Of course it would. Anyone should be allowed to not have sex (or stop having sex) at any point. I occasionally bump into people who don't believe this and it baffles (and angers) the hell out of me.
|Date:||January 13th, 2010 11:04 am (UTC)|| |
I've had to argue against people who don't believe it today. It's infuriating.
This just makes my head spin. Sadly I know there are many people who don't understand why this is totally screwed up.
And I don't think the thought processes of sheltered middle class men (of my age) have caught up with the facts that women will talk to each other about sex nowadays.
I met an academic psychologist recently who works quite a bit in this field of online identity, and relationship to offline life. One of the project she's doing at the moment is around the online world Sociolotron (which I hadn't heard of until speaking with her, and which, frankly, I find pretty abhorent) in which acts such as rape and murder are a part of the online activity. We spoke about Bettelheim's work on fantasy - that a child, for example, enacts all sorts of naughtiness (and I use the word guardedly) through fairy tale; Jack steals from the Giant, Goldilocks breaks into the Bears' house. And whether there's some relationship with the way adults enact fantasy in online environments. She doesn't have a hypothesis yet, but is exploring whether adults engaging with Sociolotron are more or less likely to engage in terrible acts offline...all very interesting. And frightening.
I feel that there is a difference between expressing fantasies that one perpetrate an aggressive act, and fantasies that one would participate in a morally neutral act.
So, if I fantasise openly about dismembering the postman, and then his dismembered corpse turns up, I think that's relevant evidence for the police to consider (obviously not conclusive, but pertinent).
If I fantasise about having sex with the postman, and then he rapes me, I don't think that is relevant evidence that I consented to a particular sex act. Any more than marriage means a wife necessarily consents to all acts.
Thanks for the link coalescent. I find the discussion a little bit cold, but that tends to be the impression when a professional is talking about her specialism.
When will the sexual history be abandoned as a tool to dismiss rape claims? How long must this battle be fought? What the fuck does an online expression of sexual fantasy have to do with whether these men raped this woman?
|Date:||January 13th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)|| |
I was somewhat baffled by this at first, since I'd gotten the impression that the prosecutor was the one presenting the chatlogs to the court (misintepretation of "reading"). At least, I hope I've misinterpreted that, and the prosecutor was reading something presented by the defence.
It's bad enough as it is without the prosecutor siding with the accused.
Wait. He did, didn't he?