Society and Law Proceedings are Against Rape Victims

Rape has been a problem far longer than the founding of the United States of America, yet it seems there has been no progress in defending the victims. People feel bad for the victims and understand it is a traumatizing event a person should never go through, however, it can be understood that not all people sympathize for the victims because of controversial thoughts; this includes excuses such as: x was asking for it, x wore almost no clothes, x was drunk, x just ruined young men’s lives.  X meaning people of either gender, non-identified gender, etc.


Some of the thoughts are not just defenses from rapists but society accusations as well. People have tried to shame victims by placing some of the blame on them on add in various factors to try and reduce some of the blame on the harasser. A good example of this comes out of the fairly recent case of Steubenville rape offense. What had happened was Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were at a party where alcohol was served to minors. Mays and Richmond found an intoxicated, sixteen year old girl and raped her as well as took video footage of the crime. They were both charged with penetrating this girl. Here is the post of what happened in trial:

The poor girl did get support and help from such a terrifying experience but she got a lot more than sympathy. Twitter, Facebook, and I am sure a lot more places started growing with opinions of the case in distaste of the girl. The girl was in question from these posts rather than the convicted. An example comes from a Twitter blogger Michael Crook who posted, “There is no justice in Steubenville today. The girl asked for it and wanted it, in my opinion. They gave it to her. No crime. Appeal!” A hot one from Reddit blogger Rhythm825 stated, “Slut logic, I got drunk and allowed some dudes to bang me. Now I feel guilty and I’m going to press charges. Sloots gonna sloot.” So much disdain for this girl came from the fact that she was underage and drinking, but that should not justify the actions of those two delinquents and certainly should not be the cause of so much hate for this victim.  Here is a blog from Tumblr which has the quotes I used and many more from three main social media websites:

Not only does it seem that some parts of society are against rape victims, but perhaps some parts of the law can be too. When a victim actually comes forth and press charges of a rape, the law takes into account more of the rape victim rather than the defendant. During proceedings, it can be seen as if most of the burden is pressurized onto the victim to prove that they were not in consensual sex. Susan Estrich makes a great point in her chapter of Rape in the book The Social Organization of Law. She states that “the proof of a rape charge-the corroboration requirement, the requirement of cautionary instructions, and the fresh complaint rule-as well as the evidentiary rules relating to prior sexual conduct by the victim, placed the victim as much on trial as the defendant.” This means that the victim must try to make sure he/she could prove that he/she gave no consent and tried to make some sort of escape/gesture to get away from a rapist. Furthermore, there is just so much a person must do in order to prove they resisted. Estrich claims that to prove nonconsent the law “requires victims of rape, unlike victims of any other crime, to demonstrate their ‘wishes’ through physical violence.” In other words, a person has no proof if they can not prove violence. Not everyone is as “lucky” as the girl from Steubenville who had the whole atrocity recorded so she had hard proof of her resistance.

Why is there so much hate from both parties is a mystery to me, but I just know this is a messed up society.

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18 Responses to Society and Law Proceedings are Against Rape Victims

  1. haleyschryver says:

    I think it’s good that you included how rape victims have to prove they resisted with physical violence in order to prove they were raped. There is certainly something wrong with that, and it shows that our society is seriously flawed in that regard. I think it might be interesting to look at how other countries in the developed world view rape in their society and how their judicial systems treat it.

  2. Also in regards to the Steubenville Rape case, I believe the media has been a major problem. For example, just take a few seconds to watch this video:

    The video is an exchange from CNN News Correspondents Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow regarding the sentencing of the two high school football stars convicted of rape in Steubenville, Ohio. The young men raped a 16 year old girl repeatedly and it was documented on video. One of the defendants received one year in juvenile detention and the other received two years.

    Ms. Harlow was reporting from outside the court room just after watching the conviction of the two young men. She repeated, multiple times, that this was “so hard to watch,” because the two young men’s futures were ruined. You know what I think would be hard to watch? The video of the rape. While their futures will definitely be affected, they committed a heinous crime and were charged as juveniles. They will spend a few years in Juvenile Detention. The victim will never be able to escape the memories or the video–the internet is a black hole and the video and pictures of the rape will be available forever. The media coverage, especially this video, is shocking to me. How about the future of the victim—the real victim? The focus is entirely on how hard this is for the defendants. Perhaps if the media changes how they cover rape cases, the perspective of the public will change too.

    • kdmflag says:

      I couldn’t even get through the whole video before replying to your thread. It was the quote, **’My life is over, no one is going to want me now’** reiterated by Poppy Harlow. Was this quote put forth by the 16 year old victim, who has had (what I can only imagine to be) the most horrifying and degrading moments of her life brought to national attention? No, it was a quote by the convicted rapist, who may never get to live out his dreams of collegiate football stardom.
      I am further enraged by May’s apology following his conviction, where he admits that he should have never taken nor published pornographic images of the girl he molested. The second young man seems to hold true regret for his actions as he breaks down in the courtroom, but this remorse is not accentuated by the report.
      What sickens me the most, however, is the entire feel and tone of this news clip. Never once is the phrase ‘justice for this young woman’ brought up, or even the tried and true bullshit euphemism “Put this all behind them and go on with their lives’. There is no talk of the victim’;s family, just how hard it might be for these 2 football stars to get a job after Juvenile Detention. The only person who seemed sympathetic to the victim was the man at the end, who used strong adjectives to portray the crime.

    • theginja says:

      While I agree with everyone in this thread just about whole-heartedly, I think I depart slightly in the sense that I don’t think that “this is just a messed up society”. I think this is another example of a vocal minority shaping the opinions we have about society and culture as a whole.

      Yes, all of this is terrible, and it is shameful that there is so much sympathy for the RAPISTS (because that is what they are) in this case. It is shameful how the media reported it too. The twitter posts, and facebook statuses that have been paraded around the internet are despicable as well. But, just look at the reaction to that video that was posted. Over 8000 dislikes, and barely over 500 likes (still too many). And this trend is similar in the social media as well. Then, at least within my circle of acquaintances, the vast majority are absolutely ashamed that these boys are getting the sympathy that they are getting.

      I think that the position of rape victims, and rape law have been improving, albeit slowly in the United States. I can’t imagine the position victims were put in 50, 100, or 150 years ago. And I can’t stand the position they are put in currently in the VAST majority of the world in 2013! We have a long, long way to go. We have to overcome centuries of sexist, and misogynistic laws and culture. And I’d prefer we combat it head-on rather than in the periphery of conversations and daily activity. But, I don’t think I want to go as far as some and dismiss society as a whole.

      TL:DR – These boys are straight up rapists, and got off lite, I think most people agree. Don’t allow a vocal minority define your opinion of the whole.

  3. yesdelrinc says:

    I appreciate your argument. Unfortunately, I have seen this to be the reality of many women. As a former intern at Planned Parenthood, I saw many cases where women were not protected under the law for being rape beings that had certain details in their cases, such as lack of physical proof of rape. I am also perplexed by the reality that we live in a rape culture. Our society frowns upon women for being rape victims. Even more disturbing is that we teach women not to be raped, rather than teach men not to rape. As noted in your example, women are discouraged from wearing certain clothing because it will supposedly attract the wrong attention that will lead them to being rape victims. Our society is obviously against women and fails to protect them. If our government cannot lawfully protect women under rape cases, than how are women even considered citizens?

    Oh wait…I know the reason. Legitimate rape! Remember Todd Akin, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” That has to be the reason why the law does not protect these women.

    Read more:

  4. kdmflag says:

    If we don’t do something to strengthen our victim’s rights and change the way rape is viewed as a ‘mutual fault’ crime, this country may find itself in the same horrors India faces in the international community. The gang rape epidemic that has exploded across that sub-continent is appalling, and may require international intervention.

    This article is a little sensationalist, but it gets the point across. Here is a Time article that better expands on the story and its international effects.

    I believe the answer lies with stricter penalties and convictions. According to this Scientific American article, recidivism (repeated criminal behavior) increases rather drastically alongside the severity of the crime. (See paragraphs 4 &5). While more data and research should be done I don’t believe that punishments such as chemical castration and the death penalty should be taken off the table for some heinous perpetrators and repeat offender. Law enforcement is only a strong deterrent if society fears its repercussions, and I believe that the national mentality of these crimes need serious reconsideration.

  5. Ok so disclaimer. I am not saying rape is right or saying it is ok or excusable. Also, try to withhold judgment until you finish reading what i have to say.

    I would like to point out that there are larger social issues to deal with here. Primarily, that they were stupid kids. You get a bunch of teenagers fueled up on alcohol, drugs, and testosterone and they make bad judgment decisions. Yet this surprises people?

    Teenagers especially are still forming their sexual identities, and do not yet know what it means to be a “real man”. So some respond by trying to lose their virginity as quickly as possible, or by having as many partners as possible. If you get to the root of it these kids are insecure and stupid. What they did was wrong, but saying that society is evil and that we live in a “Rape Culture” is a step too far. Doing this puts all men i know of in defense mode. You are viewing every man as a potential rapist, and that is pain a wrong stereotype.

    Boys want to feel like men, and as long as society fails to provide a healthy outlet it will manifest itself in unhealthy ways. If you want to stop the rape phenomena encourage men to have strong moral convictions about right and wrong, not blame all of us with blanket statements about how evil we are and how we need to stop.

    Most Anti Rape chatter is coming from Feminists, who often have more polarized positions on men in general, so obviously men will not listen. Try getting men involved for a change, try using positive reinforcement instead of marginal negative reinforcement. Appeal to men’s pride and Gentlemanly stereotypes and you might get through to your audience a lot better. Obviously the laws are not working, so instigate a social shift of letting men be men in healthy ways. Guys want to be macho and stupid, so let them IN HEALTHY WAYS.

    • ryrooney says:

      How is saying we live in a rape culture a step too far? Women are afraid to walk to their car alone at night because they might get kidnapped or raped, women are afraid to wear skirts that show mid thigh because they might get raped. There is even court documentation for a rape trial that states, “she was wearing dangling/ hoop earrings.” If we weren’t living in a rape culture, none of that would matter. Rape culture doesn’t view every man as a potential rapist. Rape culture is defined as a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate rape. All of those are present in todays society making it a rape culture, not because people view all men as evil. Sorry to say, but not everything is about men.

      Men wanting to be macho and stupid, teenagers being fueled up on drugs, and most anti rape chatter is coming from Feminists are all just over worked stereotypes. People are trying to break away from stereotypes, like how women who get raped were just asking for it one way or another, is just a stereotype. So why would people counter act with stereotypes to bring men more into the cause. Men shouldn’t have to be brought into the cause, they should already be in the cause.. by not raping.

      • You are right men should not rape women, but given the numbers it is not as prevalent as many other crimes are. Yet these crimes are not defining society.

        “Men shouldn’t have to be brought into the cause, they should already be in the cause.. by not raping.”

        While i see your point it is just not that simple. This is like telling people “Just stop stealing, its that simple”.There will always be people who commit crimes. What i am trying to say is that if you want men to take you seriously and to help debunk the stereotypes existing, do not alienate men from your cause. Try to get men involved in your movement, not just lay out blanket cultural accusations that push the very people you want to change away from your cause.

    • dvalexan says:

      I would disagree with you primarily that there are larger social issues than rape. In fact, factually speaking – underage drinking is not a larger social issue than rape. According to the CDC, 25% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol. Meanwhile, according to RAINN, 1 out of every 6 women have reported rape being attempted or completed on them. This is not accounting for the 54% of rapes that are estimated to not be reported. (And, because it’s usually a defense by those who don’t think rape is a social issue – the percentage of rapes that are reported but end up being false – 2%. So false rape accusations aren’t an issue either.)

      Secondarily, it is a fact that we live in a rape culture. Using a blanket statement and saying that this makes every woman think that every man is out to rape her does not make that so. I, as a woman, do not think every man is out to rape me. I don’t look at the gentlemen I sit next to in any given class and assume that one day, they will assault me. But because of the culture we live in, I am definitely careful to walk to my car at night by myself, especially considering that rapes occur even ON the ASU campuses. I don’t think I am the minority in that regard. We are cautious, but we don’t believe everyone is a rapist.

      Further, why is it offensive that “rape culture” stereotypes men, however women are expected to live in a society where they have been told to not dress a certain way, or behave a certain way, or even drink in public – or else when you get raped, it is your own fault and the burden falls to you to defend yourself both during and after the fact.

      I’m not saying we need to only blame men and ALL men for rape. That would be an ignorant assumption, because women can rape and men can be raped as well. However, the culture we live in has taught us as women that if we are raped it is OUR fault, and not the rapists fault. We are told “Well, next time don’t wear short skirts out.” Meanwhile, the media laments that the poor boys life will be over because of his time in jail for the rape he committed. Why can’t we teach to not rape, rather than to not BE raped? The evidence is there that this is not the cultural norm – apologists come forward every time a rape makes the national news. The Steubenville trial threw all of this into the limelight for all to see and boy, did we see it.

      Finally, I ask: what kind of positive reinforcement would you like us to use? And are there not outlets for men to go be “macho” in their own healthy ways? I mean, my brother goes and shoots guns at targets with his friends – and that’s his macho time. Is that not enough? Why is it expected that men can’t control these primal and “macho” instincts and instead have to let them loose on women, violently?

      If I were a man, that stereotype in and of itself would offend me.

      • Here are the numbers for 2005 through 2007 for crimes on tempe campus, the biggest of the 3.

        there were 6 “Sex offences: forcible”

        Go to page 35 of this

        There were 1,653 rapes reported during 2011.

        There were 7,007 robberies reported during 2011.

        There were 52,155 burglaries reported during 2011

        Do we also live in a “Theft Culture” or a “Burglary Culture”? Also can you cite any court opinions in the past 5 years that blame the victims? If so i would like to read them.

      • elason13 says:

        Thank you for providing the statistic false accusations in rape cases. I feel like the courts live by the exception, the 2% of false accusations, rather than the rule, the 98% of true accusations.

        We read an article by Monroe Freedman and Abbe Smith called Understanding Lawyers Ethics. They argued that rape victims should be discredited through cross-examination, believing that “relevant” sexual history is vital to proving that the victim is making a false accussation (because if you have had sex before, than obviously that means you wanted to have sex with the defendant).

        Chief Justice Warren Burger supports their position: “[Burger] considered it ethical to cast doubt on the young woman’s “credibility” by destroying her reputation, even though the lawyer knows that she is telling the truth.”
        And yet Burger also believes “a lawyer may never, under any circumstances, knowingly…participate in a fraud of the court.” Unless, of course, it is a rape case. Then it is ethically ok for a lawyer to paint the victim as a “whore”.

        Btw, whores get raped too. Does that it ok, a victimless crime?

        (Professor Luban is a critic of the cross-examination of rape victims).
        Freedman and Smith end their argument article with this: “However, we do not share [Luban’s] view that it is better that an innocent man go to jail than that a woman be called a “whore”.”

        What does a women’s reputation have to do with rape?

        If lawyers were actually doing their jobs, then they should be able to dig up other evidence to defend their client, such as DNA, motive, alibi, physical evidence, witnesses. I mean, I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure these things are important in criminal cases. The way that rape cases are treated in the Courts is just … backwards.

      • So for whatever reason my post is not working so i’m trying it again.

        Here are the numbers for 2005 through 2007 for crimes on tempe campus, the biggest of the 3.

        There were 6 “Sex offences: forcible”

        Go to page 35 of this

        There were 1,653 rapes reported during 2011.

        There were 7,007 robberies reported during 2011.

        There were 52,155 burglaries reported during 2011

        Do we also live in a “Theft Culture” or a “Burglary Culture”? Also can you cite any court opinions in the past 5 years that blame the victims? If so i would like to read them.

      • ryrooney says:

        This is in reply to Nathanwellsfry (it’s not actually letting me reply to their comment). The amount of rapes that are and AREN’T reported doesn’t make the society we live in a rape culture. The fact that people, like you, try to lessen the problem of rape and say other things are more important than rape is what makes the society we live in a rape culture.

        You keep comparing rape crimes to other crimes like burglary and theft but there is a big difference between stealing money from someone and forcefully have sexual intercourse with someone. What I am trying to say is that there is massive difference between rape and robbery, comparing the two shouldn’t even be done.

        You said that if I want men to become more involved in cause that I should stop alienating them from it. I’m not to sure what that means? I don’t know of any men that think raping a woman is not bad because men have the “stereotype of raping”.

      • What i mean by not alienating men from your movement is that most feminist movements from my perspective are confrontational. Going on about how we live in a “rape culture” and how repressive and wrong men are will not accomplish much. Yes rape is a serious crime, but it is exactly that, A CRIME, It is not the byproduct of a culture out repress or control women. It is a crime that anyone can commit regardless of gender. We do not live in a “Rape Culture” we live in a fear culture. The fear of wrongdoing or danger is ever present, not the actuality of it. Even if we assume 50% of all rape cases are not reported you are still more likely to be robbed than raped.

        I agree that being told not to “get raped” is wrong. But being told not to go out alone or to carry some sort of weapon does not constitute encouraging a “Rape Culture”. I do not go out alone at night, it’s common sense not prejudice.

        Yes courts should prosecute it better but saying that we live in a “rape culture” is flat out not true. To say that discredits the serious changes that have happened in recent years. When things do change for the better acknowledge that change and encourage it. Show the numbers of court convictions and encourage victims to report it. Do not continue to chant generalities that have no concrete meaning. Be specific about what you want I.E. a particular law or policy to be put in place.

      • ryrooney says:

        I understand what you are saying but I don’t think you fully understand the difference between rape and a crime like robbery. Yes like you said, rape is a crime, but no rape is not just a crime it a horrific incident in someones life. Which I will argue that rape is a more traumatic thing to happen to someone than any other crime.

        I would argue that we live in both a rape culture and a fear culture. Both could be byproducts of each other.

        I can acknowledge that a rapists feels bad about what he did and now knows that he shouldn’t have done it and starts doing good and changing his ways but he is still a rapist. Just like how I can acknowledge that society has made strides in improving women’s status in the courtroom, ect. but we still live in a rape culture. Does that make sense?

      • Yes rape is traumatic, but so is attempted murder, blackmailing, Cyber bullying etc. They all have a profound psychological impact, but that does not change the fact that it is a crime not a cultural phenomena. Capital crimes are punished and obviously discourages. If we really did live in a “rape culture” It would be far more than a societal ill it would be accepted and encouraged behavior. I.E. a culture that revolves around rape or at least widely encouraged it.

        Also, i’m not sure what you mean by this

        “I would argue that we live in both a rape culture and a fear culture. Both could be byproducts of each other.”

        Are you saying that the fear or rape encourages men to prey on that fear and Visa versa? I would argue that the numbers that i posted earlier would disprove that. Rape is not as common as it may seem even if we assume 50% are not reported.

        Also if you apply that reasoning to everything you are basically saying that anyone who commits a crime is a lifelong criminal and there is redemption regardless of what they do with their lives. Is that a view you really want to commit to. It seems like it would get very rigid fast and condemn a lot of people unfairly.

  6. ryrooney says:

    This is probably the best post I have seen. I am in a group project for another class and we are doing a project on how the Internet provides a means for the youth to make offensive rape jokes/ comments without being held accountable. It is good to see another person share the exact same views as our group.

    I think a big way to help clear up the stereotypes, clouded judgements, and other misconceptions about rape is by teaching “Don’t rape” instead of “Don’t get raped”. By bluntly teaching society that it does not matter what woman wear, it does not matter if she was drunk, ect. it helps keep the actual person at fault; the rapist. Women shouldn’t have to prove that they were raped by demonstrating physical strength. Making someone prove that they actually went through an extremely horrific incident because people won’t believe them is another reason why so many rapes go unreported each year.

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