I find this upcoming week’s reading fascinating and much different from what we have read in the past. Before, we have discussed constitutional interpretation in the terms of the opinions of Supreme Court Justices or lawyers, both from Scalia, Brennan, and Balkin who discussed it in the general sense, as well as in famous cases such as Roe v. Wade. In Susan Estrich’s “Rape,” she challenges how rape cases are handled. While she has a legal background, what makes this reading stand out from others is she is an actual victim of rape. Therefore, she provides an appealing and credible case by tapping into the readers’ emotions and ethics without even having to mention the Constitution. I firmly believe that rape is a serious issue, and commend Estrich for taking a stand.
Although in my last post I declared that Brennan was far less superior than Balkin, this was because I was comparing the two writers. In this case, I think many of the ideas Brennan presents in “Contemporary Ratification” align with the ideas Estrich presents in “Rape.” For example, I believe Estrich would agree with Brennan’s belief that the Constitution should “foster and protect the freedom, the dignity, and the right of all persons” in the terms of a woman’s “bodily integrity” (Brennan 30; Estrich 171).
Before I move on, I want to acknowledge that rape can and does happen to males, but for the sake of this post, both for ease and to align with Estrich’s writing structure, I will also be using the female terms.
According to Merriam-Webster, there are two definitions of the word dignity:
- a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control
- the quality of being worthy of honor or respect
I believe Estrich and Brennan would both argue that rape cases are not handled or treated with dignity. More specifically, human dignity should never be taken away from someone, yet can easily be taken away from the victim if her case is not approached properly. In addition, I would argue that without human dignity and self-respect, what do we have to live for? Rape is a personal violation of the victim, so her body and feelings should be treated with dignity.
I believe that rape is a very serious and touchy issue that should not be applied to every victim in the same way. When I was reading “Rape” the concept of “force” made me pretty upset because in all the cases Estrich references, it was not simply what methods the man used to get the female victim to comply, but focused more focused on the victim’s response. We can’t expect everyone to react in the same way. Just because one victim fights while another cries does not mean one reacted in a “better” way. Furthermore, I kept relating it to a murder case. Does the court look at whether the victim of murder fought back? Probably not.
The video below shows the robbery of a laptop is treated by the police like a rape report. While it is done in a humorous and exaggerated way, it is more of a mockery to get across the point that rape cases are not treated the same as other cases, such as robbery.
In this video, you see many of the concepts Estrich talked about such as whether he was “asking for it,” that he felt “violated,” and that the “system is set up against the victim.” You also see more modern factors such as if he had anything to drink before it happened.
While Estrich’s “Rape” was published in 1986, I think this quote exemplifies one of Estrich’s main points that still holds true today. Rape still remains a huge issue today. How can we begin to solve it? I believe it all starts with taking the blame off the victim and moving it towards the rapist. Empowering women to speak up and seek justice is a huge step in the right direction, not only for her, but also for society. The more people who stand up like Estrich, the more people will realize it is a problem. Statistics are statistics until you or someone you know is a victim of rape. We cannot afford to continue to allow daughters, granddaughters, sisters, and girlfriends be subjected to such degrading and cruel acts.