At least, that is what Oliver Wright is claiming in a nasty piece of click bait in the Independent* today. We need to stop using the word rape because it confuses the menz and gives them sad feelings. So, we need to replace it with “non-consensual sex” so rapists don’t feel upset about being labelled rapists. Because it’s the sad feelings of men that we need to work on in order to deal with low rape convictions. Not the systemic nature of sexual violence and rape. Or, the fact that the Metro can list anal rape as “bad sexual etiquette”. Or, the fact that the media prints rape myths on a daily basis as truth. Or, the fact that police use rape myths in their annual Christmas “don’t be stupid enough to get yourself raped” campaigns despite the ONLY risk factor for being raped is being in the presence of a rapist.
Suggesting that the best way to deal with low rape convictions is to change the term is a simplistic answer to a complex problem by someone who has clearly not bothered to do any research into rape, male violence and the criminal justice system. A quick phone call to any number of third sector organisations, Alison Saunders who is the current director of public prosecutions, or, you know, Rape Crisis would have been more than enough to learn why this suggestion is so incredibly harmful. Frankly, reducing rape to a “unpleasant crime” shows just how little Wright understands the issue.
The basic problem with Wright’s article can be summed up by his concluding paragraphs:
The attrition rate for rape cases at early stages in the criminal-justice process shows that too many are getting filtered out early – mainly because police and prosecutors don’t think that there is any chance of getting a conviction. But with a less emotive charge, that could change.
Because the truth is this: it is not the term rape that is important, it is getting justice for the victims of the crime – whatever it is called.
Changing the name of rape to a “less emotive” one doesn’t change the fact that rape is the one crime that the vast majority of people believe victims bring on themselves. It doesn’t change the fact that many men, and a lot more men commit rape than are ever convicted, are rapists. A generous study on this issue puts rapists at 1 in every 60 men. This does not include street and sexual harassment.
We don’t need to change the word rape. We need to stop men raping. Changing language won’t deal with the number of men who are rapists. If anything, it will just give rapists more wiggle room to whine about how they didn’t understand consent as if it’s difficult to know that a woman saying no or freezing doesn’t want to have sex.
Frankly, if we’re going for simplistic ways to end rape, I’d vote for a law which bans men from having any kind of sexual contact until they can prove that they aren’t too stupid to understand consent.
* Clean link.
And men, I am no longer publishing comments by you on this blog so don’t waste your time writing rape apologist bullshit on here. I don’t want to hear how you’re not a rapist because you misunderstood. You’re a rapist because you made the choice to rape someone.