Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Rape should be re-named “non consensual sex”

The Independent Newspaper has an article today (by a man) saying that if the "overly emotive" terms rape and rapist are dropped from court cases and changed to "non consensual sex" we'd have lots more convictions because of the lack of stigma - or something.

My initial reaction is to want to ask the 'journalist' a simple question - If a friend of yours (as it is so often people one knows) came around for a coffee, then forced you onto the kitchen table and buggered you as you screamed in terror, is that "non-consensual sex" or "rape"?

The myth that rapists are mad strangers lying in wait behind bushes with a knife is an extremely dangerous one. Rape is about power, it's the very worst kind of defilement and invasion of your body and your self imaginable.

To trivialise it is like saying "Oh, it was just a non consensual taking of life" for murder.

Five people, so far, have 'agreed' with the article. That's not many, but it's sufficient to send a shiver down my spine.

If we trivialise rape, making it about sex, rather than violation of the person, psychically and psychologically, we are creating an injustice upon an injustice. LESS rapes would be reported as the victims would be taken LESS seriously. The 'non-consensual' aspect would come down to "Did you say 'No' clearly enough?" Proving that in a rapist's word against yours would be almost impossible.

Just like being raped all over again.

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12 thoughts on “Rape should be re-named “non consensual sex”

  • Michaela says:

    My article http://everydayvictimblaming.com/submissions/why-is-my-rape-not-acknowledged/#comments shows how laws trivialise rape as according to the law and the legal definition of rape I can’t even call my rape rape. A woman can’t rape although she can have non consensual sex and so I would welcome the change as it would mean my crime wasn’t excluded from the law leaving me feeling like my rape didn’t matter.

    Yes rape is about power and control and this is exactly what my mother wanted. She got what she wanted but can never be charged.

    • Scarlet Wilde says:

      Your story (and I admire you so much for telling it) makes me feel that the legal definition of rape should be broadened – not diminished further by calling it ‘non consensual sex’. You were indeed raped by a woman – as others have been, I think any bodily violation with any object or body part should be called rape.

      God bless you, you are an amazing person to have come through those appalling experiences and I wish you every happiness.

  • Norma says:

    Rape is not sex. That is all.

    (and I am lucky enough not to have experienced it – yet even I get that)

  • Slutocrat. says:

    Agree!

    Personally I’m less comfortable saying invasion of the body cos that (to me) makes it about the sanctity/purity of the (female) body, as viewed by the patriarchy, and also leads to the sexual assault hierarchy- e.g. PIV rape being viewed as worst which leads to trivialising of other sexual assaults. So I would say it is about autonomy/violation of free will/violence. But I have never been sexually assaulted, so really I guess I should shut up, cos I don’t know what I’m talking about. Thanks for this!

  • Kerry says:

    Is he actually saying that rape is a stigma for the person on trial and therefore a jury is more likely to convict if they dont hear that word?
    that really sums up the reluctance of some people to accept that rape happens, and that it is committed by normal men who don’t fit the stereotypical “pervert” description. Being a rapist should be a bloody stigma!

    • Michaela says:

      Rape is also committed by ordinary women. My recent blog why my rape isn’t recognised highlights this very well. My rapist will never be called a rapist which you quite rightly state being a rapist should be a stigma.

  • ‘Scuse me while I smack this argument around a bit because I’m sick of it.

    British women have a very serious national problem regarding violence towards women – of every description – up to and including rape at the hands of a white male government and a system designed by men for men.

    As this site repeatedly points out; the overwhelming majority of rape victims are women and any even greater overwhelming majority of rapists are men. If a woman fights back, the man frequently resorts to lethal violence and we are forced to accept thus situation by public officials who ought to be putting a stop to it but are instead, quibbling about what we actually call the problem? For what purpose? To make it more ‘equal’?

    What a load of bollocks! The man is a rape apologist and he’s doing his best to wriggle men off the responsibility hook for their part in creating this situation.

    We’ve already created effective legal methodologies for explaining the impact of rape upon victims. I wonder how many have been ruled out of order or inadmissible as evidence by the judicious white men seeking to re-establish their power to abuse.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rape-Ultimate-Violation-Judith-Rowland/dp/0745300928

    The problem is that a certain type of man refuses to see/hear/understand this problem for what it is and tries deflecting into the long grass where it can continue unnoticed.

    You know what? http://wildwalkerwoman.tumblr.com/post/84767977781

    I’m having the exact same arguments elsewhere

    Argument: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s1ldp1
    Riposte: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s1llaq

    Sam is one of the good guys. The white bloke who wrote this thoughtful, sensitive claptrap is an absolute knob.

    That’s my opinion anyway – for what it’s worth.

    • Scarlet Wilde says:

      Couldn’t agree more, that’s what got me really mad this morning. On it goes…let’s not forget the female Tory Councillor who said “If rape’s going to happen, you might as well lie back and enjoy it” I just don’t know what to do with these people.

  • Tracey McMahon says:

    The article is ambiguous in an attempt to minimise rape as a violent act.

    I have various concerns around people’s attitudes towards rape as an act. We know it is a crime, yet somehow our system is embedded in that without visual evidence, the act has not been carried out. If visual evidence is present, essentially, two crimes have been committed

    If we take the term rape We know or certainly I believe, it is an act of terror and violence. The term itself is to strip a person of choice and yield power by terror and violence.

    Changing to non-consensual sex is a step backwards. So while looking at the term is a start, in opening up discussion, I don’t feel this alternative is correct.

    Having reported an assault previously and given the ‘not enough evidence ‘ statement although I was commuted through to support which I engaged with, as a voice for women in the CJS, I am increasingly concerned this area is being smoke-screened.

    Unless a person has visual signs of evidence, our current system drives it down to one person’s word against another.

    Same with legal aid being restricted unless there is documented evidence of domestic abuse.

    What the current system is engaged in is glaringly obvious. Not enough evidence to bring a case to a court room.

    Until we look at the act as an act of terror & violence, as opposed to the terminology, this horrific crime is never going to be given the attention that is needed.

    A conviction in my own case, was irrelevant now in that I had good support and while it should never have happened, the support I was guided to gave me the strength to come to terms with what did happen. I’ll never get it over it, the pain of this act against me is what drives me forward to support and signpost those who are marginalised.

  • Hecuba says:

    Given the term ‘rape’ upsets so many men because it does not include the phrase ‘non-consensual’ then perhaps we should erase these terms – murder; theft; physical assault; racism; homophobia. Instead they all should be re-defined as non-consensual murder; non-consensual theft; non-consensual physical assault; non-consensual racism and non-consensual homophobia.

    Exactly what constitutes ‘non-consensual’ can be argued from opposing view points wherein one view will be that person ‘consented’ to being murdered whilst another person recognises perpetrator murdered the victim. Likewise one person will claim ‘homophobia’ did not happen because the victim did not challenge/resist the aggressor.

    The crimes of racism; homophobia; theft; physical violence; do not depend on whether or not the victim ‘consented’ but the fact these acts are crimes against the person. But this male writer is seeking to euphemise/hide the reality of rape by claiming it is ‘non-consensual sexual activity’ which in itself reinforces mens’ belief that ‘sex’ is sex when men say so, irrespective of the female victim’s experience and ‘rape’ is only ‘rape’ according to men’s definition of what constitutes ‘rape!’

    What is non-consensual sexual activity from women’s lived experiences is not the same as ‘non-consensual sexual activity from mens’ lived experiences.

    Men learn as boys they have innate right of (pseudo) male sexual access to any female; any time anywhere and unless the female physically prevents the male from subjecting her to sexual violence – it is just ‘sex’ not male sexual violence!

    but rape is only ‘rape’ when men believe ‘rape has occurred.’

    So issue then becomes one of ‘did she or did she not “consent” to being subjected to unwanted male sexual violence rather than male raped female.

    since one person will believe the victim consented to being murdered; likewise one person will believe ‘racism do not happen because the victim did not resist or

  • Scarlet Wilde says:

    We’re damned if we fight back (I.e escalation of violence/risk of death) and damned if we freeze in fear because there’s not enough ‘physical evidence’. Taking rape to mean simply ‘non consensual sex’ makes the act another thing entirely. A step backwards, I certainly agree.

  • Cherie says:

    Who is this meant to comfort? The victim or the perpetrator? Or perhaps it’s just supposed to make the rest of society feel better that the “nice” people who are accused of rape and molestation are simply ‘misunderstood’ and perfectly safe after all.

    The “nice man” who raped me is currently dating a friend of mine who says “well his side of the story isn’t the same as yours.” I assume this lets her feel that she is safe because obviously, it was just sex that I didn’t realise was meant to be consensual.

    In My last blog post ‘Mr Nice Guy?’ I talk about How the myth that rapists are just crazy people is what is putting so many people in danger. Taking away the impact of the crime increases the likelihood of the prevelence rising.