Skip to content

Things That Need to Stop: Reporting rape as rape, but calling it ‘sex’ a bunch of times anyway

5 January 2013

Ahh, liberal media.

ThinkProgress has published a piece by Ian Millhiser regarding a rapist in California who didn’t actually rape anyone on the technicality that his victim wasn’t married.  This is news that should absolutely be reported and reviled for how ethically bankrupt the US legal system still is in many cases, and it should also not go unnoted that California’s appeals court would improve immediately if everyone involved in the final decision were physically ejected and replaced by a sack of pomelos.  (You are terrible and your supposed ‘reluctance’ does not make you any less terrible, just so you know.)

But wow, are there ‘problems’ with the wording of this piece.  First, let’s observe the quote Millhiser pulled directly from court documents (and therefore is not responsible for the wording of):

According to Jane, she woke up to the sensation of having sex.

When light coming through a crack in the bedroom door illuminated the face of the person having sex with her, i.e., defendant, she realized it was not [her boyfriend] and tried to push him away.

[Rapist-defendant] pulled down her pajama bottoms, got on top of her, and started to have sex. He said she probably thought he was her boyfriend, and when she realized he was not, she started screaming.

(“[S]he woke up to the sensation of having sex.”  I could fucking vomit.  Jesus Fucking Christ you can’t “have sex with” a person who isn’t having it back with you.)

Now let’s look at Millhiser’s text, keeping in mind that he seems to understand that this was rape:

[...] overturned a man’s conviction for rape because the woman he had sex with was unmarried.

[...] the man admits to having sex with the woman while she slept [...]

A jury convicted the defendant of rape, although it did not make clear whether he was convicted because he impersonated Jane’s boyfriend or because he had sex with a woman who could not consent to intercourse because she was asleep.

The defendant will be retried and can be reconvicted if a new trial determines that he had sex with Jane while she was sleeping — a likely conclusion given the defendant’s admission that he did so.

(Do I need to say it again? Jesus Fucking Christ you can’t “have sex with” a person who isn’t having it back with you.  If you take one thing away from this post, let it be that.)

Having stupidly read some of the comments, I can already see it coming: “but the author writes about law stuff and he’s saying ‘had sex with’ because the defendant wasn’t convicted!”  First, not convincing.  This particular author may have had that ~*intent*~, but I’ve seen countless news sources call rape sex–even in the same sentence–regardless of the trial results or of other factors like, say, the victim being a child.  There are other ways to phrase it besides using language that inherently implies it was mutual, if it hurts your sensibilities to call rape what it is.  Second, this piece of shit defendant raped a woman.  He raped her with or without the terrible loopholes or anything else the law has to say about it.  That’s obvious from the details in the article, his own admission of the facts despite not mouthing the R-word, and it’s statistically likely to be the case anyway because false rape accusations account for less than 6% of all allegations, on par with things like property crimes.  (If he actually didn’t rape her, he basically lied to say that he did, which seems a bit unlikely.)  To all the people saying, “if we want to convict rapists, we need better laws”: how on this foul earth do you think the laws are going to get better if we don’t call rape what it is in the first place?

And media folks?  You shape this discourse.  It is your responsibility.  It is your fucking obligation to get it right.

Any day, now.

Any day y’all want to start getting your shit together.

 

No comments yet

Have Words (commenting guidelines linked in the page header always apply)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: