Only Virgins Can Be Sexually Assaulted
Once upon a time in America only virgins or married women could be raped, people thought. In some places people still think so.
The problem comes from failing to see the world through the eyes of victims.
And so an article from the 1952-53 Yale Law Journal explained that sexual assault is illegal because,
Women’s power to withhold or grant sexual access is an important bargaining weapon… it fosters, and is in turn bolstered by, a masculine pride in the exclusive possession of the sexual object… whose value is enhanced by sole ownership.
Even though this is the crime women most fear, outside of murder.
But that was Yale Law back when their editorial board was 95% male. And back then, psychologists were pretty much only men. And they pretty much only studied men. And lawyers and judges and juries and religious leaders and media publishers, editors and writers were mostly male too. So ideas that came from their perspective were more likely to get out into the public.
And then we all hear those ideas so much that we tend to internalize them.
Men aren’t bad. But they seldom have the perspective of rape victims.
This problem has been affecting recent cases in India.
For instance, a judge presiding over an infamous Mumbai gang-rape case complained that victims are still being tested to see if their hymens are freshly broken. The test has been condemned by India’s Supreme Court and banned by India’s Health Ministry. But human rights lawyer, Vrinda Grover, suspects that 98% of Indian jurisdictions still seek this evidence,
Partly out of habit, partly they’re taught the wrong thing, and very largely because there is prejudice and bias (toward rape charges).
The Mumbai victim in question had been hospitalized for several days after the attack. But if she wasn’t a virgin, maybe it wasn’t rape?
After far too many brutal attacks these victims are fired from jobs and driven from villages as their families turn away.
Whether it’s the United States “back then” or India right now, true justice asks us to adjust our vision.
Posted on April 11, 2014, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged feminism, India, psychology, rape, rape myths, sexism, sexual assault, victim-blaming, violence against women, women. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.