Rape Apologism in Action: “She didn’t say anything at all.”

by Cara on April 20, 2010

in assholes, courts, Europe, International, misogyny, patriarchy, rape and sexual assault, violence against women and girls

Trigger Warning for rape apologism and graphic descriptions of rape, especially in linked article.

An ongoing UK rape case presents us with a perfect example of rape apologism, and the grave cultural misunderstanding over what exactly constitutes both rape and consent.

Jack Tweed, the widower of a reality show star, is charged on two counts of rape. His friend Anthony Davis is accused on one count of rape for the same instance. Davis launches a defense of both of their actions in a way that is particularly disturbing:

The alleged victim, who is now 20, told Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London she was “horrified” and went into “complete lockdown” when Davis joined Tweed on the bed and they both raped her together.

But Davis told police he was stood between the door and the bed and could see Tweed was having sex with the teenager up against the window.

“She didn’t protest it,” he told police.

“She didn’t say stop. She didn’t say anything to suggest she didn’t want it to happen.

“She didn’t say anything at all.”

She didn’t say anything at all. In other words, she didn’t say yes.

In a better world, a more compassionate world, a world that cared more about the humanity and rights of others, these would be words you would never, ever speak in order to proclaim your innocence regarding an alleged rape. In a better world — a world that thought rape was a real crime, and that women’s bodies actually matter (not because only women are raped, but because rape is so associated with women and socially constructed accordingly) — when accused of rape, admitting that you did not at any point obtain any form of consent would be a virtual admission of guilt. Not a defense.

There are non-verbal ways to give consent, certainly. But Davis is in no way referring to those types of consent. He is, in fact, seemingly not talking about consent at all. What he is talking about is a lack of explicit non-consent. He is talking about women as though they are a permanent state of consent, a state that must explicitly be revoked to constitute rape. He is speaking about women as though they exist to be sexually used, as though they have no inner lives, as though they have no basic bodily rights. He is speaking about women as not needing to give consent, but being 100% responsible for loudly and verbally withdrawing it. He’s speaking about women as being obligated to say “stop,” but about men as being in no way required to ensure that there is a meaningful “go.”

He is claiming that a woman’s silence essentially allows him to do whatever he wants to her.

He then goes on about the alleged victim’s grave and apparently very damning failure to scream:

He went on: “The whole episode in that room couldn’t have been longer than four, five minutes, max, if that.

“If a girl had been assaulted or raped, she would have come out of that room traumatised.

“She would have been screaming, surely someone would have heard something.”

Davis added that, when the victim was having sex with Tweed by the window, her leg was in the air.

“If she did want him to stop, all she had to do was kick him and he would have been off,” Davis said.

Seemingly, Davis is prepared and willing to pull out every rape apologist, rape denialist, victim-blaming myth in the book as a means to claim his innocence. Interestingly, he spends precious little time explaining that consent was present, and how that consent was expressed and verified. He just wants us to know that the alleged victim didn’t do anything to precisely indicate that her body did not belong to these two men.

It couldn’t be rape, because it didn’t last very long.

It couldn’t be rape, because no one noticed any visible trauma.

It couldn’t be rape, because she didn’t scream.

It couldn’t be rape, because there were no witnesses.

It couldn’t be rape, because it’s only rape when a victim physically struggles.

I couldn’t possibly be a rapist, because my alleged victim didn’t act how I expect rape victims to act.

It couldn’t be rape, because a rape victim must say “no,” or otherwise consent is present.

And she didn’t say anything at all.

h/t meloukhia

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{ 11 comments }

1 Anna April 21, 2010 at 12:42 am

I’ve been following it closely. It hurts, Cara, it fucking breaks your heart.
Similar case in Wales: 19 year old, drunk enough by 9pm to be refused booze at a bar, given another bottle of wine and cocaine, felt sick and asked to go to bed at the house of a man that was hanging round with them. He rapes her, she wakes up halfway through, falls back asleep, gets home breaks down and reports, it goes to court.

HE DOESN’T DENY THEY HAD SEX. OR THAT HE WAS RELATIVELY SOBER.

Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case just after the victim gave evidence. Which shows how fucking considerate they are.

2 kiwifingers April 22, 2010 at 5:42 am

is it okay if i link this to my classmates? it’s exactly what i’ve been trying to scream at them for years.

3 Cara April 22, 2010 at 9:35 am

kiwifingers:

Are your classmates Men’s Rights Activists? Do they have a tendency to send rape threats to people they disagree with? By “link this to my classmates” do you mean “post this on Metafilter”?

You’re always welcome to link my work anywhere you want. The above is simply a list of the cases in which I know from experience that I’d really prefer that you didn’t. :)

4 Cumulospiritus April 22, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Just wanted to inquire about something:

BEGIN ARTICLE QUOTE

In an interview at Ilford police station the following day, Davis, who the court heard was allegedly pestering the woman for a threesome, told officers he thought: “I may as well close the door and see what happens I guess.

“I just got closer and closer. She didn’t say anything.”
Davis said Tweed and the woman moved to the bed, where she looked “comfortable” and “leant her head back, looking at me”, he said.

Davis said she then gave him oral sex and suggested he fetch one of her other friends from downstairs to join in.

END ARTICLE QUOTE

If this guy is telling truth, would giving him oral sex qualify as nonverbal consent? I’m not saying that consenting at some point means that you can’t stop consenting later on, just that your statement regarding no consent ever happening (see below) would be incorrect.

“In a better world…when accused of rape, admitting that you did not at any point obtain any form of consent would be a virtual admission of guilt. Not a defense.”

5 Cara April 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm

would giving him oral sex qualify as nonverbal consent?

Rapists regularly call their rapes “sex.” Vaginal rape is “sex,” anal rape is “anal sex,” oral rape is “oral sex.” The motions of “oral sex” imply nothing about consent. The fact that genital to mouth contact took place does not mean there was consent. If it did, it would mean that rape was not possible. Oral rape is “oral sex” without consent. That’s what it is. So I have to say that I’m not understanding your question. And I don’t know how to break this down further without getting rather explicit, something I’d prefer not to do if it can be avoided.

6 Cara April 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Look: basically more information is needed. That’s what I’m going to leave this with. He does not say how consent for the sexual contact he admits to engaging in was expressed and obtained. He doesn’t say how he knew that she wanted to perform oral sex. Without that information, I can’t say whether or not the situation as he describes it was consensual or not. One of his statements explicitly references not obtaining any form of consent. Another statement omits any reference to consent or lack of consent whatsoever. That’s why I’m going off the statement where he did talk about consent. If he has at some point expanded on that statement in which he didn’t bother to talk about consent and what she did or didn’t do to indicate it, fine, I can analyze that. Right now, he has given nothing to analyze.

7 scwizard April 24, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Cara, I think one of the sources of Cumulospiritus’s confusion, is that the article says “Davis said she then gave him oral sex” which implies that the alleged victim initiated the act. If Anthony Davis’s testimony is completely accurate, then oral rape could not have been committed, because initiating a sex act without the presence of duress etc implies consent.

However, past that point Cumulospiritus loses me. How does consent to one particular sex act imply consent to every variety of sex act?

8 Cara April 24, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Yes, and again, rapists regularly frame non-consensual acts as consensual. Even putting that side, most people tend to phrase non-consensual acts as consensual. The media commonly refers not to a perpetrator raping a victim, but a victim and perpetrator “having sex.” This is especially relevant, as we don’t even have Davis’ own words here. We have a paraphrasing of them. What he actually said is unknown from this report. And lastly, it doesn’t even necessarily imply initiation to me. If I were to say that a person “went down on me,” I don’t think that necessarily implies that the other person initiated the contact. Lots of things could have happened before that. I could have requested the act, we could have been fooling around already and it was co-initiated, the other party could have asked if I wanted them to and I said yes, etc.

The words we have in the English language right now to describe sex — or, specifically, the words we have in the English language right now that we use to describe sex — are frankly not always sufficient to differentiate consensual sex and sexual assault. And the reason that’s the case is because so few people’s minds differentiate consensual sex and sexual assault. It’s portrayed as all “just sex” because the acts are present, with the fact that the same physical motions can mean very different things depending on the context rarely taken into account.

9 LSG April 26, 2010 at 10:12 am

They were both just acquitted. I’m going to go be sick now.

Thank you for writing about this, Cara.

10 Jennifer Drew April 26, 2010 at 6:07 pm

As far as I can ascertain from media reporting neither of these male specimens bothered to even ask the young woman if ‘she consented to be being penetrated by them.’ Instead the presumption is if a woman remains silent this in itself means she has supposedly ‘consented’ to whatever sexual violence the male/males decide to enact against her.

This is contrary to the UK’s Sexual Offences Act, 2003 which puts the onus on the person(s) to seek consent from other party before engaging in any sexual activity. The phrasing of what supposedly constitutes ‘consent’ was supposed to ensure that male defendants could no longer claim ‘but I thought she consented because she did not say that supposedly powerful word “no” which would have automatically made me desist from raping her.’

But passing a law and actually implementing it is another matter, which is why these two male specimens were acquitted. Furthermore defence counsel showed jury pictures taken from the young woman rape survivor’s facebook. The pictures show the young woman out with her friends visiting bars and clubs several months after she had charged Tweed and Davis with jointly raping her.
Defence counsel used the most common defence which is to always discredit the rape survivor and deflect attention away from the actions of the two defendants. Apparently no female rape survivor is entitled to go out with her friends because this in itself supposedly means the survivor cannot possibly be suffering from the effects of having been brutally raped by two men simultaneously. Instead a female survivor must shut herself away from everyone, because this is the only way to prove to sceptical society that male sexual violence against women does happen and yes, most male rapists are ordinary males who just happen to believe women exist solely for their sexual pleasure.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/jack-tweed-cleared-of-raping-student-1954787.html

11 EmilyBites April 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm

This is how rape is handled by the UK justice system, and handled by the UK media.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 was a step in the right direction, but includes some dreadful wording that basically provides a get-out-of-jail-free card for rapists. I’ve posted the part about consent below. The automatic use of the male pronoun here for the perpetrator amuses me.
1
Rape .(1)
A person (A) commits an offence if— .
(a)
he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person
(B) with his penis, .
(b)
B does not consent to the penetration, and .
(c)
A does not reasonably believe that B consents. .
(2)
Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all
the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether
B consents. .

So, ‘reasonable belief’ and ‘all the circumstances’, hey? The circumstances here can and do include the victim’s sexual history, character, demeanor, action taken after the rape, etc.
Reasonable? That too can be ‘Well she wasn’t a virgin so naturally I thought she was up for it.’

It’s like rape exists for most people in theory, but never actually in practice. Rape is A Bad Thing, but if you try and tell them you *were* raped, you are Obviously Lying. Because women tend to do that. So rape does happen, but not here, here, here, there, to you, there, or in that case, or to her. It makes me sick.

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