Comments on: Rape: a crime too terrible to be named. http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:24:08 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: A Crime Too Terrible to Be Named | By Grace and Faith http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-773454 Thu, 13 Jan 2011 23:26:37 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-773454 [...] Great Blog post on American culture and rape: http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/ [...]

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By: Profane http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-773021 Thu, 13 Jan 2011 08:15:25 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-773021 http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/12/florida.police.chief.arrested/?hpt=Sbin

['Rape' utilized in both headline and article - perhaps because of the age of the victim?]

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By: Trudy http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-772958 Thu, 13 Jan 2011 06:13:38 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-772958 Sadly, I am afraid this reflects the underlying bias that when it comes to an accusation of rape, the woman is more likely to be lying than the male. And so, unconsciously or not, this is expressed in the so-called “neutral” language. Several of my students and acquaintances have told me stories of being date-raped and never having come forward, fearing that they would be faced with this bias–and so, having to prove they are being truthful in the face of doubt and assumptions of deceit on their part. I have often heard comments such as “maybe they are claiming to have been raped in order to get attention” and this will seem more logical to many, than the possibility that she was actually raped! Publications need to be called out on this every time it happens, and I am glad you are doing it. Things will never change otherwise.

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By: Mamie http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-772887 Thu, 13 Jan 2011 02:26:42 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-772887 This may be a good time to remind everyone of this case, from three years ago: http://journalstar.com/news/local/article_172ad305-2315-58a0-8109-310661de8d1c.html

I don’t know how to embed, unfortunately, but the link is to an article about a rape case in which the judge forbade the victim to use the words “rape,” “sexual assault,” “victim,” “assailant,” “sexual assault kit,” etc., etc., in giving her courtroom testimony.

Prejudicial, he said.

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By: LadyProf http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-772875 Thu, 13 Jan 2011 01:48:27 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-772875 Historiann, I said the same thing upthread about the sexist use of “accuser” — I just named different crimes from yours, examples of where the media wouldn’t dream of being so perp-protective. There are others, although I would underscore elder abuse and embezzlement as especially clear instances where we would never hear a reference to “the accuser.”

Grad Student, I’ve never heard of a successful libel claim by an individual against a newspaper or other media defendant for using the word “rape” to describe the charges against him. Nor did I find one while taking a quick look online. Like a lot of other talk about the supposed lawsuit culture of the USA, this worry gets applied to the task of rationalizing bad behavior.

But I still think that state legislatures were right to take the word “rape” out of their penal codes and substitute variations on “sexual assault.” Federal law uses “sexual abuse” and “abusive sexual contact,” which I think are good terms, though wordy.

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By: quixote http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-772818 Thu, 13 Jan 2011 00:31:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-772818 I’m not sure the word is glossed over because the crime is too terrible. I get the sense they don’t use the word because they don’t believe there was necessarily a crime and they wouldn’t want to “prejudge” the situation. Rape just isn’t very important. What’s important is that no real people’s feelings should be hurt. It’s about the men, y’know.

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By: truffula http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-772761 Wed, 12 Jan 2011 22:16:53 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-772761 I don’t take exception to what you write, Grad Student and I’m pretty sure I understand where you are coming from. Care must be taken not only on libel grounds but also regarding the presumption of innocence.

What I’m trying to write about is different though, its about a culture-wide attitude about the appropriate uses of words. It’s perfectly okay to make rape jokes and to talk about any and every usurpation of personal liberty as rape. What doesn’t seem to be okay is to use the word to mean a sexual assault. The point I wanted to make is that the failure to call rape what it is ripples out across the ocean of abuses women suffer in our culture.

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By: Grad Student http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-772756 Wed, 12 Jan 2011 21:51:27 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-772756 It happens far less often now because media outlets are much more careful about the language they use, but libel lawsuits stemming from incorrectly citing criminal charges still happen on occasion. For obvious reasons it more commonly occurs after an acquittal rather than a conviction, and for cases of rape or sexual assault, but has happened after people are convicted for lesser crimes than what they were reported to have committed and for crimes other than rape or sexual assault.

It all boils down to social stigma and future perceptions of the accused. If a paper erroneously reports that a person committed rape, that is worse than erroneously reporting they committed burglary because of how we “value” sex offenses. Similarly, it is worse for a paper to report that a person committed rape if the person ends up being convicted of a lesser sexual assault instead.

The easy way to think of this in regards to those huge, crayon-bright lines is: what would you rather have your employer erroneously believe, that you are a rapist or a thief?

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-772752 Wed, 12 Jan 2011 21:35:21 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-772752 As I’ve written here before, I date it to the Kobe Bryant arrest in 2003.

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By: KC http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/12/rape-a-crime-too-terrible-to-be-named/comment-page-1/#comment-772748 Wed, 12 Jan 2011 21:21:34 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13850#comment-772748 I’ve noticed this change in the way rapes are reported in the press. It seems to me that a decade ago papers used the word “rape” a lot more than they do now. Is that true or am I misremembering? Were newspapers successfully sued over this, as Grad Student alludes to above?

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