Earlier this year, Serena Williams came under fire for suggesting the Stubenville, OH rape victim “put herself in that position” during an interview with Rolling Stone. For those who need to be caught up to speed, the victim in the nationally known case drank too much at a party to the point of losing consciousness, and was raped by several young men with others watching. Serena later apologized and reportedly reached out to the victim’s family, saying the comment was taken out of context.
Adding more fuel to the fire was Montana Judge G. Todd Baugh, who tackled a similar case involving an underage girl and her 54-year old teacher. Officially convicted last month, Baugh says the rapist and his victim had equal control over the situation. —Melba Pearson
Photo Credit: AP
CAN a woman put herself in the position to be raped? It is a rough discussion to have because of the opposing arguments. Some claim that if a woman becomes intoxicated, wears provocative clothing, begins sexual activity and then takes away permission, or is known to be promiscuous, she, on some level, “asks for it”. If you are a “tease”, a “flirt” or a “freak” and anything that happens is your fault.
On the other hand, some believe there’s never anything a woman can do to cause rape, and that it is always the man’s fault.
Legally, the second camp is right. Once a woman says stop, or if she does not give consent on any level-whether attacked, too young or too intoxicated—the man can and will be charged with rape (often called “sexual battery”).
Photo Credit: sheknows.com
Society is slowing moving away from the perception that rape only happens to housewives or nuns, or those kidnapped off the street and violated in an alley. The law now has to deal with attacks that occur at college drinking parties, as well as young women imitating the sexualized behavior as seen on television and the internet. Juries still have a hard time with this concept since it’s sometimes a crime that does not have any witnesses. It ends up being his word against hers, and unless the woman appears sympathetic on the witness stand, it is difficult to get a guilty verdict. It’s probably from that viewpoint that the Montana judge figured the young victim was responsible for what happened to her. Regardless of his perception: he was still dead wrong. A 14 year old can’t give consent to have sex. Period.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
It is a simple fact that some men are predators. Others exercise bad judgment, as a result of alcohol or from being egged on by friends. Women need to protect themselves and each other from bad situations. Sometimes, it cannot be prevented. For example, while in college, my girlfriends and I had a pact: when we went out, we rolled in to a party together, and left together. Even while drinking, we were always aware of where our friends were. I encourage other women to do the same. Bad things can happen when an intoxicated girl is left on her own.
And MEN need to exercise the same control. If you see your buddy with a heavily intoxicated female and things are getting heavy, you should step in to prevent a bad situation. And if you are the guy involved and she’s drunk: leave her alone. The few minutes of pleasure are not worth the lifetime of pain that you may cause and receive. Hooking up with a drunk girl doesn’t prove you’re “the man”. Actually, you look like a loser. You’ve got game when you can woo a sober girl to go out with you.
Photo Credit: www.mid-day.com
At the end of the day, everyone is accountable for their actions. No one asks to be raped. If a man has sex with a woman without her full and knowing permission, he may face jail time and his future is destroyed. If a woman is raped, she faces a long road to emotional recovery…and thinking “if only I had done x-y-z, I could have avoided this” makes recovery that much harder. Each side should protect themselves and encourage responsible behavior among their peers.
Melba Pearson is an attorney, writer, speaker, wife and Resident Legal Diva.
Photo Credit: opinion.bdnews24.com