Every time I write about rape people freak out. I can honestly say that, as much time as I’ve spent thinking about rape and how to stop it, I never realized that rape was such a controversial subject (at least in the way I’ve come to discover). I never knew there were so many rape apologists (MRAs, regular dudes, even women) that would come over here and give me a bunch of shit for making the outrageous suggestion that we ought not to keep allowing rapes to go unpunished. I intended to show that our legal system doesn’t protect women from rape, but plenty of people missed that point, detoured by talk of castration and jettisoning the presumption of innocence. I see now that I should’ve written something much simpler and more obvious if I expected these 4Chan types to understand me.
Fine, then. Some people need a Fox News-style Outrage!(TM) in order to get a point, and I’ll deliver. In the lovely state of Kansas, where they still have analog gas pump readouts that only go up to $25, a 14-year-old girl has been raped. She was hanging out with three of her friends when two of them left the room and the third, a 13-year-old boy, raped her. She tried to deal with the situation on her own, but decided after about a month to tell a school counselor about it. The counselor told the cops, and guess what happened? The GIRL has been charged with “rape” and “criminal sodomy.” The age of consent in Kansas is 16 (yikes), but the state also has a law similar to that in California under which sex with someone under 14 is taken to be a more serious crime.
I don’t think I’d argue with the idea that someone who has sex with a child under 14 ought to face a stiffer penalty than an 18-year-old having consensual sex with a 16-year-old, but what the fuck? That isn’t what’s going on here. A 14-year-old girl goes to see her school counselor for help after having been raped, and SHE gets in trouble? There’s been no mention made of the boy having been charged with anything. I am assuming that the boy was charged and then denied that he raped the girl, claiming that the sex was consensual, which is to be expected, but is this prosecutor out of his fucking mind? The kid can mount a defense and can claim whatever he wants, but the idea that the prosecutor would charge a rape victim with a crime as a response to that defense is pretty fucking weird.
I know some of the Tom Leykis types will argue that maybe she did consent and only decided to call it rape once she felt some regret over the whole thing, but whatever. We have no way of ever knowing that, which I suppose means that the prosecutor can do little toward convicting the boy (remember that thing about the presumption of innocence working in favor of rapists and against victims?). But what is the value in charging the girl? The boy, according to all I’ve read about the story, has made no claim to having been forced or coerced into anything. While it may be true that the idea of consent by either of these two at such a young age is a bit of a joke, that doesn’t seem to have dampened the prosecutor’s enthusiasm for charging this girl with a crime that implies she took advantage of someone too young to consent, even though she’s only a few months older than he is. He has effectively chosen to ignore a forcible rape and to prosecute the victim for taking advantage of her rapist. Oh, the beauty of the American legal system.
What does this story say to the people who’ve heard about it (which includes every girl in the area it took place in, I’m sure)? First, it says that we have no idea how to deal with the issue of consent. When someone is under 16 in Kansas, they are unable to consent to sex, and so exist in a perpetual state of non-consent. All it takes for a rape to have been assumed to have occurred is the admission that intercourse took place. But that only applies if one of the participants was over 16. If they were both under 16, it’s all good. Unless, of course, one of them was under 14, in which case it’s not cool. Unless they’re both under 14. But if you step over the state line into Missouri, the age of consent goes up to 17. Apparently the kids in Kansas mature faster than those in Missouri. Good to know. The kids in California are immature as fuck, though, because they can’t consent until they’re 18. Schizophrenic, I know. But that’s not all. Once a person has reached whatever age of consent their state representatives have laid down, they go from a perpetual state of non-consent to a perpetual state of consent, meaning that once they pass 16, 17, or 18, they have to prove that they did not consent to a sex act in order for the person who forced them to submit to the act to be punished for doing so. Makes almost as much sense as Bush lyrics.
The second thing this case tells the girls of Kansas is that, if they ever get raped, they’d better think twice about reporting it to anyone, even if they need help dealing with the emotional effects of the attack. Rape victims everywhere already know that, if they report having been attacked, they’ll be called whores, be exposed to ridicule and slander, and be treated mercilessly in court, just in the hopes that their case will be one of the few cases that will be prosecuted or end in conviction. But now they’ve got the added fear of being charged with a crime if the prosecutor doesn’t like that they’ve reported having been assaulted. What the fuck is this, Afghanistan?
No wonder 60% of rapes go unreported. Even among those that are reported, only half of reported rapes lead to arrests, and of those, only 80% will be prosecuted. Of those that are prosecuted, only about half will result in conviction, with only 69% of those convicts getting any jail time. That means 16% of reported rapes end in jail time (and most sentences are pretty paltry), and that only 6% of rapists will ever see any jail time at all if we include unreported rapes. 15 in 16 rapists go free. What was the highest estimate for false rape claims? Like 7%? Suck on that, MRAs.
The third thing this law tells us is that our legal system is fucked. Not only do we have no way to determine consent and no method for convicting rapists, but we have no way to control prosecutorial bias. Here we have Ted Nugent prosecuting a case in which he’s decided, on his own, that the girl is lying and that she has victimized the boy. He’s clearly using his prosecutorial discretion and technicalities in the law to pursue some kind of agenda. (I wonder what kind of record he has when it comes to prosecuting rapes.) Rape victims are forced to reply on police, prosecutors, judges, and juries to take their claims seriously, to pursue their attackers, to prosecute them when they catch them, and to remove them from society in order to mitigate further damage. It’s too bad the people victims have to rely on aren’t very reliable when it comes to treating rape victims with dignity and respect, or even believing their stories.
The proverbial deck is proverbially stacked against rape victims. Victims are met with potential disbelief and disrespect at every stage of the process. The foundational concept of the presumption of innocence, coupled with prosecutorial, judicial, and juridical indifference to rape victims’ claims, has dumped us in a legal shitheap from which there doesn’t seem to be an escape. You may not agree that we should assume that defendants are guilty until they can prove otherwise, but you can’t claim that our current system protects women (or anyone, really) from rape. Deuce’s Law might be the only alternative. I’m just saying.