Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rape, a whole new quagmire coming your way.

This ruling yesterday is going to open a whole can of worms, both here and across the water.
Let me tell you a true story.
The night of St Patrick's night, I and a number of friends went out and had a rare old time. We were in a large group and we are, despite out fondness for the drink, able to pace ourselves, we all had food too, which makes a difference.
At one stage in the night we were in a packed bar near Drury Street, where the music was hopping and the crowd loud and boisterous.
Needing to pee, I went downstairs to the loo and got into the ten deep line for the three cubicles. After a slow move of the line I and the girl I went downstairs with noticed the toilet at the end never opened and that a girl near the front had knocked on it more than once.
As we are ladies, we sneaked a glance underneath. A pair of feet pointed out, but slumped to one side.
'You all right in there?" We took turns in calling. Nowt.
Eventually we looked over the cubicle from the one next door and lo and behold there was a young wan, passed clean out, her underwear around her ankles and her face resting on the wall beside her.
We knocked and called some more, absolute nada.
WE took a toss up, and because I was wearing trousers-albeit satin and very tight-It was deemed reasonable that I should go over the wall.
Allright, so after much effort, I managed to get onto the cistern and over the wall onto the other toilet, I slid down and edged along side the girl.
'Hey, hey there, you okay? Come on now, wake up?'
I pushed her hair back off her face and managed to get her eyes open, she had no idea who I was or where she was. Neither could she speak.
'Are your friends here?' I asked her.
'Are you friends here?'
'I don't know where they are.' She said eventually.
'Is she all right?' My friend said from outside the door.
I opened the door and between us we managed to A) get her underwear up and B) get her outside to the taps. That's where she vomited.
The long and the short of it was she reeled off upstairs looking for her friends, shoeless, and leaving her hand bag-in my friend's hand.
Wasted. Beyond wasted, totally without an ounce of sense and utterly vulnerable,
We looked for her and couldn't find her, so we left her bag in behind the bar in case one of her friends noticed she was missing it, or she came to look for it the next day, her shoes-we supposed-were a right off.
Why am I telling you this and what has it got to do with rape?
Well nothing really, except this girl, could very easily have agreed that she was a pilot that night, or a sailor, or clown, she could also probably agree to have sex, even if-by my reckoning- she couldn't possibly know what she was agreeng too.
Which bring me to my case today.
People say a rape is a rape. But I beg to differ. Is it still rape if BOTH parties are drinking heavily and neither party is too clear on who said what and to whom? I've said this before, rape is not always as cear cut as we would like to imagine it to be. It should be, but it is not.

But then people like to use that against women too. The Mary Shannon case that Swearing Lady highighted yesterday has spawned a few questioners. It was interesting to note that an annoymous comment on Sweary's site cast doubt on the veracity of her story, saying that she was " completely drunk (and probably drugged) as was Adam Keane. Minutes before she invited Adam Keane back to her house, she had approached the bouncer at the pub with the same offer. That never went to court because the bouncer didn't even know there was a rape case occurring until it was in the papers."
Now as far as I'm concerned a jury tried Adam Keane and he was found guilty, therefore he should have served a sentence. It doesn't matter one whit if Mary Shannon was three feet high and rising or sitting at home knitting. The fact remains that she was in her own home, this man entered her home and raped her and-although found guilty- he walked free.

I have said before on this site that I am not comfortable with a man being accused of rape when both parties are drunk. The considered idea at the moment is if a girl is too drunk to consent then it is automatically rape. But that is very blurry thinking, what if the girl and the guy are both blind drunk? Why is she absolved of any responsibility but not he.
I don't have any answers, and my usual bleat of personal responsibility seems very muted this morning. But I can see a change, whether we like it or not. If the current drinking culture continues, where men and women alike, drink themselves into such a sorry state that they cannot remember where they are, who they are, or if they agreed to sex or not, then how the hell are we supposed to work out if they did or didn't comit a crime/agree to sex?
I'm not excusing rapists either, but neither am I going to jump on my gender's right to always be the victim.
Like I said, the ruling given in an English court, our nighbours, is going to have a ripple effect, we can only wait and see who drowns in the backwash.



Blogger The Swearing Lady said...

For the most part I agree. If one party is too wasted to agree to sex, then it's a perfectly reasonable argument to suggest that the other party was too wasted to be responsible about having sex, too. In the same way that I'm not altogether too fond of this mandatory sentencing for statutory rape... naturally we need to protect twelve year olds, but what's a 19 year old fella going to do if there's a flirty 16 year old in the nightclub; ask her for ID? Anyway, that's neither here nor there.

Diminished reponsibility in "date rape" cases is one thing; I still wonder how a man who claimed he was too hammered to know that having sex with a wasted girl was wrong was sober enough to be able to do it in the first place. And I worry about people falling into thinking that a drunk girl is an idiot for putting herself into such a situation, and is therefore fair game. Good enough for her, wasn't she asking for it... all that. We've all done stupid things in our youth like get absolutely shitfaced - no point getting on the high horse (not that you are!)

Quite a few of my friends have been in situations where things started to get pretty heavy with a guy, and rather than change their minds like "frigid harlots", they went through with it for the sake of peace. Yeah, and felt like total skanks the next day. That can happen too, and one can't very well cry rape if they simply regret what they did, because they were drunk or whatever. But that happens too.

Tis a murky one!

12:51 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

To be sure.

1:45 p.m.  
Blogger monty said...

I agree with that. Women cannot simultaneously absolve themselves of guilt and transfer all responsibility to the male.
Proving or disproving consent will remain impossible until people get into using technology in some way to record their intentions. Every mobile has a voice recorder and or voicemail. Perhaps that might be the best "worst" solution to that conundrum, unromantic as it might be.

The recent change in the UK around the presumption of consent hasn't improved conviction rates, which still stand around 4% I believe, so on it's own it's clearly not the answer.

2:59 p.m.  
Blogger Boliath said...

I know a man (doesn't everyone) who this happened too, both he and she are hazy on the night's events but when she woke up the next morning with him in bed beisde her she freaked called the cops and he was arrested and prosecuted for assault. He's a doctor, he's been struck off, it's tragic. I know the court case found him guilty but it seemed wrong to me at the time, he was as drunk as she was, he thought she was in agreement, she probably was at the time but thought better of it in the morning. I don't know I wasn't there. In thsi particular case, and addressing Swering Lady up above, they didn't have sex, he wasn't able to, too pissed, but they did mess around and were both naked, so he was done for assault, he's on the offenders registrym his career is in tatters and his family scundered as you can imagine. It's hard to know what to think.

4:47 p.m.  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Monty, I've never heard that idea of recording your intentions beforehand. It could work in some circumstances. Most rape still happens between people who know each other though, people who might be married. The suggestion there is that hanging around with the fella implicitly means consent has been given and technology isn't going to help.

I'm with Sweary. I think the mandatory sentencing solution has its problems and that each case should be judged as far as possible on its own merits but there again - that's murky. We're asking for a clear solution to a murky problem and I don't know if it's possible.

What is clear is that it is disgusting that Adam Keane was allowed to walk free.

4:50 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Jesus Boliath, that's pretty bad.
Monty, I think you're right, the way to go for all involved man and woman alike, is to declare and record an intention, that way both parties have something to fall back on if there is a dispute when sobriety hits.

5:16 p.m.  
Blogger Twenty Major said...

See what Boliath said there is very fucking scary. That woman is a geebag.

Recording - who the fuck is going to record anything when they're pissed as a cunt and one thing leads to another?

"Oh, hang on a sec. Can you just speak into here and just say that you give me prior approval to stick my mickey in your mouth, fanny and possibly up your arse and I give you permission to, erm, lick my balls and stuff?"

Christ, if half the time people can't get it together to lash a johnny on then there's no way that's happening.

8:13 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I don't know Major, it is starting to head that way. Would you take the chance of having you reputation ruined on the off chance that the girl wasn't sure you and her had agreed to have sex- no wait, I said reputation didn't I? Sorry, carry on.

8:21 p.m.  
Blogger Twenty Major said...

I know what you mean but look at the bloke in Boliath's story. Out for the night, hooks up with some chick, goes back to her place, they get nekkid but are too drunk to shag and fall asleep.

If you're too drunk to shag you're definitely too drunk to record a message.

And leave my reputation out of this. It's suffered enough.

10:38 p.m.  
Blogger Mairéad said...

That Boliath story is terrible - poor bastard, but hey! What's her story?
A friend of mine was raped when she was 16, a virgin, on the way home from babysitting - by her babysittee, her brother-in-law!!! She's still not over it. Rape is a bitch of a thing to do to anyone.

11:35 p.m.  
Blogger Twenty Major said...

Rape is a bitch of a thing to do to anyone.

Don't think anyone's arguing with that.

10:53 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

What happened to the guy Mairéad?

11:02 a.m.  
Blogger Boliath said...

I know Mairead, I didn't really give her much room, I don't know her, I do know him so I suppose there's some bias there. Also this case was in the news at the time so I didn't want to go into it too much.

I've been in a similar though less naked situation myself once or twice - thankfully nothing worse, I've never been that much of a drinker. I do remember in college that seemed to happen regularly though. Nobody called the cops, some probably should have. It certainly wised you up waking up next to someone and not being sure what had happened or how you got there.

4:55 p.m.  
Blogger Mairéad said...

Nothing at all happened to him, FMC. My friend couldn't do it to her sister. She had 6 kids with this creep, farmers, no life of her own. My friend felt that it would do no good and she could help her sister in better ways. She felt that he, as a big man in the community, would be believed and she'd go through a second rape in court - so to speak. She never told, she threatened to tell though and to castrate him if he even tried to touch her again, she babysat as little as possible, she moved to Dublin after College at 21. She's married to a great guy and is fabulous, but it's pure shit at family thingys obviously.
Boliath, I know what you mean. We've all been there or nearly there I guess. Very tough. Thanks for your perspective.

8:55 p.m.  
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