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Rape is rape is rape

I’ve been reading the various articles about the judge’s deliberations in Adelaide over the case of Matthew James Sloan and the idea of “technical rape” with growing unease and a I-can’t-quite-place-my-finger-on-it sense of wrongness. But it took a tweet from Crikey writer Bernard Keane linking the judge’s comments with the now infamous “rougher than usual handling” discussion of a number of years back to really crystallise my outrage. Rape is rape is rape. There is no “technical” or kind of rape. Was consent present – no – therefore, rape. The idea that the judge can decide that nothing happened that “she wouldn’t have consented to had she been conscious” is once again an indication that a man’s “reputation” is more important than a sexual assault perpetrated against a woman. How can the judge know that? Given that the woman concerned was so heavily intoxicated that she passed out before sex could commence, how real was the initial consent anyway? Like the whole rugby league saga from the media earlier this year, when large amounts of alcohol are involved, and situations change, consent can no longer be presumed. And would she ever have consented to having her body used while unconscious? Clearly, this woman considered she had not consented, or she would not have gone to the police. And clearly the man, Mr Sloan, accepted this when he pled guilty (as I understand he did). For a judge to then dismissively minimise the extent of the crime because he is concerned about the impact on the man involved life, belittles and diminishes the woman.

If you absolutely have to cut him some kind of lighter sentence, argue it was because his judgement was diminished because of alcohol – don’t minimise the crime itself. Besides, perhaps the ironic fact is that his name has been splashed around the media to a way greater extent than it would have been if the judge had given his the suspended sentence the prosecutors had been seeking. I am sure that this has done more damage to his reputation anyway. Not that this makes it any better.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. But we should be allowed to be outraged.

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34 responses to “Rape is rape is rape

  1. Rachel ⋅

    The whole question of whether this woman would have consented had she been conscious is bogus. Whether she would have, or given her state of inebriation, could have, consented even if conscious is irrelevant.

    The only way I can think of this to have come to court is if she made a complaint about it, so the victim in this case thought it was rape. She had a problem with it, so clearly didn’t feel her unconsciousness ‘impled consent’, nor did she feel that whether she’d have consented had she been conscious was in any way relevant.

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      Absolutely – clearly, she didn’t think it was OK, or there would have been no charge! So many women don’t complain about situations where consent has been marginal at best, it makes me really pissed off that here we are, with a conviction, and yet the judge has gone all soft because – in his opinion – she might have consented if she was conscious. Which, hello there judge, she wasn’t. let’s empower the woman a bit more in this scenario.

      • Elisabeth Kay ⋅

        “clearly, she didn’t think it was OK, or there would have been no charge!”

        I knew a girl who initiated sex with 2 guys in my bathroom, fully aware of what she was doing, and when they called her a slut afterward she went to the cops and said she was raped. Seriously this isn’t a “friend of a friend” thing, the cops came to my apartment to interview me because I was there when it happened.

        Just because there’s a charge doesn’t mean there’s a rape. It’s a sad but true fact that regretting having agreed to sex could inspire a woman to file a rape charge.

      • godardsletterboxes ⋅

        So you were present the entire time in the bathroom and know exactly what happened? Did the matter go to court? Did the assailants plead guilty? because generally, there is a burden of evidence before anything reaches court. Given the manner in which women get dragged through the legal system, I imagine this girl whose inner thoughts you understand so well is very much the exception.

        And those guys, if they weren’t rapists, well they are pretty unpleasant human beings. I wouldn’t be letting them into my bathroom any time soon.

      • Elisabeth Kay ⋅

        “And those guys, if they weren’t rapists, well they are pretty unpleasant human beings. I wouldn’t be letting them into my bathroom any time soon.”

        Why exactly do you assume that? Because they’re men, or because she accused them of rape?

        Long story short – girl hits on guy. guy says no. girl buys alcohol to entice guy. guy says only if my friend can join in. girl and guys have sex in my bathroom. i knock on door because i have to pee – girl says go away we’re busy. girl leaves with guys.

        2 hours later – girl comes over crying. says she feels stupid. says she is hurt that guy won’t be her boyfriend and that they called her a slut. i don’t care. girl goes home.

        1 day later – 2 cops come to my house. say they’re there to investigate a rape claim. i tell them what happened. they leave. no charges pressed.

        please please PLEASE tell me how you can justify a rape accusation against the GUY in this case? if a guy went out and BOUGHT ALCOHOL SPECIFICALLY TO LOWER A GIRL’S INHIBITIONS would you be criticizing the girl who then agreed to sleep with him, or the guy who pursued her? why is it different if the genders are reversed?

        no, i wasn’t in the bathroom (thank god) but i was there the whole time and watched a girl pursue a guy, get him drunk, sleep with him and his friend, regret it when he called her a slut, and cry rape.

        in other words, just because she says its rape, doesn’t mean it is.

      • godardsletterboxes ⋅

        I said that they were unpleasant because anyone who judges anothers sexual activity by a standard to which they don’t hold themself is unpleasant. Men who happily sleep with women then denigrate them afterwards are not men I would wish to have around me.

      • Elisabeth Kay ⋅

        fair enough. personally i think anyone who has a threesome in the bathroom is a slut, male or female.

        would it make a difference if the guys i was talking about called themselvse sluts? they both were proud of the fact that they weren’t boyfriend types of guys…so its not a double standard for them to say that she wasn’t girlfriend material.

      • godardsletterboxes ⋅

        @Elisabeth: Lucky you have the moral purity to be able to judge the actions of others.

        “Slut” carries with it a whole load of moral, political and social baggage. Calling someone it for an act which you engaged in demonstrates an engagement and identification with that moral baggage. You are sayign the other person is a bad person. I don’t imagine that your male friends consider themselves bad persons. I imagine rather than they are high-fiving each other about how cool they are. As you note – they are proud of themselves. Calling someone a slut, a word I totally abhor, is not showing pride in that person. It is denigrating them for something you believe makes you a a super-fly kind of guy.

        That kind of hideous double standard is unpleasant and it means that these are not guys I would be inviting into my bathroom, ever.

  2. Liesss Of Para Vista ⋅

    Wow you guys obviously know the facts, a complaint must mean it’s true……At what point in time can someone be asleep and yet claim to know that a “sex act” has been performed upon them? Surely someone who was that comfortable to cross the road, leave her friends and join a man she had only recently met into a dark park, must have been somewhat comfortable to remove her clothes and lay down. To pretend that you are asleep while someone performs digital penetration twice upon you, before they stop and check if you are ok, as you are in the dark this was not first recognisable, Is this not a situation of regret, take responsibility for your actions miss.

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      Well, I would have thought the fact that he pled guilty indicates something like guilt…. And a case of “regret” without any actual evidence would never make it to court, if you understand anything about the way the judicial system operates. I’m glad you are so aware of the facts yourself and what she was or wasn’t comfortable with at the time. Stumbling around, so drunk that you pass out is hardly what I would call “comfortable”.

      • TILDEY ⋅

        And haven’t you and your kind that believe if a girl cries rape it must be true. I do know a lot of the facts and she wasn’t passed out or even asleep. She took her own clothes off. She went off with him to a park. When she decided she didn’t want to continue did she say no ( which if she did means rape ) but no she didn’t. He pleaded guilty cause he was told she was asleep ( a lie on her behalf ) Do you still believe it is rape and that he deserves a prison sentence?

      • godardsletterboxes ⋅

        Not quite sure what you mean by “my kind” Tildey, however, I’m sure “you know” what you think you know – were you an eye witness perchance?

      • tildey ⋅

        I knew a hell of a lot more than you did but on the incorrect facts that you “knew” he was hung drawn and quarted. As i’ve said who’s the fool know

  3. Ah, I didn’t realise she was pretending to be unconscious, that changes everything. She got raped on purpose because she wanted to make that guy she only just met suffer! I’m glad those facts are straight now. Of course Leisss does have a point: we should let the really drunk guy off the hook because he didn’t know what he was doing. But the woman who was equally drunk should take responsibility for her actions.

  4. Elisabeth Kay ⋅

    “Was consent present – no – therefore, rape.”

    Um, yeah…actually consent WAS present. He asked “would you like to go have sex?” She said yes and left with him.

    She consented. She’s just pissed off she got too drunk to enjoy it.

  5. Elisabeth Kay ⋅

    BTW i’m not saying Sloan is a good guy. He’s an idiot and he’s a sleaze. But I don’t think he’s a rapist.

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      Funny that he pled guilty to rape then – he obviously agrees he is one.

      • Elisabeth Kay ⋅

        Yeah, kinda makes me wonder if there was a plea bargain involved.

      • Elisabeth Kay ⋅

        Oh wait. Look at this.

        prosecutors had asked he receive at least a suspended jail term for his crime.

        http://victimsover18.blogspot.com/2009/07/judge-unsure-whether-consent-obtained.html

        Something tells me if he had pleaded not guilty the prosecution wouldn’t ask for a SUSPENDED SENTENCE in a rape trial.

      • godardsletterboxes ⋅

        If you read my post, you will note that I have said that my point is that the crime was rape. Not what his punishment should be. I find the idea that it was a sort-of kind-of rape is stupid. I do note that his own intoxication could be used as mitigation. I have not said anything about his punishment. However, what I am noting is that HE PLED GUILTY. HE is himself admitting it was rape. I don’t think the prosecutor is denying that.

      • Elisabeth Kay ⋅

        And I’m saying that pleading guilty to a crime doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the charge. Especially if you’re offered NO JAIL TIME for pleading guilty, and you know there’s a slim to none chance you’ll be acquitted.

        Saying “the law says its rape” isn’t the same as saying “I genuinely consider this to be a case of rape.”

      • godardsletterboxes ⋅

        I genuinely consider this to be a case of rape.

      • tildey ⋅

        Without knowing all the facts. It’s people like you that can peoples lives. You called him a rapist and now that she has changed her story don’t you look like a wanker

      • godardsletterboxes ⋅

        As I said previously, it doesn’t change the critique of the judge’s comments. There is no such thing as “technical” rape – there is rape or there is rape. I am not particularly interested in Mr Sloan and if the fact of the case have changed as they were presented to the public, then they have changed. What you are also engaging in is why such a tiny proportion of rape cases ever go to court. Attacking the woman and her character redouble the original support. I am assuming from all of this that you are a friend of Mr Sloan, and as such you are interested in defending him and so are trawling the internet to find people to attack. Well, good on you for being a loyal friend, but you have to remember that you only know one side of the story – his – which may not be the entire truth. I note that he did plead guilty initially, so I don’t think that, based on that information, anything anyone has said here is foolish.

        And as I again noted, the post was really about the attitude of the judge and the notion of ranking sexual assault, rather than an in-depth examination of the facts of the case. So if you have any further comments, I would appreciate if you would address them to the substantive arguments of the post. Note, you can also edit your comments, and thus correct grammar and spelling and not add three comments when you only need one.

  6. godardsletterboxes ⋅

    Consent is when you agree to have sex……at the point that that act is taking place, while capable of agreeing and without coercion.

    being unconscious so you can’t say no doesn’t count.

  7. I think Dr Letterbox’s actual point is that she is uncomfortable about the idea of there being a “technical rape” which is different to some other form of rape that isn’t defined. To make an arbitrary judgement about whether an unconscious person would have consented is quite dodgy and to do so to preserve the mans reputation doesn’t sit right. To say that the crime occurred because of the mans impaired judgement due to drunkenness seems more reasonable but even then, drunkenness doesn’t excuse other crimes. In future this ruling could be used as a precedent to further define the idea of technical rape as some way of excusing men from the crime if the woman is judged to be less than pure. In the extreme case we may end up in a state where there is one law for drunken women who behave promiscuously and another for women who are raped “properly” (whatever that means)

  8. TILDEY ⋅

    Don’t you all look silly now! The girl was awake and all she had to say was no! After agreeing did she say no? No she didn’t therefore it is NOT rape

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      Actually, I think you will find that the prosecution has admitted it made a mistake in saying that she had ever consented to sex. She hadn’t and therefore their mistake led to a misrepresentation. Whether she was awake or not it was rape.

      More to the point, the original argument stands on the merit of the case,the judge’s statements were totally out of line.

      • tildey ⋅

        Made a mistake ha ha. They, her and him all signed and agreed with a statement of events and facts. When it looks like he may get off A. She changes her story and b the dpp change theirs. How can it be a “mistake” that one minute you say this happened and when things don’t go the way you want them you change your story.
        It’s funny that nothing else has happened in the case. The girl is now a confirmed liar so would you believe anything she says? As this case plays out I believe that he is more of a victim than her as his name has been dragged thru the mud, he’s had the stress, financial worries etc and all she got was her nose grew a bit cause she kept telling lies. Drop the case name and shame the liar and make her pay his court costs, oh and probably sack the entire public prosecution dept cause how can anyone take them seriously now.

  9. TILDEY ⋅

    I understand your point and welcome the fact that eyeryone has a point of view. My problems are a) that it is very easy for a girl to cry rape if things don’t work out as she wanted. ( ie she wants a relationship and he wants sex) I have learnt this the hard way, yet the accuser gets off with no consequence but the accused is scarred, sometimes for life. and b) on the information provided by someone who is now a confirmed liar a lot of people including yourself marked this guy as a rapist which I find wrong. Am I a friend of his NO just someone who has been in a similar situation and can understand what he is going through which seems to be forgotten in all of this.
    Don’t get me wrong “Rape” is an abhorrent act and the rapists deserve long prison sentences but you can’t believe everything someone says.
    The term “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t always work when it comes to rape cases

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      I would disagree with you that it is “easy” for women to “cry” rape. i think that statistically, the number of cases where women are not believed/subject to hideous court proceedings/metaphorically raped all over again by the justice system or simply don’t report rape completely outweigh those in which women falsely accuse men. You are right, there should remain a presumption of innocence in any case, but this should also not mean that there can be open slather attacks on the women involved.

      As I noted, when I initially wrote the post, there had been a guilty plea entered. The judge was then commenting on the relative merits of the nature of the rape itself.

      People do have different takes on what a sexual encounter is about, and that is why it is essential that it is clear that there is consent on both sides to what is going on. The absence of a “no” does not mean consent – it may mean that the person involved is too scared, drunk, suprised, confused etc to protest – but this does not mean that they have consented anyway. Consent still needs to be determined.

      The person Mr Sloan should be most pissed off at is the initial judge if he is worried about his reputation. Without the judge’s stupid comments, the case would probably have passed under the radar of most of the media. And, whether he is a rapist or not, if he is going to have sex in the park with (seemingly if not actually) unconscious women, he should be willing to wear the world knowing about it. I am not passing a moral judgement about it (if it was in fact consensual, and I don’t think that is at all clear) but everyone should own their actions, and if you don’t want your name “dragged through the mud’ don’t do stuff that allows that to happen. And in this case, there was plenty of room for that.

      Note – I know nothing about your own particular circumstances, so nothing I have said is necessarily generalisable to those. I guess that is a matter for your own consideration – but I think every situation has to be judged on its own merits.

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