Real Sexism

Thanks to the Clinton campaign, sexism in media is an issue. It’s not like it wasn’t there before, which makes some of the nouveau evangelistic zeal about it more than annoying to me. Still I hope sexist language will be less socially acceptable in media going forward.

However, if you want to see what harm real sexism can do, check this out. Apparently the new trend in “criminal justice” is not to allow rape victims to use the word rape, or even sexual assault, in court. Instead, a woman testifying against someone who has raped her is supposed to say “when the defendant and I had sexual intercourse.” In one case, the woman could not call herself a “victim” or the alleged perpetrator an “assailant.”

The reason given for this nonsense is that the word rape is prejudicial. By the same logic, words like theft, fraud, and murder ought to be banned from trials, too.

Yes, the accused has a presumption of innocence, but it seems some judges presume the complainant must be lying. Fair trial? I don’t think so.

6 thoughts on “Real Sexism

  1. And I guess that’s coming from the same people who love to talk about tratiditional moral values, the importance of chastity, and the eeevils of premarital sex. So the right’s position on that is that extramarital sex is completely totally wrong, except if the woman claims she was somehow forced into it, in wich case the bitch is clearly lying and the man is a poor innocent victim of evil feminazis. Great. Oh, sorry, I forgot that if there’s no claim of rape, the man should be forgiven the moment it becomes known, too. Funny if it wasn’t so sad.

  2. Raphael — Exactly. The American Right is more like fanatical Muslims and their “honor killings” than they have the self-honesty to admit.

  3. This isn’t a new trend or anything. You cannot say that you saw someone commit murder, you can say you saw the person use the gun and shoot someone. You cannot say you saw someone steal, you can say you saw them take something and, only if you have knowledge, that they did not pay or have permission.

    Just the facts, and let the jury decide whether a crime was committed.

  4. Michael, seems to me there’s a difference between being a witness and being a plaintiff or victim. I suppose a victim can’t testify in a murder trial, but if someone is the victim of a non-sexual assault, can the alleged victim not say in court that the alleged perpetrator assaulted him? In this case, the alleged victim cannot even say that the alleged perpetrator “sexually assaulted” her, never mind using the word “rape.”

    For another example, if someone carjacks you, would you be forced to tell the court that you and the perp just took a car ride together? Or can you say “he broke into my car and held a gun to my head and took over the steering wheel”?

    Rape is an assault, not “intercourse.” In this case, the alleged victim is not being allowed to make a clear statement about what she alleges was done to her. Maybe she is lying, but let the facts of the case speak to that.

  5. Imagine this scenario:
    1) In a trial for a home break-in that occurred at 12 noon, the victim is placed on the stand. The prosecutor asks the victim what happened. The victim says “My home was burglarized”.
    2) Defense objects and requests to talk to the judge at sidebar, out of hearing of the jury. “Your honor, according to our statute, burglary can only happen at night. This is a trial for violations of the “home invasion” statute as well as common-law burglary. Describing my clients alleged behavior as a burglary is unfairly prejudicial and has no probative value, so I move to strike. It is inappropriate for a witness to make a conclusion of law on the stand. We understand that she feels that she was burglarized, but that doesn’t make it so.” Judge asks the Prosecutor to rephrase the question and directs the witness not to use the word “burglar”.
    3) The defendant gets upset and insists on using the word “burglar” to describe the defendant. The jury is compromised and the judge has to toss the case.

    The whole point is that the witness does not get decide what rape is, or what assault is. Most judges would not let a witness make any sort of legal conclusion, such as “I was assaulted” or “I was burglarized” or “I was raped” or “defendant broke criminal statute section 1395(d)”.

    I’m sorry for many women’s experiences with horrific rapes. However, we have been treating rape as a special crime for far too long, with special rules of evidence and too many innocent people have gone to jail because we haven’t afforded them the same rights as other defendants.

Comments are closed.