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David Cox’s rape fallacy

September 26th, 2007     by Allison Martell     Comments

The headline for this Guardian opinion piece (‘Feminism’s rape fallacy’) had me feeling a little nervous as I clicked over, but the stand first made me warm a little: “Imperfect though they may be, courts must retain presumption of innocence in rape cases.” Well yeah, of course.

Unfortunately, things deteriorate from there. There’s a bit in the middle that got to me in particular.

Yet, why shouldn’t women be encouraged to think twice before visiting footballers’ hotel rooms late at night? Why shouldn’t they be advised that to get themselves into a drunken stupor in the company of a frisky male could carry risks?

Do we really think women are not warned enough about protecting their personal safety? Where has this guy been? Just about all society does is remind us to be careful. CBC reports on the recent rape cases at York University were mostly interviews with other women in residence swearing up and down that they would lock their doors more carefully from now on. We’re not supposed to walk on our own, talk back to harassment, close the office door when we’re talking to a male teacher, leave our drinks unattended, or even drink. The message comes through, loud and clear.

With that out of the way, is it so preposterous to look into why rape conviction rates are so low? When I was in Scotland I kept hearing that the conviction rates there were nearly the lowest in the Western world. (And you can imagine what that sort of publicity does to the number of rapes reported to begin with.) Surely some of the gap could be closed.

For that matter, what are Canada’s rape conviction rates? In a half hour online I didn’t come up with any consistent numbers. Anyone know more about this than me?

Tags: body politics, media savvy

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