I have the awful feeling that I shall put myself out on a limb here, but bear with me. I am not trying to excuse rape in any form and I don’t want to appear to be the arbiter on this issue either. Rather I would like to set up hypothetical situations and ask you what your opinion is. George Galloway has walked from firm ground and is on the very edge of the space over the abyss with his comments about rape. Mr. Galloway is not a man I feel comfortable with as a bedfellow. No pun intended? Well perhaps to a small degree. Galloway is a self-inflating, garrulous, slimy wide-boy, but on this occasion he may, just may, have an argument in his definition of rape. I shall leave any mention of the Julian Assange case out of this as, although relevant to Galloway’s comment, it is unnecessary to introduce it here. Neither will I even consider the comments of the US Republican Missouri nominee for the Senate, Todd Akin, as they are plainly offensive and ignorant.
A husband and wife of some ten years standing go to bed and, before sleeping, they make love. In a deep sleep after a long day, his wife snuggles against her husband and arouses him while she is half-asleep, he sleeps, she wakes and doesn’t even realise whether he is asleep, half awake or just playing about. She takes a top position allowing him to penetrate her. He wakes and submits without protest. The rest of the hypothesis – whilst alluring in a shades of grey genre – is irrelevant here. Let’s analyse the facts. Has anyone been raped? The man, assuming that he was asleep, could not have raped his wife. If he had been half awake or even awake and playing about, it was presumably consensual as he had the opportunity to reject his wife’s sexual advance. That leaves only the wife. Did she rape her husband?
That, essentially, is Galloway’s argument and, before we dismiss him as simply stupid, which he isn’t, we should confront this issue out of respect for all of the people who have been raped and suffered because of it.
I say all of this because I was routinely raped between the age of 11 and 16 by a male neighbour. I can say “I know how you feel” to a rape victim. Believe me these words are not easy for me to write, but I feel I must because this argument has such a personal resonance for me. Rape conveys a connotation of force, violence, coercion, emotional abuse – even abusing a vulnerable person such as someone not fully cognisant or aware. In which case, is the above example of the woman with her husband rape or not? Presumably on the point of insertion, technically she was raping him, because he couldn’t have given consent as he was asleep. Later, as he made no objection, there clearly was no rape; but what if he had cried rape at that point? Would that seriously be construed as rape? Does marriage make it different? I don’t think so.
If we are going to respect the feelings and emotions of the victims of this type of violation we must air this argument and conclude in a reasonably definitive way the definition of rape. The consequences of the act, if it can be fallen into so readily and seemingly innocently, are far too grave. It serves no purpose to wave placards declaring “Rape is rape” if people are clearly unaware as to what constitutes rape. I hope that I will contribute in some small way with this hypotheses. Please pass the web link on as I would like to hear from people with their thoughts and opinions …