The Policing of Rape

Anyone reading the Guardian’s aricle today on the scale of sexual abuse by police officers may be given the impression that the policing of rape isn’t very well done. On the contrary, rape is policed very well.   We can’t tolerate rape in this society – so we don’t.  We make sure it doesn’t exist. In the UK under 1,000 men are convicted of rape each year. Only 1,000 rapists in a country of nearly 60 million, that’s pretty good policing huh?

No need for prison sentances, rape is much more effectively policed by the narratives that surround it.

Let’s start with the victim. You always need to start with the victim, you know, when you talk about rape.  Who is she?  Rape is pretty sordid. Is she the kind of woman to engage in sordidness?  Prostitution is sordid, promiscuity is sordid, drugs are sordid, marital affairs are sordid, teen sex is sordid.  Is she a sordid woman?  Did she advertise her wares for cash or for affection?  Was she sufficiently upfront about the transaction she would take?  Perhaps she set her price too low, feels a bit cheated or defrauded.  That’s not rape, no, that’s just a woman who got conned, a stupid sordid woman, who values herself very little and consequently others value her less.

Then lets look at the context.  I mean, there is always a context.   What was she wearing, where was she, what was she doing?  There is a responsibility, you know.  Dressing to turn men on, flirting, failing to be aware of her surroundings, all utter irresponsibility.  Irresponsible women have irresponsible sex, sex with men that they don’t want to have sex with. That’s not rape, no, that’s just an irresponsible woman who met her comeuppance, a silly pathetic creature, who can’t look after herself.

And the circumstances – you always have to consider the circumstances.  Did she speak to him, kiss him, invite him in, sleep with him before?   Everyone knows that once consensual engagement is established, that opt out of the permanent legal state of consent is null and void.   Once she consents she can’t backtrack you know, she agreed, the deal was done done.  That’s not rape, no, just regret at the consent given and pathetic attempts to redeem her poor behaviour.

The irrespectable, the irresponsible and the irredeemable must be rooted out.   Otherwise rape would skyrocket.  Far too many women have no sense of respectability or responsibility.  If these women started to name their rapes we would have an epidemic on our hands.  Rape is very well policed.

I recently heard an anecdote about a man who had the nickname among his friends of “The Rapist”.  Apparently he got this nickname because he had a predilection to sleep with drunk and vulnerable women.    His flatmate apparently thought it was funny.    Of course its funny, I mean its not like he was a rapist or anything – the women were vulnerable, vulnerable to being used for sex, he merely made use of them for what they were for.  Thats not a rapist, no, that’s just a man who seized an opportunity, a resourceful, go-getting man, who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to get it.

If rape cannot be policed by the social mores that surround it, it is for the state authorities to step in.   If it is rape, you go to the police.  That’s what repectable, responsible rape victims do ( Sure you’re not just one of those sluts, the irresponsible and irredeemable?)  The police will find investigate. (They will investigate you to make sure, you know)  Rape is a heinous crime, you are alleging a really serious offence. (Are you really sure it was rape?)

A special unit established to make sure that rape is low has a fantastic success rate.  I mean if you had really been raped, your desire for vengence, justice and desire to see no-one else go through what you had would negate any concerns you might have about semi-naked photographs circulating or underwear being pinned up on noticeboards.  Rapists have convictions.  You can’t be a rapist without a conviction, otherwise its just he said, she said, innit.   And do you really want to ruin a man’s life with ridiculous allegations, false allegation is a crime remember.  Make sure it was rape; was it really rape?

Rape is continually negated.  All over the internet there are forums in which women ask “Was I raped?” before going on to provide a description of non-consensual penetration only to be told, often in great detail, why their lack of consent was irrelevant.  The conviction rate for rape in Scotland is under 5% because so many reported rapes are no-crimed, but around 85% of rapes have already been no-crimed before they ever got to the reporting stage, and that is just the ones where the violation is recognised.

In many cases, rapists have substantial power over their victims.  Except within the classic stranger rape, a tiny minority of cases, there is a pre-existing relationship, interset among other relationships of friends  family, work colleagues or neighbours.  A rape isn’t just an individual violation, its a community violation.  So much better for the community if there is no rape.

Many years ago, when I was at University, a group of friends and I came back to the halls of residence, to hear noise coming from one of our other friends rooms, where she had previously retired with her then boyfriend.  At first we laughed …then we didn’t, and tried the locked door to make sure she was alright.   Her boyfriend then stormed out the room, almost knocking us over, while she asked us to leave her alone for a bit and never spoke of it again.  They broke up after that and our circles drifted apart, but I can’t say that I was surprised to see his name appear a year or so later on the 2nd floor women’s toilets of the university library where women wrote in black marker pen the names of known student rapists.   It wasn’t her writing.

When I worked in a motorway service station, the only thing that surprised me about one of my co-workers describe an incident where the manager arranged to meet her at a remote location late at night and transport her “safely” back to her flat was that she described what happened after they got back there as consensual.  I don’t think it was, I think she just didn’t want to contribute to the rape statistics, instead she wanted to redeem herself by situating it in a narrative of desire….and keep her job of course.

When a friend told me about an incident where she blacked out and woke up naked next to one of her boyfriend’s mates, with no recollection of the night before beyond chatting with him as she was drinking she begged me not to talk about this because it would end her relationship if her boyfriend found out.  Suggestions that what he did was unacceptable was drowned out by her self-loathing and guilt.

None of the above was named as rape, not even by the victim.

Rape is well policed.






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