Footballers these days often leap in celebration on top of a teammate who has just scored, do they not? So when British soccer pro Ched Evans leaped into a hotel bedroom frolic with his fellow ball belter and best mate Clayton McDonald – oh, and also a woman the latter had chatted up in a kebab shop after a night out clubbing – it might have seemed to those boisterous boys just like another high-spirited “day at the office”.
Hey, hey, all aboard for a fun threesome! What could possibly go wrong? Yes, the young lady was a bit the worse for wear after a few double vodkas, but not so bladdered she was unable to give legally valid consent to sex. We can reliably deduce this was a jury’s view because McDonald admitted having sex with her (as did Evans) and the jurors acquitted him of rape. So they must have believed she was in a fit state to give consent and did so.
[TOC adds later, on 1 November: What could possibly go wrong? Well, my logically watertight deduction for one thing! See Endnote.]
But those same jurors convicted Evans. Why? Was it that the woman fancied Clayton but not Ched? Or did she think both were gorgeous hunks but not at the same time, thank you very much? Either explanation might have been perfectly sustainable in the witness box but for one thing: the woman claimed she couldn’t remember a thing about sex with either of the guys. A night porter at the hotel heard from the corridor what sounded like sex going on, but there was no evidence whatever that the woman had either declined to give consent to Evans or had been unable to do so. On the other hand, both of the men testified that the woman had been asked if it was OK for Ched to join in, and she had said “yeah”.
In soccer terms, that puts the fellers 2-0 ahead. The game is surely sewn up at this point for C&C United. But no! Both goals are disallowed and a diabolical penalty is awarded: a five-year prison sentence for Ched. Clayton’s loyal backing up of his best mate’s story is hardly above suspicion, of course. But the prosecution is supposed to prove its case. A jury should not convict on mere suspicion.
The only reason a rape case was brought at all was because the police decided to pursue it. The woman herself, the next morning, had simply been concerned over losing her handbag and mobile phone the night before. Things only took a more sinister turn when she said she thought her drinks might have been spiked. But by whom? She had been drinking in the night club but didn’t meet the footballers until later, by chance. No evidence of spiking was ever found. What we are left with is no more than a purely moral judgment against Evans on the basis of him arriving at the hotel room a few minutes later than McDonald (Clayton had texted Ched, saying where he was), then turning conventional sex into something more like an orgy.
Not very edifying, perhaps, but not very devastating to the “victim” either, whose worst problem was probably being a bit hung over and minus the personal belongings she had managed to lose: it turned out she had left her bag at the kebab shop. Even the prosecution never claimed she was a stranger to this sort of situation. And judging by some tweets she allegedly made after the case, she was just thrilled at the possibility of big-money compo coming her way.
In a comment here at Heretic TOC, Jed Jones got to the heart of the matter when he wrote: “It’s precisely because rape is such a heinous crime and rapists must be brought to justice that the credibility of real victims should not be undermined by those who falsely allege rape.” Mr P was on the right lines too.
Effectively, the dubious allegation in this case was all down to the police, and I’ll be putting them back in the dock very shortly.
The storm whipped up by feminist rape exaggerators over whether “convicted rapist” Evans should be allowed to resume his career in football will not detain us, except to note its spurious nature. The “victim” touts are not concerned with justice. They are just hell-bent on “sending a message” to use their own phrase, that men are evil bastards whose balls must be crushed at every opportunity.
Their hypocrisy is to be seen in the selectivity of their concern. As the law editor of Spiked noted, not even Luke McCormick, jailed in 2008 for killing two young boys while drunk behind the wheel of a car, faced the same levels of scrutiny upon his release as Evans. He was able to resume his playing career and has just been appointed captain of Plymouth Argyle FC. As for TV presenter Charlie Webster, she is a patron of Evans’ old club Sheffield United. She was quick to jump on the fashionable bandwagon against him, saying she would quit her role with the club if they re-signed the player. What she failed to mention was a tweet she had sent a month earlier. Her sister Kylie helpfully re-tweeted it: star-struck Charlie confessed she wanted to get a photo of former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson.
Coming, now, to my further indictment against the police, this is where we see truly serious offences – offences not investigated by the police but committed by them.
You may well have seen the settlement of a civil claim in the news a few days ago. The Metropolitan Police in London agreed to pay £425,000 to a woman who had a child by a man who was her partner for several years after meeting him as a fellow animal rights activist.
What she had not known at the time is that the man, who claimed to be a gardener named Bob Robinson, was an undercover cop, real name Bob Lambert. He had deliberately, from their first meeting, set out to make her his girlfriend in order to give his cover greater credibility. It meant having a sexual relationship with her, and of course this all made his involvement look personal and really genuine – which it certainly was for the woman, who was just 22 at the time, back in 1983, and he was her first serious boyfriend. Another thing Lambert never told her is that he was already married, with children.
It may also have been callously deliberate on his part to get her pregnant the following year in the full knowledge that he would have to abandon her and his own child and disappear entirely from their lives once his undercover mission was over. That’s how the system worked: love ’em, leave ’em – with some completely bogus excuse – and move stealthily to the next job without leaving any trace of police involvement. At least four children are known to have been fathered by police officers in this way.
For Lambert, perpetrating the pregnancy came at a time when his intelligence work was taking him beyond mere placard-waving demonstrations and disruptions to fox hunts. He was now going deeper under cover to infiltrate the radical Animal Liberation Front, which went in for sabotaging places such as animal research labs and factory farms. Having not just an activist girlfriend, but also a child from the relationship, would utterly seal the deal over his bone fides.
The latest news reports have given the woman’s name as Jacqui, but the name I first encountered (also a pseudonym, presumably) was Charlotte, in a book called Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police, published last year and written by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis, two Guardian journalists, this paper having broken the Lambert story in January 2012, albeit without having located Charlotte or her son. It was only later that year, in a blaze of further publicity, that Charlotte saw a photo of Bob in another newspaper and discovered the real identity of her son’s father.
As Jonathan Freedland noted, also in the Guardian, for the women in all these relationships grounded in deception and betrayal the greatest pain comes afterwards:
… a sudden departure, a postcard from abroad, and then silence. Some women spent months or even years trying to work out what had gone wrong, travelling far in search of answers. Others found that their ability to trust had been shattered. If the man they had loved turned out to be an agent of the state, what else should they be suspicious of? Could they trust their colleagues, their friends? And the question that nags above all others: was it all a fake, did he not love me at all?
And all that heartache does not touch the practical problems either: Charlotte, for instance, had been in a good job before her pregnancy – possibly an air stewardess, as the book hints. Her abandonment left her as a single mother with a young child to look after, coping on meagre state benefits.
Here’s a question. If it’s rape to have sex with a woman when she is too drunk to consent, is it also rape when a man has sex based on deception? It appears to depend on the nature of the deception. If a guy gets a woman into bed after falsely claiming to be a millionaire, that’s just the deceived partner’s bad luck. The rule is pretty much “Let the buyer beware” – don’t buy any old yarn; it’s your job to check it out. It’s easy to see why this rule is necessary. Just think of the victim-fest there would be without it:
“He said he was only 39 but he was actually 40. I wouldn’t have let an old fart like that shag me!”
“He was wearing a wig. If I’d known he was bald as a toddler’s todger I’d have posted him back to the dating agency without even unwrapping him.”
You get the picture. Even when things get serious, though, consent is not necessarily invalidated in law. If you have sex knowing you have HIV and don’t tell your partner you might end up paying massive damages in a civil case for passing on the infection; but it still won’t be a criminal case of rape. The partner’s consent would only be invalidated if you had actively used deception by denying you had HIV.
As for whether the undercover police were guilty of rape, they may not have been under the law as interpreted at the time, which is perhaps why none of them are being prosecuted. An appeal court judgment in the McNally case last year put the law in a new light, though, in a most unusual case of sexual deception. A woman had consented to sex and duly engaged in penetrative intercourse, only to discover later that her partner was not, as she had supposed, a man, but a woman in drag using a dildo under cover of darkness. The court upheld the view that the consent was not valid and a sexual offence had taken place.
Well, a dildo may be a bit like a truncheon as well as a penis, but this ruling wouldn’t necessarily be applicable to police work. Only a few months before this case, the judiciary still appeared to be clinging to the view that the police, like James Bond, are licensed to be “lady killers” if not to kill. In a high court hearing that addressed the rules for the sexual conduct of undercover officers, Mr Justice Tugendhat directly referenced the free rein enjoyed by Bond as a secret agent.
The judge said he believed that when MPs wrote the current rules which permit undercover police to form “personal or other” relationships (in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, 2000), they would all have known about Bond’s ways with women. Yes, 007 is a fictional figure, but his cultural prominence meant MPs must have been aware that real agents might think it was OK to behave in the same way unless it was explicitly ruled out. But parliament had chosen not to make any such rule. Ergo, 007’s licence to shag was completely in order!
Having heard Charlotte’s story, we may beg to differ.
Taking the two news stories together, the footballers and the undercover cops, we may feel the law is bang out of order when it comes to, well, banging.
As reader Jed Jones (which looks as if it could be a pseudonym for Ched Evans but I assume it is not 🙂 ) pointed out, my reading of the situation failed to take into account another view the jury may have taken, namely that the woman was too drunk to consent to sex with either man. On that view, their grounds for acquitting Clayton may have been that they thought he had “reasonably believed” she had given consent. And they may have concluded that Ched, by contrast, lacked any such “reasonable belief”. The question of reasonable belief was indeed put to the jury.
On reflection, it seems to me the jury may well have taken this view although it appears to be ill founded on the basis of the facts made publicly available (especially the hotel lobby video: http://chedevans.com/judge-for-yourself ), and on the law relating to consent while under the influence of drink, as summarised in R v Bree ( http://lexisweb.co.uk/cases/2007/march/r-v-bree ) .
Having said that, second guessing a jury’s verdict on the basis of public reports at a later date is always a risky and perhaps slightly hubristic business.
Sometimes, though, it is right to take that risk after looking into things as carefully as one can. When a man’s life may have been unfairly trashed is surely just such an occasion.
[…] footballer Ched Evans’ continued claim to innocence after being convicted of rape. See When the law is out of order on rape for the coverage two years ago. Last week the jury at a re-trial brought in a verdict of not […]
Many of those commenting in favour of ched seem very mistaken about the case possibly because his website does not contain relevant information and puts other information out of context.
Ched Evans has appealed the verdict twice and twice refused leave to appeal. As is the right of every single convicted person refused leave to appeal he has requested a review of this decision. So he is not appealing and the investigation by the review board is something they are required to do for every review request.
The judges for the appeals wrote reports which explain the case and answer questions that many here have asked. Evans has not put this on his website.
But it shows that the reason for Clayton’s verdict is that as he went to the hotel with the woman he may have reasonably believed she consented. Evans however admits to deceiving hotel staff into giving him as key and using it to enter the room to have sex with the woman his friend had met. Whilst clayton admitted to staff he was there and left normally and even asked staff to check on the woman as he left, evans hid from staff when they knocked on the door with clayton lying for him and then left by a fire escape.
Both Evans and Clayton were asked how evans got consent from the woman and both gave very different stories. Evans claimed that Clayton asked if he could join in, but Clayton denied this and said he believed Evans asked the woman himself. That’s a big incoonsistancy about the matter at the heart of the trial I.e consent.
The courts heard evidence from medical experts as well as from independent witnesses such as the taxi driver and hotel staff, heard how Clayton believed the staff needed to check on the woman, and saw CCTV from several different places not just the premier inn CCTV ( which has not been verified as genuine incidently and which needs permission from the victim to be made public if it is). It was made very clear to the jury that amnesia did not mean she was incapable of consent at the time and that drunken consent was still consent. On the evidence the jury found she was incapable of consenting.
In regards to the tweets etc these have not been verified as genuine, nor has the context been made available as the conversations make no reference to the trial. As they make no claims that the victim attempted blackmail or to sell her story its unclear how they thought the victim was going to win big by Evans being convicted as criminal injury compensation is awarded even without a trial and is not a huge amount and certainly wouldn’t buy cars. They are also not relevant as nothing the victim said actually counted as evidence against them. She said she couldn’t remember anything that happened. Evans team found evidence she had suffered amnesia before. So the victim did not influence the outcome.
If people read the reports the appeal judges wrote they would have a far greater understanding of the case.
Re: your endnote. Correct, Tom: I can confirm that I am not Ched Evans. If I was, I posted on your blog from prison over a period of several months. No offence intended, but I can’t quite imagine that being allowed!
Yes, the more the Get Ched campaign raises the stakes, hell-bent on destroying his life even further, the more it entitles us to speak our doubts about the evidence that convicted him and made him a feminist cause celeb, even if it insults the complainant’s reputation. It’s simply the lesser of evils. Her treatment at the hands of another extra-judicial mob was appalling but that doesn’t lie at your door or mine.
Best guess FWIW, the jury inferred the complainant’s drunken incapacity to consent to sex from her amnesia, which seems a distinctly unsafe premise to me, new and undisclosed evidence notwithstanding.
“the jury inferred the complainant’s drunken incapacity to consent to sex from her amnesia”
That seems… shaky. After all, lots of things can cause amnesia. Did they have a doctor check her out in case something non-alcoholic was interfering with her memory?
“it entitles us to speak our doubts […] even if it insults the complainant’s reputation […] Her treatment at the hands of another extra-judicial mob was appalling”
This is all starting to remind me of a clusterfuck which must not be named, lest it infect Heretic TOC. All I can say is that it has nothing to do with reproductively viable female worker ants.
BTW: Now that I have a non-awkward opening to bring it up, what are your thoughts on the discussion that Tom, myself and now A have been having about rape-shield laws.
Sorry James, I don’t know what you mean by “rape-shield” laws and have no idea what your preceding point is!
I was referring to the criminal public naming of the complainant (who claims she was consequently threatened with violence and forced into exile from her home town in north Wales). She must also have the right to be held innocent until proven guilty (of perverting the course of justice by falsely claiming incapacity to consent to sex through amnesia).
Her previous form for falsely alleging rape does not by itself mean she falsely alleged Ched and Clayton raped her. This fact should be inadmissible as evidence against her that would harm her own defence against a charge of perverting the course of justice, and admissible as evidence to support Ched’s appeal against his rape conviction. (Perhaps this is what you meant by rape-shield laws: rules of evidence which protect the rape accuser and condemn the accused?)
I’ll take the chance that this wont blow up: I was referencing Gamergate.
“Perhaps this is what you meant by rape-shield laws: rules of evidence which protect the rape accuser and condemn the accused?”
Umm, sort of? It’s the rule that says you can’t bring ‘sexual character’ (descriptions of how much and what type of sex the complainant has had) as evidence in a rape trial unless the judge rules that, in this case, it will do more good than harm.
The term also refers to a law that prohibits the publication of the identity of an alleged rape victim.
I think this is what the main problem comes down to: Making judgments or indictments based on sentiment rather than provable facts.
I personally think it’s silly and counter-productive for everyone when making certain judgments depend on whether men or women have it “worse” than the other in society. Both genders are subject to nasty double standards, and this needs to be taken into consideration when anyone is making judgments, particularly those working in law enforcement, serving on jury duty, or reporting for the media. People with a personal bone to pick with members of a certain gender can be very tempted to interpret the same incident quite differently, depending upon which gender their bone to pick happens to be directed at.
In relation to this incident: Do women really have it worse in society than men? That, I would think, depends upon specific circumstances. Women are subject to the terrible double standard where they are still morally derided for engaging in sexual behavior viewed as perfectly ethically acceptable for men; you know, the “slut” thing. On the other hand, men are continually demonized as having a predatory type of sexuality, and misandrists in the courts and media are anxious to jump on this at every opportunity when it comes to the rationale for “sending a message” despite the absence of evidence, as Tom noted. That rationale seems to be based on this attitude: Men are typically such predatory creeps that putting a bunch of innocent men in prison is justified if it brings greater social awareness of a given problem, and might make it less likely for the truly guilty to get away with it. Or they look at it this way: Because women have been traditionally oppressed in this society, it “balances” out the scales of justice to have all men accused of a crime against a woman to be guilty unless proven innocent; and all women proven to commit similar crimes be granted great leniency based on their gender alone. This is an extreme misuse of sympathy that does anything but serve the cause of justice.
As I’ve noted before, if you give this type of license to any group of people, then the less scrupulous amongst them will feel free to make unfounded accusations with impunity for the most petty and vindictive of reasons. It doesn’t offer a solution to any type of power disparity, but it simply inverts that disparity. This may satisfy the desire for revenge which many have for past injustices against them and/or a certain group (whether their own or a group they have great sympathy for), as well as serve the interests of the more despotic misandrists seeking to acquire power for themselves. However, it does *not* serve the cause of justice, or end the problem of power disparity between the genders in a general sense.
“Because women have been traditionally oppressed in this society, it “balances” out the scales of justice to have all men accused of a crime against a woman to be guilty unless proven innocent”
As a Utilitarian, the idea of increasing net harm to “balance out” some other harm sets my head spinning with confusion. How does that help anyone?
Also, what “message” are they trying to send? That men caught in threesomes shall be imprisoned for their heinous actions?
The way many liberals look at this sort of thing, James, is that throwing innocent people behind bars is a “necessary evil” if that’s what it takes to bring more public awareness to a legitimate concern or problem. It’s a rationale explained by the old adage, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” Or, perhaps in less metaphorical terms: The ends justifies the means. The more shameless misandrists out there are simply looking for revenge on a group whom they loathe, and seeking power for themselves, both by demonizing anyone who has a penis, and canonizing anyone who has a vagina. At its core, it’s not really about seeking justice or equality; it’s about vengeance and power.
“throwing innocent people behind bars is a “necessary evil” if that’s what it takes to bring more public awareness to a legitimate concern or problem.”
But how does that even work? In what way is imprisoning people an effective method of increasing “awareness” (as if people don’t already know what rape is)?
Also, besides RadFem, who do you consider to be “shameless misandrists”? RadFem is a relatively small segment of the broader base of feminists so surely it must be more than just them you take issue with. If it was just a small subset of feminists you disliked you wouldn’t ditch “feminist” in favour of “egalitarian”.
Imprisoning innocents to insure that the guilty are punished brings greater awareness of the underlying legitimate problem via all the media attention that results when large numbers of people are indicted due to a certain hysteria.
As for the “RadFem’s”, whom I do not consider legitimate feminists at all, but simply hijackers of the term to legitimize their politically organized misandry, being only a small segment of the overall feminist movement: Their relatively small numbers are more than made up for by the fact that they are very “loud” and have a lot of influence in the media and government, including within many left-wing circles. Their misuse of sympathy and manipulation of the political system by imposition of certain heavy PC attitudes has resulted in a lot of legislation that favors women over men in situations that do not take into account who may be justifiably right or wrong, and their media influence has resulted in the large proliferation of the victimology school of thought. Oprah Winfrey and other influential and powerful American celebrities are a good example of this, and she and her ilk have done much to help the massive growth of the sex abuse industry and the witch hunts against MAPs and expressions of youth sexuality in general for three decades now. They have heavy influence in higher academia, and have control over an entire course of graduate study which they refer to as Women’s Studies.
Sadly, because of this, the term “feminist” is often attributed to their hateful ideology much as “Christianity” has unfortunately become associated with right-wing fundamentalist Christians for the same reason: They are both very “loud” and heavily influential in politics despite their relatively small numbers.
“Oprah Winfrey and other influential and powerful American celebrities are a good example of this […] an entire course of graduate study which they refer to as Women’s Studies.”
I think we’re talking about two different groups of people. When I say “radical feminist” (or RadFem) I’m talking about a small group of people who identify with a movement called “Radical Feminism”. This movement is currently in a state of total war again “Liberal Feminism” (the majority) and particularly the Third Wave, Intersectionalist, Social Justice, and Trans-Feminist currents. They have very specific beliefs and schema that are largely divorced from those used by Liberal Feminism. (Think Marxist-Leninists vs Trotskyists – viciously hostile to each other but they all look the same from a distance.)
When you say “radical feminist” you seem to mean “feminists who advocate bad or stupid policies” which is, like, half of feminism.
““Christianity” has unfortunately become associated with right-wing fundamentalist Christians”
Really? That’s how Americans view it? But aren’t most Americans Christian? (My country is majority-Catholic with only a scattering of fundamentalists.)
BTW: Would you like to join the rape-shield debate below?
The politically organized misandrists often refer to themselves as “radical feminists,” much as the fundamentalist and dogmatic atheists (whom you cannot have reasonable debates with) often refer to themselves as “radical atheists.” Personally, I consider them dogmatic materialists, but like the political misandrists, they prefer to use terms that latch onto a legitimately accepted school of thought to get the public to take them more seriously… and quite often, this tactic works. Hence, if you criticize shameless misandry, the misandrists will claim you’re attacking “feminism,” and accuse you of being misogynist.
This is a similar tactic used by the right-wing politically organized Jewish lobby in America, which accuses any non-Jewish person who criticizes the policies of the Israeli government of being “anti-Semitic”, and accuses any progressive Jewish person who makes similar critiques of being “self-hating Jews.”
I’ll certainly look into the rape-shield discussion you pointed out to me. Thanks!
I see your point about “radical feminists”, “radical atheists”, etc.
Are you against materialism qua materialism?
“accuses any non-Jewish person who criticizes the policies of the Israeli government of being “anti-Semitic””
That reminds me of a blog post you might like: Ethnic Tension And Meaningless Arguments, by Scott Alexander (who is, himself, an American Jew).
“The idea of increasing net harm to “balance out” some other harm sets my head spinning with confusion. How does that help anyone?”
Or, as Gandhi put it, an eye for an eye makes everyone blind.
Precisely! The whole point of Utilitarianism is that cooperating with others, and acting to assist them, makes everyone better off. If you make a small sacrifice that leads to big returns for someone else and they do the same for you, you’ll still end up better off. On the other hand, if you hurt others in cold blood or revenge, everyone (including you) will end up worse off.
One thing that does bother me a lot is all the ‘nice guy’ stuff that has sprung up in recent years. Nice Guys are young men who have unrequited crushes on female friends and hang around hoping to be noticed in *that* way eventually. Meanwhile, the female friend is dating a series of other men, often ‘bad boy’ types, and the idea is that the guy thinks that because he’s such a nice guy, his friend will come around sooner or later, and that he’s so full of male privilege that he thinks he’s entitled to his friend’s time and affection and body just for being nice.
I’m sure that this happens and that it used to happen a lot more. In the opening chapter of the book Stalkers and their Victims, there are a lot of quotes from Kirkegaard that sounded romantic in his culture but sound alarming and, yes, very sexist and entitled in ours. But on the other hand…When I was a teenager I fell head over heels in unrequited love with a close female friend, and hung around pining for several years. Yes, it was silly and melodramatic and I was ignorant of a lot of things back then, but at the same time, my feelings were sincere and as worthy as anybody else’s, or as any I have had since — in fact, I have never felt anything as intense since: that’s the way of growing up. I loved and I suffered and I took joy from loving even without return. Because I was strikingly unoriginal in my choice of love object, there were several boys at the school in unrequited love with the same girl, and as far as I could tell, they weren’t walking around in some sort of cloud of male privilege. They were in the same spot I was. We were decent, ordinary kids going through an ordinary experience in an ordinary way, which was a human way, not a male or a female way.
Likewise, when I was an undergraduate I had a close male friend with exceptional, boyish good looks, who was tall to boot, and also had a pleasant, outgoing disposition and some interesting skills and was at ease with girls and women. As you can imagine, girls flocked to him, but — the world’s perverse like that — he just wasn’t, and isn’t, particularly interested in sex (one percent of the population isn’t, apparently). He was sick of having to turn people down, and sick of having his looks discussed as though they were the most valuable thing about him, and sick of being assumed to be homosexual, and sick of having friendships ruined because his friend turned out to be nursing a crush. But he didn’t make it into some sort of gender war. There was no need to.
So when I read or hear people heaping scorn on Nice Guys and calling them creeps, I flinch, because it’s unneccessarily cruel, and blind to some basic facts about life and human nature, and above all because it’s likely to turn many of those poor Nice Guys into angry, bitter anti-feminists.
Have you read Radicalizing The Romanceless at SSC yet? If not, you should really check it out since it’s pretty much identical in idea but is a much more in-depth analysis.
All, this has mirrored my feelings for many women and even a few girls my age. However, I also find it obnoxious when the people around me assume I’m in the “friend zone”. The vast majority (about 80%) of my friends are female. This is simply because (IRL) I get along better with females than males. However, so many guys I see feel entitled to shout “FRIEND ZONED!!!” at me when they see me in a group of girls and it seriously pisses me off!
Thanks for another great read :). I think the Feministe quote is OK actually. I tend to like Feministe fine, but I can’t stand Jezebel. Certainly the storyline ‘get through the levels, then you automatically get rewarded with the girl’ exists, and is pretty pervasive, and has a hold on most of us to some degree (Agnès Varda touches on this in her ’88 film Kung-Fu Master, about the love affair between a fourteen-year-old boy and a forty-year-old woman.) It’s just really overused as an explanation.
I count myself very lucky to have gone to a small, friendly, fairly relaxed secondary school where it was perfectly normal for girls and boys of fourteen and fifteen to be friends, just to sit around together smoking and talking and playing chess. Sure, there were some kissing games, and some unrequited crushes and heartbreak, but that’s going to be the case in any situation. People didn’t really start pairing off till we got to be around sixteen, and even then, the year-group was so small and the feeling so siblingish by then that many looked outside the school, or at least outside the year group, for a boyfriend or girlfriend.
I think what Feministe said was mostly OK but the only thing in it that really gets me is:
“A Nice Guy™ will insist that he’s doing everything perfectly right, and that women won’t subordinate themselves to him properly because he’s “Too Nice™,” meaning that he believes women deserve cruel treatment and he would like to be the one executing the cruelty.”
…Which I’ve never witnessed out in the wild. I mean, I’ve no doubt there’s some asshole who’s like that, because every type of asshole exists somewhere, but it seems rather presumptuous to state this as a generic Nice Guy Fact. Most people don’t think that at all! The ones who do aren’t representative, they’re Weak Men.
Your school sounds nice. My secondary school was relaxed in terms of inter-gender friendship. However, this has more to do with the prevailing culture. It is completely normal for people of any gender to be friends with each other; I only stand out because of how skewed my circle of friends is. The idea that men and women simply can’t be friends is quite foreign. I mean that literally. If a foreigner came here making claims like that we wouldn’t even laugh, we’d just blatantly stare and wonder whether their brain got lost in transit.
On the other hand, my school was very religious (spent the whole time in the closet about my atheism) and did what it could, within the bounds of the culture, to make things difficult. For example: they made a rule against inter-gender hugging. My peers reacted with horror because how can you show friendship without copious displays of public affection!? So, of course, we always scanned the surroundings for teachers before hugging anyway 😛
BTW: Seeing as you’re the only person in the comments here (besides me) who’s admitted to being a feminist (that I know of), I’d like to know your opinion on the debate I’m having with Tom below. (I’d also like for Jed Jones’ to weigh in but I’m not sure how to attract his attention.)
LOL – Nice Guys get in the way of the feminist theory that all men are bastards, so they demonize Nice Guys as wannabe bastards who long for the chance. How ingenious. They should work for Russia Today.
Feminism is probably the broadest church in human thought, but the menace that casts its shadow over all that’s being discussed under this blog entry is the shrill voices of a few militants – the feminist Taliban – who shout over the others, gagging everyone else by pronouncing what is and isn’t politically correct, and what is and isn’t heresy. They presume to speak for all feminists and all women and their narratives of hate increasingly prevail in the mainstream media.
“Nice Guys get in the way of the feminist theory that all men are bastards, so they demonize Nice Guys as wannabe bastards who long for the chance.”
I think it has more to do with NGs being low-status and, thus, easier punching bags than other men (even actual misogynists!)
Then again, I could be wrong. I’m pretty sure the reason TERFs hate trans people is because we violate their theories of gender.
I kinda like RT. It’s funny to watch them blatantly wank to every crisis in the West.
“Feminism is probably the broadest church in human thought”
I’m pretty sure that’s Catholicism 🙂
Feminism’s scope is somewhat limited outside of the developed world. Even within the developed world, it’s way too fractious to compete with the Church of St. Peter.
Moreover, women and girls in the families of falsely accused men suffer too, in the name of feminism. The consequences of open season for vindictive false accusers are already happening. I’m surprised the teachers’ unions haven’t spoken out about the prevalence of false allegations of sexual impropriety against teachers. Kids aren’t stupid. They have realised the easiest way to get revenge on a teacher over some grievance or other is by pointing a finger and screaming “paedophile!” Everyone believes the accuser.
You bet. I knew of a case in which some kids took a dislike to a teacher over bad grades or something and five of them, four girls and a boy, ages thirteen and fourteen, accused him of touching thm up. He was suspended on full pay and eventually cleared, but not until he’d spent a year under house arrest.
Wow. Can you link to the news story? (I’m assuming this showed up in the media.)
Not that I know of, actually, and I can’t recall any names.
Then how’d you come across it?
” If you expand the definitions of sexual assault beyond what most of us thought “rape” was growing up to include intoxication, emotional blackmail, threats to tell secrets, etc. then along with male-on-female sex crimes going up a lot, female-on-male crimes go up astronomically — the amount of that kind of thing is roughly equal.”
You beat me to the punch. I was going to reference the same thing. I’d like to point out that the same is true of spousal abusive. Once you loosen up on the “violence” in “domestic violence”, the sexes are equally manipulative.
“a woman ought to be able to say, “You’ve got to promise to eat me out for ten minutes before intercourse, and I’m not going to do the same for you. Still up for it?””
Should? Yes. Do they? No. For some reason, people tend not to like negotiating, even when the deal is mutually beneficial. As an aspiring economist, this drives me up the wall.
How’d this end up over here? This is a reply to Ethan way below. WordPress is weird…
I basically agree with you on all of this. The video of the woman walking steadily clinches it for me: if she was able to walk steadily, she was either able to consent to sex or she was having a brownout, possibly, but the men couldn’t have been expected to realise that because there she was, walking steadily. Compare with, for example, the Steubenville case, in which the girl was either unconscious or nearly so the whole time. She certainly couldn’t walk steadily.
However, I do want to make four points:
Her being no stranger to this sort of situation wouldn’t have madee it any less rape, if it had been. That’s not a million miles away from the idea of ‘used goods’ (which I am certainly not accusing anybody here of holding).
Her going back with them to their hotel room wouldn’t have made it any less rape, if it had been. I think we can agree that in this instance she knew what she was going there for, but if we let ideas about implicit consent get legally entrenched, well, that simply cannot end well. Because imagine this: You are a young woman staying in a hotel and you get chatting to an older man who seems positively avuncular and puts you at his ease by talking about his wife and kids. He asks you up to his hotel room to look at some family photos. You feel a bit hesitant and odd about that but he’s been so nice that you mentally castigate yourself for your vague suspicions, and anyway, you don’t want to be a BITCH, do you? Of course not. So up you go and he rapes you. Or imagine this: Your girlfriend is away and you are determined to stay faithful to her. You get a bit tipsy with your gay flatmate and he offers you a blowjob. You agree, telling yourself that it doesn’t really count because you’ll be thinking of your girlfriend the whole time and it’s only once anyway. So you lie down on his bed and he forces you into anal sex. I think we can agree that those scenarios are both rape, and I feel sure that they happen quite a lot, especially the first one — and I also feel sure that every time, somebody’s ready to say, “Well, what did you expect? It’s your fault.” Sometimes that somebody is an internalised voice inside your own head. Young girls writing in to Scarleteen.com to say they have been raped very, very often blame themselves: why were they out walking at night, why were they sitting around a campfire with a group of male friends, why did they sit on the sofa with him, etc. etc. They don’t need any help in the self-blame department. They’ve got that down.
There is no one way that people do or should react after being raped. We all react to things in different ways (I know, shocker) and sometimes people who have been raped will becom very calm and practical.
David Lisak’s excellent, meticulous research into rape has found that the most common method for rapists to use is alcohol: they do sex to people whom they know are too drunk to consent. And if we (we meaning everybody — this post is clearly worded as always) discuss this kind of thing without being careful about what words we choose, without making it clear that it’s pretty unusual, if only because most people are not footballers with the big bucks to dish out in compensation, whereas people being raped when they are so drunk as to be incoherent and unable to stand is not particularly unusual, well, we do everyone a disservice.
Thanks A. for this note of caution.
Thanks to you for the note of appreciation!
Fact is, you do us a service here by illustrating very vividly what it is to be a young woman in an often hostile world. It’s something I’m glad to be reminded of from time to time. As a girl teenager interviewed on the radio yesterday said (of her attempted suicide): “I just didn’t see any point in living. Nobody liked me”. So be it street harassment, unheeded accusations of rape, coming to terms with earlier abuse, or whatever, keep those comments coming.
Thank you. I am touched. 🙂
(Reply to A, in case this comment doesn’t appear where it should) I second that. Your perspective is vital here. If rapists’ preferred MO is to get their victims so drunk they can’t walk or speak, let alone consent to sex, then 90% of ‘predatory’ male night clubbers who use alcohol to seduce women are in danger of being mistaken for a rapist – or even becoming one, though that was not the initial intent. You seem to be implying the research indicates that rapists typically set out to rape from the get-go?
In your two examples… suppose the girl follows the man to his room and continues to succumb to his demands reluctantly, through sympathy (especially if he plies her with alcohol)? What if I acquiesce in the demands of my gay flatmate after a few drinks? In neither case does the protagonist emerge smelling of roses but neither is it rape. But the courts are faced with the impossible task of trying to tell the difference.
As you show with your example, women can be the ‘predators’ and men the ‘prey’, especially when you take the gay clubs into account. Binge-drinking culture is fraught with dangers anyway, without moving the goal posts of what counts as rape and the rules of evidence when trying to prove it.
The search for possible solutions leads me to consider the legalisation of brothels to ease the intensity of club culture (saunas already do this for lesbians and gay men, some reserve special nights of the week for transgendered people and their admirers, etc). IMO football clubs should promote these alternatives, given that binge drinking and match fitness are incompatible, anyway.
“suppose the girl follows the man to his room and continues to succumb to his demands reluctantly, through sympathy (especially if he plies her with alcohol)? What if I acquiesce in the demands of my gay flatmate after a few drinks?”
That doesn’t sound like consent. That sounds like letting the person who’s harassing you do what they want because it’s the path of least resistance.
@ James: I think it does matter whether it’s sympathy or something else, as I said to Jed. I guess it’s the difference between “PLEASE give me a slice of your birthday cake, I’m SO hungry, and chocolate’s my favourite” — “Oh alright then…” and “You’d better give me a slice of that cake right now or else I’ll just take one and I’ll spit on the rest while I’m at it.” — “OK, I’ll give you one, just calm down.”
Ah. I see what you mean. Of course, if you’re begging and getting them drunk, it looks a bit manipulative…
Thanks to you too :).
I’m referring to David Lisak’s research on the MO of unreported rapists. Whether or not they set out to rape from the get-go isn’t addressed in his papers, but given that they typically rape several times, I would guess that at least some of those rapes aren’t spur-of-the moment things.
According to my personal moral compass, sex after a few drinks is fine. Sex after so many drinks that you don’t know what’s happening and/or can’t communicate effectively is not. Giving in reluctantly out of sympathy is OK. Sympathy is a positive motivation, even if the experience of the sex is no fun. Giving in reluctantly out of fear is not OK. I doubt there are many people out there claiming rape because they ‘pity fucked’ someone, unless perhaps the pity was brought about by false pretences.
I support legalising sex work anyway, because everything I’ve read suggests that that helps to keep sex workers safer.
Thank you for this excellent summary of my feelings! It’s like you read my mind. Admittedly, I only pointed out the first one in my own comment, but that was because it was long enough already 🙂
(I hope Tom can forgive me for hitting his blog hard and fast with all these thoughts all at once. PS: Happy All Saints / Día de Muertos everyone! (Even if you don’t celebrate it where you live 🙂 ))
No problem, except that my reply, on two key points, somehow appeared in the wrong place.
Good question, that last one. I cannot know any more than you as I was not a juror, but this would be one way to rationalise the jury’s different verdicts, if they had considered both reasonable belief and capability to consent, especially if the judge had directed them so to do (which presumably he did).
This does not mean hard evidence of the latter was compelling, or more so than the CPS barrister’s theatrics, emotional manipulation, and assassination of Ched’s character (out of all recognition by his family and everyone who knows him personally who has commented publicly about this).
The premise of both verdicts, that the woman must have been so intoxicated there could be no reasonable doubt that she was incapable of consenting to sex, seems fundamentally flawed to me. There was little direct evidence of her state of mind at the crucial time, and no way to be sure what it was.
Yes, there is little evidence of her state of mind, which alone makes it all but impossible to be sure she did not consent to sex with both men. More positively, there was substantial evidence to show that Clayton had very good grounds to believe she was both willing and able.
Although she was clearly a bit tipsy at the kebab shop, nobody disputes that she said she wanted to go, in the middle of the night, with Clayton to his hotel. Did she think she was going to watch video replays of Clayton’s best soccer performances? I don’t think so. She was also the one who hailed the taxi. There is also very clear video footage of her entering the hotel foyer. She is seen walking normally, in high wedge shoes. She is also seen going back out to where the taxi was. Here she retrieves a pizza box that Clayton had left on the pavement while running after the taxi to get it back: the pair wrongly thought she had left her handbag in the cab.
So she has to bend down in her high shoes to pick up the pizza box and carry it back into the hotel, opening a door on the way while holding the box. She does not falter. OK, she was well over the drink-drive limit but not over the drink-walk limit or the drink-talk limit.
Is she over the drink-sex limit? On his website, Ched gives a link to the law on this point and I’d say it supports his view. He cites R v Bree (http://lexisweb.co.uk/cases/2007/march/r-v-bree ) The last sentence of the summary says: “However, where the complainant had voluntarily consumed even substantial amounts of alcohol but nevertheless remained capable of choosing whether or not to have intercourse, and in drink had agreed to do so, that would not be rape.”
The video is on Ched’s site here:
Too drunk to consent, too drunk to remember?
Incidentally, as an example of how the media can give a distorted presentation, the text of the story in the Daily Mail blackens the picture as much as possible against these guys. The same page also features the same hotel video as on Ched’s site but there is a crucial difference: using the implicit excuse of maintaining the anonymity of the “victim”, the Mail blurs out not just the woman’s face but almost the entire action! Thus they are able to get away with supposedly damning footage when actually it is quite the opposite! Here’s the Mail version:
Well, this is quite an interesting case. Never heard of it. For the most part, I only watch foreign news for the politics and economics. This case seems more than a little deranged.
“McDonald admitted having sex with her (as did Evans) and the jurors acquitted him of rape […] But those same jurors convicted Evans”
Hold on, what? This is possible? What exactly distinguishes these two? How can one be guilty while the other is innocent for the same action? Y U NO CONSEQUENTIALISM!?
“The only reason a rape case was brought at all was because the police decided to pursue it.”
How did the police even get involved in the first place? This doesn’t seem like the type of thing that should be able to happen.
“Even the prosecution never claimed she was a stranger to this sort of situation.”
Could we please avoid implicit reference to her sexual character?
“whether “convicted rapist” Evans should be allowed to resume his career in football”
What’s he gonna do? Drug and shag the goalpost?
“star-struck Charlie confessed she wanted to get a photo of former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson.”
To be a completely cynical arse: Mike’s media firestorm is over so there’s no political capital to be gained from attacking him.
“A woman had consented to sex and duly engaged in penetrative intercourse, only to discover later that her partner was not, as she had supposed, a man, but a woman in drag using a dildo under cover of darkness. The court upheld the view that the consent was not valid and a sexual offence had taken place.”
That seems… odd. I mean, that’s obviously not OK but it hardly seems comparable to fabricating a multi-year relationship and having kids. I think the standard for whether deception = rape should be whether it has long-term consequences (there’s that Consequentialism again). Fabricating a relationship or passing on HIV have long-term consequences and should be prevented by law. Claiming to be 2 inches taller, a year older, or in possession of a non-cosmetic penis are all dick-moves (pun unintended) but not life-shattering. They just leave you pissed-off in the morning. Of course, I’m trans so I may be biased here.
BTW: Anyone here read/watched Yentl?
I don’t quite understand why sexual violence is usually punished disproportionately harshly in comparison with physical violence. By all means, I’m not saying that actual rape should not be punished, but, somewhat unpoetically speaking, the Pussy was created to put that gadget inside, whereas noses have not been created to be broken by a fist, lungs do not exist to be perforated by a knife, and kidneys are not there to be smashed by a gang of thugs with iron bars. So, why are violent criminals often treated much softer than people who have committed so-called sexual assault, even in cases of “technical rape” such as this one?
I agree that the disconnect between punishment for physical and sexual violence seems unreasonable, but I wouldn’t say this has any relation to what something is or isn’t ‘for’. That’s a rather teleological outlook and (at risk of being lynched by Edmund and Linca) I don’t see a place for teleology in the law. Who cares what the vagina was “made for”? The mouth and the anus sure weren’t made for sex but I’m not about to restrict anyone there. And what about lesbians? Surely the fact that their vaginas were “made for” penises is not a reason why they should be expected to have sex with men?
The standard for criminality should be harm. Breaking bones causes a lot harm, but so does coerced sex. (Though it’s not, as some would claim a “fate worse than death”.)
But see, though, sugarboy, the thing about the Pussy is that it has very few nerve endings. It was not created to orgasm or even feel particularly good from having that gadget inside. Most women who enjoy intercourse do so largely because they are already turned on, there’s some clitoral stimulation going on around the same time, they’re attracted to their partner and like seeing him get off, they care about their partner and like helping him get off, etc. The Pussy was also created to remain unlubricated and collapsed against itself unless its owner is aroused, to the extent that insertion of anything when its owner is not aroused is at the least uncomfortable and can be very painful.
Evo Psych has lots to say on this subject. Why are most men built with a strong desire to put the tab into the slot rather than just masturbating? To pass on genes. While women are built with a strong desire to get tab in slot on the right occasions, who does the inserting and when matters a great deal for reproductive fitness, and attitudes have evolved accordingly. Men have to accept the passion behind that selectivity kind of on faith. Women in turn ought to accept on faith the male desire to put tab into just about any plausibly fertile willing slot — not as justification for action but as a largely immutable impulse.
With regard to the average for each sex, it seems you are correct, but there is so much individual variation, with some women being not at all selective and some men being very selective, that it is a bit difficult to make statements about what each sex should collectively do (and the sexes don’t tend to act collectively anyway).
I also have the feeling that many women would be more into casual sex were it more widely acknowledged that sex isn’t just P-in-V. The ‘orgasm gap’ between men and women shrinks in long-term relationships, largely, it seems, because many men are more willing to give oral sex to a girlfriend than to a one-night stand. In one-night stands, women are more likely to give oral sex than to get it. So a woman who doesn’t seek out one-night stands is quite likely doing so because she knows the experience is unlikely to be as pleasurable for her as masturbation.
Basically I’m saying that evo-psych can offer excellent explanations for the phenomena we are observing but that those explanations aren’t the whole picture. There are always sociocultural factors at work as well.
Evo Psych doesn’t say women won’t do casual sex. There’s evidence that when they are in a fertile phase they are more likely to find an alpha-male type male attractive, implying a bit of evolutionary nudge for cheating. I’m addressing the “rape” idea that (on average) they really, really don’t want sex unless they get to say yes or no, according to whatever criteria they use. But I have heard that about the orgasm gap and it’s interesting.
Well, most people like being able to say yes or no to sex. While I certainly get the ev-psych behind what you are describing, I think there is an element there, too, of this being something many men have a hard time thinking about in realistic terms because it has never really been an issue for them. They can’t imagine very well what forced sex might be like, how unpleasant it might be, because they have never come close to it. Then again, it depends what you’re saying yes or no to: the sex that is considered THE sex gets most men off and fails to do the same for most women. If the sex that was considered THE sex was cunnilingus (not that that would happen), you’d probably see men being more anxious about being able to refuse, and women being less so — though, because of what ev psych tells us, it probably would not be one hundred percent reversed.
Regarding the older post, yes indeed, culture has a lot to do with it, and much can be changed. I can’t think of one case in sexual relations where biology is an excuse for bad behavior. The position that it’s all culture and patriarchy is the one I hear people raise more often.
A fascinating study went by on SEXNET. If you expand the definitions of sexual assault beyond what most of us thought “rape” was growing up to include intoxication, emotional blackmail, threats to tell secrets, etc. then along with male-on-female sex crimes going up a lot, female-on-male crimes go up astronomically — the amount of that kind of thing is roughly equal. You can bet a lot of men have given cunnilingus who really didn’t feel like it. What I think evo psych explains is the depth and ferocity of revulsion at rape.
As for casual sex being negotiated, I should think a woman ought to be able to say, “You’ve got to promise to eat me out for ten minutes before intercourse, and I’m not going to do the same for you. Still up for it?” I think tons of men would jump at the chance, and women would still be more reluctant. In my experience, use of fingers on clitoris gives a more integrated experience of both having pleasure at once.
Do you remember the name of the Sexnet study? I think I may have seen something similar.
And I certainly wish more young girls felt confident enough to say stuff like that. Scarleteen.com can be extremely depressing in this regard: it is full of posts from teen girls convinced something is wrong with them because they can’t orgasm from insertion of a penis or fingers into the vagina, and sometimes from teen boys convinced something is wrong with *them* (penis too small, they often worry) because their girlfriends can’t.
Oh and (failure to consolidate again) several of the boys in Theo Sandfort’s Boys on their Contacts with Men seemed to put a lot of importance on being asked first before sex, on talking things over beforehand, on their ability and right to say no.
Actually, moderating shorter posts feels easier! The coherence of the well constructed longer post is good but there’s definitely a place for afterthoughts.
Good to know!
Also, Ozy Frantz claims that a lot of women experience a general increase in libido during menstruation (particularly if there are no debilitating cramps). In Ozy’s personal experience, it brings zir estimation of “alpha males” from “rather not” to “alright”, and zir estimation of “beta males” from “fuck yeah” to “take me NOW”.
That’s interesting. I had the impression that an uptick in sexual desire around ovulation, due to the testosterone spike, was most common (and we can certainly see the adaptive function there) but, of course, progesterone levels drop when you are about to start menstruating and that can have much the same effect.
As usual, the body is weird and complex and hormones work in hard to predict ways. Speaking of hormones and libido, Ozy also believes that part of the reason (cisgender) men have higher average libidos than women is the balance of androgens/oestrogens. They base this on the fact that transwomen tend to experience a decrease in libido during hormonal transition while transmen experience an increase.
You may be interested in Terri Conley’s recent research on this topic. Thomas MacAuley Millar at the Yes Means Yes blog has written a detailed breakdown of it under the title ‘Gender Differences and Casual Sex’. The comments on that post are well worth reading too.
Thanks. Basically the same thing I said here. You might like this post and, indeed, the author 🙂
Wow! What a data goldmine! Thank you!
Regarding what she says on women’s rape fantasies (I don’t think that is quite the right term, because by definition nobody wants to be raped, but anyway), I’d add that as far as I recall, the two studies I have seen on this both found that women and men reported having ever fantasised about being held down/tied up etc. at roughly the same rate: 50%ish. Though women were quite a bit more likely than men to say that these fantasies were among their favourites, the women who said so were quite a small minority of all women. So why don’t we hear a bit more about men’s rape fantasies and what they tell us about what men really want?
Interestingly enough, I was recently in a conversation about these same fantasies. I mentioned that, while I don’t mind that others have them, I can’t stomach the concept at all. I found that I was in the minority among the people I was speaking to since most of them (male and female) got off on it quite a bit.
If you like that post, you might be interested in Ozy’s post about LGBT people. Of course, everything on the Slate Star Codex is great and you should definitely check it out 🙂
(Since you’re here, I assume you don’t mind the occasional criticism of the feminist movement, because that comes up every now and then at SSC. However, rest assured that they are completely pro-equality.)
Doesn’t do anything for me, either. Ah, well, long live difference.
Thanks again for the link. I certainly don’t mind criticism of the feminist movement as long as it is, y’know, reasonable.
On male vs female libido: it does seem that the bell curves peak at slightly different points, but I wonder about the way these things are measured. In ‘Rethinking “Lesbian Bed Death” ‘ Margaret Nichols points out that while female-female couples have sex a bit less often than female-male couples, their sexual sessions last longer on average (60 rather than 30 minutes) and they are more likely to say they always orgasm during sex (90% rather than 73%). Informal polling of my friends suggest that it is likewise fairly common for women to have fewer but longer and more multiply orgasmic masturbation sessions than men. I’ve been meaning to get round to reading Daniel Bergner’s book What do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, in which he apparently argues that women’s sexual desire is higher than most have given it credit for. He is a journalist, not a professional scientist, but still, it’ll be interesting to see the arguments he puts forth.
On what Ozy Frantz says about Female Paraphilias: Do They Exist?: there are certainly plenty of women into BDSM, and a quick look through the Paraphilias Forums section of psychforums.com, or through the Virtuous Pedophiles website, reveals a fair sprinkling of female paedo- and hebephiles. That women tend to go to VirPed and Paraphilias Forums, rather than BoyChat and GirlChat, also suggests a lot of guilt about these attractions, and, of course, most people going to lie about something they feel guilty about. But CL and BDSM are pretty standard as non-standard sexual interests go, also pretty general. I *would* be quite surprised to hear of a woman who had a really strong foot fetish, say. Female sexuality appears to be, on average, a bit more fluid and less category-specific than male sexuality, hence the lack of very specific paraphilias.
“Thanks again for the link. I certainly don’t mind criticism of the feminist movement as long as it is, y’know, reasonable.”
Don’t worry. It’s not crazy anger, just frustration that their natural allies are occasionally bonkers. For an example of the type of criticism I’m talking about, see Social Justice and words, words, words. (BTW: Most posts on the Slate Star Codex are made by Ozy’s boyfriend, Scott. It’s actually his site. Ozy’s official blog is at Thing of Things but they occasionally guest-post at SSC.)
“In ‘Rethinking “Lesbian Bed Death”‘ Margaret Nichols points out that while female-female couples have sex a bit less often than female-male couples, their sexual sessions last longer on average (60 rather than 30 minutes) and they are more likely to say they always orgasm during sex (90% rather than 73%).”
So maybe women, on average, prefer longer and less frequent over shorter and more frequent? I should ask Ozy whether preferences for length of sexual session change during transition as well.
“Female sexuality appears to be, on average, a bit more fluid and less category-specific than male sexuality, hence the lack of very specific paraphilias.”
The impression I’ve gotten from both watching porn for men and reading porn for women is that they both have very specific paraphilias but they’re of a dramatically different nature. Men tend to fetishise specific objects, actions or body parts while women will fetishise an entire setting, narrative or personality type. However, both tend to experience the same type of lurid obsession. Once you look at it this way, the entire paranormal romance genre looks like fetish porn 🙂
You might like to look through the tags on Archive of Our Own to see just how many things women will fetishise 😉
Well, there’s the whole slash fiction genre, isn’t there…
Oh, and (sorry, Tom, to keep posting, I just keep remembering things) have you read Elizabeth Lloyd’s excellent book The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution? Lloyd goes through the varied arguments that have been made for the adaptiveness of female orgasm and explains why she disagrees with each one. She finds some pretty glaring methodological errors in some, and then, of course, there are two really major problems: female orgasm is only very weakly, if at all, correlated with reproductive success, and most women reach orgasm from just intercourse, with no clitoral stimulation, either rarely or never. Her provisional conclusion is the same as Donald Symons’s: female orgasm serves no evolutionary function. Like male nipples, it is a happy accident, a hangover from our pre-sexual differentiation days in utero.
No problem, A, it’s all good stuff.
Thanks. I just need to consolidate my posts!
Sounds like you’re refering to sociosexual orientation, for which there is huge individual and cultural variation. Enough that it’s a bit misleading to talk about “women” and “men” in this regard, even if their bell curves peak at different points.
Nope, not yet, but have you seen Mein Freund aus Faro?
Nope, but I will now. Given Tomboy and Yentl I suppose it’s only natural that you picked up on my interest in movies with cross-dressing 🙂
Is it any surprise that my favourite Shakespearean play is Twelfth Night?
Nope, not surprising, though Shakespeare has a lot to pick from in that regard, to be sure…
I mentioned MFAF for two reasons: one, the cross-dressing, and two, a relationship, and sex, based on deception. The film is apparently based on a true story.
Same reason I mentioned Yentl, which is quite a nice story/movie.
BTW: I can’t find MFAF anywhere online, besides a (German) trailer. Have you seen it? Do you know where I can find it?
It used to be available in full on YouTube, but things do tend to disappear from there sometimes, unfortunately.
The copyright police strike again!
[SORRY, THIS IS MEANT TO BE A REPLY TO JAMES. SEEMS TO HAVE POPPED UP IN THE WRONG PLACE.]
I’m all in favour of avoiding prejudice against a witness but not when it’s going to be at the expense of excluding evidence that could exonerate a defendant who might otherwise go to prison for years, as happened in this case. Consider the potential harm to each party. Prejudice against a prosecution witness in a case like this may damage the woman’s reputation. That is harmful but nothing like as bad as going to prison for a long time and having your reputation, career and practically every aspect of your life smashed – all of which is doubly painful if you happen to be innocent.
There is a general presumption in the English courts against including evidence of a complainant’s prior sexual behaviour but the judge is able to allow such evidence on application from the defence.
According to Ched Evans’s website, the defence did not introduce evidence of sexual character. It is claimed that, had they done so, they would have been able to show the woman was (a) “promiscuous” and (b) had falsely alleged rape on a previous occasion. See question 5 of FAQ: http://www.chedevans.com/frequently-asked-questions
Basically, I agree, although I would add a caveat: causing high danger of serious harm is almost as bad as actual serious harm e.g. I think driving drunkenly at high speed past a school entrance when the kids are leaving would be murderously reckless and should incur a very stiff penalty even if no one was actually hit.
While I am at it, I might just add that I had planned to write the blog in a more explicitly consequentialist way, even though I see consequentialism as just one tool in the ethical toolbag, not the whole kit. I wanted to spend more time comparing the level of harm in the footballer case with that of the undercover cops, bringing in a thoroughly consequentialist conclusion that would emphasise taking each case on its merits, or rather on the harm or potential harm involved. Indeed, my first thought for a headline was “Taking each case on its merits”. That is why I took the two cases together rather than in separate blogs.
My only reason for not sticking to the plan was that following it through would have taken several hundred more words and I was starting to fret that it was already getting a bit long. I could perhaps have cut out some of the jokey bits but I’m not sure readers would want a dourly solemn piece in dry academic prose.
Maybe do part two next week?
So many topics begging for attention. Must move on! I hope my latest clarification sufficiently hints at what I would have said. Glad there’s some interest anyway.
@TOC: Is this reply from you or someone else? For now I’ll assume it was you. I’m pretty sure this is nested under my comment but doesn’t look so because that comment has generated a lot of discussion.
Falsely alleging rape on a previous occasion is worth bringing up. However, sexual character is not. When sexual character is brought up, it’s just slut shaming. It’s only function is to degrade the plaintiff in the eyes of the court. It would be roughly equivalent to the prosecution in a murder trial pointing to the defendant and saying: “look at this man! See how black he is? How could he not have killed her?”
(Before you say that sexual character is an indication of whether they might have done this, while race is not: African-Americans have a higher rate of violent crime so, technically, this is Bayesian evidence. However, that doesn’t mean it should be admissible evidence.)
Pointing to the fact that someone’s had lots of sex in the past as a defense for rape is basically a way of saying ‘sluts’ lack the protection of the law. How are people supposed to feel sexually liberated if their consensual activity can and will be used against them in a court of law? Furthermore, if a peadophile were convicted of molestation with evidence including the fact that they had lolicon on their computer, would you be so quick to call the evidence ‘admissible’?
“would have taken several hundred more words”
My favourite posts on my favourite blog have all been >10,000 words so you definitely wouldn’t hear any complaints from me!
>Falsely alleging rape on a previous occasion is worth bringing up. However, sexual character is not. When sexual character is brought up, it’s just slut shaming. It’s only function is to degrade the plaintiff in the eyes of the court. It would be roughly equivalent to the prosecution in a murder trial pointing to the defendant and saying: “look at this man! See how black he is? How could he not have killed her?”
>(Before you say that sexual character is an indication of whether they might have done this, while race is not: African-Americans have a higher rate of violent crime so, technically, this is Bayesian evidence. However, that doesn’t mean it should be admissible evidence.)
The two examples are not comparable. Being black in some cultures may be associated with higher crimes rates but to impute such behaviour to a particular black person would certainly be prejudicial: most African-Americans are not involved in crime and, even if 99% were, the person on trial may be the exception.
A person’s sexual character, by contrast, is their own sexual character, not a statistical generalisation based on an entire community or ethnicity.
>… it’s just slut shaming. It’s only function is to degrade the plaintiff in the eyes of the court.
It need not be a matter of moral judgment at all. It certainly isn’t on my part. I’m totally OK with casual encounters if the participants are up for it. In a court of law, as opposed to trolling someone as a slag on social media, the function is to help determine on the basis of all the relevant evidence whether a defendant is guilty and if (in a case like this) they should go to prison for a long time.
Are you saying sexual character evidence is not relevant? If so, I think that would go against what legal minds have brought to the issue. The usual thinking is that such evidence is relevant but its probative value might be outweighed by the prejudicial effect. So it becomes a matter for the judge, if it is put for him, to weigh the pros and cons. Are you saying a judge would never be right to allow sexual character evidence?
Also, your example of a black person on trial for murder missed my main point, which was that particular care is needed not to introduce prejudice that could convict an innocent person. You are invoking the very high presumption against prejudicial evidence that is required when a person’s liberty is at stake and misapplying it to protect another witness in the case (the complainant).
>Pointing to the fact that someone’s had lots of sex in the past as a defense for rape is basically a way of saying ‘sluts’ lack the protection of the law.
This is a danger, so here you are making a good point. This is why the usual presumption is against introducing sexual character evidence. But the presumption is a rebuttable one, depending on the circumstances. Would you prefer ideological inflexibility to replace judicial discretion? Would this be wise? How can you be sure that inflexibility would be right in each case? How do you know, without considering a wide range of cases?
> How are people supposed to feel sexually liberated if their consensual activity can and will be used against them in a court of law?
This is a different point. The criminal courts are not there to promote sexual liberation or sexual conservatism. They are there for the much more urgently serious business of deciding an individual’s fate. Other considerations need to be firmly subordinated to that objective. Your point here would have some force if the consequence of anyone’s consensual activity being used against them in court were that they were arrested in court and sent for trial themselves. But nobody is suggesting that the woman in the Ched Evans case risks facing charges for being “promiscuous” on previous occasions.
If it could be shown that she had previously made a false allegation of rape and was lying on oath about the present case, it would be different. Then she could be charged with perjury, and quite rightly so.
>Furthermore, if a peadophile were convicted of molestation with evidence including the fact that they had lolicon on their computer, would you be so quick to call the evidence ‘admissible’?
Again, this takes me back to my central point. This example, like the African-American charged with murder, concerns someone whose liberty is at stake (and perhaps even life in the murder case). In both these cases it is vital to avoid prejudice. Where the complainant or any other witness apart from a defendant is concerned, it is very desirable to avoid prejudice but this aim may be trumped by the overriding need to air all the evidence relevant to the defence.
“most African-Americans are not involved in crime and, even if 99% were, the person on trial may be the exception.”
100% true and 100% applicable to promiscuous women. What seems to be the problem? Methinks the coroner doth protest too much….
“In a court of law, as opposed to trolling someone as a slag on social media, the function is to help determine on the basis of all the relevant evidence whether a defendant is guilty and if (in a case like this) they should go to prison for a long time.”
That’s what’s supposed to happen. Does it happen? Does it really cause the jury to rationally update their estimate of guilt, rather than their estimate of the plaintiffs worth as a human being? Not a chance.
“Are you saying a judge would never be right to allow sexual character evidence?”
Depends what you mean by “sexual character”. I have seen nothing to suggest that promiscuous people have a higher likelihood of making a false accusation of rape, therefor it would not be evidence in favour of the accusation being false. Unless there is a scientifically grounded reason to believe that this pushes the prior in favour of “false”, the judge should not consider it. If there is such a reason, I retract my complaint.
“Would you prefer ideological inflexibility to replace judicial discretion?”
Again, all I want is reason to believe that ‘sexual character’ is evidence in the proper statistical sense. I’ll base my ideology on whether the facts say it is or it isn’t. I wouldn’t want the defense to bring the complainant’s taste in music before the judge either, because it carries no evidential weight.
“This example, like the African-American charged with murder, concerns someone whose liberty is at stake (and perhaps even life in the murder case). In both these cases it is vital to avoid prejudice.”
Oh! You’re saying the need to avoid prejudice is important when it’s the defendant at risk. I’m afraid I only realised this was your point near the end. What I’d say to that is that the point of the trial is to find the truth. Any bias in any direction should be avoided. Prejudice is important to avoid because it leads to incorrect conclusions. This can mean freeing the guilty or (worse yet) imprisoning the innocent. Either way, it should be prevented.
I’ll take your two main points together:
I have seen nothing to suggest that promiscuous people have a higher likelihood of making a false accusation of rape, therefor it would not be evidence in favour of the accusation being false.
…all I want is reason to believe that ‘sexual character’ is evidence in the proper statistical sense.
These are reasonable questions and I believe I can give answers that you will find persuasive.
First of all, let’s establish that by “promiscuous” we mean no more than the main dictionary definition, which refers to having casual sexual relations with different partners and being indiscriminate, or relatively so, in choice of partners. This says absolutely nothing about a person’s honesty. To use evidence of promiscuity to cast doubt on a person’s honesty would be wrong. In some cases, no doubt, this would be the only reason for the defence to introduce sexual character evidence and the courts are right to exclude it in such cases.
In the Ched Evans case, though, the point of bringing the evidence would not be to claim the woman was a liar. The defence may well have been sceptical over her claim that she could not remember anything from the events inside the hotel on the night in question, but the point of bringing the evidence would not be to refute that claim or to imply any dishonesty on her part whatever. The point, rather, would be to show that, in light of her previous promiscuous behaviour, she was quite likely to have consented on this occasion (if she had not been too drunk to do so, but there is video, etc., evidence on that). This is indeed a matter of probability: it is not perhaps strictly “statistical”, to use your word, as there would be no hard figures and probability quotients to cite; nevertheless it would clearly be relevant evidence: because the woman said she had forgotten everything, probability is all there is to go on.
As mentioned earlier, in a criminal case the prosecution must prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. But, if it is quite likely she would have consented, this amounts to a huge chasm of doubt that rape took place, doesn’t it? That is why it was tragic this evidence could not be used.
I’ll agree that the memory loss brings in new complications. However, I object to the implicit claim about odds: that promiscuous individuals are more likely to say ‘yes’ to sex in a given encounter. While they say ‘yes’ more frequently than the less promiscuous, they also say ‘no’ more frequently. In general, promiscuous people are more likely to find themselves in situations where sex is likely/expected. (EG: Promiscuous women are more likely than virgins to be in the company of single men late at night.)
The fact that the woman in this case was promiscuous is evidence in favour of her going back to the hotel room, which is not under contention. However, I’m unsure whether it provides any evidence of a ‘yes’ over a ‘no’. That requires some thorough investigation and, given the statistical sophistication of the legal system, I doubt the courts have done so. I personally wouldn’t be surprised to find that more promiscuous women have a lower yes:no ratio than less promiscuous women, because how often are the latter asked compared to the former?
Also: If we’re going by pure odds, the majority of all sex is consensual, so you could make the argument that consent was likely regardless of sexual character.
One more thing: I don’t know if this has ever happened in the UK, but in a US case the court found that a prostitute had probably consented to a sexual encounter with the defendant because she slept with lots of clients. This despite the fact that he’d refused to pay her!
promiscuous individuals… say ‘yes’ more frequently than the less promiscuous, [and ] they also say ‘no’ more frequently.
Wow! On what basis do you say this? Most men know that most women are very choosey indeed and seem to take great delight in devoting their lives to saying “no”. In any case, I think it is the ratio that counts not the absolute quantity. See below.
If we’re going by pure odds, the majority of all sex is consensual, so you could make the argument that consent was likely regardless of sexual character.
Wouldn’t a more relevant comparison be how often sexual propositions are accepted compared to how often they are declined? More specifically, what would be the accept/decline ratio of a previously unknown man, a total stranger, asking a woman when they first meet? We would expect far more rejections than acceptances, wouldn’t we? The exact ratio does not matter though. The key point here is that a promiscuous woman will accept more often than the non-promiscuous one. On this basis, sexual character evidence would appear to be statistically relevant.
“On what basis do you say this?”
On the basis that, at the population level, the promiscuous and the non-promiscuous are different demographics. Promiscuous people have higher average openness, sociability, attractiveness, narcissism, etc. At the biological level, they have different genetic traits and hormonal patterns. They generally have different social circles and different behaviours (with average difference depending on degree). Promiscuous women are (again, on average) propositioned a lot, mostly due to the difference in the company they keep. If one girl spends her weekend in church and the other spends it at the club, which one is more likely to be asked for sex? Many people assume that the average promiscuous person has a lot of sex because they’re “easy” or have “low standards”. The truth is that they’re simply a different breed of people.
“Wouldn’t a more relevant comparison be how often sexual propositions are accepted compared to how often they are declined?”
We have to condition on the fact that sex has indeed occurred. This is the fact of the situation so the proper Bayesian approach is to eliminate all data points which are not relevant (ie: cases where no sex occurred).
“I think it is the ratio that counts not the absolute quantity.” [vs] “The exact ratio does not matter though. The key point here is that a promiscuous woman will accept more often than the non-promiscuous one.”
This seems a bit contradictory…
Your answer to my first question (On what basis do you say this?) is interesting and may be right, so I’m glad I asked it.
However, I don’t think it makes any difference to the question we should be asking. We are concerned not with the probability of a promiscuous woman turning down sexual opportunities but with the difference between the probability of a promiscuous woman accepting an offer and a non-promiscuous woman doing so. By definition, a promiscuous one will accept more often than a non-promiscuous one. Indeed, there are quite a few non-promiscuous women (celibate nuns, for example) who would never accept. And there are doubtless a good many promiscuous women who would always accept, especially the less attractive ones, who may have far fewer opportunities than they would wish but grab any chance with alacrity!
…the proper Bayesian approach is to eliminate all data points which are not relevant (ie: cases where no sex occurred).
Yes, eliminate irrelevant data; and, yes again, eliminate “cases where no sex occurred”. The relevant issue regarding sexual character is the decisions people make i.e. Will I, or will I not, accept this sexual offer? It is a psychological assessment not a copulation count. Whether any sex actually takes places after the decision is made (there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip) is irrelevant. The number of times a promiscuous woman rejects sex is also irrelevant, as is the proportion of her acceptances to rejections.
(Previous thread ran its course. Time to move over here.)
I’m afraid I’m terribly confused now. If we’re determining how likely it is that a given person accepted sex on a given occasion, I don’t see how anything but the ratio could be of use. Imagine one woman accepts 25% of advances and the other one accepts 40%. If you have to judge a case, it only makes sense to believe that woman #2 was more likely to have had sex consensually than woman #1. It doesn’t matter if woman #2 has accepted 2 out of 5 advances while woman #1 has accepted 10 out of 40.
The other thing is, the ranks of the infrequently shagged contain far more people who are unattractive, socially awkward or “Nice Guys” than nuns. The non-promiscuous are selected for being unwanted far more than for not wanting. Promiscuous people run the gamut of attractiveness but people who have sex often must be people who can have sex often, so they disproportionately cluster near the high end.
I am aware that there is a common idea that any woman can have sex with a guy if she wants. If she doesn’t, her standards are too high or she just isn’t trying. If she isn’t having sex, it’s because she rebuffs all comers. The thing is, this is almost always a conclusion guys who hang around guys come to due to selection effects. The girls they know are disproportionately the girls they want to sleep with (ie: more attractive). However, it looks very different on the other side. As someone who knows many, many girls I can vouch for them that when a girl says she can’t get laid, she bloody well can’t get laid!
I offer no challenge to either your calculations or your comments this time, James, as they seem fine. As for your confusion, I think it must be accounted for by our being slightly at cross-purposes. I was thinking of staying quiet and just giving you time to figure this out. You could then come back and explain to me in terms that could be understood by a small child or an intelligent cocker spaniel (to quote Jeremy Irons’s CEO character in one of those rather good Wall Street movies) precisely why I am wrong.
However, I see this morning you have invited others to join the debate (fine, the more the merrier), so I think perhaps for clarity I should review where I stand.
We started with this line in my Ched Evans blog:
“Even the prosecution never claimed she was a stranger to this sort of situation.”
You responded by saying “Could we please avoid implicit reference to her sexual character?”
As I clarified in the course of the thread, I see nothing wrong with casual sex and do not approve of trying to discredit anyone based on a moral judgment over having many sexual partners. You are against “slut shaming” and I agree wholeheartedly with that. It would be ironic, indeed, for me of all people to end up being successfully indicted as some sort of prude!
My claim, though, was that evidence of previous promiscuity (by which I mean, without moral judgment, being relatively unselective in choice of sexual partners and having a number of them, including for casual sex) on the part of the woman who suggested going to a hotel in the middle of the night with a man she had never met before was relevant to whether she was more likely to have consented to sex with that man, and also to a threesome with his friend, than a woman with no such background. We exchanged several posts as to whether such evidence would be valid; despite the interesting points you made, I remain convinced that it would be.
Whether such evidence is statistically valid is an important area of debate but I think our focus on it is in danger of obscuring why, if it is indeed valid, it should be admissible in a court of law in a case such as that of Ched Evans. Put very simply, it would be wrong, indeed utterly outrageous in my view, if political correctness were allowed to prevail over justice. We cannot just allow someone’s reputation and career to be trashed, and for them to be branded a criminal and sent to prison possibly for many years, when there is evidence that could cast serious doubt on the strength of the prosecution case.
Evidence of this sort is probabilistic. It cannot prove the defendant is innocent. In the absence (as in the Evans case) of concrete evidence either way it may nonetheless be vital. This is because it is a persuasive way of demonstrating that consent might well have been given or even probably would have been given in such circumstances by a woman with a history of sexual adventurousness; and also that Evans as well as his friend might reasonably have thought consent had been given even if the woman had been deemed too drunk to consent.
Use of such evidence would not in the Evans case imply that the woman was “immoral” and therefore likely to be a liar. That would be wrong. I am not suggesting her honesty should be put in doubt because of her sexual lifestyle, even if it might be contested on other grounds using independent evidence.
I would suggest also (though it is not essential to my case) that the average jury is more likely to include non-promiscuous women than promiscuous ones, simply because most women are quite selective and tend to go in for long-term partnerships more than one-night stands. In the absence of sexual character evidence they may simply assume that no woman would agree to the sort of sex that the two men claimed was consensual, especially the threesome part.
The objective, remember, is not to prove innocence but to cast legitimate doubt, based on real probabilities, on the bogus certainty of guilt that is asserted by the prosecution.
For the moment, at least, I rest my case.
PS James, this may be as good place as any to mention a recent paper on gender identity that may interest you and perhaps others. The paper, by Joel et al., is a free full-text download. You will find the URL for it in a Word file I have uploaded to Dropbox, along with a recent Sexnet thread discussing the paper.
The paper is “Queering gender: studying gender identity in ‘normative’ individuals”.
Here is the Dropbox URL:
James has asked me to join in. While I think, some starter comments:
Tom, you write that jurywomen “may simply assume that no woman would agree to the sort of sex that the two men claimed was consensual, especially the threesome part.” As one of the few readers of this blog who has been privy to the kind of conversations women have among themselves when no men are around, I *highly* doubt this. Promiscuous women are not average, but they are common enough, and the stigma against them has lifted enough by now, that almost any woman is going to know about at least one in her social circle. The two who spring immediately to mind in my case are a young woman who went on holiday determined to let her hair down and kept a semi-public tally of the number of young men she had sex with while there, feeling very proud of herself when she hit double digits, and another young woman whose exploits included having sex with four guys in three days, having sex on the stairs of her apartment building and having sex with a complete stranger in an alleyway. I also knew a third who had a great deal of casual sex while in an open relationship with a long-distance boyfriend, and a fourth who talked cheerfully and openly about her many flings and one-night stands. And my circle of acquaintance has never been very large or outstandingly promiscuous. In the US it would perhaps be possible to select for jurywomen who would make the kind of assumption you are describing, due to voir dire and the sheer number of evangelical Christians, but in the UK it would not.
There’s the — moral at least, if not also legal — question of harm. Accepting evidence of an accuser’s sexual history is likely to bias the jury against her and lead to a wrongful acquittal, and also likely to discourage rape victims from reporting in the future, and if fewer rapes are reported, more are likely, because rapists are more likely to think they can get away with it. Not accepting such evidence may, in some — probably quite few — cases, lead to a wrongful conviction. Which is worse? My gut says to favour the defendant, to uphold the presumption of innocence as strongly as possible. But really I don’t know.
A relevant case in Canadian law is Regina versus Darrach, available in full online. What do you both think of the arguments presented there?
Forgot a fifth example: a young woman I knew had a bet on with a male friend as to which of them would be the first to have some sort of sexual contact (deep kissing minimum) with someone from each continent. She won.
To clarify what I was saying about harm, which I didn’t put very well:
— virtual certainty of a good many wrongful acquittals and hence many more further rapes than otherwise would have happened, since most rapists are serial rapists (see Lisak and McWhorter) and because examination of sexual history, and likelihood of wrongful acquittals, will make victims less likely to come forward in future;
— possibility, in a few cases, of wrongful conviction.
I still say wrongful conviction is worse. Better to let ten guilty men go free than hang one innocent, etc. But I just don’t see, in most cases, the *genuine, just* usefulness to the defendant of introducing evidence of the accuser’s past sexual history. Exceptions exist, of course, but rape shield laws are designed to allow for them.
Please see my latest response to James: I’ve done a joint reply to you both.
Evangelical Christians are a (extremely vocal) minority in the US. Besides, my own society is far more conservative and we don’t have a problem with regard to knowing how the other half lives 😉
What I’m more concerned about is whether having more promiscuous jurors would benefit complainants. This suggests not. The idea is that people don’t want to feel like terrible things could happen to people like them because it implies those things could happen to them. As such, they stick their heads in the ground.
To quote Linda Fairstein, Chief of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit: “for many women, the need to shield themselves from their own vulnerability to sexual assault is paramount. If they can insist that the victim engaged in behavior that they would never engage in, such as visiting a bar or going to a man’s apartment, they can convince themselves they are not at risk”
That would indicate that promiscuous women would feel more threatened and be more motivated to rationalise the crime away.
This is in response to both James and “A”.
There’s a lot to respond to in the latest four emails in this thread, but I think it may be possible to be reasonably brief and pull things together given that there is already quite a bit of consensus.
It would certainly never have occurred to me to bring Bayesian thinking to bear when considering the probative value, or otherwise, of sexual character evidence. I hope to find time to look into this further. Bayesian theory may well be the most rational approach. I have discovered that it has actually been applied in the courtroom, with a jury in a rape case invited to use Bayesian procedure in assessing the probative value of a DNA match. This was criticised by the appeal court but not because of any weakness in Bayesian theory itself. See R. v Adams:
James: >It’s a terrible idea for anyone to think that someone who’s too drunk to say “yes” would probably consent due to their history.
I agree entirely.
‘A’: >My gut says to favour the defendant, to uphold the presumption of innocence as strongly as possible. But really I don’t know. A relevant case in Canadian law is Regina versus Darrach, available in full online. What do you both think of the arguments presented there?
I read “Defining the Use of Sexual History: What Does R. v. Darrach Mean for Us?” by Pamela Cross:
As with English law, and perhaps the law of all common law countries, the most general requirement is that any probative value must be strong enough to outweigh any prejudicial effect. Sexual character evidence can certainly be used in a prejudicial way, so great caution is necessary. The worst and perhaps most common prejudice would be wrongly impugning the honesty of the complainant by reference to their sexual character.
The law in both Canada and England appears to have been influenced by feminist thinking in recent years, which is no bad thing so far as it is rational. But that is precisely the point. There is reason to believe that the attack on “rape myths” often goes too far and relies on myths of its own.
There is perhaps some tacit acknowledgement of this. In both countries the law prominently rejects sexual character evidence in principle but then quietly concedes in the small print that it may need to be admitted in some circumstances.
I’ll take the example of England both because that’s where the Ched Evans case was tried (well, Wales, actually, but same laws, plus appeal in England) and also because the law is neatly summarised online by the Crown Prosecution Service:
The relevant statute indicates a very restrictive regime for introducing sexual history but it can be trumped by human rights law under the right to a fair trial. As the CPS says:
“…evidence or questioning which is required to ensure a fair trial under article 6 [of the European Convention on Human Rights] should not be treated as inadmissible; whether any particular episode of previous consensual experience should be admissible should be left to the judgement of trial judges.”
An “honest belief in consent” is given as an example of a circumstance in which previous consensual experience might be admissible. Whether this could have been applied to Ched Evans is doubtful, though, as he did not know the woman’s sexual history at the time of the alleged offence. But the woman’s lack of any testimony about the sexual acts might be another circumstance of admissibility.
Others may wish to continue this thread but I think I’ll bow out for now, with thanks for some very lively and informative contributions. If I can find time to explore Bayesian inference and come up with something new from this angle or another one, I might be back. But it won’t be for a while.
Thanks for the discussion 🙂
I still doubt the usefulness of sexual character evidence in general but I accept that, in principal, if it is useful, the judge should be allowed to bring it in. We seem to be in agreement on every other point.
Bayesian inference is indeed worth looking into. If you’re looking for an introduction to Bayesian thinking, I recommend An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes’ Theorem.
I’m pleased to have made it through my first online discussion of rape laws that hasn’t devolved into a flame war 😛
PS: How does it feel to have 4 posts with >100 comments? This one looks like it might end up there in short order 🙂
>I recommend An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes’ Theorem.
Thanks. It sounds promising, especially the “intuitive” bit!
PS: How does it feel to have 4 posts with >100 comments? This one looks like it might end up there in short order 🙂
Yes, it’s been getting really lively, hasn’t it? — not least thanks to you and A! I may have some general observations about everyone’s comments shortly.
Cool! Something saying “these are the general profiles of some of my commenters…”?
BTW: Just read up on R. v Adams and I believe the Bayesian inference was poorly done because it failed to account for spill-over evidence. Specifically: the DNA match was strong evidence against the defendant and his immediate family members. Were I in charge, I’d have had all his immediate male relatives tested and investigated any matches. Of all the matches, I’d try the one who best fit the profile in the other ways. Strong Bayesian priors are not an excuse to ignore all the other evidence.
>… and his immediate family members.
My feeling is that the law as it currently, generally stands is about right: generally speaking, evidence of prior sexual history is inadmissible, but exceptions are allowed.
I think at this point, the most productive thing for feminists and others of goodwill to do around this is work on changing the culture and the laws so that genuine mistakes about consent are less common. I am cautiously hopeful that this is possible. Social disapproval of drunk driving went up a lot over a short period, for instance, and it wasn’t so long ago that it was not legally possible to rape one’s wife, something which relied on an obvously mistaken presumption of consent. Thomas MacAulay Millar at the Yes Means Yes blog has a great post called ‘California’s Affirmative Consent Law: Beyond the Bullshit’. Run the situations described by the children in Sandfort’s Boys on their Contacts with Men or by the adults in Lautmann’s Attraction to Children through the affirmative consent test and nearly all of them pass. It really is not rocket surgery.
PS It’s probably a good thing I am so deeply, darkly, single-letteredly pseudonymous because here I sit, discussing the sexual history of my acquaintances with a bunch of strangers in the Internet….
I agree that changing attitudes is probably a higher-payoff strategy, but I wonder at what point in the culture we should be trying to push. For example, I mentioned promiscuous women burying their heads in the sand. I think this would be less likely if we could dispel the Just World Fallacy from more people. Likewise, rapes that occur in parties could be better avoided if we could get people over the bystander effect. As the local biodeterminist, I remain of the opinion that attitudes are easier to change with a dietary supplement and a bottle pills than a poster on the wall and an hour of “diversity training”.
“rocket surgery” LOL
Cheers to random pseudonyms! I picked mine out of a novel before I even noticed it made gender implications >.<
It's not even like "James" is a common name where I live. I only know one guy with that name.
BTW (Forgive the failure to consolidate): Whether one holds Hierarchical social views is an excellent predictor of whether they’ll acquit a defendant in a case of obvious rape. Besides this fact, the general analysis in that article is quite good.
Yes, a very interesting article. Thanks again.
“There is reason to believe that the attack on ‘rape myths’ often goes too far and relies on myths of its own.” Fair enough. Could you give a couple examples of such myths? (If you don’t feel like continuing the discussion that’s fine.)
Seven examples here:
Myths about rape myths
More discussion here:
The myth of rape myths
These links may be contentious but I’d rather not get drawn into what could be another long discussion at the moment, thanks, interesting though it might be. No must mean no, at least for now 🙂
You might like to read SSC’s I Do Not Understand “Rape Culture”. It also debunks myths about rape, but these myths come from the feminist side.
OK. Will read these over and store up any cmments for the future. 🙂
I’ve heard, anecdotally, that policewomen can be worse to rape complainants than policemen. Same thing: they don’t want to believe it can happen to them.
Their’s also the fact that police service selects for hierarchical social views which, as is mentioned in the link from my previous comment, biases women against complainants even more strongly than it biases men.
Good point, yeah. And about that SSC article you linked to: I read it when you first linked the blog, and I find much of it persuasive. However, while I would agree that what we see as ‘real rape’ or, to quote Whoopi Goldberg, ‘rape-rape’, is taken very seriously indeed, I think that that is only a smallish subset of all rapes, and that many people, consciously or unconsciously, employ strategies such as denial, minimisation and, yes, victim-blaming to keep things that way. The police officer who reported to the scene of the famous alleged rape at Columbia University apparently said, “You invited him into your room. That’s not the legal definition of rape.” Apart from being wrong, this is quite mind-boggling: does the guy seriously think that if you invite someone into your room, they have carte blanche to do whatever they like to you short of serious bodily harm? If, say, a man and a woman are enjoying 69 together, does she have the right to stick an unlubricated dildo into his rectum without a word of warning? Good Lord.
And as some comments on SSC point out, jokes about prison rape of men by other men are just hysterically funny, apparently, and it further seems that rape of men by women is not merely very rare but impossible and also hilarious.
Right, now I will sign off for a bit and let our poor beleaguered moderator get some rest.
You’re very considerate, A. Moderating is a whole lot easier than commenting though. Your energy in that regard is amazing!
And just to exhaust dear Tom even further…..
“Whatever ‘sex by surprise’ is, it’s only a offense in Sweden — not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza. I feel as if I’m in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls.” – Assanges solicitor in 2010
Compare with the specific accusations 1 – 4 further down in the article.
I think the point being made is that rape isn’t taken any less seriously than other crimes. I expect that a police officer would also be an arse to you if you left someone in your apartment and they stole everything, even though the officer is in no position to do such a thing. However, I get your point about the difference in reaction between “real” rape and the statistically average rape.
With regard to the jokes about male rape victims:
1) I don’t think rape jokes are a big deal. They’re in bad taste, but there’s nothing to indicate they increase the likely hood of actual rape so it seems odd to count them under “rape culture”.
2) Hate to jeer at my own team, but feminism hasn’t done much for social attitudes toward the rape of men. It’s been too busy branding it as a “women’s issue” while tacking on “but, you know, the men, I guess…”
“Whatever ‘sex by surprise’ is, it’s only a offense in Sweden — not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza.”
What the fuck? If initiating sex with someone without them knowing (or, obviously, consenting) isn’t a crime in the UK & US I’ll eat my hat.
(Not going to make any comments on Assange’s guilt/innocence but this statement is idiotic.)
(Not going to make any comments on Assange’s guilt/innocence but this statement is idiotic.)
Hi James, thanks, you replied to A., but I’ll comment as I posted the link to the New Statesman blog. I pasted that particular quote because I found it ridiculous as well, as did the journalist who wrote the article. The law in Sweden is not so very different to the law in the UK, is my understanding. I won’t comment on the accused’s guilt or innocence either, but I do think the case is an example of many people not being prepared to believe the possibility that molestation and rape occurred. And Assange is a good manipulator of opinion. The Swedish authorities may fairly be accused of making a mess of procedures but I won’t fall into the trap of dissing them and the accusers just because I’m a paedophile who happens to disagree with law on AoC, CP etc.
I only asked for others to come in because I was of the opinion that we had reached an impasse where neither of us was able to figure out how to convince to other. In my experience, at times like this, bringing in outside observers helps to clarify the matter 🙂
“by which I mean, without moral judgment, being relatively unselective in choice of sexual partners and having a number of them, including for casual sex”
Ah! The light shines! I think I’ve identified where we were butting heads – we were working on different definitions! I was simply classifying anyone who’d had sex with a large number of people as “promiscuous”, while you were also taking into account the manner in which they select partners. Thus, the people you consider to be promiscuous would be a subset of the people I’m referring to (since your classification is the conjunction of mine and a restrictiveness-of-choice condition). Whether someone qualifies as promiscuous by your definition would indeed be (Bayesian) evidence.
However, how are we to identify such a person? Most people don’t carry around a scorecard explicitly enumerating advances-accepted/advances-rejected. One could only guess at how selective they are. In practice, I’d expect them to compensate with some Streetlight Psychology (good post; worth reading). Basically, since they can’t measure restrictiveness-of-choice, they’ll try to measure a proxy instead. Namely: frequency of intercourse. In my comments above, I’ve already stated why I believe this is a bad idea.
“We cannot just allow someone’s reputation and career to be trashed, and for them to be branded a criminal and sent to prison possibly for many years, when there is evidence that could cast serious doubt on the strength of the prosecution case.”
If it is valid then, at the judge’s prerogative, it should be admissible. However, I remain unconvinced that it is useful as evidence. Maybe contributions from the others will help to clear this up. I strongly believe that rational debate should converge on the truth.
” Evans as well as his friend might reasonably have thought consent had been given even if the woman had been deemed too drunk to consent.“
Ick! While this isn’t a problem in this case, since she could clearly walk in a straight line, I would be very cautious of that last part. It’s a terrible idea for anyone to think that someone who’s too drunk to say “yes” would probably consent due to their history. Even if you’re certain that, were they sober, they’d have consented, the fact remains that they aren’t sober. Even when you know you’ll get a “yes”, you still have to ask.
“In the absence of sexual character evidence they may simply assume that no woman would agree to the sort of sex that the two men claimed was consensual, especially the threesome part.”
LOL. They’re prudes, not idiots. I’m pretty sure most of them would know what threesomes are, even if they’d never dream of being in one. I live in a rather sexually conservative culture, yet I’ve never met a woman who wasn’t completely aware what threesomes, swinging, anal sex, etc were. Information travels.
“The objective, remember, is not to prove innocence but to cast legitimate doubt”
There should always be legitimate doubt from the start. The defendant gets the benefit of the doubt. That’s the point of innocent-until-proven-guilty. I just don’t think this is a legitimate source of doubt.
“You will find the URL for it in a Word file I have uploaded to Dropbox, along with a recent Sexnet thread discussing the paper.”
Just downloaded it. Thank you!
Replying here to you over there: I think the idea is just that rape jokes make people feel bad, and may, just possibly, reduce the likelihood of a given rape’s being reported. Just how much we want to police humour, though, is another question.
Ah, but would the police officer say, “What did you expect?” or would they say, “You let them in the door. That’s not the legal definition of theft.” ? Probably not the latter.
While we’re scoring own goals…well, I would not really put myself on the same side as Susan Brownmiller, but the 2% rate for false allegations of rape which she made famous in Against Our Will is not well substantiated, according to Philip Rumney’s careful review ‘False Allegations of Rape’ (Cambridge Law Review, 2006, pdf is online). Rumney also criticises the studies that have found a much higher false-allegation rate: it appears that this is often due to police stereotyping of alleged rape victims — the whole ‘rape-rape’ thing. Emily Bazelon and Rachael Larimore point out in Slate (‘How Often do Women Falsely Cry Rape?’) that this leaves us with a group of studies from all over the English-speaking world — including one by David Lisak — whose results cluster at eight to ten percent false allegations. Amanda Marcotte’s view is that when false allegations are made, it very rarely is a case of the morning-after regret that worries Joe Average: that typically either the sexual acts did not happen at all, or the woman accuses somebody else — though if the man is black it can be a different story. Would be good to find a way to substantiate that one, too.
“I think the idea is just that rape jokes make people feel bad […] Just how much we want to police humour, though, is another question.”
Fair enough. I think it’s mostly policed by the fact that (almost) everyone knows it’s poor taste.
“Probably not the latter.”
Probably not. However, some officers are complete dullards and I expect that such idiocy is more likely to blow up online and end up being heard of if it’s a crime that’s taken seriously, like rape.
Also: his jackass behaviour may be influenced by conservatism/hierarchy without this being an indictment of the population at large.
With regard to the false rape allegation rate, have you heard of the article that became popular sometime back which claimed men were more likely to be hit by comets than falsely accused? Or the SSC post criticising it? You might also be interested in hearing what happened to that guy.
It might help if they lifted the IQ limits on police officers where they have ’em!
There are IQ limits on police officers? Never knew that…
It’s still likely that it wont affect conservatism/hierarchy.
Not on the undercover ones, I assure you. In my direct experience they tend to be extremely sharp and devious. They have to be quick-witted under pressure when their cover is in danger of being blown.
This may be of interest for you:
Hold on, these limits are an upper bound? WTF? I thought it was supposed to screen out people who scored too low! Where I live, while we don’t administer an IQ test, people who score too low on academic tests aren’t permitted entry into the force. Who the hell got drunk enough to think that banning smart police officers was a good idea?
In the case of the undercover cop, I feel pretty clear that he is not guilty of rape, but the government’s policies are outrageous if that’s acceptable police behavior. As for the footballers, it also seems they should not have been convicted given reasonable doubt — though far from clear it was not in fact rape. As for the differential verdicts, I can imagine a jury figuring that she knew what she was doing when she followed a guy back to a room, but was too drunk to say a meaningful “yes” to the idea of someone else joining them in bed. I guess juries are supposed to unite around one view, but I would have thought given the fineness of that distinction there would be a “hung jury” instead of an acquittal of the other guy. Or perhaps they were divided and their idea of compromise was to convict one but not the other. 🙂
As for relevance to the main subject of this blog… Amid all the uncertainties involved, I think an age of consent is important. When there is doubt with an alleged victim 16 or older, then the man goes free. When she is younger, then he is guilty. If she says she consented and was not misled, then doubt is removed and he goes free.
When she is under 16? Have you said something you didn’t mean or am I missing something?
For young teens, if a girl is unwilling to say she was wronged, I think prosecutors should as standard procedure not bring any charges. I may have overstated it a bit to suggest it as a point of law someone could appeal about. I’d like to preserve the prosecutor’s ability to press ahead if there really is evidence of undue influence or threats. It’s getting forgiveness, not permission, but I think it would very often be appropriate.
Boys too? It’s rarer for them to be raped but it certainly does happen.
Most definitely! Boys too! This is one area where being gender-neutral is hard on my imagination. We’ve got 4 standard combinations based on physiology, plus the complications of the trans and gender-fluid, plus of course attitudes.
Dang, you’d better get ready to shoot the messenger. From memory, I think I too mistakenly believed it was a threesome, but it turns out that Clayton and Ched took turns, Clayton first, though Clayton may have remained in the hotel room when Ched and the woman had sex. But we only have the two players’ accounts of the sexual activity to go on, and this is taking all they said as read. (Both their stories were consistent throughout.)
I believe the jury’s position was twofold: they were convinced the woman must have been too drunk to consent to sex with both men, but that Clayton reasonably believed she had consented, even though they thought his belief was mistaken. This was enough to acquit him.
Ched, on the other hand, was successfully portrayed by the Prosecution as being arrogant and conceited, the type of character who assumed all women fawned over him and swooned at his feet, or they must be gay, and had recklessly assumed consent instead of bothering to ascertain it. I’m surprised the jury bought such a simplistic stereotype and cartoon parody, and even more surprised they used it to convict him, in the absence of any specific evidence to contradict the players’ account of the woman’s state of mind and behaviour, and what she told them and didn’t tell them at the time they had sex.
As a lay person, the unreliable effect of alcohol seems to me to cast more than a reasonable doubt over the whole situation. The drink-driving test is a strict one: blood-alcohol level, which at least is measurable. It’s no defence that you can hold your drink and walk in a straight line. But a woman’s capability to consent to sex depends entirely on how (in this case) a few double vodkas plus one other alcoholic drink affects her over a period of time.
How reliable is amnesia as a guide to a person’s intoxicated state of mind during the period they can’t remember? Scientific evidence?
If you and I played ‘last one standing’, the only certainty is that our reactions would be different after each drink. And why even play the game if a dead heat is always a foregone conclusion?
No inclination to shoot. I realised it was one after the other, not a threesome in the strictest sense, as I read the court’s case judgment rather than just newspaper reports. Maybe I sacrificed too much detail by trying to be concise and snappy. Sorry if that was misleading.
As for your point about what the jury believed — that the woman had been too drunk to consent to sex with Clayton — I would ask how you know that given that juries are not supposed to discuss their reasoning. We can draw inferences, certainly, and your point is a good one, but is there a definite reason for preferring your inference to mine?