Rape is rape and abortion is abortion. Except when they're not. - Spectator Blogs

28 August 2012

1:08 PM

28 August 2012

1:08 PM

Way back in my debating days at Trinity College, Dublin we knew you could guarantee large crowds and impressively  – that is, pleasingly – bad-tempered debates twice a year. These were the annual debates on Northern Ireland and abortion. And they really were annual fixtures during which, for years on end, the same arguments were deployed with the same passion and no-one’s views were ever changed by anything they heard.

In those days it was usually pretty clear who the bad guys were too. In the case of abortion it was anyone speaking as a representative of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child or, more generally, anyone whose views seemed dictated by the Roman Catholic Church. These were the people standing in the way of Ireland’s journey to modernity. They were the extremists.

The X-Case – in which the Irish government attempted to prevent a young rape victim from traveling to England to abort her pregnancy – was still a raw, painful memory. This was a culture war right enough, and, as students at Ireland’s most liberal university, we knew who was right. We were.

Looking back, I still think we probably were right but there was a smug arrogance about our certainty too and, being so certain, we overlooked the importance of empathy and generosity of spirit and imagination. So, of course, did the opposition but that was their problem, not ours.

I mention all this because, in the maelstrom of commentary and outrage prompted by Todd Akin, Julian Assange and George Galloway we’ve seen partisans on all sides (but, perhaps, especially those most appalled by their comments) assert their monopoly on righteousness. Thus rape is always rape and abortion is always abortion and there’s precious little room for nuance or complexity.

This is not surprising. These are treacherous waters in which to sail. Perhaps certainty makes navigating them a simpler business. Even so, all this certainty requires us to pretend to believe in things that, deep down, we know are not the case. And once one begins to acknowledge ambiguity it becomes harder to hold any line at all.

But we know that not all rapes are equal. We really do. The law may need clear lines dividing the legal from the impermissible but we know that real life is not so simple. We know, to take just one example, that a 16 year old sleeping with a 15 year old may be technically guilty of statutory rape and we know that this is very different from a 42 year old having sex with a 15 year old even if, in the latter example, the sex is consensual.

Statutory rape may be a special case but there are thousands and thousands of American teenagers whose names are now listed on registries of sex-offenders because they’ve slept with their girlfriends. This is a non-trivial place to be.


But even if we concede that statutory rape is or can sometimes be different, we can also perceive that there’s a difference between other kinds of rape too. That is, rape is always awful but some rapes are more awful than others. That’s one reason why, even in the western world, there are considerable differences between jurisdictions about what actually constitutes a rape. It’s also why some rape convictions result in heavier prison terms than others. To be clear, this isn’t to say that “date rape” is OK merely to observe that it’s not quite – or at least not necessarily quite – the same thing as, say, a gang-rape at knife-point or the use of rape as an act of wartime terror.

And so to abortion. I suspect Todd Akin’s mistaken belief that the human body can “shut down” to prevent pregnancy in the case of what he inelegantly – make that stupidly – terms “legitimate rape” stems from a half-formed suspicion that if you denied this and allowed abortion in cases where pregnancy was the result of “forcible rape” then more (or at least some small number more) women would claim to have been raped so they might then be permitted to abort their pregnancy. This is not an attractive thought or a noble way of thinking.

However, it is worth noting that this extremism – if that is what you consider it – has its mirror partner on the pro-abortion side of the argument too. Most Americans oppose partial-birth abortions, for instance. And I suspect that many of those who oppose prohibiting such procedures do so not because they consider partial-birth abortion just the same as an abortion carried out in the 12th week of pregnancy but because they fear, perhaps with good reason, that conceding any limit on abortion (even in very rare cases) opens the way to further restrictions on abortion. An appalling procedure must be defended to protect procedures you find less appalling. This too is not an attractive thought or especially noble way of thinking.

But there is a cold logic to it nonetheless just as there’s a cold rationalism to opposing abortion exceptions even in the case of rape. Indeed, it’s the majority of us who lie between these extremes whose views are mixed or woolly or hopelessly inconsistent. (Incidentally, I commend Ross Douthat’s latest column on this.)

Again, there’s a difference between what is moral, what is legal and what is politically feasible. It is illogical to think that personhood begins at some point towards the end of the first trimester but, at least in Britain, that’s the sense – half-formed, perhaps – a plurality of the population shares. If this weren’t the case then abortions would be legal at any point in pregnancy. But they aren’t because most of us feel, intuitively that some abortions, if they were legal, would be much worse than others.

Increasingly, I suspect, we think that abortions after the point at which medical progress means the infant might have a viable chance of life outside the womb, are morally questionable. The divide between abortion and infanticide is ever blurrier.

The argument about when life actually begins has always struck me as mildly irrelevant. What matters more, surely, is that abortion terminates the possibility of life (assuming the pregnancy proceeds in full health) and that, accordingly, even those abortions carried out as early in the process as possible are, rationally speaking, different in degree not kind to those abortions most of us consider ethically abhorrent.

The law’s concerns are different. The law is concerned with regulating a practice that would, if it were illegal, be driven underground. Legal abortion makes abortion safer; it also probably makes it less rare. It’s comparable to, if also more complicated than, the arguments about drug use or prostitution.

Even if one accepts – with whatever degree of reluctance – that abortion should be legal it does not follow that all abortions, even in the first trimester, are created equal. Moreover, there’s a difference between the particular and the general. That is, an individual may have a compelling reason for aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down Syndrome; the consequences of a society-wide trend to aborting all (or almost all) such supposedly “non-perfect” fetuses are more morally troubling. (What comes next?) Something similar might be said of sex-selective abortion.

And what of repeat abortions? Approximately one third of abortion procedures in the UK are carried out on women who have previously terminated a pregnancy. The figure is reckoned to be even higher in the United States. In some cases these abortions are the result of contraceptive-failure. Often they are not.

It might be stretching the argument to claim that there are large numbers of women for whom abortion is just another form of contraception but is there a difference  – morally, not legally – between a first abortion a fifth termination? I think there must be even if I also think it’s impossible to craft laws that make this kind of distinction.

Again, the fact that something is – or should be – legal is not the same as condoning that act. There are things that can be legal but ethically dubious. One abortion might be unfortunate; repeat abortions can look more like some kind of callous carelessness. The former can be forgiven by many people (if often reluctantly) the latter circumstance is a different matter even if, again, the general trend is more horrifying than any particular individual case may be. It’s a kind of failure.

So there are extremists on both sides of these arguments even if, in general, the press (in both the UK and the USA) tends to suggest that only one side is extreme. In part that’s because there are more anti-abortion-in-all-cases campaigners than there are any-abortion-is-fine-and-what’s-your-problem? campaigners on the other. But it’s also the case that one extreme is generally considered more beyond the pale than the other.

Simply saying that rape is rape or that abortion is abortion makes some kind of sense so long as you don’t then begin to think about what lies beneath the surface of these claims. It’s why, I think, we claim to be more certain about these things than we often really are.


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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Your think is positive.

  • Katie

    My experience is of women shepherding men through social interactions, they are the ones who remember birthdays and anniversaries, who buy gifts for their hosts, who spend the evenings on edge anticipating their partners conversation and tapping them secretly on the foot under the table to redirect them from saying something they shouldn’t and smiling at other women in the room to apologise for the inevitable crass gaffs, meanwhile men are completely oblivious to all this going on under their noses. Men like to think themselves straightforward and women neurotic, whereas women know they are see what’s really going on and men lack sensitivity to it, and are even emotionally disabled. After all It’s men who say they don’t understand women, you never hear women saying they don’t understand men.

    I don’t think this is a class of people you can trust with complex sexual rules. It has to be black and white. And I think Alex Massie is paying with fire.

    • Eddie

      Brilliant reasoning – so men are all stupid idiots because they do not think like women! Classic!
      If you want to see what a sexist misandrist prejudiced person you are, just read some great literature (the vast majority if by men, as are all great love songs and art).
      Men are women think differently – but your attempt at belittliong and demeaning men screams one thing: insecurity, and perhaps envy.
      Women THINK they are superior to men in many ways, especially with anything regarding emotions, but funnily enough, whenever this is tested, men appear to be slightly more aware of emotions than women – it’s just men don’t natter on about how emotionally senstive they are.
      And many women do NOT understand men at all – as your post proves. Many think they do though. Some will even admit it.
      Men are far more independent than women, who need to go around in herds – and I agree with your opinion about men not being so hypersenstive about their hosts reactions, or remembering birthdays etc. But this is just women performing their evolutionary role as the social glue of the tribe. However, men are well aware of what’s going on – they just hide their emotions from women! Men don’t natter on and gossip about emotions – but why do that? What a waste of energy and time, Men prefer to do ’emotionally disabled’ stuff like, err, inventing everything and creating human civilisation…

  • Sarah

    “Rape is rape and abortion is abortion. Except when they’re not”

    I don’t see the part in the article where it says rape is ever something other than rape??

    I see the part in the article where it says certain men would like rape to be something other than rape.

    Oddly enough, it’s always men pushing this nuance line, but only in relation to male female rape. I think that might be a clue to what’s at the heart of it.

    Over these last few weeks of the Assange road show, we’ve seen everything: they’re making it up, they deserved it, they weren’t affected by it, it’s a feminist conspiracy, CIA conspiracy, US conspiracy, western conspiracy, it’s not serious, other things are more important, a man’s rights are more important, it’s not rape, it’s not real rape, it’s not rape rape.

    Common denominator is always the same: don’t hold men to account. The response to these attempts should always be the same in my view: it’s rape, don’t do it, if you do it, there will be consequences, the game is up.

    • Eddie

      Does that apply to women who touch men who are naked next to them asleep? Or to women who take advantage of drunken men to have sex with them (and in poor Boris Becker’s rapist’s case, get a meal ticket for life wid da babeee)?
      The way feminists define ‘rape’ is nonsense.
      Most women (and all sane women) know that when alcohol and perceptions are involved, it really is not black and white – shades of grey in fact: because normal women have husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and do not want some devious bint wrongly accusing them of rape (and women are always believed eh? Men are automatically assumed to be guilty if some bint spreads such rumours around: this happened to 2 guys I knew at uni, whose one night stand mental bints did just this until threated to stop).
      Julian Assange raped no-one and would not be charged under English law.
      Stop infatilising women, Sarah – women will just have to learn that they are not wickle girls and have to take responsibility for their own actions, just like men do – and if you get drunk and slut it around, then don’;t cry rape, OK?
      And while we’re at it – could men have equality to women in court? Anonymity in rape and abue cases? The right for a jury to know if their accuser has falsely accused other men of rape before? And can some women be imprisoned for falsely accusing men of rape – yep, conspiracy in law – if enough evidence exists? 10 years minium for fale accusations of rape. EVIDENCE is always needed to convict though (which manhating feminists seem to ignore).
      Feminists make such a fuss about rape because they want ALL power over men: ie the power to say ‘NO’ when a penis is 1 millimetre from bint-hole. The right to cry rape weeks after they were ‘raped’ in a morning sex session after a sex session the previous night that was consensual. The right to go to a ‘crayfish party; wiith their rapist, laughing and smiling, then to claim ‘rape’ days later.
      An accusation of rape against a man can ruin his life, marriage and career (cf Dominic Strauss-Khan’)
      And no, it is NOT right for women to have all the power to use men as playthings in such a way. And no man can or should be convicted of rape without adequate evidence either. Only abnormal women with no men in their lives think that.

  • Sarah

    I find it telling how many men have come out of the wood work these last few weeks to promote the line that we need to introduce nuance and gradations into the crime of rape. What’s that all about I wonder?

    Is this a convulsion against the novel notion that an accused man should go through due process? Is that all it takes to upset people?

    I don’t notice the same principle at work when the police pursue the accused of other crimes. There’s no anti theft is theft movement.

    Are women getting a bit too big for their boots with all this rape is rape talk, is that it? Or are men starting to feel a bit hemmed in with their sexual options and this is the push back? Maybe this is a sign that the campaign is finally starting to bite.

    Goodness knows what they would do if women started *really* causing a fuss about rape, taking a leaf out of men’s books and rioting or having violent revolutions in the quest for justice, The Women’s Spring.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      ‘And they really were annual fixtures during which, for years on end, the same arguments were deployed with the same passion and no-one’s views were ever changed by anything they heard’

    • Eddie

      There are different categories of killing – from accidental death and manslaughter, to various levels of murder (in the US by degrees; in the UK by judge’s discretion).
      YOu know nothing about ethics and the law Sarah.
      You are just loving this whole rape story and exploit it for your own selfish feminist-recruiting proseltysing needs.
      According to you, a stranger dragging a woman walking to work into an alley and violently inserting his penis into her is no worse than a couple of drunken teenagers going to far because of alcohol, misunderstandings and differences of perception.
      To say ‘rape is rape’ like some femi-parrot means nothing. There are nuances to sexual crimes – because they do involve perception, alcohol and so are not like burglary.
      Many feminists are arguing for different levels of rape and sexual crime.
      Most women do not agree with your manhating views: in fact, a female majority jury is LESS likely to convict a man accused of rape – because women judge loose slutty women much harsher then men.
      And it IS women’s fault that they put themselves in contexts where they get rapes – all the women I know and have asked, of all generations (aged 18-92) think this. See, most women have men in their lives and they do not want their sons. brothers, husbands, fathers locked up for years a with a life ruined because they have felt up some drunken slag at a party.
      The law aims to be fair and just – thank jeepers hissing spitting feminasties like you don’t make it!

    • Ben Dover

      The Women’s Spring?
      Thats a porno movie, isn’t it? Something with a mattress…

    • Eddie

      “I find it telling how many men have come out of the wood work these last few weeks to promote the line that we need to introduce nuance and gradations into the crime of rape. What’s that all about I wonder?”
      Errr…It is all about the fact that there ARE gradations in any serious crime (ie killing someone can be manslaughter or murder of varying degrees), and the catch-all rape laws are silly and inadequate.
      Though to convict a human being of a crime there is always a need for EVIDENCE – something feminists don’t see to care about (if a man is accused by a woman he’s guilty eh, Sarah?)
      Best thing really would be for young women not to be taught be our feministic culture that it’s OK to wander around drunk, having regular casual sex, getting into situations where unpleasantness is more likely to happen. One cannot blame men for assuming such girls are up for it – ‘there is a drunken girl in my bed who has just sucked my fundamentals and teased my tickling stick with her tongue’. Now, is it UNREASONABLE to thus expect that is a massive YES?
      The problem here is largely with the behaviour of women, not men. And most women would agree with that – which is why female-majority juries are way less likely to find a man accused of rape guilty (well a drunken slut, as they would say, shouldn’t be surprised if men take her YES signals as such. You makes yer bed…)

  • Sarah

    The answer is to start with the idea that rape in the least harrowing circumstances is a horrible crime that has massive social implications and build up from their to the worst case scenario where other crimes are bolted onto the crime of rape ( like GBH and attempted murder and hate crime and the use of recording equipment). The answer is not to pitch the worst case scenario as the norm and work down from there to making rape in a warm bed a trivial crime.

    • Eddie

      The answer is no such thing.
      The ‘answer’ is to recognise that ALL people (men, women) need the protection of innocent until proven guilty.
      To see that it is unrealistic and wrong for feminists to demand total power over men in sexual situations.
      To see that it would be quite good to encourage young girls not to get drunk and slag it about – and then complain when some drunk boy assumes they’re up for it (logical stance).
      To accept that with sexual allegations, usually it’s a question of perception, and alcohol is often involved (and very many girls ashamed of their sluttiness tend to make up tales of ‘my drink was spiked’ – cf Laurie Penny, who was NOT raped, as her article proves).
      To accept that if a half asleep man has sex with the half asleep woman next to him in bed he is not a rapist – and to accuse him of such is wrong.
      To accept that it is silly to expect a young man to get a girl to sign a contract of consent before doing what comes naturally.
      To make sure that EVIDENCE is needed to convict anyone of a crime
      To ensure that women who make false claims of rape are dealt with harshly – 10 years’ prison minimum (the same as a man would get for rape maybe)
      To fight to prevent mad misandirst feminists from hijacking this debate and accusing any man who disagrees with them, and recognises that sexual offeneces – just like other serious offences (murder, manslaughter) – do have gradations: it is not black and wnite, ever.
      I await a grown-up and mature debate on this topic. Maybe the miasandrist screeching feminists could all go on holiday – to Sweden say – and leave the everyone else (Ken Clarke, Terry Jones, me) to debate this with intelligence and reason.
      I believe that most women and men would agree with this – most women dot support manhating feminists and their unrealistic ideas and spurious definitions or rape.
      Most women after all have sons, brothers, husbands etc and do not want them locked up and their lives ruined because some drunken sleep-around decides, sometimes weeks and months after the event (often egged on by envious lonely misandirst feminists) that she was ‘raped’.
      I looked forward to some of those who cry wolf being imprisoned – then we can more clearly focus on catching and locking up the real rapists: feminist hysteria is devaluing the word ‘rape’ which hurts women, ultimately.
      They should shut up. Go to Sweden. Eat fish. Play tennis. Listen to KD Lang. Whatever…

  • Sarah

    Yes rape, like all crimes can be nuanced, but we are nowhere near advanced enough in our thinking on this subject to introduce nuance into it.

    Men are still struggling with the concept of whether it’s rape to have sex with somebody when they are unconscious, or whether it’s okay to pin them down and ejaculate into them against their consent. They’re still not clear about whether it’s rape if it’s indoors. Or when you are married to the person or you’ve just met them in a bar, or they’re in your taxi late at night. Introducing nuance into this confusion only adds more confusion.

    Maybe in a hundred years when men have completed level one regarding refused consent, and level two regarding assumed consent, can they move onto level three, implied consent.

    But there is a parallel task of teaching them empathy and humility, which only comes after they’ve completed the lesson on how their viewpoint is neither neutral nor accurate. And they’re only going to be amenable to that when they understand that their emotional intelligence is not highly developed and they don’t know how much they don’t know.

    • Eddie

      Or maybe women will stop being so unrealistic to think that behaviour has no consequences.
      If I walked into a dangerous inner city areas drunk and flashing around my gold watch and cash, should I be surprised to be mugged?
      Women need to grow up and get real. Maybe in 100 years they will so so, eh?
      Until that time Sarah it is good to know that their are brave women like you about who are no doubt planning on rounding up all those disgusting women who have had sex with drunken men, who they have manipulated to have sex, and all those wives who have touched their sleeping husbands private parts (such individuals are disgusting rapists and must be made to pay!!! That’s your view, I think. Surely you apply it to men and women equally? Or maybe not eh?

      • Sarah

        Eddie. You are the man who characterised the allegations against Assange as “touching her blouse or something”. You are the guy who assumes a poster is a man and when he finds out she’s not can’t help but call her love or dear when discussing what bints, sluts and whores women are who are entrapping men with their evil P.E. lessons.

        You don’t belong here, you’re not a serious person. Go and haunt Rod Liddle or go to your rape-apologist/denier convention or whatever the hell it is you do when you’re not posting here.

        • Eddie

          Sarah – don’t tell me what I said, you lying bint! I know what I have said and what I say is reasonable and fair. I never use the word blouse – so APOLOGISE, if you have the guts, liar.
          You Sarah are the mentalist bint who wants to lock up any man who’s accused of rape by any woman because you assume all such men are guilty when accused.
          What utter nonsense. Inniocent until proven guilty? Not if you’re a man accused of any sex crime by any women (lying drunken mentalist groupies too). YOu seem to be living on some strange Planet Janet Sarah – were you always like this? Or did some nasty boy call you names, shag you and dump you, making you twisted and sad as a botched hysterectomy?
          You Sarah are a well-known misandrist as your posts prove.
          May I suggest you visit ‘madmanhatingbints dot com’ to natter and rant with likeminded persons, You never know, you might even find yourself a penis-less companion.
          And Sarah, you moron – someone who posts what I post is NOT an apologist for rape. Ditto with Ken Clarke. But all intelligent persons know that it is WRONG to convict a man for rape just because a woman accuses him of rape.
          If you ruled the world, you’d lock up men without trial whenever some lying drunken slut accused them.
          You are SO deluded as to think that most women agree with you – THEY DO NOT! Most women agree with reasonable definitions of rape and would not convict a man – someone’s son, brother, father – on the sayso of a woman who, AFTER the rape, went partying with her ‘rapist’ all smiles and hugs.
          You Sarah should never be allowed to sit on a jury – you are clearly a mad manhating sexist and assume all men accused of rape are guilty. I hope to goodness you’re a lesbian and never give birth to a son – you should stay well away from the males you so clearly despise, for their safety.
          YOU Sarah are the problem – not part of the solution.
          It is you who do not belong here. Try Spare Rib or Manhaters Monthly. ByeBye bonkers bint.

        • Eddie

          That’s the trouble with you extremist feminists – which is what makes you so irrational and dangerous, like the worst fundamentalists: you accuse anyone debating the issue of being a rape apologist or denier. If you were worth listening to, Sarah, that would be offensive – but as I know it’s the sort of stupid unjustifiable hysterical rambling crap that spews out of your gob constantly, I know you’re really not worth taking seriously, and clowns can’t really be offensive. Just ridiculous.
          Any thinking man or woman knows that there is NOTHING to be gained in accusing all men of rape (as you do), in automatically believing women over men (as you do), in accusing all those (like me) who don’t want innocent men to be convicted or rape as ‘rape apologists’ (as you do).
          Women hate women like you too. They know that plenty of men (who could be their brothers, sons, fathers etc) are victims of women who make false accusations of rape, and they know that for the protection of both men AND women who HAVE been raped, these men must be found not guilty – or better still, never charged at all.
          I want all real rapists to be locked up – together with all women who deliberately set men up or make false accusations against them. As the law stands, a woman can falsely accuse a man of rape, he gets found not guilty, then she accuses another man of rape falsely and the jury does not have the right to know about the first false accusation!
          Imagine if that were your father or son, Sarah you twit! Women who make false accusations of rape should go to prison for 10 years minimu – if it can be proven this is what they have done. Agreed?
          Each false accusation of rape makes each REAL accusation of rape less likely to be believed, y’know – as does your feminasty extremist nonsense.
          I am not an aplogist for rape, and you accusing me of that jujst shows what a sad mentalist twisted little bitch you are. Not that I care – you’re just yet another globule of insanity dribbling down the gusset of existence – insignificant, unpleasant and mad. The only place where you belong has nurses and sedatives, dear.

  • Austin Barry

    Rape and abortion are both probaby spheres of which men, particularly celibate men with a penchant for institutional child abuse, should steer clear. We blokes really have no idea, no idea at all, of what these terms really mean to women on a subjective basis.

    • Eddie

      And by the same token, women have no idea what anything to do with ‘male’ issues mean to men (and yet, many women decide to have pieces off their sons’ gentials every year, and legally too).
      Rape and sexual offences taking place between human beings are NOT solely a female issue about which only professional pity party feminists can comment (though I do agree with you that no priest or imam should lecture others about morality, considering the moral cesspit they wallow in happily for much of the time).
      You do sound so very quaint, Austin. Maybe you want all men to retire to another room for cigars and brandy, whilst the women can all huddle together in their pinnies having an attack of the vapours every time they glimpse a piano leg?

  • Beefeater

    A very good exposition of the political anguish. The extremes for women are being compelled by the state to give birth (many nations – often Catholic – at one time), or to abort (China recently, under the one-child policy). ( Some would regard the latter as more beyond the pale than the former.) Conferring a “right” upon women to choose between in utero infanticide (including killing the newly born) and giving birth to a child takes the power of population control out of the hands of the state. If there is such a right, the reason for the choice to kill cannot be subject to legal scrutiny: women can kill their babies because they are the result of rape or a contraception error, because they would be a nuisance or because the baby is the wrong gender or deformed or ill. Whatever. And thankfully, science has produced pills for quick, quiet, private and early abortion. But the state should not be providing incentives either way, by paying for contraception, abortion, or child welfare. It is nonsensical that women should be paid by the state (taxpayers) to abort at whim (no unwanted children) and also to have children (wanted only for single mother child-support.) The greater the population dependent on the state, the greater the population subject to population control. Society cannot be “caring” if it allows government to ration life and resources. Best leave it to individuals (pregnant females) to decide – whether on moral or economic or emotional grounds, and however they wish to rationalize it to themselves or others – and to let them bear the consequences. Far less cost to society – measured morally or economically – and no spurious public anguish.

  • Hannah Thompson

    This is a brave and honest piece, and certainly goes some way to having a frank discussion on these fraught points. The idea that ‘rape is rape’ is certainly valid from a legal point of view, but I take your point (even though these issues are so complex that I’m not entirely sure how I feel, e.g about the first/fifth abortion).

    However, I think the main issue can be summarised by saying that basically, creating ‘levels’ of rape or ‘seriousness’ of abortions hints at a desire to legislate what women (and men, where relevant, e.g. rape) do to their own bodies, and at how ‘traumatised’ etc a woman/man is ‘allowed’ to be after a given crime.

    Like you say, allowing distinctions of rape, or limiting abortion timeframes, is the thin end of the wedge and hints at a desire to blame/curtail women purely due to their own sexuality/reproductive capabilities.

    Given the context of a history in which women have been (and in many ways/places, still are) subjugated, limited, controlled and abused because a) of men’s view of their sexuality and sexual ‘power/influence’ and b) their ability to become pregnant – not to mention the issues involved in defining to a woman how ‘serious’ her rape/abortion is compared to someone else’s – I’d argue that on balance, it’s better to have a legal system which is more general and over-arching e.g. ‘rape is rape’, or allowing 24-week abortions, than one which seeks to narrow the acts’ definitions in any way.

    As I’m sure already happens, the idea that rape is rape surely doesn’t preclude judges’ ability to sentence rapists for other crimes simulataneously, thus compounding the basic rape crime, e.g. rape plus GBH etc. But ultimately…rape is still rape.

  • anonymous

    Excellent article. Tentative uncertainty is the best we can hope for when it comes to discussions of abortion and rape. All the shrill polemic that usually surrounds these subjects leaves me, a woman, cold.

    • rosie

      abortion, rape, and euthanasia

    • Sarah

      I don’t think it’s their objective to make you feel comfortable. Do you want a cosy rape campaign? One that asks politely? You know that was kind of tried already.

      • Eddie

        No love – what anonymous means is that we are unable to have a rational discussion or debate about rape and sexual offences (and to a much lesser extent, abortion) because of shrill hissing feminists like you hurling accusations against anyone (ie any man) who states an opinion that does not confirm to your very questionable and misandry-hued prejudices.
        Just look want happened to Ken Clarke – a man who is the personification of reasonableness – when he spoke some common sense on the matter. Ditto for Terry Jones etc.
        You and those like you Sarah are the problem, not the solution. And you feminists most certainly do NOT represent most women either – though you seem to think you are somehow the elected representative of half the human race.
        Maybe all angry feminist nutters could go on holiday for a while and butt out of the debate? Then most people (men and women) can debate issues around rape reasonably and rationally, without accusations and hysteria from the usual suspects.