RAPE!

When our courts deal with the ultimate male rip-off, it’s the victims who are often guilty until proven innocent

MYRNA KOSTASH March 1 1975

RAPE!

When our courts deal with the ultimate male rip-off, it’s the victims who are often guilty until proven innocent

MYRNA KOSTASH March 1 1975

RAPE!

When our courts deal with the ultimate male rip-off, it’s the victims who are often guilty until proven innocent

MYRNA KOSTASH

You stub out your cigarette before you go into the courtroom; inside, the atmosphere is almost crisp; it must be the air-conditioning. Or the reverential tones of the court workers, the sleek wood-paneled walls, the magisterial bench and the Judge’s leather seat.

The defense lawyer walks in and I watch him with a combination of disgust and intimidation. I am appalled by his fleshy, golden-boy face, plump with self-assurance and self-satisfaction, his excessive cordiality with the Crown attorney, hands on each other’s shoulders, heads leaning together, whisper whisper, chums all of them, the Fraternity, careers sliding smoothly along the tracks of acquitted rapists. As for the accused, he is standing respectfully near the dock, hands behind his back, in a checked suit, not very expensive, long hair down to his shoulders, a shght figure. He drives a florist’s truck for a living.

Why had I thought he would be a graceless thug, a refugee from a motorcycle gang, a pimp in leather boots?

There is a jury of 12; eight are women. Office workers, a saleswoman, a bank teller, a housewife, a teacher. Surely, I think, some of them have felt that moment of terror when they could see their own rape coming down on them: the memory of it will decode whatever it is this man will say to them.

The trial begins with a summary, from the Crown, of the complainant’s testimony. A policeman goes to the witness stand, points out on an aerial map the scene of the alleged crime and holds up to the jury (the audience can’t see) photographs of the victim’s injuries. This part of the proceedings is quite boring. The policeman, in an effort to ap-

pear impartial, speaks with bland circumspection and volunteers no opinions whatever. No sense of theatre.

Lorraine enters the courtroom to give her testimony. She has short, curly brown hair, wears a blouse and skirt and is a student nurse. She seems fairly poised and in control of herself. I wish her luck.

Lorraine says she had started off the afternoon by visiting a male friend in his apartment. She had coffee with him and helped him do his laundry. They went off to the tavern and drank a few beers. Brian, who was seated nearby, moved over to their table and stayed there, even after Lorraine’s friend left. She and Brian danced, talked, drank some more beer. She found him charming and in-

telligent but it was too noisy to talk so she suggested they go to anotiier place. They went to his car where she decided to go home instead. He asked her up to his apartment but she refused. He then said he would drive her home. He drove to a park, saying it was a shortcut and stopped the car. He grabbed her by the hair, kissed her and said, “Let’s make love, do you want to do it inside or outside?” For the first time, she felt he could be violent. She replied, “Outside,” got out of the car and tried to get away. He grabbed her again and dragged her by the arm down toward some bushes. He removed her coat. He threw her on the ground, told her to take off the rest of her clothes and sat straddled across her stomach. “If I do what you say, will you take me home?” she asked. He held his hand over her mouth so she felt she couldn’t breathe. Then, holding her bra across her neck, he forced her to have oral sex.

At this point in the testimony, a paper bag is produced in court and from it are extracted the clothing in question: her underwear, her shirt and jeans. To my dismay, a sanitary napkin and belt are laid along the venerable bench with the rest of the stuff. The judge is glowering at us all. I look at Lorraine with intense sympathy for her embarrassment. She is sitting very still and looking down at her hands in her lap.

Lorraine continues her story. She struggled to get away again, he threatened her with a karate chop, kept on with the oral sex, alternating with sexual intercourse and bit her on the breast. He

Myrna Ko stash is a writer and a regular columnist for Maclean’s.

After raping her, he offered to drive her home. At the house, he suggested getting together the next evening for dinner

then rolled off and said. “My God, what am I doing? I could get charged with rape.” He suddenly changed again into someone friendly and said he’d drive her home. On the way, he stopped for cigarettes but by now she was too scared to try to run away. At the house, he asked for her telephone number and she gave it. He also suggested getting together the next evening for dinner. Inside the house, she called the police.

So far, so good. The story seems plausible to me. Next round for the defendant’s attorney.

He moves in for the cross-examination. I have read enough about rape trials to know this will not be polite. The lawyer indicates he is suspicious of the fact that she, an engaged woman, was in another man’s company, that she was in no particular rush to get home, that she struck up a conversation with a strange man. “I just wanted a nice conversation.” “Nonsense,” he says. “You were having a lot of fun with him, you were enjoying yourself, you didn’t ask him if he was married or engaged, and I suppose putting your arms around him was just a friendly gesture?

You knew exactly what you were doing. Wouldn’t you say you were going after this young man?” “No,”

Lorraine says, “I thought we had become friends.”

At this point, Lorraine seems to be feeling uncomfortable, as though she were feeling guilty and remorseful and my heart sinks. As if anticipating the way her actions will look to others, she tries to portray herself as an implausible innocent when all she need do is shout out to this sanctimonious lawyer in a black smock that a woman can dispose of herself as she sees fit, that women have a right to be affectionate without being thought of as “rape bait,” and, anyway, who’s on trial here, him or me? But, instead, she becomes more and more cowed and confused.

“Why didn’t you get out of the car at the stoplights?”

“I trusted him.”

“I guess you weren’t going to that park to neck, that would be the last thing you’d want to do, right? Why didn’t you run into the restaurant where he went to buy cigarettes and yell that you were raped — you were absolutely too terrified? When the situation became unpleasant. why didn’t--you leave the car and take the bus home? Were you trying to encourage him? Were you intoxicated? The sex acts took a few minutes but you were in the park for two hours

— what were you doing there?”

“He would stop and slap my face and massage my breasts.” At this point, she breaks down and cries. The judge orders a recess. As I stand up to leave the courtroom, I find that my knees are shaking violently.

The second day of the trial, two policemen testify that when they arrived at Lorraine’s apartment, they found her “shaking, very pale, on the verge of crying, speaking with difficulty, distraught, red-eyed.” I am impressed and wonder if the jury, sitting stone-faced, is beginning to believe her story. A doctor from the hospital where the police had taken her testifies that the medical evidence supports her claims.

The defense lawyer cross-examines the doctor trying to dispute the medical findings, trying to prove that actual intercourse did not take place.

Now I’m confused. Clearly, sexual intercourse is consistent with the evidence. Why doesn’t Lorraine admit Brian turned her on and they went to the park to neck but that she never said yes to actual sex? How likely is it that a menstruating woman would have sexual relations the first night of meeting someone?

Four days later, the jury acquits. So, officially, the defendant is not a rapist, and Lorraine made the whole thing up. She is, officially, a liar. The Crown took the unusual step of appealing the acquittal, but unless the Court of Appeal orders a new trial and it results in a conviction, she will stay a liar.

“ƒ know I was raped, that’s for sure,” Lorraine says now. “If he can get off the rape charge, then there’s something wrong with justice in this society. Maybe if I had been a sociology professor or a nun, he would have been convicted.

“More respect should have been shown me at the trial. One woman juror was even laughing at me — it was after I had broken down. I was in such a nervous state. If I had been as together as I was at the preliminary hearing, he would have got what was coming to him. I remember wondering what was going on in his mind in the courtroom. I watched him looking at the women jurors and I thought, ‘God help you if he gets your addresses, maybe he’s going after you next.’

“After the acquittal, I felt really resentful. Maybe if I had been killed . . . But to have to die in order to get them all to believe you!”

I suppose that somewhere between Lorraine’s version and the defendant’s lies the whole truth about the encounter. A muddled, pathetic, banal account of two young people caught in games, glasses of beer, chitchat, clumsy wooing, timid resistance, shame, regret and rage. He was no creep with a switchblade in his pocket and an idiotic leer on his face. She was no neighborhood nymphet

In 1971, 65 persons were convicted of rape. That’s 54% of those charged. Our conviction rate for other criminal offenses is 86%

swaggering enticingly along dark streets in a short skirt. He did not, maddened with lust, drag her kicking and screaming into an alley. What happened between them was considerably less sensational than this public fantasy of erotic violence and yet it is ultimately explicable in these very terms. The politics of pornography and the politics of heterosexual relationships are often located in the same area: the brutalization of women. When men rape, if one is to believe Norman Mailer (and why not?), they are punishing women, getting their own back, settling scores and grievances, impressing us into cowed submission by the force and cruelty with which they can invade our bodies. Rape is only apparently a sexual crime.

In 1971, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 119 persons across Canada were charged with rape, but only 65 convictions were obtained. That’s 54%. The conviction rate on indictable criminal offenses other than rape is 86%.

The number of rapes has increaseddramatically sincb 1971. In 1973, in Metropolitan Toronto alone, there were 233 reported rapes, up 23% from 1972.

Since everyone from the police to social workers estimates that reported rapes represent only one third to one tenth of those committed, the Metro figure becomes 699 to 2,330 actual rapes. From that perspective, rape can be seen as an enormously widespread criminal activity outnumbering all other sexual offenses put together. Even if you just look at the reported rapes, the Metro Toronto figure represents a 116% increase since 1967, and 1973 was a year during which crimes against property in Toronto declined by 20%. Perhaps even more depressing than this appalling escalation in violence against women is the fact that for a crime that had somewhere between 233 and 2,330 victims, exactly 81 men were charged with the offense. It’s no wonder that a lot of women are taking karate lessons.

The varieties of rape make your heart sick and your blood boil. A high-school student is raped by her father’s cardplaying buddy, becomes pregnant and has an abortion. (No charge laid.) A 15year-old girl is walking home from her girl friend’s, she is pulled into a car by two strangers, driven to a sideroad and raped. (Charge dismissed.) A 16-yearold is sitting in a restaurant with three boys she knows. They invite her to a party, saying other girls will be there, no

one else shows up, they all drink beer and after being threatened with a knife she is raped. (Acquittal.) A 17-year-old is offered a ride by two men, one of whom she knows; they park behind a warehouse and beat her severely; she tries to escape, they threaten her with death, rip off her clothes and the stranger rapes her; she is a virgin and screams; they beat her some more; she is then driven to the stranger’s house and washed up before being taken home. (Sentenced to three years, six months.)

Rape is sexual intercourse with a woman against her will. As defined by the Criminal Code, a man rapes when he has “sexual intercourse with a female person who is not his wife, a) without her consent, or b) with her consent if the consent 1) is extorted by threats or fear of bodily harm, 2) is obtained by impersonating her husband, or 3) is obtained by false and fraudulent representations as to the nature and quality of the act.” The maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment.

As a raped woman, the Crown, theoretically, is on your side. The police and the courts are there to protect you and to seek justice from rapists. And so I must confess to having felt a little thrill of satisfaction at the rape trial I attended when a series of barrel-chested, stouthearted police constables took the stand as witnesses for the Crown and described in a crisp, detached and incontrovertible way how “shaken” or “upset” or “distraught” the victim was when they first saw her. For the first time in years I was absolutely willing to believe a policeman’s word because it meant that the woman’s story was confirmed and that he was her champion.

But that, of course, is only what he’s paid to be. Many rape victims feel bitter and humiliated after their experience with the police. Teresa Moore, from the Vancouver Rape Relief office, says that when someone who’s just been raped calls them and says she doesn’t know if she wants to go to the police, “we tell her we won’t lay any heavy police trips on her because we know how hard it is to go through that.” If she decides to go to the police, Moore will accompany her. A worker in an Ontario rape crisis centre told me about a police interrogation she witnessed in which the constable told the woman, “I don’t know your face but I’d recognize those breasts anywhere.”

Police, in other words, can be like some other men in their sexual attitudes; puritanical, self-righteous, and committed to a sexual double standard. And the ordeal of the inevitable police interrogation, during which the victim is asked again and again for details of the rape, what he did and what she did, how she felt, how “it” felt, what he said and what she said, is precisely what keeps the majority of rape victims

When the victim gets to court she is terrified of her attacker and feeling ashamed, “dirty,” sexless and depressed

from reporting the attack.

I went with some trepidation, then, to talk with Sergeant Robert Lynn until recently a member of the Department of Research and Planning at the Metropolitan Toronto Police headquarters. I wanted an explanation from him about the nature of the police interrogation, why women dread it and just what the motives are behind the policemen’s questions.

“One of the questions we have to ask,” he said, “is if she had sexual intercourse with her husband in the past 24 hours or if she had intercourse with any male, for that matter. Then we will want to find out what that man’s blood group is because the analyst could very easily come up with three blood groups. We check the undergarments of the victim because we’re hoping to come up with pubic hair belonging to the suspect. If and when we make an arrest, all of this will be evidence alluding to the suspect. It tightens the noose around the man.

“When we go down to court, the Crown has to prove that someone did in fact have sexual intercourse with this woman. If she doesn’t report to the police and doesn’t go to the hospital for the examination, and the lab people don’t come to court and say, yes, we did find spermatozoa, and so on, what you end up with is the word of the complainant against the word of the person who has been arrested.

“There are questions that are asked that are embarrassing both to the victim and to the officer. You’re asking this strange woman, of any age, now when was the last time you had sexual intercourse prior to this offense? You want to find out because you have to relate this information to the crime lab. You have to ask a young girl if she was a virgin before the offense because you’ll want to be able to tell the Crown attorney that prior to the rape this was a 21-year-old virgin with a steady boyfriend and now you have a man charged with rape who is going to give you a story about how libertine this woman was, how she coaxed him on . . . You’ve got to have a blow by blow description. If she was held for two hours and he tied her up and performed oral copulation on her, you’ve got to know that when you go to court.”

By the time a victim does get to court, she’s been “processed” by a group of men, photographed, interrogated, poked and scraped by them, she may or may not have been treated for the possibility of VD. pregnancy and trauma, she

will have recounted her story a dozen times and perhaps looked at 300 to 400 photographs in “mug shot” files and viewed a police lineup. She will be terrified of the possibility that her attacker is going to “get her” for having gone to the police, she will be feeling ashamed, “dirty,” sexless and depressed.

In court, the victim is caught up in a process which, nine times out of 10, will leave her believing that she has somehow brought all this on herself and that, as Barbara Betcherman from the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre points out, society feels it must protect itself from her, the victim.

A date is set for the preliminary hearing in which it will be decided if there is enough evidence to put the accused on trial in Superior Court. John Kerr, Crown Prosecutor, describes it this way: “Often only one witness is called and that would be the victim. She gives her evidence, the lawyer for the defense has the opportunity to cross-examine her, which he does at great length because he’s anxious to find out every single aspect of the case. How they met, the circumstances of the rape, what led up to it, did she scream, did she fight him off, did she do this, did she do that? If not, why not? The accused remains silent.” Almost invariably, however, the accused is committed to trial.

The police are supposed to have weeded out the improbable cases before they get to court. But even they can be fooled, according to Kerr: “We all know that the police get a lot of phony complaints. She may have broken up with her boyfriend — and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. There are some women who are emotionally disturbed. They’ve gone to bed with some fellow, then got upset about it, they think they’ve been used and scream ‘rape.’ Often, after two to three days, she will come to her senses and realize she hasn’t been raped at all, she’s just upset. But there might be a situation in which she sounds good in the police station and will, in effect, fool the police in the first instance.” It’s by this reasoning that the victim is subjected to innumerable interrogations and ruthless cross-examination.

The trial itself is the heart of the matter. In it, the Crown has to establish three things: that penetration occurred, that the accused did it and that the complainant did not consent; if there is any reasonable doubt about any of these three conditions, the jury is bound to acquit. Since, in the majority of cases, the defense will admit that intercourse did take place, the issue becomes: did the woman consent? Kerr admits that, in fact, the victim’s credibility becomes the major issue, and there is a strong assumption made that virgins are somehow more likely to tell the truth than non-virgins. That sounds absurd, but in the words of Toronto defense lawyer

Francis Fay, in the court’s view, “If the victim is not a virgin, particularly if she has a great deal of sexual experience, consent is not as unlikely as it would be in the case of a virgin.”

At the point when the defense moves in with his cross-examination of the woman’s sexual experience and behavior, the nature of her relationships with men, her personal habits and appearance, the dynamics of the trial have shifted radically. The procedure has become one of “proving” that, because of her character, the victim is not a “nice” girl and therefore is unlikely to have withheld her consent.

If the question of consent does not totally damage the woman’s testimony, lack of convincing corroborative evidence could. If she waited too long to report the rape, if she took a bath immediately after, if she went straight home without mentioning the incident to anyone, if she had no visible injuries, if her clothes are not ripped apart, if, eight months later, she doesn’t collapse in a nerveless heap in the witness stand while telling about the experience, there will be little material or other evidence that she was raped, and it’s her word against his. Since he doesn’t have to take the witness stand and she will be cross-examined, you can see what’s going to happen. “There is much more likelihood of a conviction,” says Kerr, “if the woman is of sterling moral character than if she isn’t. There’s no doubt about that. Juries are human. They take things into consideration.”

Meaning, I suppose, they reflect popular moral attitudes. They “take into consideration” the belief that you can tell a “good” girl from a “bad” girl by the way she looks and talks and lives and that if she’s “good” nobody would ever dream of raping her. If she’s “good” all she has to do is say no.

Men and women live part of their lives in each other’s mythologies. Cowboys and lawmen walk into town and carry off the woman they want over the rump of their horses. Roman soldiers drag away the fleshy Sabine women whose eyes turn in useless supplication to heaven; the princess is abducted from her tower by the warrior knight. The recurring images of assault and submission in our literature, music, films and paintings drive home that, for men, women subconsciously really do want to be taken by force and, for women, that they are in fact perpetually available. We all learn to believe in the mystique of female weakness. By the time most women are grown up they act as their own police force, perpetually curtailing their actions for fear of making a wrong move and exposing themselves to danger. Women learn to see themselves as potential victims.

Some women, however, are no longer playing victim. They are setting up rape crisis centres all across North America in most of our major cities and conducting their own research and self-help programs. In Vancouver a group operates a 24-hour crisis phone line and accompaniment service — they will send a volunteer and a paid worker with a rape victim to the police and the hospital, baby-sit her children, get in touch with her employer if she has to be hospitalized. If she decides to press charges, they will tell her exactly what the procedures will be in court.

Strangely, fe^v women have used the Vancouver centre for its original purpose — immediate help after a rape — but instead, according to Teresa Moore, “the women who call have been raped sometime in the past. They phone us and say things like, ‘I’m 30 years old and I was raped when I was 18 and I’ve only just admitted it. Can I talk to you about it?’ ”

Susan Cockerton, who conducts selfdefense classes and works with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, has observed what happens to women who have repressed the experience of being raped. “When I tell the women they can defend themselves, there’s no need to get raped, they think, ‘Why did 1 get raped? Maybe I really wanted to be?’ Their first reac-

“The worst thing about this experience is wondering if it’s going to happen again”

tion after the rape is shock and withdrawal and they carry on, cope. They feel ashamed and hide the ‘horrible fact’ that they have been a victim. They’ll seldom express hostility toward the rapist, they’re more hostile toward themselves. Why did it happen to me, why did I let it happen, was it my fault?”

Most men, and a lot of women, believe that rape is a kind of seduction and, if a woman is raped, that somewhere deep down inside she really did want to be. “That’s why a lot of rapists don’t have any consciousness of having done something wrong, of not really pleasing the woman,” says Barbara Betcherman of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre. “They ask their victims questions like, ‘Did you enjoy it?’ ” Doctors, policemen and lawyers ask that question too. Betcherman tells the story of the gynecologist who told the centre staff that “there is one type of woman I would have a hard time believing was raped: a woman between 16 and 25, on the pill and no longer a virgin.”

As Susan Cockerton points out, it is important that women at least take a look at the prevailing myths about rape and explain why people believe in them. Why do some women flirt and tease and then refuse sexual intercourse even though they would like to do it? Why are some rape victims chewed alive by guilt and remorse? Why do they think they invited the attack? What exactly is going on here?

Until 1958, when American criminologist Menachem Amir carried out an extensive study of rape (the only systematic research on the subject at all) and elaborated the thesis of “victim-precipitated” rape, almost all of the academic discussion about the crime was concerned with the actions of the offender, not his victim. Traditionally, the victim had been seen either as an innocent virgin preyed upon by loutish and lustful men or as a tramp who “asked” for it. With the notion of victim-precipitated rape, the analysis of the reasons behind rape became more subtle but not necessarily more acute.

Victim-precipitated rape is defined by Amir as “those rape situations in which the victims actually, or so it was interpreted by the offender (italics mine) — agreed to sexual relations but retracted before the actual act or did not react strongly enough when the suggestion was made by the offender(s).” Several questionable ideas are implied in this definition besides the conventional notion that raped women somehow “asked for it.” Victimology puts the primary emphasis on what the victim was doing, why he or she was attractive to the offender, if there was anything peculiar about the victim that was selected. In a way it makes good sense to recognize that in order for a criminal act to take place there must be an offender and a victim; both have to be part of the event happening. But what Amir suggests is that some women may actually be rapeprone the way others are accidentprone. Something about them — their dress, their language, their gestures, the places they’re seen in and the company they keep — is a signal interpreted by the rapist that they are sexually available.

The question raised by the victimology thesis is the same one that is raised by the procedures women are subjected to in rape trials: just who is being charged with the ultimate responsibility for the crime? Are women really responsible for the interpretation a man makes of their behavior? Should we believe that women who have been raped secretly nourished the pornographic fantasy of arousing some unsuspecting male and lured him in assault them?

Surely, there is a difference between the terror of being physically invaded by a hostile attacker and the pleasures of a fantasy in which you are guiltlessly made love to by the man of your choice. To confuse the two is to make the grossest error of judgment about female sexuality. It gets men neatly off the hook of having to examine their own responsibility. It implies that we can blame the victim in part, when a rape occurs.

In a way, most women seem to accept the victimology thesis instinctively. As if to protect ourselves from the masculine imagination, we barricade ourselves behind locked doors, avoid looking at strangers on the street, and every nerve alive with dread we walk in fear when we’re alone at night.

I remember the horror stories, the almost inverted fairy tales about male sexuality that I was told just about the time I was old enough to walk. I remember being instructed in a quiet kind of fear and terror, being warned about strange men with candy offerings, young boys in gangs in schoolyards, young men with one-track minds. I learned to be “careful” by the time I was five. And it’s not that these scenarios are without foundation in reality; little girls are murdered, boys are compelled by collective sadism. The important aspect of this feminine education is surely that some women are taught in a not-so-subtle way that they are helpless before this threatening male sexuality.

In their booklet, Rape, The Crime Against Women, the workers at Toronto’s Rape Crisis Centre describe the situation succinctly: “The man comes to the confrontation knowing that he is strong and capable; he has no doubt about his ability to defeat a woman . . . (Women) have been taught to fight verbally instead of physically. Moreover, we have developed a concern for the rights and feelings of others that is not matched by an equal concern for our own. Brought up to avoid dangerous situations instead of learning to cope with them, we doubt both our physical ability to fight off an attacker and our right to hurt him in order to stop him from hurting us. Under the circumstances, no wonder the attacker is so confident — women have been trained to throw the fight.”

Physically maltreated, verbally abused, psychologically battered by the experience, rape victims often suffer a double victimization.

Six months after the rape trial, Lorraine is married and is still trying to get herself back to the point where she can study and work again. After the rape, she had to quit nursing school because she found she couldn’t concentrate, read a book or keep her mind focused on anything. She spent weeks waking night after night screaming from violent nightmares and finally went to a psychiatrist. And it was several weeks after her marriage before she could bear to have sex with her husband.

“My nerves are shot. Since the rape, I haven’t been out at night alone. I won’t go to Mac’s Milk alone. No way. I won’t take the chance. I don’t even talk to anybody I don’t know, especially men. I learned my lesson the hard way.”

The “lesson” she learned, she says, is that “in this society a woman cannot go out and drink alone. She’s not permitted.” When he first learned of the rape, the man she married told her she had “encouraged” it by being alone in a bar in the first place. “But I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. It was early evening and I had come in with a friend.

I wasn’t flaunting myself. On the one hand, I guess it was pretty silly of me to stay alone drinking in the bar but, on the other hand, I had a right to be there. What is life supposed to be, anyway — just sitting in a cell not having anything to do with people?

“The worst thing about this whole experience is wohdering if it’s going to happen again. Every man, every man, is a potential rapist. Every single man.”

The women at the rape crisis centre, who helped her through the trial, have encouraged Lorraine to study law. “They say I have the mind for it, that I could help other women. I do want to help, even in my own small way. When I feel stronger, I’m going to work at the centre.”

When we who have not been raped live our lives out by avoiding dangerous situations and confrontations, by living in fear of rape, the result is that we become victims too; our actions, our lives are severely curtailed by what might be going on in men’s minds. Such theories as victim precipitation deflect us from dealing with the root causes of rape, and fix our thinking on false solutions: the changing of the victim.

Golda Meir wasn’t the first woman to point out that it’s men who should be locked up at night to make the streets safe for the rest of us. Blaming the victim means you can believe that women are raped because we are masochistic and lascivious, and not because our political and sexual exploitation makes us every man’s punching bag. fib

This is the first of two articles on rape by Myrna Kostash.