Several years ago India made news in a most unfortunate way. A woman and a man were assaulted by a gang of assailants on a bus. Both were beaten. The woman was raped and later died from her injuries. The rape of the women spawned global concern about sexual violence against women in India. The Indian government, in an effort to address the outrage, decided to update it sexual violence statutes. The government intended to remove the word ‘rape’ and replace it with ‘sexual assault’. The new legislation also proposed to include both sexes as potential victims and perpetrators.
However, the latter caused outrage among feminist and women’s groups who considered it ridiculous allow women to be charged with rape. The women’s groups successfully petitioned the government to change the wording of the proposed law, making it impossible to charge women with rape (although women can still be charged with sexual violence). This was not limited to adults. In the previous years women’s group also opposed a law that would allow women to be charged with rape against children. This too was successfully opposed and altered at feminist and women’s groups’ behest.
Now it appears Israeli women’s groups are doing the same thing:
The Knesset Law Committee on Tuesday decided to postpone a vote on second and third reading of a bill to add the crime of rape by a woman to the statute book after women’s organizations warned that it would lead to a situation where women would be afraid to charge men with rape.
According to the proposal, an amendment to the Penal Law, a woman who causes or makes it possible for a person to insert his (or her) bodily organ or an object into her sexual organ will be charged with rape, forbidden intercourse by consent, sodomy or sex offenses within the family, depending on the circumstances of the act.
The law applies to women who perform the above on adult men and women, as well as on minors of either sex. […] The Knesset passed the bill according to the wording demanded by the government in first reading and sent it back to the Knesset Law Committee to prepare it for second and final readings. But at Tuesday’s discussion, the legislation hit a minefield when representatives of women’s organizations unanimously opposed it.
According to attorney Ruth Eldar of the Noga Center of the Ono Academic College, men will take advantage of the legislation to defend themselves against rape charges by accusing the women of raping them.
“The bill will cause women to stop complaining to police when they are raped by providing men with a formal alibi in court,” she warned. “The law treats men and women as being equal when it is obvious that in these matters, the men are the stronger ones.”
This was the same argument used by Indian feminists and women’s rights activists and, much like that case, those arguing it in Israel provide zero evidence to support the claim. The current problem is simple: the law presently excludes females as potential rapists. Two members filed to change the law so that it would allow women to be indicted for raping minors. The Justice Ministry decided that the law should include acts against adults as well, and insisted for the changes.
This is a reasonable position. Even if one assumes that women rarely commit sex offenses, it makes no sense to have laws that prevent one from charging women who do commit such crimes. At present, that is what the law does. According to the article, while there is language within the existing law that allows women to be charged, it has not been applied to women. The alteration of the law likely will not change that, although it will make it clear that the law does indeed apply to women as well as men.
This really should not pose a problem for anyone, yet Eldar seems to think otherwise. Eldar argued that women should only face charges if:
they encourage minors or helpless people to insert a bodily organ or object into their bodies.
That would apparently mean that adult men and women cannot be considered helpless when a woman forces them to insert something into her body without their permission. The very definition that the government uses — “makes it possible for a person to insert his (or her) bodily organ or an object into her sexual organ will be charged with rape, forbidden intercourse by consent, sodomy or sex offenses within the family, depending on the circumstances of the act” — implies that the person did not consent. By that logic, the person is helpless.
Eldar’s argument hinges on the notion of the counter-charge, the idea that if woman claims rape the man could claim she raped him:
“What will happen now is that every time a woman files a criminal complaint against a man for rape, he will countercharge that the woman caused him to penetrate her body, that he did it without wanting to,” she said. “He will then make a counter complaint, so that there will be two files in court, his against hers. This will block women, silence them and prevent them from going to the police.”
How will this block or silence women? Nothing stops them from filing the complaint. The police would investigate both complaints and file charges for the one that is supported by evidence. More so, most people do not believe women can rape men, so even if a male rapist decided to try this out, it is unlikely to succeed. It is more likely that a female rapist would claim she was raped by her victim if the victim were male because that is something that people would actually believe.
I searched for an example of a man claiming an accuser raped him and could not find any examples of this tactic succeeding. Perhaps my readers can search and see if they find something different. I cannot fathom how this would succeed without it being a situation in which the accused was a minor or mentally diminished. It seems unlikely that anyone would believe a man accused of rape claiming the accuser raped him.
Much like the situation in India, Eldar offered little more than a strawman argument and a red herring designed to do one thing: prevent women from being charged with sex crimes.
I think one can guess why. One of the most common narratives in anti-rape activism is the notion that sexual violence is the purview of men. It is something men do to women as an act of oppression and subjugation. The moment one entertains the idea that it is something women can do to men, that afore mentioned narrative falters. If rape is something that happens to men, then clearly is not specifically an act of oppression against women. If rape is something women can commit, then clearly is not specifically an act of subjugation by men. It would simply be a typical human behavior, one of the many abhorrent things we do to each other.
Yet that is not as sexy and politically useful as blaming men for rape. So it would be better to silence the issue, hide from view, and make it next to impossible to ever hold women accountable for their actions. Then it can still be a tool for smashing strawmen and scapegoats and peddling conspiracy theories. No need to pay any mind to reality when a fantasy will suffice.
The vote for the change to the law was postponed, and the Justice Ministry is apparently willing to consider dropping the inclusion of rape against adults by women. I suspect that this situation will end like the one in India, with women’s groups getting their way and successfully blocking the inclusion of women as potential rapists. I also suspect that when successful, women’s groups will petition for the removal of charging women with rape against minors as well. That is, unfortunately, the typical feminist position.
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Why, I find myself asking, are so many legal definitions of female-on-male rape stuck on the made-to-penetrate type of descriptions.
-a person who touches, with any part of his or her body, or causes to be touched another man or woman’s sexual organs without their consent shall be charged with rape.-
See how much more straightforward that is? In fact, it is inherently gender neutral. And I think it brings to mind more realistic female rapist scenarios. You do not need to physically overpower someone to reach down their pants and grab their crotch. And if the victim is not erect, that does not change the fact that you are raping them.
I’m not saying that women can’t or don’t force men to penetrate. But it is needlessly specific. And it makes it sound like the perpetrator is the person whose is at risk of bodily harm. No man has ever been injured by a woman penetrating her genitals – men are injured by women bending, twisting, hitting, or stretching HIS genitals to do it!
I don’t think this would eliminate the women’s groups who oppose these laws on the grounds that it could protect a male rapist, but it would make their position much less persuasive. When a woman rapes a man, it does not look like identical to a man raping a woman, only her fault somehow. Why do laws describe it that way?
We know from abuse narratives that women who physically abuse men often tell the victim, “don’t tell the cops or I’ll tell them you abused me.” Yet you won’t hear any rational person claim that women should not be able to accuse men of abuse. Madness.
Oh God, I heard about this. If this is what ‘feminism'(tm) has to offer to dealing with rape (or laughably ‘ending’ rape) then the movement is not fit for purpose by any stretch of the imagination.
That is because this is the most common type of sexual assault that could occur.
It needs to be specific because we are describing a particular act: sexual intercourse. The definition you provided — a person who touches, with any part of his or her body, or causes to be touched another man or woman’s sexual organs without their consent shall be charged with rape — would count fondling someone as rape, which I think is wrong.
This is why using the phrase “made to penetrate” is useful. It implies force so that one need not explain how males could be injured. It also implies coercion and threats, which addresses your concern about rapists who do not use physical force.
We need straightforward language precisely so that when people like these women’s groups oppose the laws we can see exactly what it is they are opposing.
TS, are you aware that the article re Israel is from 2010?
“The definition you provided — would count fondling someone as rape”
Yes. That’s the point! Current laws exclude entire categories of non-penetrative sex- “fondling”, hand jobs, grinding, intercrural, foot stuff, etc.- on the basis that it isn’t typical sex. So what? Rape is not typical sex, and I suspect that male rape victims are dispropotionately more likely to be subjected to non-penetrative sex acts simply because it is easier for the rapist. We shouldn’t excuse this strategy because it doesn’t make it less traumatic for the victim.
Of course there’s no data on how often this happens- but that’s because we aren’t looking for it, or even punishing it when it occurs.
Also, with regards to light “fondling” incidents that might not be rape, what I am proposing is only the active language of the law. The details and enforcement need not be draconian. If we want to excuse sexual contact because it is brief, unintentional, or a one time incident that is one thing- if something is considered not rape simply because the rapist was not interested in being penetrated that is much worse.
Yes, Greg, I am aware of the age of the article. Unfortunately, the only other information I could find about the situation was this 2013 article recapping the need to change the law. There may be more Israeli sources that I am missing because I cannot read their language.
Peter, I do not think fondling is rape. I would consider that sexual assault. You would be surprised by how frequently male victims are penetrated and forced to penetrate. Acknowledging the latter would resolve many issues. I do not think expanding the definition of rape would solve much of anything. It would simply reduce the meaning of the word.
When we say “rape” we want to make sure people know we mean “non-consensual penetrative sexual intercourse”. As long as that definition allows for the victim to also be forced to penetrate, I see no problem with keeping the definition limited to that specific act.
Good point, PM.
Both the Indian and israeli women’s advocates seem to think that the second both make accusations, the man will automatically be believed. They are completely unaware of the usual systemic bias against men even when rapes do occur, or how men are less likely to report being raped.
Peter: “-a person who touches, with any part of his or her body, or causes to be touched another man or woman’s sexual organs without their consent—”
—actually, Peter, that’s called “Molestation”.