A tale of not quite romance: Two young adults meet for the first time at a party. Sparks fly. Alcoholic is consumed. Then it’s back to her place and into bed for some foreplay. They fall asleep, later having sex as the day dawns. Fabulous. The End.
Not exactly: She says she didn’t consent; he says she didn’t refuse. He’s arrested. A seven day trial ends with a hung jury. No word yet on a possible retrial.
Rape obsessive Clementine Ford slightly modifies the story to make it fit the “rape culture” narrative:
A New Zealand cricketer charged with rape had his trial conclude with a hung jury last week. The group of eight men and four women failed to reach a unanimous verdict over the alleged assault, and the accused, Scott Kuggeleijn, will be allowed to play when the cricket season begins in October, before he is re-tried.
A lie by omission: the jury also failed to reach a majority verdict.
Kuggeleijn, who plays for Northern Districts, is accused of raping a 20 year old woman in May 2015. After meeting at a friend’s house, the pair had gone to bed together where they engaged in some “kissing and fondling”.
Another lie by omission: They traveled to her place and it was her bed, in a shared flat.
Unsurprisingly, cross-examination from Kuggeleijn’s lawyer appeared to fixate on the voracity with which the woman ‘resisted‘. Defence counsel Philip Morgan argued that the woman had not said ‘no’ in the moment immediately before Kuggeleijn allegedly perpetrated the assault, and that she didn’t repeatedly say ‘no’ while it was happening. Because apparently consent is something to be wheedled or goaded out of someone; wear them down enough until they give in, and they might as well have said yes anyway. Right?
Defence council doesn’t appear to “fixate” on the “voracity” – Ford was obviously looking forward to her next feeding – with which the woman “resisted” (none of the news reports I’ve seen have defence council using any form of “resist”). And if being “wheedled or goaded” is likely to overwhelm it’s best not to invite a man into your bed for some “kissing and fondling”.
In his questioning, Morgan asked if Kuggeleijn’s alleged victim understood the difference “between a woman relenting and a woman consenting”.
This distinction between ‘relenting’ and ‘consenting’ is a crucial point that’s so often missed or simply ignored by those seeking to find excuses for perpetrators accused of sexual assault.
Either way it’s a “yes”.
It seems astonishing that we keep finding ourselves in the position of needing to remind people what sexual consent looks like, but here we are.
Sexual consent usually looks like a satisfied smile.
There is ample data to demonstrate the existence of the ‘freeze response’, and it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to understand the impulse behind it.
Frozen? The alleged victim was able to repeatedly say “no” but didn’t call out.
Most circumstances of sexual assault do not follow the prescribed outline of Evil Monster Lurking In Alleyway.
True. This “Evil Monster” wasn’t exactly lurking, he was invited into the woman’s bed for “kissing and fondling”.
‘Relenting’ is not the same as ‘consenting’. Especially not when clear directives to a person’s wishes have been repeatedly given and summarily discarded.”
The jury was unable to decide if the “victim” issued directives that were “discarded”.”
” This is one of the other great tricks that rape culture plays: forcing its victims into accepting some kind of complicity in their assault by twisting what is essentially an act of self preservation into an act of grudging compliance.”
Pretty tricky is rape culture: best you not invite it around for cards or sanction it dating your little sister.
Someone says no? No problem. Just keep pushing until that no either becomes a yes or just a conspicuous bubble of silence.
If at first you don’t succeed…
How many times do we need to talk about the importance of affirmative or enthusiastic consent before that message sinks in? How many times must we remind people that consenting to kissing is not the same as consenting to sex? That going to bed with someone isn’t signing away your right to dictate the terms of what happens to you once in that bed?
How many times must we talk about poor judgement creating unfortunate situations?
I’ve heard too many accounts from women – many of whom are my friends – about their own experiences of ‘relenting’ to coercion.
Ford proudly proclaims she only associates with like minded people.
We need to talk to our children about sex and consent, but we need to talk to other adults about it too. We need to talk to our friends, our siblings, our colleagues and even – or especially – our partners.
No we don’t.
For too long, the message around rape education was that No Means No. But it seems clear that to all too many people, ‘no’ doesn’t mean anything except ‘try harder’.
Good point. No matter how hard I try not to, I think Econovan vagina very time I hear “Ford”.
Relenting isn’t consenting. And if that’s your benchmark for what mutual sexual engagement looks like, I have news for you – you are not a good person.
Agreed. But “not a good person” is not the same as “rapist”.