Saturday, April 25, 2009



By : Ms. Geraldine F. Goldman-Marquez, J.D., M.D., Ph.D., M.P.A., D.D.S., C.P.A., D.V.M., Wyoming State Champion Skeet Shooter (1989); Art History Expert; Chairwoman, Fly-Fishing & Big-Game Hunting Association of Northern Montana; President and Chief Spokeswoman, The National Association for Gender Equality Everywhere and Forever.

In Connecticut last week, authorities charged a woman with rape. Newspapers reacted with horror, quoting police officials who claimed that this was an “extraordinary case” because “women do not commit rape.” Reports also quoted shocked acquaintances. They all said: “Mrs. X could not have raped that child. She is a caring, tender woman.” Court officials say that no woman has ever been convicted for rape in Connecticut. That is not surprising; after all, for centuries in every American State, the rape statute defined the offense: “Rape means the carnal knowledge by a man of a woman not his wife against her will (emphasis added).” Grammatically, only men could commit rape. Only brutal men could seize and defile innocent, pliable women. Here, as in almost every other legal field, the law condescended toward women, making assumptions about their merit, their inclinations and their capacities. Although Connecticut rewrote the rape law to encompass male-on-male rape and female rape, we have yet to see prosecutors bring a case against a woman. Today, Connecticut faces a historic challenge in the battle for absolute gender equality.

We demand that women be liable for rape. We refuse to live in a society that assumes that women cannot do all the things men can do. Rape laws reflect misogynistic, outdated prejudices about women’s roles. They assume that women are “objects” who must be protected from dominant male aggression. Even if women sexually abuse other women, men or children, the law stands idly by, calling such behavior an “abomination.” It does not prosecute sexually violent women because it assumes that “women do not do such things.” Yes they do. And we have a right to be just as vicious, sexually perverse, lascivious, cruel, savage and bloodthirsty as the worst male rapist. We take equality seriously. True gender equality does not exist when women only enjoy beneficial opportunities open to men, such as voting, drinking and working in government. Rather, true gender equality exists only when women enjoy both every opportunity open to men, and suffer every potential liability open to men. Rape is a major criminal liability. Although the law technically covers women now, no prosecutor has dared to charge a woman for the offense. We refuse to accept the law’s stereotypically sexist protection from rape liability any longer. We are women. We are equal to men in all things, good or bad. We do not just stay home, sew and cook meals. We can rape, too.

In the Connecticut case, the female suspect allegedly violated a male child by inserting objects into his body cavities. This is not the first time such conduct has taken place in North America. Yet this is the first time prosecutors have initiated formal proceedings against a woman for it. We applaud Connecticut for pressing forward against this woman. We urge prosecutors not to heed the public outcry defending this criminal. She is a woman, but she is just as much a criminal as a male would be in the same circumstances. We defend her right to be legally judged for sexual deviancy, violence and brutality. We reject all reasoning that “women cannot be sexually deviant, violent or brutal” because women are “nicer” or “daintier” than men. This is Victorian balderdash. It is 2009, not 1879. Women have a right to equal treatment under the law, and that means equal liability for rape. Men do not have a monopoly on sexual viciousness. Women, too, can depredate other people’s sexual integrity to satisfy their carnal lusts or assert their power. Men are not the only ones who commit atrocities for pleasure. Women have insatiable passions, too. And they are equally able to turn those passions into violent, shocking and horrific crimes.

Our Constitution provides that both the Federal government and the States must provide “equal protection” under the law. That means that no law may make distinctions between men and women unless those distinctions are “substantially related to an important governmental purpose supported by an ‘exceedingly persuasive justification.’” See, e.g., United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996). But the constitutional standard says nothing about equal liability under the law. We believe that women have a right not only to equal legal protection, but also equal legal liability. We have won the war for equal employment opportunities, equal pay and equal political rights. But the law continues to treat us like defenseless damsels because it refuses to hold us liable for so-called “male crimes” like rape. We assert that this is unconstitutional. We demand the right to face equal suspicion, equal condemnation and equal moral revulsion for committing the same acts as men. This is the only way to truly equalize our society. As long as the law countenances gender-based stereotypes in any field—no matter how well-meaning or benign—it perpetuates the same injustice that has always plagued our Republic with regard to women’s rights. We demand an end to injustice. We demand equal liability for rape NOW.

Some legal scholars will argue that differential liability for female rape is appropriate because rape implicates a “real gender difference” between men and women. See, e.g., Michael M. v. Superior Court, 450 U.S. 464 (1981). In that case, the Court held that because women could become pregnant and men could not, the “effects of rape” fell upon women more severely than upon men. That “real gender difference” justified holding only men liable for rape. We wholly disagree with this reasoning because it makes unwarranted assumptions about women and rape. It is true that only women can become pregnant. But that biological difference has nothing to do with the reasons why the law condemns rape. Rape may lead to pregnancy, but impregnating the victim is certainly not the actor’s primary purpose. Instead, rape involves the assertion of raw, sexual power over an object, whether the object resists or not. Rape involves sexual integrity and control over the body. The rapist commits a terrible crime because he or she forces the victim to intimately use his or her body in a way he or she does not want to be used. The rapist does this merely to satisfy his or her base lusts, completely disregarding the victim’s bodily and spiritual well-being in the process. Typically, rape involves violence. Sometimes it does not. In either event, however, rape degrades and humiliates the victim solely to placate the rapist’s sexual desire. That is the heart of the crime. The fact that pregnancy may result from male-on-female rape does not change the crime’s essential character. In short, you do not need a penis to commit rape. You must merely be a sexually violent, ruthless, unrepentant person determined to sate your sexual urges against another person’s will. Being sexually violent, ruthless and unrepentant is not a “real gender difference.” Women can be just as sexually violent, ruthless and unrepentant as men. For that reason, there is no justification in either logic or law to accord differential treatment to women for rape.

We are not hypocrites. We believe in absolute equality. We are not “fair-weather crusaders.” The battle for gender equality did not end when women obtained beneficial advantages in society. No, the battle rages on. Now, we must fight the battle for equal liability. As long as the law refuses to hold us liable for despicable sexual offenses, it perpetuates stereotypes about women. When the law says: “Women cannot do such things,” it makes assumptions about our character as women. This is a fundamental injustice. We do not want the law to evaluate our character as women. We want the law to simply evaluate our character. There is no “woman character” or “man character.” There are not things that “only women do” or “only men do.” The law must understand this. Women can be irrepressible sexual deviants just as readily as men, no matter what the Victorian prudes say to the contrary. In fact, we demand that the law evaluate us for our flaws as well as for our merits. We insist that society stop assuming that women can “do no wrong” in certain areas “because we are women.” Yes we can. We can be just as naughty, evil, merciless and cruel as men. People should not assume that a man commits every violent and shocking act that appears in the news. Nor should they gasp when they hear that a woman committed some atrocity. We can be just as atrocious as men. We may not be as physically intimidating as men, but we can stab, shoot and thrash if our muscles prove insufficient to the task. We do not want legal and social solicitude. We do not want to benefit from outmoded, chivalrous assumptions about quaint “women’s ways.” We just want to be regarded the same as men in every way, and that includes liability for rape.

We may not have penises. But we can savagely violate orifices just as effectively as a man. And we should be punished just as severely for it, too. Equality means taking the good with the bad. When the law gives women advantages at the same time it protects them from liability because they are women, we perpetuate injustice. It is a new day; it is time to stop thinking that women cannot be sexually violent and heartless. We are not dainty maidens. We are not always peaceful creatures who wear frilly dresses and cook dinners. We can be tattooed, recalcitrant rapists, thugs, killers and child molesters, too. The next time you look at a woman, do not assume she is a flimsy, meek little kitten. She can be an ogre, just like you.

No comments: