Why Rape Culture is a Dangerous Myth: From Steubenville to Ched Evans by Luke Gittos
|Why Rape Culture is a Dangerous Myth: From Steubenville to Ched Evans by Luke Gittos|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It seems that society is obsessed by rape and sexual assaults: Luke Gittos believes that it's a dangerous myth.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 140||Date: September 2015|
|Publisher: Imprint Academic|
|External links: Author's website|
It is said that we live in a rape culture. Tabloid headlines scream that the number of rapes is on the increase and that the police and the courts are failing to deal with the problem. There's a belief that the rate of conviction is consistently low. It's also said that sexism and misogyny have created a society in which rape is a regular occurrence, frequently not reported to the police and that society at large doesn't really care. Luke Gittos, a solicitor practicing criminal law, argues that these claims are based on myths and misunderstandings of the statistics and that far from improving the way that rape and sexual assaults are dealt with it's actually working against the interests of victims.
I came to this books from a rather strange directions. I'd just read Night Games: A Journey to the Dark Side of Sport by Anna Krien, which suggests that a sense of entitlement amongst top sportsmen (primarily in rugby and football) regularly leads to situations where women are used as sexual playthings, often by a group of teammates. It left an ugly taste in the mouth and I looked for a counterpoint to allow me to look at a wider view rather than one which put a group of men whom I'd never meet - or want to meet - under the microscope. Gittos has experience in defending allegations of rape and sexual violence and regularly writes about legal developments in this field and about defendants' rights.
Gittos is particularly strong on recent developments in the law relating to sexual violence, showing how it is intruding into our intimate lives in ways in which most people would not feel reasonable. The result is that more people are being tried for rape (or other sexual violence), but fewer are being convicted. Whilst there is publicity about the fall in convictions the other side of the coin is that more innocent people are facing trial. The figures given are thoroughly examined and the arguments are compelling, if disheartening.
I'm used to reading about sexual violence from the victim's point of view and it was interesting and thought-provoking to consider the problem from a different perspective. In places it was challenging: I'd failed to appreciate the extent to which I'd absorbed many of the myths about sexual violence and I really did have to rethink many of my attitudes and shake out a lot of easy assumptions. Going back to the basic principle that a defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty and realising that this must equally apply to violence against women and girls clarified quite a few points in my mind.
It used to be that cases were tried in courts, but there's been an increasing reliance on social media by people who perceive themselves as victims. The results can be devastating for the person complained against (I hesitate to call someone a defendant in this situation as there would seem to be little to do to defend themselves) and 'hashtag justice' is becoming common. (It's a different crime, but most people will remember the devastating effect that social media had on Christopher Jefferies where he was 'tried' and found guilty of the murder of Joanna Yeates, mainly because he looked different.) This chapter was perhaps the easiest to read in the book and one which I sped through, nodding wisely. Other chapters were slower going - I read over several days, despite there being only 140 pages, but then this is an academic text.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Night Games: A Journey to the Dark Side of Sport by Anna Krien is interesting and worth reading. For a fictionalised look at how defendants suffer in rape cases, we can recommend Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Why Rape Culture is a Dangerous Myth: From Steubenville to Ched Evans by Luke Gittos at Amazon.com.
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