#6804Not only is the victim’s response during the act measured and weighed, her past sexual history is scrutinized under the theory that it relates to her “tendency to consent”, or that it reflects on her credibility, her veracity, her predisposition to tell the truth or to lie. Or so the law says. As it works out in practice, juries presented with evidence concerning a woman’s past sexual history make use of such information to form a moral judgment on her character, and here all the old myths of rape are brought into play, for the feeling persists that a virtuous woman either cannot get raped or does not get into situations that leave her open to assault. Thus the questions in the jury room become “Was she or wasn’t she asking for it?”; “If she had been a decent woman, wouldn’t she have fought to the death to defend her ‘treasure’?”; and “Is this bimbo worth the ruination of a man’s career and reputation?”
#6824Fear of false accusation is not entirely without merit in any criminal case, as is the problem of misidentification, an honest mistake, but the irony, of course, is that while men successfully convinced each other and us that women cry rape with ease and glee, the reality of rape is that victimized women have always been reluctant to report the crime and seek legal justice—because of the shame of public exposure, because of that complex double standard that makes a female feel culpable, even responsible, for any act of sexual aggression committed against her, because of possible retribution from the assailant (once a woman has been raped, the threat of a return engagement understandably looms large), and because women have been presented with sufficient evidence to come to the realistic conclusion that their accounts are received with a harsh cynicism that forms the first line of male defense.