July 12, 2007
Just keep your mouth shut
I sometimes read feminist blogs. (Dr. Steph and I had a conversation at Knit Night last night where we said that we would both read them more except neither of us wants to be angry and exhausted all the time...which is problematic, but true.) I got to feeling sort of guilty on the way home that I wasn't keeping up and so this morning I made a quick tour and read up. One story in particular caught my eye. (Well, it caught my eye after the hysterical blindness caused by learning that women who think this sort of thing is wrong are referred to in some circles as "feminist supremacists" abated.)
Tory Bowen says that she was raped. Actually, Tory Bowen, was pre-law at college when she had a drink at a bar that was the last thing she remembers until she woke up in a strangers bed, with a stranger, who was doing something she hadn't consented to. (That would be the rape.) She went to the emergency room, was treated and had a rape kit done and called the police. The police charged her attacker with 1st degree sexual assault and a trial was set. That's where things got weird.
The judge decided that many words around this issue were too inflammatory. That they made the defendant sound guilty, and that they implied a crime...."Rape" is a legal conclusion- he thought. We cannot call it rape until a jury says it's rape. (Hear that women? You can't know something is rape until there's a vote. I suppose being there doesn't grant you any special insight.) So he banned some words. Nobody in his courtroom may use these words, when it comes to this trial:
No one can say that the hospital did a "Rape Kit" and they can't say that at the hospital she was treated by the "Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner." In fact, inside the courtroom no one can even say that the defendant is charged with 1st Degree Sexual Assault.
So what, if anything, was allowed?
Ms. Bowen is allowed to say that she and the defendant had "sex" or "intercourse", which she complains (and very rightly so) implies the exact opposite to a jury, that the acts were consensual and non-traumatic.
Worse than this...perhaps the worst of all, the jury did not know that the words were banned. The jury was never instructed that the ruling was made at all. Can you imagine being a juror at a trial where a man is accused of not even sexual assault, but just sex?
A trial where the victim (oh, crap. Forgot we can't call her that.) the "complainant" can't say she was forced? A trial where the victim never accuses her attacker of rape?
If you were a juror, how seriously would you take a woman who testified about what happened to her for 13 hours without ever using a single word that implied that she thought what had happened to her was a crime?
Not surprisingly, the first trial resulted in a hung jury. A second trial is about to start and the same ban is still in place. The judges name is Judge Jeffre Cheuvront and he is a judge in Nebraska. There is an interview with Tory Bowen here, on the CBC (it's the first story in Part 1) and it's well worth listening to.
Whether or not you think Ms. Bowen was raped, forced to have sex, was sexually assaulted had sex with her attacker, the defendant is irrelevant. Limiting how rape victims can describe what happens to them is prejudicial to a jury and insulting to the victim. it's also insulting to the jury to not tell them that you've banned language at all. (A friend of mine pointed out that this ban is actually insulting to every single person involved except the defendant.) If this offends you, please consider taking a moment to tell someone how you feel about this. If you live in Nebraska you can find your Senator here. You can file a complaint about an attorney or a judge here. If you don't live in Nebraska, maybe your Senator knows a Nebraska Senator?
Tell them that until the words "victim" "attacked" or "forced" are banned from all trials, until at a robbery trial we say that "the interested party liberated some property and nobody minded" or at a murder trial the only thing that can be said about a serial killer who brutally murdered twenty people is "he may have reduced to zero the life energy of the other concerned parties" - that this is sort of obviously about women and their rights.
(See what I mean about the anger and exhaustion?)
PS. (Added at 3:30, when I still couldn't stop thinking about this)
I've been thinking a lot about the language Ms. Bowen is allowed to use, and trying to think of a sentence using only "sex" or "intercourse" that could possibly stand in for the phrase "he raped me" or any other phrase that makes it sound like something was done "to" her, rather than "with" her. Interestingly, I've discovered that I can't. Every time I use one of her two allowed words, I have to use the word "we" or "with" to make it work (you can't say "he sexed me", you must say "he had sex with me" or "we had intercourse" ) all of which imply she was a partner in the process. Try it.
I'm still mad.
Posted by Stephanie at July 12, 2007 12:24 PM
How much can we bet that this judge does not have any daughters? And probably no sisters?
That's ridiculous! How can anyone believe this is okay??? I see a Supreme Court case in the future... Thanks for blogging about this or I wouldn't have known! Grrrr.
Ridiculous is right! I can't believe this.
Once again I cringe at the extreme stupidity of the US legal system (it can hardly be called a "justice" system, can it?). Excellent post, and thanks for the links to contacting our representatives.
Oh good Lord. I like to think of this country (the States) as being fairly enlightened, but then things like this happen.Banning words and concepts doesn't mean that the acts they represent don't exist or didn't happen. How unbelievably Orwellian and just plain stupid.
That is so ridiculous and hard to believe, that I believe it. What a jackass that judge is - don't you have to have some basic level of intelligence and common sense to be a judge?? I am incapable of understanding how anyone could hear about this case and not find it ridiculous, insulting, and terribly terribly wrong.
To say I'm stunned beyond words is small. This makes me think of all the men who think that most women "deserve" to be raped. Of a judge in my home state several years ago who, when presiding over the case of sexual molestation of a 5-yo girl actually said, in court, that she was undoubtedly the most alluring 5-yo he'd ever encountered. Some men should be stapled to a stump by their balls and given a rusty knife.
It sounds to me that this woman was a victim, oh, excuse me, a recipient of a date rape drug, oops, a "mickey". I wonder if a tox screen was done for her. To see such shenanigans going on in our court system in this day and time is revolting.
That judge should be impeached and taken off the bench immediately. Its obvious he's already made up his mind as to the innocence of the accused. I am proud to be a citizen of the USA and I think most of us would be as disgusted as you are. Hope that court gets a ton of protests.
I am ashamed! I think that this politially correct nonsense has gone FAR ENOUGH!!!
I may think that there are some times when it is a GOOD idea for mothers to stay at home with the kids (God knows I wanted to!), but that doesn't mean that ....oooohhhHH!!!! I can't even TYPE!
I'd read about this and was shocked, but dumbfounded as what I could do to voice my objections & outrage since I'm a Minnesota resident and this isn't a federal case. Your idea of voicing my objection to my senators - since they're working with the Nebraska senators is a fantastic idea.
I heard about this several days ago and was so emotionally upset by this I couldn't respond. I, too, don't want to be an angry woman but this is over the limit. I allowed a rape to go unreported out of fear and my heart breaks for the young woman. I've got half a mind to drive to Nebraska just to picket the trial. I wonder if the judge has daughters or a wife. My guess is he doesn't have either because he couldn't find anyone who would put up with his sorry self.
More on this topic here, on Language Log:
We in the US are living through a time where the laws are becoming more stringent and exacting against women, minorities, and workers in general, and much more lenient for corporations and polluters (not to mention those who perjure themselves in the service of their country, I'm told).
Mad as we might get, we must continue to hear about these cases, and demand accountability from our elected officials. Thanks for bringing this matter up in a forum that might reach those not familiar with what is going on in our courts.
The judge also just declared a mistrial in the second case because he was concerned that the publicity would interfere with the fair hearing of the case. The publicity would interfere, mind you - not his ridiculous gag order.
Wow, that's insulting to women everywhere.
It’s hateful and definitely perpetuates the "blame the victim" mentality that is attached to sex crimes.
I don't know whether to scream or cry.
I am a lawyer, albeit not in Nebraska (and have handled numerous criminal matters). This is outrageous and a complete miscarriage of justice. It seems very odd since those terms are in the criminal code and likely the charging documents and/or indictment. It's hard to imagine that he has not been removed from the case (and even harder to imagine that I had not heard of this before). Of course, now I have a headache and feel compelled to act!
Honestly, I was holding my breath the entire way through this post, hoping, praying that this was not an American trial. Oh how the current need for "fairness" (yes, I recognize the tragic irony here) makes me weary - and, at times like this, infuriated.
ps: I stopped reading the political blogs for the same reason.
Amazing. Thank you for posting this. I have forwarded your post (I guess I should have asked permission first, but I was so angry) to Bill O'Reilly who hosts The Factor on Fox News. This is just the sort of story that gets his ire up and he really goes after judges that do this kind of thing. Hopefully he'll pick it up.
Thank you for posting about this.
There is some critical work being done in the psychotherapeutic community by a man named Allan Wade (from Canada) that looks at this very thing: the way in which we language events -- in particular violence against women -- is not just a matter of "semantics". Language creates and maintains reality -- real-live reality where perpetrators don't go to jail for crimes they've committed because the language that's used has consent embedded in it. This is absolutely the most egregious example of this that I've heard.
One of the examples Allan Wade gives is the problem in calling something "sexual" that isn't "sexual" at all. He says, "If you use a frying pan to hit someone over the head, you don't call that cooking."
Thank you for writing in spite of your anger and exhaustion. We are all the better for it.
I think I still have a little hysterical blindness after reading this, but I'm going to comment anyway and try to be not hysterical. I'm thinking, in my heart of hearts, that this judge, in his heart of hearts, may not believe that rape is possible (you know, she really wanted it but is upset that I didn't buy her dinner so she's taking it out on me through court) or even that what happened to this woman (or any other woman in this kind of circumstance) is OK (you know, she really didn't mean no, she was just playing hard to get, etc., etc.). However judges in the US get to where they are, this needs to become such an issue that anyone with this kind of attitude is taken out of their position or never gets in this kind of position. (Not to mention that I think there could be some grounds for legal action to do with discrimination, promoting racial hatred, or something like that.) I will take some (small) comfort in the thought that he will have to answer to a higher power someday and I have a feeling that won't be pretty. Stephanie, your blog has moved many knitters to take action on other things so I am fully expecting to hear an uproar about this - in fact there will probably be a groundswell the likes of which has never been seen. I'm going to forward a link to your post to every American (and every Canadian) on my e-mail list and ask them to take whatever action they deem fit. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Chris S.
PS - would it be wrong to ponder the possibility of locking this judge in a cell with a few hard-core fellows who don't share his attitude and would like to persuade him that he's out of line? Just saying . . .
Now, ya'll, let's be NICE to the judge - you know, flies with honey. I'll start first. I'd like to offer him a free (in-home) piercing of both his testicles with a gold-plated, diamond crusted shock ring which we will all pass around the remote control and embrace him as a group. I'm sure it will deepen his understanding.....
I think I'm going to be sick. This story has actually made me feel dizzy and nauseated.
I...I just don't even know where to begin.
But that judge needs to be dismissed, that I know for sure.
I would call the judge an SOB, except that implies something about his mother that she probably doesn't deserve. Not that he would be able to make the distinction, of course.
I echo and applaid everything Dr. B says above.
I'm a peace loving kind of a person but sometimes I come across something, like this story, so absurdly outrageous I wonder what ever happened to public stoning. On the other hand, not being able to use words like burglary, murder, rape, victim, in court would cut down on overcrowding in prisons. (Please recognize this sentence as sarcasm or facetiousness — being a peace loving person I don't stray into this territory often and may not have the descriptive vocabulary exactly right.)
Yes, anger, exhaustion and I would have to add nausea.
I read more feminist blogs than knitting, but it's very hard sometimes. I'd heard about this judge a while back. Our system is strange - our judges are elected, but they aren't affiliated with either political party, and it's very very very hard to find out any background information about them. Once they're in, there's not a lot of oversight. It's depressing, the power they have, and the misuse of it. We still have rapists getting off because the 10-year-old victim was dressed seductively.
Does insanity reign? Did someone ban common sense? So, do the same rules apply when a robbery occurs? Or someone shoots and kills someone? Does this mean that eye witness testimony is no longer relevant? Are we going to go forward ignoring facts? Maybe Tory might have a better case with this ignoramous who calls himself a judge if she and her legal defense implemented a "kidnapping" issue - after all, this "alleged criminal" took Tory against her will, did he not? To say I am shocked by this would be a vast understatement. I say we all flood our elected representation with our concerns regarding this travesty of justice. It is shameful that we make the victim a victim again.
In my happy little place, somewhere in my brain, this woman would've been armed, or her 'kin' would've hunted the rapist down and dealt with him in the appropriate manner... there is more that one prescribed 'use' for a castration bander! Cami
WTF??!!! I've often said that too many people living in one country means that some of them don't get enough oxygen to their brains. This proves it.
It's this mentality and discrimination that keeps many women from coming forward about having been raped. It's hard enough to deal with the emotional issues after an attack. Having to go to court and be humiliated and made to look like some whiny little tease, this is almost worse than the rape itself. So many rapes go unreported because women are more afraid of the system (the very one that's supposed to be here to protect them) than they are of the man who raped them.
Words fail me. I wonder if the judge (who seems to have already judged the case) probably thinks the victim was asking for it since she was in a bar. What he has done is just unbelievable and makes a mockery of the justice system.
that is insane. I'm all about semantics. Granted a person is innocent until proven guilty, but to set up a court like that is terrible!
I can't believe that anyone can get away with that.
My email to my Delaware senator has been sent. Hopefully, as a presidential candidate his words will carry some weight. Thank you for bringing this to the light. As I stated in my email to Sen. Biden, it has taken years and years for women to become brave enough to use these words to protect and defend their bodies and now they are being thrown back in our faces as inflammatory. Yeah, they are inflammatory, unladylike and impolite. That's kinda the point.
link to an article in the Lincoln NE newspaper:
in which the judge describes himself as "a simple country judge" (duh?) and further states: “ 'I’ve always considered myself someone who doesn’t go very far' as a judge, he said."
I don't think he's going to go very far in the future, either.
(a followup story: http://journalstar.com/news/local/doc469652152182a872732942.txt )
First Kansas and now Nebraska. Steph - is there more room in Canada? I'm not sure I can take it much longer down here. Thank heavens for the sanity that is the Republic of California!
Oh you'd better believe I've jumped right on to my senators' webpages and written them. This is totally outrageous.
Words define reality. 1984, anyone? Doubleplusungood judge for sure :-P
Some commenter over at Slate left the number and address of the judge:
Here is his address and phone number:
Hall of Justice
575 S. 10th St.
Lincoln, NE 68508
Thanks for writing about this. I saw this on the news yesterday and I was sickened by it.
Sounds like someone needs to be removed from the bench and have his license suspended. Immediately. What a sexist, demeaning, mysogynistic toad. Grrrrrr.....
Well, I just bent the ears of both my Senators. Maybe if enough people freak out about this, something can be done. I just think this is crap and it is not only crap for her, it's crap for all of us. Lawyers, Judges, and all those types rely on prescendent and this case sets a dangerous one to be sure.
Wow, just Wow, some judges.
Words fail me. I can't even think.
I think I'm going to go be sick in a corner now.
This is really, really, REALLY weird. Whatever happened to #1 her (and everyone else's)constitutional rights to free speech, and #2 his constitutional right to know what he's being charged with? What a bunch of b.s. It totally flies in the face of habeus corpus. I can definitely see a Supreme Court case in this somewhere.
I read about this the other day and cried. As a survivor of sexual assault, I can vouch for the importance of language, not just in the legal case, but also in recovery. The judge essentially is telling Tory that she does not have a right to protect herself from the violence of others, or even to think of it as violence. The long-term psychological effects of that will be severe.
The judge should be removed from the bar and charged with sexual harassment, since his stance is essentially that.
This reminds me of a game that friends of mine used to own called "Taboo". It's the sort of thing that can be purchased in a box from places like Toys R Us, unless it has been discontinued. The idea is to get the rest of your team to say a word or phrase on a card without using the "taboo" words that are also on the card - like getting them to say "ladder" without saying climb or rung or roof or whatever. It is mostly fun to play and gets the little grey cells moving. Someone should give this judge this game so he can learn the difference between mind games for the fun of it and real life.
This whole thing definitely has Supreme Court written all over it if this judge doesn't straighten out. Maybe he hasn't heard about freedom of speech and right to a fair trial. There is language that is unfair and inflammatory and not appropriate to a courtroom (calling anyone a rat bastard for example), but that should not include the language that the typical person uses to describe what went on. This reminds me also of those folks who spend their lives tyring to talk without using the verb "to be" in all of its forms. Once again, a mental exercise of sorts but not very realistic.
I will be referring all my friends who ought to know about this to your post - I hope that server is a really good one and ready for some exercise!
I, too, rarely read feminist or political blogs, because I can only handle so much impotent rage and despair. I guess none of the people listed above would care about a letter from a Canadian, would they? I'm glad you have a lot of American readers who can write letters.
OMG! If I hadn't had a migraine before reading this, I certainly would have one after!
I can't even put my thoughts into words I'm so P.O'd! Thanks for sharing, we do need to stay informed about just how much we are not treated as equals!
Why didn't I copy this when I had it all written out..? Trying again.
IF YOU WANT TO FILE A FORMAL COMPLAINT, go here:
then print, fill out, sign, and send.
Please do feel free to mention that his conduct falls under subsection 6 (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute) of Article V, Section 30, of the Nebraska Constitution and Nebraska Revised Statute Section 24-722 (Reissue 1989).
Then send copies to your senators and representatives, and let the fun begin!
WE DESERVE BETTER! (And so, come to that, do the guys to which things like this happen!)
You have brought up an issue that made me indignant the first time I heard about it. If people cannot use words that describe events as they percieve them, then how can a jury ever know how they feel? I wish I lived in Nebraska so that I could push to have that judge disbarred [defrocked, fired, whatever the correct term is for canning a judge who is abusing his power]. The worst part is that the jury does not know that the words are forbidden. I think it would not be so bad if they knew that certain emotionally charged words were not allowed in the courtroom, because then they could know to look beyond the sanitzed languange to see what really happened. It is sad that in this day and age, there are still people, including judges, that act as if a woman [or man] who behaves in certain ways [such as having 1 drink at a bar] has deserved whatever has come of them. It makes me sick. And the worst part is that the poor young woman has to relive that terrible night over and over again, first at the hospital, then to her lawyer, loved ones, at the first trial, and now a second. All the while, at the times when it really counts, she cannot use the language that best describes how she really feels about teh events. That is a travesty of the American justice system.
Stepping down from my soapbox.
[By the way, thank you for alerting us to the mystery stole 3. I'm in and so excited to start, hopefully today.]
what's sad is that there's a Law and Order episode about a judge acting like this....
I'm just fracking speechless. (Well, short of a bunch of expletives that would make a longshoreman blush, that is.)
Thank you for letting us know about this, Steph - if you think TSF was an amazing response, I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised at what we do now! Admittedly, I copied some of your screed into my emails to both (California's female) senators, and I will betcha that the Nebraska senators are going to be getting an earful as well.
And a special thanks to Julia - I'll bet that phone number is going to be getting a lot of unhappy messages!
I truly think that there should be a full mental health examination before anyone is allowed in any position of power, and in fact, anyone who WANTS that kind of power probably shouldn't be allowed to get it.
You might also be interested in what I got from a friend today:
Many will recall that, on July 8, 1947, witnesses claimed that an unidentified object with five aliens aboard crashed onto a sheep and cattle ranch just outside Roswell, New Mexico. This is a well-known incident which many say has long been covered up by the U.S. Air Force and federal government.
What you may NOT know is, exactly nine months later, in March 1948, were born the following:
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Condolezza Rice, and Dan Quayle. (I know, the birth dates are wrong, but it's for the joke, y'know.)
See what happens when aliens breed with sheep? We think this explains the insanity that has gripped the USA ever since.
NOTE: I think it was actually the cows the aliens mated with, as sheep are much too wonderful to have any association with the aforementioned nutjobs.
I heard about this on the CBC radio a few weeks ago. they actually interviewed her (I'm assuming it was the CBC because I rarely listen to anything else). It is truly weird and wrong in all the ways you mention. A WTF Wednesday on growth hormones.
And the next person who says we won all those battles and don't need to be so angry and strident and whatnot any more needs a punch in the head. Because this is exactly the sort of thing women fought against.
I do read at least one feminist blog regularly, and I did know about this, and it just blew me away, to the point where I sort of quarantined in the back of my head in a box labeled "things too ugly and scary to look at." But now I'll take it out, at least long enough to write my congresscritters.
I'm about to go apoplectic with rage right now... That she can't even state that it was UNWILLING??? Can she use the words "non-consentual" or "against my will"?
Methinks I'm about to go write my congresscritter.
Somehow, as a society, we've gone from being concerned with/focused on victims' rights to criminals'/attackers'/defendants' rights. It's just NOT right.
Well Said! Is it any wonder why the reporting rates for rape are so low in the United States? Wonder why survivors are hesitant to tell anyone what happened to them or to seek services?
I'm a sexual assault advocate and sadly one of the most amazing things about this case is that it even made it to a courtroom.
I really wish that the people in power would care a little less about protecting the reputation of rapists and care a little more about the survivors that have to endure one of the most heinous crimes against a mind, body, and soul.
Thanks for this post Stephanie!
The victim is standing up for herself and refusing to abide by the asinine rule. Good for her.
This issue is also being discussed on a few different law related blogs re: legal langauge to those familiar with the law and those outside of the law.
What upsets me the most is that this is just the latest incident undoing the progress that was made in women's rights in the 60's & 70's, taking us back to the "good old days" of the 1950's - when women knew their places & you didn't dare file rape charges unless you were a verifiable virgin. I remember hearing the stories of friends who were raped &, when they went to the police to report it, were treated like criminals. They were very closely questioned about what they were wearing, whether they had a boyfriend, etc. And, usually, unless they were brutally beaten (& not always then) & had scars to show a jury, they cops would refuse to press charges ("it's just your word against his"). Then, if it did, by some miracle, get to a trial, the defense attorney was given free range to impugn the character of the VICTIM! Most women opted to not even bother to report the rapes (I think that even now, it is estimated that a huge percentage of rapes go unreported - many women feel shame - like it is their fault). Then, in the 70's, slowly things began to change with women's advocates winning court rulings that the defense could not attack the character of the victim. I was alarmed a few years ago when that basketball player (can't remember his name offhand) was charged with raping that woman in a hotel (in Colorado I think). His defense team didn't even wait for the trial (maybe they thought they wouldn't get away with their tactics there?) but immediately began spreading rumors about the victim having had sex with multiple partners in the same 24 hour period & the media never questioned whether they should report the defense allegations or question the tactics. We need more women in positions of power!! To me this goes hand in hand with the movement to take away a woman's right to choose.
Thank goodness for appeals!
Thank you (both Stephanie in the post, and onafixedincome in the comments) for the links for filing a complaint against the judge!
When filling out the form, I also found the following information helpful -- it takes a little work to dig it all up from the internets:
Name of the Judge: Jeffre Cheuvront
Name of Court: Lancaster County District Court
Date of Incident: October 23, 2006 - present
I don't live in Nebraska at the moment, but I am a legal resident there, and I did not know that such a form existed, or that I could fill it out without being involved in the trial myself. I'm embarrassed, as a citizen, to be beaten to it by someone who lives so many miles away, but I'm glad you shared your research. Thank you!
I know what you mean... I hate reading about these cases. One response to fighting back:
The victim is apparently not allowing the judge to victimize her further:
I applaud her courage.
Interestingly, the word "violence" is not included in the list of banned words. I guess the judge doesn't see a connection between rape and violence.
Just think of all the ways we could use this theory in other (much more lighthearted) aspects of our lives! You can't accuse me of anything involving the words "yarn", "charge", "credit card" "purchase" or "expensive". For example: "I didn't charge that hugely expensive yarn purchase to my husband's credit card, I ALLEGEDLY liberated fictional money in unverified quantities to adopt lonely fibery goodness in order to add to what is clearly a seriously depleted stash."
I also have a difficult time reading the feminist blogs for the reasons you mentioned. I had already heard of this situation and my mind nearly imploded. I am glad that many have heard and are taking action.
I'm so sickened by this my heart is just sinking and sinking. I think the first women who stood up for female rights knew that they couldn't come blasting out with a demand for everything. They worked bit by bit, first with laws about voting, then education, and the law. And now we're at this place where it seems we've gotten almost everything tangible that we can demand, but the heart isn't there. The belief in equality isn't there in so many minds that it explodes into cases such as this. My word, we can't even call things what they are! The woman isn't even allowed to speak the truth in a place where truth should be most sacred! It is abbhorent, and it makes me deeply ashamed of my government and justice system.
noun (plural rapes)
1. forcing of somebody into sex: the crime of using force somebody to have sexual intercourse with somebody [sic]
1. force somebody to have sex: to force somebody to have sexual intercourse
MSN Encarta Dictionary (http://ca.encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/rape.html)
I don't see where the definition includes "as confirmed by twelve random and unrelated people". This is truly infuriating...the arrogance of the system to think it can simply change the English language to accommodate a criminal. This is far beyond political correctness, it's archaic patriarchy at it's "finest"!
It is not up to the jury to decide IF SHE WAS RAPED. It is up to the jury to decide if she was raped BY THE DEFENDANT.
We don't have trials to determine if a robbery occurred. We don't have trials to determine if a murder was committed. This is incredibly frustrating.
Outrageous. I'm rather surprised they didn't appeal that ruling before the trial concluded. They should, and this judge should get his behind whupped by the appellate court!
Insanity has taken over reason -- in far too many arenas! Just look at Irag...
OK - I clicked the link and sent a very strong message to my senator. Everyone please click that link and add your voice.
Stephanie, thank you for bringing this to our attention, I can only imagine the judge has a build-up of unclarified and unsettled personal issues.
The very sad thing is, if the language issue ever makes its way to the US Supreme Court, it'll probably be upheld. People who voted for our current president, or who didn't vote at all in that election, kept saying their vote didn't matter since all candidates were the same. Oh yeah, it certainly did matter when he stacked our highest court with conservatives who vote according to their personal ideologies and not the US Constitution.
And speaking of words: let's take back "feminist" and be proud of being called one!
... must go knit and cool down my brain ...
This burnt me up when I first read about it, and is still smouldering.... it adds to the worry about what shape the world we be in when my girls grow up.
Another one that recently got me is when a woman defending herself against violence by a man got 11 years in jail for assault. wakjf;kkk 90jnv. Can't even type after these...
That is so ridiculous! I can't believe there are still people out there acting like this. Thanks for sharing this information! I hope the judge is removed from the bench!
I am flabbergasted. I cannot believe a judge ruled in that manner in the first place, but to not tell the jury?!? That really makes me wonder what our legal system is coming too, if, in a court of law to determine guilt or innocence, the defendant can't actually be accused of having done anything wrong.
Right on Steph! That judge is insane. Now that woman has to be violated in a court room as well...
Its nuts like this judge who give the law here in the US a really bad name. Well, him and the pond scum currently inhabiting the White House, but thats another story for another time.
I have no basis for this feeling, but judging by his skirting of these words, I can only think that at some point in his life he was either accused of such an act, or committed it and carries some sort of shame. But thats just MY feeling.
Given the make-up of the current Supreme Court, I don't doubt that this situation will become common!
I can't even fathom why people think they can get away with this kind of nonsense. I mean... seriously? Seriously?
wait a minute here. Is it even LEGAL for him to eliminate these words? Isn't the charge sexual assault? That would be legally on the books in the state of Nebraska.. how would a jury not be permitted to hear what the actual charge was?
Considering current happenings in the US DOJ, maybe this yahoo judge is vying for a Bush appointment at the DOJ?
THANK YOU! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
This issue is so horrifically egregious both in its facts but also in the lack of attention it's received in the mainstream media that I, as the President of the Board of Directors for Houston County Women's Resources - an agency that provides services and advocacy for women and children domestic violence and sexual assault victims/survivors in rural, southeastern MN - THANK YOU for bringing it to the attention of your readers.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
This is a freedom of speech issue, no doubt. The first amendment was not intended to protect the "right" to say the F-word in public, but the freedom to speak up against those in positions of authority. It has been demeaned by the things it is used for today-protection of the "right" to pornography, etc.-and people need to remember the real reason it was included in the Constitution. This is definitely the kind of thing that needs the guarantee of the freedom of speech.
Was the defendant a relative of the judge?????? And people wonder why such a large percentage of sex crimes go unreported. Since when can you not call a crime by its legal name. If Tory's attorney hasn't filed a complaint against this judge yet, he or she should!!!!!
Geez, apply these constraints to the next murder trial and see how far it goes.
So I want to know, whom did Judge Cheuvront rape when he was a drunk college frat boy, that he's covering up for now in this way?
It's sickening. It makes you wonder if the judge is a close relation to this rapist, or has been the perpetrator of sexual assault himself. It shouldn't happen anywhere, the fact it has happend in the US reaffirms to me that our rights should never be taken for granted.
At least it's grounds for an appeal. I imagine the statute under which the defendant was charged uses some of the banned words -- how on earth can you properly charge the jury without them?
Elected or appointed, I'd be willing to bet that clown won't be a judge much longer.
In case you weren't pissed enough, there was an interesting story over at Alas about verbal assault and rape.
I know what you mean about not wanting to be angry and exhausted all the time; I only recently started reading political blogs again.
The plaintiff is fighting back. I read an article recently (in the last day, sorry, no citation handy) where she is willing to be held in contempt of court and her lawyer is backing her up.
This is so wrong.
It's astonishing that this judge could think that he would possibly get away with such a stunt. Does he live under a rock? Did he have a stroke that damaged his ability to construct valid logic?
I just finished an email to my senator. That feels a little better. I'm so embarrassed.
As the mother of two daughters I am outraged that this kind of thing can happen anywhere. I doubt that a Canadian letter writing campaign can make a difference, but if I am wrong and it would - I'll be there, pen in hand. Thank you for the heads up on this, Stephanie.
I read this and had no idea what to do with this fury that threatened to consume me. So I donated $100 to the local women's shelter and cast on another cap to go to the local cancer centre. Now that I'm all blissed out on wool again, I can safely say that you are one of the few people i know of who is saving the world through knitting. And not just that, you are causing your readers to save the world through knitting.... though that might just be the wool talking...
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. This is why I generally avoid the news like the plague these days (darn plague, always following me around!).
I have written both my senators to express my outrage that this "judge" is still on the bench. Hell hath no fury like a whack of indignant knitters!
I think this is indicative of a terrible and frightening trend in very modern US society. Doctors refusing to prescribe emergency contraceptives to female rape victims? Doctors not telling female victims it's even available if they don't ask? Pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives? The assault on Roe v. Wade? Ladies, our bodies are slowing becoming not ours. They are slowing becoming the property of the old, disgusting men who are in charge, or at least those who feel that they need to wield power over us. These people feel that our only value is our capacity to reproduce, and our value has little correlation to our minds, our hearts, our feelings, abilities, wishes, hopes, dreams, or souls. It's startlingly like Ms. Atwood's _The Handmaiden's Tale._
Polite but very direct letters have just been sent to both Mr. Durbin and Mr. Obama. I'm with the poster a few comments above me-- I'm embarrassed this is happening in my country.
Makes one wonder what the judge has done in his past ... ???
What a travesty of justice. As one who is a survivor of sexual assault (unprosecuted) I'm sickened. One reason so many rapes go unreported and unprosecuted is that victims fear they won't be believed (especially if it wasn't a "stranger rape" but instead happened in a social situation or with someone known, however superficially, to the victim). By banning the use of these words, the judge has committed an additional assault on the victim -- and made it less encouraging for other victims to seek justice. In theory the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, but jury needs to know what the charges ARE. This was a non-trial. I hope she is served better at the next trial.
I've tried to write something coherent several times now and just keep ending up in a nasty rant. So I'll leave it short. Dr. B, you are so correct; assault with a penis is not sex any more than assault with a frying pan is cooking. Off now to try to write something coherent to fire off the congress people.
Yes...somedaze all that keeps me from committing peaceful, deliberate, in your face protest is the fact that I know wouldn't be able to knit in prison. Certainly not with the lace pointed needles I've grown to love.
This is so appalling to me. This judge might as well have given her the date rape drug himself.
I could go on a huge rant about victim's rights vs. accuser's rights and whatnot, but you all know what I'm thinking.
This is scary, as a woman today.
While this is horrible and absolutely unacceptable, there are workarounds. Use other words:
The perpetrator drugged and abducted the lady, then took her back to wherever and brutalized her.
Instead of "rape kit" they should detail the procedure (graphically actually) the evidence gathered, and the reason for each test.
Instead of "he raped her" try "he shoved his *** in her *** against her struggles and protests."
Just about anyone is going to figure out that means rape.
Of course if the council for the plaintiff is smart, he'll "make a mistake".
"The accused raped...oh, I'm sorry. I'm not allowed to use that term in this courtroom. The accused (air quote) had sex (air quote) with my client after abducting her from a bar in..." That will clue the jury in to what's going on. Even if the judge strikes it from the record, the jury heard it.
Unfortunately (from this article): http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2007/07/12/news/local/doc4695974ad7711560429460.txt
"The Nebraska Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the order filed by Wendy Murphy, a Boston law professor, on behalf of Bowen."
Lovely, ain't it?
Is there some reason she couldn't file a civil suit, a la the Brown and Simpson families? At least she'd have a day in court - with a different judge.
For the first time in my adult life, I wrote my senator. Bob Corker in TN has been informed!
Now I'm angry and ...
Apparently I don't have enough words to describe this. (Remember the judge who said that no doesn't always mean no? This is how I'm feeling right now).
As the mother of two daughters and the victim of a sexual assault at the age of 14, this story makes me incredibly sad for Tory Bowen. I never told anyone about what happened to me until I was an adult and did as part of a recovery process from an eating disorder that was almost certainly a direct result of this event. To deny Tory Bowen the ability to talk about what happened to her is to rape her twice and to sentence HER to a lifetime of trying to recover. Rape robs the victim of so much already, must we also take away her voice?
Just to demonstrate how ridiculous this is, lets suppose the crime was robbery instead. The judge would refuse to let the victim say he was robbed. He would have to say that he just has some money missing. He wouldn't allow the police to say they sent the robbery unit. I guess they would have to say they sent the missing money unit. This judge doesn't have even basic good sense.
Thank you for bringing this up to the attention of your readers. When I heard the news yesterday I was so outraged that I almost bust an artery in my head. Seriously, I had to lie down. (I have problem controlling my anger.) Now I will write to my senators and other lawmakers (state and federal).
i smell a good article for "reader's digest" - in the monthly column called "that's outrageous!"
that idiot of a judge just set legal rights back by about 1000 years.
he should pray that no one slip something into HIS drink, make him pass out and then do things HE didn't consent to.
And as I was then persuaded
and remain confirmed
that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God
I cared not for consequences, but wrote.
- Wm. Blake
Sometimes the only honest reaction is rage.
As far as we've come with women's rights, there are obviously perceptions that need changing.
This is ludicrous and unbelievable.
She must be so very frustrated. I can't believe they didn't even tell the jury about the ban on those words! This is incredible, and I can't get over it. I hope she wins, because this case will certainly set a precedent, which will make it that much easier for a defense lawyer to get his or her scuzzy murderer off by not letting words like died, slaughter, victim, and violent be said during trial.
I can't believe the judge ruled that way, and I can't believe everyone fell in line. That poor woman. What a battle.
Does this remind anyone else of the laws in some middle eastern nations which require THREE MALE WITNESSES for a rape charge to go to court?
Greetings, tourists, and welcome to the American Taliban. Those of you on the right side of the aisle get to witness a travesty of justice. Those one the left side? You'll be be the victim of the travesty.
And the fun is just beginnning! Let's see what happens when this case gets to the foaming-at-the-mouth Bush-majority Supreme Court.
Steph, when I occasionally inquire about seeking political asylum in Canada? I'm not kidding. I used to be proud to be an American. I don't know what happened to the America I grew up in.
I am so mad, I can't see straight. The saddest part is that rape should not HAVE to be a feminist issue, it should be a non-partisan issue that all decent human beings care about.
The more I think of it, the more I think I'd use those words anyway in my testimony if I were her. I'd just watch the judges reaction. If it were me, I'd rather be held in contempt for saying that I was raped than sit quietly saying that I had sex, which isn't true in this case, and be a silent victim because someone took away the right I have to defend myself.
The more I think of it, the more angry I get. I definitely know what you mean there.
I emailed the two Senators from Washington State as well as the two from Nebraska. Thank you for letting us know about this important issue, the absurdity of the judge's ruling is mind numbing.
Yes, anger and exhaustion, don't want to hear about it. No, I have to hear about it. I'm sure Elizabeth Cady Stanton and all the many others didn't/don't feel bright and sprightly at the end of the day. Read a quote from an elderly woman who had walked either in the March on Washington or in Selma, "my feets be weary but my soul is rested."
Off to my senator but wondering what might get a quicker response?
Will have to find two good feminist blogs. I can afford the ibuprofen, not the ignorance.
I didn't get to read through all the comments, but in case no one has brought it up, the victim says she intends to break the judge's ban and use the language she deems most appropriate.
I stopped doing rape crisis work ten years ago. Very little has changed. Women (and men) need to get rightously pissed off at the lawmakers and also the media that surround us with a culture that supports violence towards women.
I am speechless. The nightmare of the current political trend in the U.S. right now is closing in, and leaving me breathless and scared. How can we cherish freedom with one hand, and take it away with the other? Apathy is a dangerous thing. Thank you for waking us up to the danger surrounding us. Must go write...
That is freaking unbelievable! Let's hope the vote him out and soon!
I really want all the young women who say they aren't "feminists" to really, really think about this issue. It should be a call to arms for every woman all over the country. It could happen to any of us.
I just moved to Nebraska from New York, and have been following this issue. It does get press in the Omaha World Hearld, and in the 1st section usually, but only after articles about the Men's College World Series, or something about University of Nebraska Football... It is really disturbing.
A quick google search shows that a mistrial has already been declared in this case (today 7/12/2007), by the judge, before the jury was seated. He claimed pre-trial publicity was prejudicial.
At this point, the prosecutor has to decide whether to proceed with another trial.
Many people never speak out anyway for exactly this reason. Who wants to be tried and convicted of sluttery by the media when you can skip the whole courtroom travesty and go straight into therapy?
I saw a sign on a bus this week that said, "Real Men Ask. Sex Without Consent is Rape." If only that were prosecutable.
Thanks for posting this.
Thanks for spreading the word, Steph. Sending an email to your Senator is ineffective, tho, as it's a state court not a federal one.
Send a letter to the governor of Nebraska,
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 94848
Lincoln, NE 68509-4848
or email him at :
Tell him you'd never consider locating a business in the state as long as that judge is on the bench. Tell him you wouldn't even consider DRIVING THRU the state as long as that judge is on the bench.
*taking deep, hopefully calming breaths*
WTF kind of stupid assholery is that?!
Hmm, the calming breahs weren't that helpful, were they?!
I hope his momma sets him right! And I sincerely hope this new trial results in the obvious expectation that the facts should lead to. Good lord! The anger is intolerable!
That is absolutely outrageous! Thank you for posting the links to our senators. As a woman and knitter who has had to deal with her own rape I find this absolutely and totally insulting. I cannot imagine how impossible this is making it for Ms. Bowen to move past this happening to her. I will be posting this story to the political discussion group that I am a part of.
I was going to point out that this is what the ubiquitous "alleged" was invented for, but I much prefer the suggestion of air quotes.
And the unashamed, unqualified use of the word "feminist."
I can't believe this. Actually, what scares me more is that I can. I am horrified, but not entirely surprised given where judges (especially the Justices of the Supreme Court) have been heading recently.
What amazes me, though is even if he has no sisters, no wife, and no daughters, he has to have (or had) a mother. Would he want his mother treated this way?
I just listened to the podcast. That is something I didn't know about and I live in Kansas. BTW, one of our NPR stations use to have As it Happens but not anymore. I loved that program and forgot all about it. I will have to listen to the podcasts now!
"I can afford the ibuprofen, not the ignorance"
Gerri, truer words have never been spoken. Thank you.
Wow, thanks for blogging about this. I have been following this case through feminist blogs as well. Has it even been covered on major media sources?
People need to know about this.
Thanks for posting this. I share your tendency to avoid reading a lot of feminist blogs because I'll get too angry, but it's worthwhile to get angry sometimes.
This prompted my first ever letter to my Senator. I hope this blog results in a deluge to Senator's across the US.
OK I am thinking about this angry issue. Someone above said that she doesn't want to be an angry woman. Well - I guess I want to be able to function in society and have a social life, so I don't want my only conversation fodder to be the outrageous, but I blog all the time about issues that make me angry (not on my knitting blog).
It's true, it is exhausting and sometimes I take breaks, but I see it as a responsibility of mine because I do reach people out there who otherwise might be more complacent. I am not an activist, but being aware and getting the word out is important. Most of the time, we can't afford to forego the anger. Or, there are many others implicated who are too exhausted to be angry, so I see it as a responsibility to be angry on their behalf.
In knitting land, it's easy to withdraw into the rainbow of pretty colors and clouds of soft fiber and Cute Overload of pet photos. For me, this world is largely escapism. The rest of the time, I'm angry.
I'm sorry...what? The judge felt that using the standard term for the alleged crime might prejudice the jury?
Does he do this in cases of, for example, theft? "We can't say the defendant is on trial for theft. We can only say he drove away with somebody else's car and maybe wasn't planning on coming back with it."
I can't get my brain around this. It makes no sense.
Given that it happened in Nebraska, his take on it is possibly that since she went to law school instead of marrying at 16 and having babies like a good girl, she probably deserved what she got.
The US is not alone in this insanity. I work in the corrections field and was working with an inmate who, after his fifth brutal rape, was given a finite sentence rather than Preventive Detention (no guaranteed release) because his victim (who was kidnapped, bound, and raped over a 5 hour period) was known to him (his ex-partner) and therefore the judge 'reasoned' the ordeal would have been less traumatic for her.
I am ashamed to admit I live in New Zealand.
Motherfucker. There's a reason I don't live in states like Nebraska. The state of jurisprudence is seriously fucked up in this country.
Wow yeah...I can see how getting drunk and hopping in bed with a stranger is rape.
So, like, did the judge just totally forget the word "alleged"?????
Yes, the trial process guarantees innocence till determined guilty by a court and jury in this case, but Oh My God!
I can't even say more without spitting, I think.
OK. So, now I'm angry and frustrated. I sent an email to Senator Feinstein since I am from California.
I can feel my blood pressure rising.
I would term it this way, since certain words are banned:
"We allege and intend to present evidence to prove that the Defendant did knowingly and unlawfully commit non-consensual acts of genital-to-genital contact upon the Plaintiff's person while the Plaintiff was rendered unconscious, likewise deliberately and unlawfully, by a substance administered by the Defendant to the unknowing and non-consenting Plaintiff."
I may have to barf now. The legal system in this country -- right on up to the Presidet, evidently -- has run rough-shod all over my Constitution, and I do wish they'd give it back. I'll stop before the cursing begins. Thank you for passing this along, sickening as it is.
I am 61 years old and live in liberal California. I have lived through many years of turmoil for us as a nation (Roe versus Wade, Vietnam, racism, etc). Never have I ever written to my Senator. This issue is so inflammatory and disheartening that I couldn't believe the step back this takes. I think of my grown daughter and have to wonder, what if it happened to her? What would I do? I know. I would take it public and fight like crazy for what I believe in - just like we did "back in the day". Please - everyone, take a moment and email your Senator. I did and will continue to. Grassroot movements do make a difference.
I notice that she is still allowed to say the followed: bastard, slimeball, fucker, asshole, assbeagle...
"The fucker sexed me in a non-consensual way, and I hope the same happens to you, your honor." (Not really, I wouldn't wish that on anyone.)
Pardon me whilst I calm down enough to write a thoughtful letter to my congresspersons.
And it seems that some of our Vigilant commenters might be contributing to the problem.
I grew up on a small farm in northeast Nebraska. While I no longer live there, my father knows well the state senator of the district. I have emailed both the senator and my father. I wouldn't be surprised if some telephone lines will be burned up sometime here soon. It may not help, and it's just something small, but it's the best I can do. I hope it helps.
Nebraska is beautiful and the people are kind and friendly. Please do not by-pass it based on the actions of a judge.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I only read one political/feminist blog (pandagon) because I don't know how to productively handle the rage that I get into (that is, without quitting my job and personally running through the halls of Congress shouting at people). Sad, but true.
I sent an email to the governor of Nebraska (thanks Mary Peed for the address) and suggested that his state was an embarrassment to the U.S.
But I guess I have to read more about this to figure out why there was a hung jury in the first trial. Couldn't her lawyer prove that she was drugged? Couldn't she use very graphic clinical language to describe what happened and that she was not an active participant (as in "I was being penetrated")? And it is soooo disappointing to hear that the second trial has been declared a mistrial today. The alleged rapist is free?
Totally outrageous. Please everyone - write to your senators. Write to the press. If Tory Bowen is being forced to be silent - we are not.
"I was the involuntary recipient of sex."
*sigh* We all know judges (and other people in charge) do astonishingly wrong-headed, jackassed things. Fortunately, with publicity like this, it is likely the judge will be reprimanded, maybe thrown off the bench, hopefully tarred and feathered and run out on a rail.
Did I say that out loud?
First, I completely agree that this is an outrage. However, there are ways to express what happened -- "he penetrated me without my consent", "I had symptoms of having been unknowingly drugged", "he put his blank in my blank without my consent".
Also -- please channel your justifiable outrage at the government of the fine state of Nebraska, as unless I am mistaken this is a state matter and not a federal matter.
I wanted to clarify some points that appear extra senseless (in the sea of absurdity).
"Why didnt Ms. Bowen/her counsel complain sooner?" As the victim, she wouldn't have had counsel in a criminal trial. The case would be "the State(/county/whatever) vs. the Defendant." She is essentially a witness, and it is assumed that the prosecutors would be looking out for her legal interests (snort).
"The Neb. supreme court rejected her appeal.." because her (new) "lawyer" isn't licensed in Neb. so cant file a legal document. The court made no judgement about the complaint itself.
That is outrageous. What is even more outrageous (but not surprising) is that a Canadaian brought this to my attention, not any of the American news outlets (or my usual legal blog reads).
(Off to write some e-mails....)
I'm so angry I can't form a coherent response. I, too, stay away from this for precisely this reason, to keep my blood pressure in normal ranges. I used to do this work at the Women's Center at VA Tech.
I'm looking for the website for Nebraska's governor. Apparently enough of us are hitting it that the website isn't responding...(I hope!)
Thanks, Steph! I'll do what I can...
Thanks to Julia, up there, for posting the judge's address and telephone number.
That gave me a grim, and much needed, chuckle.
I've written Senator Wyden, and will get to the others later today. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
I hestitate to comment because of the potential backlash. However, your position on this matter is uninformed and your call to action is hasty and irreponsible. In the U.S., every person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent until they have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty. Accordingly, it is both common and required for judges to preclude witnesses from using language that presupposes the accused is guilty because it is the provence of the jury to determine guilt. While rape is reprehensible, it is equally reprehensible to send an innocent person to jail. So, while the U.S. justice system may seem quirky to those not familiar with it, most decisions make sense when viewed with the presumption of innocence in mind.
I would also point out that, if the judge had really made a serious blunder, the prosecutor would be pursuing the matter. The accused would not have to do it herself. Also, the people who get appointed to high courts are usually pretty smart and knowledgable. The fact that the state high court declined to review the matter is not further evidence of idiocy. It is further evidence that the decision is not outside the norm.
I am a big fan of you and this blog and I would not ordinarily criticize a person for exercising their right to free speech. However, it is wrong to publicly vilify someone or to encourage others to publicly vilify him without a full understanding of the relevant facts. Your understanding of the relevant facts is both superficial and sensationalized.
Infuriating--thanks for your rant. We need to know about this.
I just wanted to say that while this farce strikes a chord with women, it isn't really (imo) just a feminist issue. This just as easily could have been an ultrafeminist judge railroading the male defendant with biased rules. Misconduct and abuse of power by DAs/Judges/law enforcement are common. Many of these people are impossible to get rid of once hired/elected. There is no oversight, and very rarely are they held accountable for their actions. This is obviously a judge who shouldn't be a judge, but the greater travesty is that historically there is a very slim chance of anyone correcting him for his abuse of power.
I have actually heard police officers refer to rape as assualt with a friendly weapon. I need to lie down with a cold compress.
If you will check your atlas you will see that Nebraska is right next to Kansas, wherein 1999 the Kansas School Board eliminated the teaching of evolution from the state's science curriculum. I'm not saying there is a connection, mind you, it's just something that makes one say, Hmmm...
((raises hand)) I live in Nebraska, though, I'm not "from here" and will be moving when the Navy moves us. I had no idea that this happened (though my toddler keeps me busy enough during the news reports).
I am a registered voter here, though. I'm very disappointed in the thoughtless bias that the judge created in that trial. It's ridiculous. I pray that I don't become a ------ (antonym for victim?) while I still live here.
Thanks for posting this.
Since she can't use the term rape I suggest the following. Point at the defendant and say "He penetrated my body with his penis without my consent." Let's see the judge rule against that one.
Injustice is everywhere, yet it never ceases to amaze me, what a ridiculous bunch of limits. It seems to me that if a person is charged with something, those words would have to be used. Makes no sense. These days I guess we need to start expecting things to make no sense, because rarely does it ever make sense anymore. Incredible!
Speaking as a publicist AND as a woman, I hope someone is her camp takes this to the media and creates such an outrage that the judge is forced to recuse himself. I have never, ever heard of such blatant disregard for the victim of a crime.
This is just appalling.
I'm the office manager at my husband's very small criminal defense firm way over in Eastern Oregon. When I tap into my limited knowledge and experience in how all this works over here, I conclude that there's something seriously wrong with this judge. Maybe all the 'don't' and 'stop' and 'no' he heard during his wild and single college days are haunting him.
I contacted the Nebraska Judicial Qualification Commission. They are slammed with pubicity over this case. If you want to help make a difference, please check out this link. Write a short letter/note or fill out the form on the link and send it to the Nebraska Commission on Judicial Qualifications. Here in Oregon, if there are enough qualified complaints about a judge sent to a similar committee, some kind of action is taken. Please write to this commission, people. Make a difference in an effective way.
I used to do victim's advocacy, and this is not nearly as uncommon as you think...while reading the post, though, I came up with this as a work around the ban. It is the only sentence I could construct, though, and should never be neccesary.
"He had sex with my unconcious body."
Ugh! I'd say "unbelievable" but unfortunately it's quite believable given the current state of the US judiciary.
I just read about this yesterday on CNN and just could not fathom the stupidity of it all. WTF? I mean come on!!!
P.S. My husband, the criminal defense lawyer, and I just read the comment from A Woman Lawyer and we're both shocked. Lady, this post is not about the accused, it's about the judge's idiocy. My husband has over 25 years of experience as a deputy district attorney, criminal defense attorney and a pro tem judge. He thinks the Nebraska judge needs a frontal lobotomy.
A Woman Lawyer, you misunderstood the message here. I'm thinking you are a civil attorney, not a criminal attorney.
Holy moley!! I cannot believe this judge! My sister and her family live in Nebraska. I'm definitely going to have a phone call with her soon to ask about the situation. My BIL has some political influence in the state (he is contemplating a run for state Senate in his area). There should be, at the very least, a change of venue for the case to get this judge out of this trial.
And on a similar note, last week a man was sentenced in Fayetteville, NC (just south of me)for a 15-day suspended sentence. What did he do? He was driving without a license, struck two young boys with his vehicle and killed one of them, only 9 years old. 15 days!!! Unbelievable!
As a linguist and lexicograper, I'd like to say that ANY word can be used in a prejudicial and/or exculpatory manner. Banning the use of certain words during a trial is like going to the beach and trying to hold back the waves with a toothbrush. There are plenty of alternative vocabulary choices.
To A Woman Lawyer -
You keep saying that this isn't outside of the norm. Just because it's the norm, it does not make it right. And although "people in the high courts are smart and knowledgeable" does not exclude them from being wrong and unethical. I've seen plenty of injustice at the hand of smart and knowledgeable people.
The whole story reads like the double speak from the book "1984." It's not bad, it's double-plus ungood. It's not rape, it's super anti consensual sex.
Also, isn't banning those words from a courtroom unconstitutional? You know, that thing we have to keep the Nation honest and to prevent this sort of B.S?
I give him a month before he's kicked off the bench.
OMG!!!!! Thank you for telling us about this. Not only am I willing to bet that the judge has no wife and no daughters - I am forced to wonder if he was related to the defendant. You are so right - this is about women's rights! I will be thinking about this one for a long time too.
How much more of this must we put up with? Enough all ready. On a much more trival note . . . do any of you know of good sources for discontinued yarn? I'm searching for Berroco's "Pleasure," an angora, merino blend. Any suggestions, or perhaps good substitute. Thanks. And to the RAPE VICTIM . . . We stand with you!
That is disgusting and more than insulting. I don't read most of the feminist blogs because of the anger. I go around angry (just me being me) enough of the time without reading something that justifies a truly deep rooted anger.
As for language, try:
"He made me have sex with him. I drank something and woke up to this person using me. I was angry and scared and went to the hospital."
"he penetrated me against my will"
"I didn't want what he was doing"
"I was unaware of his intentions, nor his actions"
There's always a way Stephanie. I've never been to court, but I've been RAPED - many many times.
I once had to write a story from a child's point of view. I wrote about my abuse as a kid. A child doesn't have the words to describe what's going on.. but I was very clear about what happened to me, no one who read the story was left with the impression I wanted it.
I do understand your anger about it.. There is MUCH in this world that we should be angry about - and so many things have been just brushed aside. My pet peeve is gynecology and obstetrics!!!
I think I've come up with a series of sentences that convey the act without using the banned words.
"There was sexual contact between that man and me. He wanted it. I didn't. It hurt. I was humiliated and in pain. I did not permit it. I hated it. And it was done by that man. It was horribly traumatic. I did not give my permission."
And if the idiot, er, judge complains about the word "sexual," change it to "sex". Awkward, but it gets the meaning across. You can always use words to fight injustice.
I think that conveys the act within the judge's immoral limits. Don't think such a worm-passing-for-a-man doesn't have daughters or sisters. Of course he does. But they're the "pure" ones. Anyone who drinks must be "asking for it." The slimy b*****d. I mean the judge. It seems that Ms. Bowen was r***d more by the judge than by her assailant.
Stephanie, I know what you mean. Reading things like this, and knowing how true they are, gives me a migraine. There still are knuckle-draggers in the world, and not all of them wear greasy t-shirts and black jeans. Some wear suits or judicial robes. May God help us all. We, in the USA at least, desperately need it.
What a total horror story. Things like this make me apoplectic. Like that idiot who said if rape was inevitable, to relax and enjoy it. ENJOY. It makes me blind because of all the spittle I start to froth & spray. That makes for wet wool.
I am like you, and can only handle limited dosing of things like this, because otherwise I shake and get overwrought.
this type of stuff makes my stomach clench in knots and my mind reel in disbelief! just what century is this?!?!?!?!? the "defendant" may or may not be guilty, but what kind of a farce is this so-called "trial" and how will anyone determine if a crime has occured without the facts being described in the most relevant and accurate terms???? has no one in nebraska legal circles ever read orwell's 1984? the first step in thought control is the censorship of language and this judge is "double plus bad"!!!!!
I'm speechless. I have tears in my eyes, I'm shaking, and I am nauseated. More than that, I am ashamed that this can happen in my country.
As soon as I can put together words that I can actually send, I will be writing letters/emails to the proper people. Thank you for sharing this with us.
My Letter to Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi is already sent.
have you read Kite Runner and A Thousand Splended Suns? Women's lives are daily in need of support and activism. Go Hillary...but that's just me.
A peeved email was sent from me to my senator right away. (Thanks for the link) Knitter's unite!
I find it ironic that the accused's attorney's last name is "Mock" ... because that appears to be exactly what he is doing to justice.
This is right up there with the Italian case that sparked Jeans Day wherein a girl was raped and the judge let the guy off because he concluded that since she was wearing very tight jeans, she had to help the guy take them off, hence making it consensual sex. Some of these judges need to be taken out and hung by their toes.
Well there are a whole lot of words not on that list that she could use! And should for goodness sake! how about I did not consent to have sex with.. whatever his name is..! I was coerced!!!
A lawyer with a good thesaurus is needed here! I just can't believe the whole thing though! That is ridiculous.. more thatn ridiculous.. but I don't have my thesaurus out so words fail me!
When I was in college, one of my male professors told our class that if any of us were ever RAPED, we'd better hope we were married women with no prior sexual history; otherwise, we'd get screwed in court. It's still happening & seems to be getting worse instead of better. *sigh* I didn't realize why I avoided the feminist blogs, but the reasons cited above are why...I'm angry enough without reading about more b.s. like this.
At my university, there was written into the school constitution the mandate that if two people were to engage in sexual activities while one person was drunk, the drunk person could bring the other in front of the school's judicial committee on charges of rape. It didn't matter if the sex happened to be consensual at the time. Apparently, the person's ability to make decisions has been hampered, and that's enough.
Now, this is in New Brunswick, mind, and only in within a university setting, but it would still be interesting to see this applied elsewhere.
Oh, and I thought I'd mention that this is a STATE issue, not a federal one, so writing to your senator isn't going to help, unless you actually live in NE. A letter to the governor would be better directed.
That is just (insert your word choice) insane! How are we supposed to teach our children to protect themselves, if this is what they would face in the legal system?? This needs to be taken to a higher court!!
I assure you that my tongue is most certainly NOT in my cheek when I say that the terrorists have won. Seriously, this is the kind of tactic you'd expect from the Taliban, not here in the United States of America.
The judge has declared a mis--trial in this case.
Hopefully the next judge will have more sense.
And Furthermore .....
in response to "A Woman Lawyer" - as someone else said in a previous comment, this is not about whether the crime occured or not - it is about whether the accused committed the crime - is it not?
I am so !@#$% angry I can't think. I have long since given up searching out tales of injustice and outrage, as they somehow seem to find me all on their own.
I have forwarded a link to your webpage to many of my friends and to Senator Clinton who is one of my senators. As she is a candidate for President I hope this might be just the sort of thing she could address.
Thank you (I think) for bringing this to my attention. Tomorrow, though, could we just have pictures of pretty socks?
I read feminist blogs all the time, and I am constantly livid. The world is seriously fucked up, and if it wasn't for knitting and spinning and fondling of fiber, I would probably kill myself.
"He engaged in sexual acts involving my body to which I had not in any way consented or agreed."
Despite having figured out phrasing, I'm solidly with you on the exclusion of similar words from other trials *if* normal descriptive words are excluded from this one.
The words "inflicted" and "torture" aren't on that particular banned list yet, are they?
A positive way to channel the outrage - volunteer to do public policy advocacy work for your local rape crisis center. Today, I had to stop my direct service work to spend the afternoon phoning legislators to demand that they restore valuable funding for domestic and sexual violence victims. It would have been very sweet indeed to instead call upon a corps of informed and ready feminists to help make those calls. We need you. If you get a headset, you can even knit and phone at the same time!
Holy crap! I think I would say that he sexed me. Who cares about correct grammer if you are forced not to used certain words that explain what happeded to you. This is why I don't read blogs like that they just get me going. Grrrrr.
Does that Judge not have any women in his life?
I have a phrase they can use:
"he fucked me, violently and against my will. He inserted his penis in my vagina while I was unconscious and unable to consent."
(I don't know how you feel about certain words, but I'm sure you'll agree that in this case it is appropriate)
Anyway, I'm going to write letters to my nice family conscious senators here in PA. I might even send some to the senators in Texas (where I'll be moving to). Heck, I might even send some to a few representatives.
Do we know what -media action- has been taken?
I have written my Senator and Congressman though I live in Michigan. BTW, their emails are in my address book since I write them often. I really had to weigh in on this. It is ridiculous to say the least. Perhaps the second trial will allow the defendant to go free and he will drop a bit of GHB in the judge's cocktail. I did wonder how the judge would feel if the complaintant (victim) were a female relative of his. I wouldn't wish this type of dalliance (assault) upon one of them, but him? Have at it.
I hope all Americans are outraged enough to voice their opinions. One last thing, I don't think I'll be going to Nebraska any time soon.
Thank you for making me aware of this!
I don't agree with Woman Lawyer - these actions do not appear to protect the right of a fair trial. In fact, the judge has done more to intimidate the plaintiff, who ALSO has the right to take her claim to court and receive a fair trial.
I hope it's a hoax.
I have passed your blog link to several friends urging them to say something to their legislators. My own people here in Arizona will be hearing from me at any rate. Maybe collectively we can make the judge decide that early retirement is in his best interest. What a freakin idiot!!!
Is that in the USA or a third world country where women have no rights?
How about: "without my consent the defendent used my body to have sex."
OK, now I am going to be bad and nasty here, but if this is what a woman has to go through after she has been raped, taken advantage of, probably drugged and all that she has gone through, I believe the time is here for it to skip the trial and go right to the punishment. I am totally speaking from my emotions now, but we people may have to start taking it back and taking care of the animals that they are and punishing them ourselves or possibly taking them out and being done with them. If "the system" can't help us then we need to help ourselves! I only hope that all the prayers that are going Ms. Bowen's way will in some way help her....more than the courts can, that's for sure! I also hope the backlash for this judge is HUGE and he is put out of Lincoln's misery once and for all.
Being a rape survivor myself, this story makes me LIVID!!!!
If the original ban cannot be lifted, I would suggest she tell the jury that "The defendent then engaged in non consensual sex w/ me where *I* was, in fact, the NON consenting party to the act. In fact, I was unconscious at the time the act began. I then went to the hospital to be checked out to see what ELSE this monster might have done to me while I was nonconsenting and to have authorites medically verify my nightmare".... b/c you know: nightmare, heinous, monster, etc are NOT on the banned list..... and I would fully utilize ALL of those words.
Smarmy @#$%@#%$^&^*&% judge
OMG, I am totally outraged to read this, I wish I could contact someone regarding it but as I am in the UK I don't really know where to start.
You should be mad. It is ludicrous. This is where the press is supposed to step in and do their job.
Hello? Press? Are you out there? Can you leave that celebrity alone to bring this to the attention of the public?
Rape is wildly underreported and things like this do not make that any easier on a person! I cannot imagine walking into the courtroom to face my attacker and being limited to language that suggests ... no, flat out SAYS that his violation of me was not against my will. It's repugnant and disgraceful that people are treated this way in a country so proud of its "freedom." This is the way women are treated in patriarchal societies, in places where they are still chattel, NOT in civilized nations. This can't be let go. I hope for his own sake that that judge is never in a position where one violates him in such an awful, damaging way, that he doesn't have to deal with nightmares, flashbacks and PTSD because of someone else's asinine actions. I hope for his sake, he never knows what it's like to look into the eyes of his attacker and be denied the language to hold him/her accountable. But I hope to God we don't let him get away with this. He's victimized her as much as her attacker has. Silence is the legacy of rape and he is enforcing it.
Welcome to the US. We criticize the Taliban for oppressing women's rights, and yet we're doing the same thing. This isn't the first time and it probably won't be the last. Ridiculous.
I assume she has to keep it simple:"I went to a bar and had one drink. I woke up with the defendant (whom I had never seen before) on top of me. His penis was in my vagina. I pushed him off. I looked a the clock and realized that thirteen hours had passed since I had had that drink. I immediately left his place and went to the hospital. The hospital personnal followed all proper procedures: calling the police, collecting evidence to prove that I was drugged and a crime was committed by the defendant."
Good for you! Let's get mad and stay mad! What a load of *(#%!. I pray the woman has the resources to take this one to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
I am a rape victim from many years ago. I could not prosecute because I was under 21 and my father would have to file the charges. My father never knew about the rape. This judge is returning us to that time.
How about 'the sexual intercourse was not voluntary on the female's part and caused her pain and suffering similar to what she is going through at the courtroom of Judge whateverhisnameis. Medical verification is available because an examination was performed by XXX, a medical professional at X Medical facility.'
First of all the woman is very brave for going ahead and pressing charges. Of course the fact that the judge has moved the court procedure back over 30 years makes her twice as heroic. I hope that, if the jury decision is against her, that she has the determination to appeal the decision based on the judge's insensitivity to reality or prejudice against the plaintiff.
but there are ways to get across the point, even without those banned words: sex without consent. non-consensual sex.
it's hard enough getting people to take rape seriously without BS like this.
i was raped, dozens of times over a period of several months, at the age of 5. i didn't tell anyone until i was 12, and when i did, the police merely asked the guy (who was 15 at the time) "did you do it?" and his denial was enough for them. that's as far as the "investigation" went.
oh, and did i mention that my ordeal, and the subsequent (in)action by the police took place in canada??
Holy God the Mother. You're right, if I read too many feminist/political sites I go around angry and/or depressed all the time, and I know I can do more if I'm not like that, but thanks for bringing this up.
THIS is why I brought my older kids up to understand that WE ARE FEMINISTS. I have sometimes wondered why I was given only one daughter and so many sons, and I think it's because the world needs more men like the ones I'm raising.
I am very proud to say I'm a feminist, and I cannot understand how any woman who lives anything like a modern life can claim not to be one.
How about... he brutally and barbarically fornicated me over and over. I screamed no~stop~don't!
Damn judge, you can bet your sweet bippy that such bullsh*& wouldn't come out of the mouth of a female judge.
This makes me absolutely furious. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
Thank you for posting about this. I've emailed both of my senators.
I hope the public outcry is heard all across the country. That judge better be careful - knitters all have pointy sticks!
When I awoke, there was pain, disgust, and an unwanted penis trespassing in my vagina. Despite my strenuous objections, the owner of the object refused to remove it. repulsed and furious, I attempted to remove it, but was constrained from doing so by the intruder. Multiple times, the intruder re-intruded, harming both my physical health and my emotional health. Despite tears, screams, and me striking him, he refused to exi my inner sanctum. This bodily breaking and entering and theft of my peace of mine must be punished more harshly, I feel then simple breaking and entering into my domicile would be. And, ladies and gents of the jury, if a man breaks into your house, you're allowed to shoot him. How much more personal if he enters your body without express and continued invitation?
Just in case any one wasn't mad enough about this whole thing:
in which the judge blames the victim for the mistrial!!!! If I could have jumped through the computer and smacked that bastard....
What the hell?! This is absolutely insane. As a linguist, I totally agree with you about the implications of the words "sex" and "intercourse"; they imply a scenario in which two people chose to engage in the activity together, in the same way that "rape" implies a scenario in which one participant was unwilling. Why does this judge think that it's OK to imply the one but not the other? You can bet your bippy that the defendent will use the word "sex", why can't the complainant use the word "rape"?! It enrages me to realize that we are falling further and further behind again, and that no-one seems to notice or care (barring all of the amazing folks who commented above). You can bet both of the California Senators will be hearing from me. So will all of my classes come fall. My students clearly think that I'm a raving lefty pinko feminist, until I tell them about horrible incidents like this, and then they're shocked that such things still happen. When I ask them how many of them are feminists, almost nobody ever raises their hands any more. Someone has done a damned good job of turning feminist into a dirty word, and it's past time to take it back, if it means that we can rally support behind women who are being victimized in this way. Thanks for getting the word on this one out there. I'll be passing it on.
I've been a feminist since the late 60's. I'm also a lawyer, though I haven't done any criminal law for years. Let me add a little bit different perspective.
Though this is all over the internet and the news, there is variation as to what words the judge supposedly banned. I simply can't believe that the judge barred all participants from using the list of words in the Harlot's post. Or if he did, rape may be called "criminal sexual conduct" in Nebraska, as it is here and they are using that term. It seems impossible that he would bar the use of "forced." My experience is that the press almost always gets what happened in court all bollixed up. No one seems to have seen the actual order or the briefs that led up to it. I do know the Nebraska Supreme Court refused to review the order on a pre-trial basis, which implies it wasn't as bad as the media is making it out to be.
As I understand the case, the only issue is whether a crime occurred. All agree he put his penis in her vagina. He says she consented. She says she was drugged and asleep and couldn't and didn't consent to any sex act, but awakened to find herself in a strange room with his penis in her vagina. In that situation, it wouldn't be ok for the victim to give her opinion that the defendant committed criminal sexual conduct. It's the same as if we had a murder trial with self defense as the only issue. The eyewitness should not be giving the opinion that it was murder, but should tell the facts as they experienced them.
The prosecutors in this case think they can try the case without a problem and many of the commenters here have given examples of how.
Having said all this, I think most judges would handle the victim calling it a "rape" in a case where there was a consent defense by just reminding the jury that it is their job to decide whether the state has proved the elements of the crime.
Also having said all this, I think the judge is a fool. It's turned into a national story because of the way he handled it, by banning words ahead of time, instead of ruling on objections to words in context, which is the usual way. Those of you who suspect he is no feminist are probably right, but, trust me on this one, there are many judges who aren't, and I see no reason to believe that he is any worse than many of his ilk who aren't in the national news.
I wrote this hoping I could make people feel a little better. I hope I haven't made it worse.
I'm a little behind with reading your blog, as well as my most recent knitting project, and have just finished your A-Z salute to Canada. Thanks for all the great info. In case you haven't seen it, there's a t-shirt around these here parts (USA) that has a Canadian flag on the front and says "Looking better every day!" I like it!
I've suspected it before, but now I'm sure. There is something seriously wrong with the justice system. When the accused (sorry defendent) has more rights and receives more justice than the victim (sorry complainent)...I'm appalled.
Oddly enough, a few weeks ago, for no reason at all I was thinking of how little has changed for women when it comes to rape - wherever they live, no matter the country, no matter the law. For thousands and thousands of years we've been raped, and beaten, and tortured, enslaved, killed. Constantly, continuously, commonly. It has not stopped. Even in more 'advanced' countries, I doubt the frequency has lessened any. Back in the 80's or so there was a public service announcement ad that showed three women - older, mid-20's, child - wherein the narrator said one out of any three women you met had been or would be raped in her life. Not could; would. The narrator - (they used a man; I thought it a nice bit of psychology) - said it could be your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter. One of them would be raped. Period.
Thousands of years, and rape and worse is still happening on a regular, casual basis to women. (Not that any of this never happens to men, we're just not focusing on the entire human race here.) No matter how far we've come, we, women, are still second-class humans. Or not even that. We're property. We're pets. We're pieces of meat. We're actually not fully human, because what we think and feel doesn't really matter if a man decides he wants sex. How can an animal have a right to protest what a man wants to do to her? If she had a brain, she wouldn't have done anything to provoke rape, right? Anything like having a woman's body. That alone guarantees we're not entitled to any rights when it comes to what we want vs. to what any random man wants. If we dare act as if our bodies belonged to us, and we've engaged in sex before of our own volition, in some twisted way that means from thenceforth no one is ever forcing us, no matter what the situation. And if we have the uppitiness to protest, well, it's just nature, after all. Rapists can't help how their genetics make them act, right? They're just doing what comes naturally, so what right do we have to complain?
Spit. Thousands of years is too damned long. When are we going to put a stop to this shite?
So, let me get the facts straight here... She was raped once by the asshole that drugged her, and now she's getting raped again in court? Is that about right?
I can't put into words how disgusted and nauseated I am right now. I'm outraged that this type of thing is happening in this country.
Thank you Stephanie for bringing this to everyone's attention! I hope that people take the time to contact their Senators about this outrageous act.
Thing is, it all depends on the judge. If you've got one who's insane –and some of them are; my mother (a prosecutor for 20 years) had dealings with similar judges – there's really not much you can do. The system is rigged in favor of the defendant; you can overturn a guilty verdict on the basis of incompetent counsel, but you can't overturn an acquittal because of an incompetent judge. And because prosecutors still have to work with these judges, they're limited in what they can do. If they're ready to declare outright war, they dismiss charges until they know they'll draw a different judge and refile. (There was one judge where the Green County Prosecutor's Office did exactly that, because the judge was a) insane, and b) overly biased in favor of the defense, to the point where the prosecutor couldn't present a fair case to the jury.)
And no, the jury is never told the reasons why things are presented the way they are. Evidence is routinely dismissed by the judge because it's "prejudicial", and the jury never gets to hear about why this person, in fact, really DID commit the crime.
It's a feminist issue only in the sense that that judge is a misogynist; my point is that the real problem is not that the legal system is misogynist (it's not, even in Nebraska), the problem is the absolute authority that judges are given.
GO STEPH!!! This case is, I think, another example of the concerted effort to roll back women's rights and put us all in our place. The U.S. Supreme Court is now stacked to abolish abortion at the first opportunity. It has already banned late-term abortions. Many states have re-instated bans. And I can only imagine how rape trials are conducted in the quieter corners of the country, not garnering the press interest which this one has. Similar prejudices and anti-women attitudes also persist in Canada, both within the justice system and without. R.E.A.L. Women (whose motto is "Women's Rights but not at the expense of Human Rights"--pardon me? Since when are women's rights not also human rights???) has the ear of our Prime Minister as we speak. So does Focus on the Family, a famously right-wing religious misogynist organization. Our current government has taken many steps to eliminate efforts to achieve equality for women in Canada. We need to be vigilant and to speak out. Thanks, Steph, for keeping on top of these issues.
This is probably one of the most offensive abuses of power I have ever heard of. Words cannot adequately express how insulted I feel.
Sex without my consent.
This statement is awesome
When I awoke, there was pain, disgust, and an unwanted penis trespassing in my vagina. Despite my strenuous objections, the owner of the object refused to remove it. repulsed and furious, I attempted to remove it, but was constrained from doing so by the intruder. Multiple times, the intruder re-intruded, harming both my physical health and my emotional health. Despite tears, screams, and me striking him, he refused to exi my inner sanctum. This bodily breaking and entering and theft of my peace of mine must be punished more harshly, I feel then simple breaking and entering into my domicile would be. And, ladies and gents of the jury, if a man breaks into your house, you're allowed to shoot him. How much more personal if he enters your body without express and continued invitation?
Posted by: Diana at July 12, 2007 7:01 PM
Just writing again to add that, since you've mentioned you read the comments, I do really want you to know that while this is a feminist issue, it's not a feminist issue in the sense that it's being taken -- it's indicative of a single individual, not a state's way of thinking or a legal system's way of thinking. The real problem -- and Mom, prosecutor and Feminist Extra-Ordinaire (hell, Mom was the first person in her office to file charges on sexual assault crimes, back in the '80s, before DNA when it was all she-said he-said -- and won the cases. They now have a special prosecutor's unit devoted entirely to sexual crimes, and I credit her with it), would probably agree with me -- is that judges, who are thought of as "legal guidance" in trials, are in fact absolute dictators. THIS is the problem that needs to be solved.
I am stunned, speechless and writing this with tears in my eyes. Words simply cannot express the outrage and empathy I feel. What a collosal miscarriage of PC justice.
I feel the same way about feminist websites...
But this time, I did act. I contacted our state senator and asked her to bring pressure onto that unscrupulous judge. "Rape" is nowhere near the same as "sex" or "intercourse." UGH.
Thanks for giving me a chance to ACT. I hope it makes a difference.
I'd like to hear what a criminal lawyer has to say about this. In California, it would be possible to appeal the gag order immediately, which (I think, not being a criminal lawyer) would probably result in a revision, if not a complete lifting, of the gag order.
However, even with the gag order in place, it sounds like the "complainant" could say things like, "I had a drink, then remember nothing except waking up and finding myself in bed with the defendant, who was having sex with me." The prosecutor would really have his/her work cut out to prepare the witness, though. The judge seems to have gone off the rails, because it's one thing to exclude overly prejudicial evidence and related testimony, and another to censor the words of the testimony itself.
Positively Orwellian. Love is Hate, War is Peace. Nothing surprises me given this adminstration any more.
This is the kind of stuff that makes me temporarily blind. It's also the reason I keep reading those blogs.
I think she just need to repeat "It was against my will".
Must go quell nauseousness now...
I will admit, I am from Nebraska. Due to this post, I have read some of the coverage of the story by the Lincoln, NE Journal Star. Please don't tar and feather the whole state, but I also grew up with the attitude that rape (or sexual assault) often occurred because "She was asking for it." I think the mistrial declared today shows that great pressure is being brought to bear on the judge and should be kept up.
Note for those of you who are not GW Bush fans, it appears that the victim in this case works for the College Republicans. So it is not a Republican/Democrat issue, it's a what is moral, just, and right issue.
That's horrible. And terribly, terribly wrong. Off I go to write letters.
There are some things in this world that i just dont understand. How a man could blame a woman for being raped.
Grrrrr.... This is why I don't read the "feminist blogs" either (though hell, I consider my blog feminist, and this one could be considered feminist too!). I get so angry and upset, and the Righteous Indignation kicks into overdrive...
But thanks for the heads-up about this issue.
This is why many women do not come forward - why do you need this kind of grief on top of the pain?
I'm not sure if it helps, but the judge declared a mistrial in the case this afternoon. Don't know where it goes from here.
Ugh. Where has my country gone?
A sad American
Let's see that sort of logic applied to a murder trial, where you can't refer to the 'victim' - will they even be allowed to refer to them as deceased, or will that be too inflamatory?
The detective cannot be refered to as a Homicide investigator, either, and what about the weapon? While, I'm sure they'll need to come up with a new term for that as well.
Yes, there is a percentage of women who are either evil enough or screwed up enough to misuse the system and file rape charges; that percentage, however is very small. It's a perfect example of how the US legal system is set up to protect the criminal.
It seems women can never relax and think things are truly equal, because I know every time i start to think that I here a story like this.
It's like that in the US? I had no idea... or is it just in Nebraska? I have very little faith in the midwest as I think it was one of the Dakotas that banned abortion altogether and no one said anything. But I'm just hoping for a swing back to the more liberal side. After all, the pendulum must swing. Thesis -> Antithesis -> Synthesis. Clinton -> Bush -> ??
This makes me so angry. You know, there are a lot of things I can't stand. Mistreating women is right up there.
But you know what REALLY REALLY REALLY upsets me? When our justice system is mocked by the people who are supposed to be UPHOLDING standards. When the rights of those involved are twisted and turned in such a away that it's a mockery of what should be occurring. Doesn't matter to me whether it's the defendant or the accuser that is being wronged. It makes me SO ANGRY.
In regards to the above comment, I'm glad to hear that but the fact that a judge even deigned to do this in the first place upsets me SO MUCH.
I'm going to go look at my yarn. Maybe that will make me feel better.
Good Grief! The death of common sense. That judge needs to be charged with judicial assault. And immediately be removed from his bench. And everyone needs to join an association that protects the rights of victims. National Victims Center for one. This is absurd.
Next they will ask the complainant to write a letter of apology for insinuating in public that she did not desire to be sexed by the defendent. Yes, this sort of thing really does get my blood pressure up. But such STUPID IGNORANT DINASAUR judges should be immediately removed. And publicly humiliated. Were that we could place him in the stocks in the town square.
There. are. no. words.
(Well WTF?? and various expletives apply, but I won't type them here.)
21st century and we're still being treated like 17th century chattel in some ways - what a world.
As a victim of being molested as a child this is WAY over the top. What the hell? How could I possibly describe what happened to me in terms that would please this judge? You know, my father, son and son in law are all cops. You know what happens to pigs like this man? Once they're handcuffed and on their way to the car, they often trip, fall and hurt themselves. Bummer. You never know what will suddenly catch you off balance.
Maybe she could say, "He performed a sex act *to* me (or on me?) against my will". Not grammatically correct, but gets the point across. Meanwhile, the poor jury is wondering, why doesn't she say "rape"? What's going on? I'm so confused...
Simply disgusting. Betty Friedan is surely turning in her grave.....
Maybe she should have said something that the grammar mistake in it is so obvious she will get it through to the jury with that STUPID judge residing: I think he sexed me will work, maybe, no?
I just read he declared the second trial mistrial because of the publicity and demonstrations, unbelievable.
Well I sent an email to Senator Clinton - I did use your phrasing on the robbery and murder part because you put it so perfectly - we will see if I even hear anything back --
I'm glad I'm not the only one worked up about this. I was reading about this earlier today and it made me feel physically ill.
I'm sitting here with my mouth hanging open. My 5 and 8 year old daughters are playing next to me and I honestly want to go throw up in the corner. What the hell!?!?!? So how far back in time have our civil rights gone? I thought that maybe despite the Bush assault on the Bill of Rights/Constitution that my daughters would have a fairer chance at justice, fair wages, education, etc. than myself or my mother. Apparently not. Foolish me. I'm beyond sickened and will be writing all of the above in the comments. Thanks to everyone who provided names, addresses, etc. Damn, I have a few nice bras, I guess I'll be burning them.
Without my permission, he used my body in order to engage in a non-consensual and wholly unwanted act of a sexual nature.
Man. That IS difficult! The state of legal affairs in Nebraska must be way off kilter.
Ugh, its stuff like that that makes me want to be a better man (per say) than those who have come before me. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention I wish I had more to say but I'm currently recovering from surgery that i had two days ago (but can still apparently knit up some lacy socks, first time knitting a lace pattern and first time doing socks via magic loop) and somewhat drugged from the pain meds.
"He made me have sex with him against my will."
However, this is ridiculous.
Oh my gods and goddesses, the stupid hurts too much to bear. There is not enough migraine medication to make this pain go away. Must....write....LETTERS!!!!!!
I am simply beside myself. I am not normally one to repeat things said in previous comments, but my god this is just disgusting.
"he made me have sex with him when I was unable to make that decision for myself" or "he had sex with me while I was unconscious"
but overall, i agree. It's one thing to rule that you can't use the words, but not telling the jury/court about it, is STUPID, UNJUST, and an EFFING CRIME ALL IN ITSELF.
How about "I unwillingly had sex with the defendant against my wishes."??? Redundant, but might make the point. This judge is in the wrong profession. I hope all the publicity helps move this case to another more reasonable judge's court.
I remember you said in Northampton, after you took a quick poll as to how many present have a blog, that we can write anything we want and will not get fired for it, or our pay docked;
I am grateful you posted this today. I am sure it will add to the outrage and that poor woman will see her perpetrator get convicted.
As to the judge, someone ought to kick him in the nuts real hard and then ask him to describe what happened without using the words "pain" or "testicles" or "kick".
Surely what that judge is doing is illegal? I dearly and truly hope so and will be asking just that of my senators -- one of whom is a woman and an outspoken one at that. This is painfully absurd.
I read this post earlier today and I've been thinking about it...a lot..I also didn't read through all the comments...so...how about "He used my body for sex"....after all, she was unconscious right? 'She' didn't fucking have sex with him at all...but he did use her body for sex...it doesn't have any of the 'forbidden' words.
My husband told me about this story yesterday and I was equally perturbed. I thought about what she could say at trial that would be the equivilant of "he raped me" and I came to the conclusion that she would have to say something really technical like, "I woke up and he had put his penis in my vagina without my consent or knowledge". This, of course, is also problematic, however, because most women do not want to describe in great detail such a traumatic event using such terms. Being a victim of rape myself, I know that it is very difficult to simply stand up and ACKNOWLEDGE rape. Let alone describe it in graphic detail while facing the person who did it to you.. That thought simply terrifies me (as I'm sure it would terrify almost all victims of rape). So, in my opinion, taking away the use of the above mentioned words further victimizes the woman/man who was raped (WHICH, by the way, the fact that men can ALSO be raped is also not acknowledged enough).
This judge's decision is just one more reason women/men will use to justify letting the person who raped them get away with it. More education and preparation in this area might help our sons and daughters gain the courage to report these things (and help their friends report them) when they happen.
OO sorry for the long post. Clearly, I feel very passionate about the subject. :)
My dad was a cop. I know all about judges!
It makes me think of a murder trial where no one is actually allowed to say that someone is dead. Totaly ridiculous.
After some thought from my previous e-mail... I really hate the hysterical female image that so often crops up with reactions against something like this, so how about this? How about every woman and man who is upset about this goes on strike against the state of Nebraska. No driving through and mostly, no buying from businesses located in the state. No e-baying, no yarn (gulp), no on-line ordering, nothing. They may call us hysterical females, but our economical power is mighty. Might just get the governor's attention hmmmm? Just a thought.
I read a feminist blog: Yours. :)
as long as "rape" is defined as "sex" by any person, instead of about "control", there will be judges and legislators who think it is OK to protect a RAPIST as though he/she has an equal protection under the law. Asinine, yes, but change comes oh so slowly to women who don't act as though this sort of thing matters to them.
I think the only word that describes how I feel right now is "fury". As soon as I think we're making progress some idiot judge proves me wrong - the worst part being that he is likely not alone in his prejudice. I'd like to tie him to a chair for a week in a theatre where the Vagina Monologues is playing!
Could she perhaps testify that without her consent, the defendent inserted his penis into her vagina and assaulted her with it?
Good grief. The whole thing about jurisprudence is that you know it's a he said/she said (or he said/he said; she said/she said) type of thing that is weighed by the evidence. You're right. The limiting use of language here is serving to assault the victim yet again.
And I'm a non-feminist, right-wingish type person. If this is how I see it, I can't imagine what the feminists are doing. I'd be afraid to go home at night if I were the judge in this case.
Words escape me. I was date raped in college and did not report it. I know how it messed with my head for a long time. (I felt so bad for the boy who was the first date after that... I completely freaked out on him when he tried to kiss me. I ran away crying - not a good end to an otherwise nice evening at all.)
I cannot imagine how she must feel now. I understand the need to keep inflamatory language in check and realize that there are many sustinct and clear ways around the gag order.
Hopefully, the pressure that the public is putting on their own local governments and the government in Nebraska will have the NE Bar Association looking closely at this particular judge.
I wish her all of the luck in the world and a jury that has common sense.
I vote for screaming, crying, AND if you have any pull in the US whatsoever (which I no longer do because I moved out), write a letter.
I'm one of those feminists from the '60s and I'm very uneasy about how women's rights are being eroded. However, I have to say that, after reading more about this case, I can understand why the judge has laid down these limits.
This isn't "a stranger jumped out of the bushes and physically overpowered a woman and raped her" case. This is a "we were having drinks and a good time together in a bar and the next thing I knew I woke up in his bed having sex with him" case. He says it was consensual, she says she never consented. In some states, having sex with a woman who is too incapacitated to consent is rape by definition. If Nebraska isn't one of these states, then there's some small justification for what the judge has ruled. The Appeals Court refused to hear an appeal about the banned words, but that may have been because it was filed by someone not connected with the case.
In the judge's behalf, he did rule that the prosecution could call as witnesses two other women that had the same thing happen with this guy, even though the defense objected vehemently. The judge said that the prosecution could use their testimony to show that he wad behaved this way in the past.
I don't think the judge is as bad as most of us are assuming. I'm not saying he's good, but I am saying he's not all bad. He just declared a second mistrial because of all the public uproar, suggesting that the case be tried elsewhere in Nebraska. That doesn't sound like he's determined to try the case come Hell or high water, either.
One of the problems with getting older and more experienced with the world is that you might start seeing both sides of a problem and, even worse, understanding the motives and actions of both sides. Out-of-context quotes can help suppress this, but gathering more information seems to make it worse.
I live in Nebraska, and I will be contacting the "powers" at be. This is just plain SICK! Not only is it just plain stupid, it makes it so there really is no trial. This also makes our state look really bad, and in fact I feel it is a good place to live. I will do my part as a woman and tax payer in Nebraska to make a change.
Geez Steph, it's a big nasty world out there and this stuff happens all day long which is why I come to your blog instead of news/political/feminist blogs :) I know very well it's your blog and you can darn well talk about whatever ya want to and I don't have to read it. But I do because I really, really like you and I like what you have to say and how you say it.(except for this entry and maybe the over the top guilt trip in December) Please understand I am not demeaning in any way the horrific tale of events you are telling of, I am only stating how bummed I was to read about it here.
Look what I found in my email from audible.com today?
" Tight-Knit Community
Anyone who thinks knitting is for little old ladies hasn't met the Yarn Harlot. Check out her witty new guide and some fictional takes on the popular world of knitting.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting (Unabridged) Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting (Unabridged)
by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
More tongue-in-cheek, laugh-out-loud observations on the world of knitting from the best-selling author and self-proclaimed "Yarn Harlot". "
All right Steph....
i've worked for newspapers for 40+ years.
when i was a rookie, i heard the "if it's inevitable, relax . . . " so-called joke from my male colleagues -- and all but a very few were males.
now, there's much greater gender balance, and when reporting allegations of sexual assault, we are told NEVER to use the phrase "had sex with" the alleged victim because that falsely implies consent.
anyone who dismisses this as "being p.c." needs to think about whether being called the most hateful slur on her/his ethnic group, or the worst insult to his/her faith or appearance for the rest of his/her life would hurt. and then think how much more it would hurt to be accused of "asking for" a brutal invasion of one's body, along with probably being exposed to one or more stds, and then prevented from fighting back by the person who should be making sure i was treated fairly.
i am bowing my head in shame.
that my state could allow such a judge to be on the bench, and considered competent is enough to make me cry.
and i emailed my senator.
Perhaps she can say "He had intercourse with me that was completely non-consensual, without my permission, and not with my agreement."
The only thing I can come up with is "involuntary intercourse"
Which is more that suficient, don't you think?
I'm going to go back to kicking things and scowling now.
What was her lawyer doing with all this? Seems justification for filing a motion for a change of venue at the very least.
a) Go to the public about the injustice of it all [which seems to have been the path they took].
b) Work around the list of words. For instance, the sentence "He penetrated me against my will" conveys the correct meaning without using any of the verboten words.
c) Use the words anyway. Might get you a "contempt of court" citation, but would also force the judge to expose the word prohibition to the jury.
No one should have to go through that.
Thank you, Steph, for using your blog to let us know.
Thanks so much for writing about this. I only hope that one day things will be equal enough that a female judge says the words: "you can not call this judge from Nebraska a victim, or say the word castration, nor the word poetic justice. " As a man, I am so sick and tired of other men who get away with sexism. Due to their place of power, it is unrighteous dominion!
I'm going to throw up now. And then I'll write a couple of letters.
We have a professor at Purdue - Joseph Dorsey - who wrote an article about a similar case - women who had been raped, but could not talk about rape, or even sex, in the courtroom. They said that the men had had "connection" with them, "and it hurt very much at the time" - the only way they could show that what happened was an assault.
This, however, was nearly 200 years ago, and a crime perpetrated during the slave trade. It's usually a cliche to suggest that history repeats itself, but somehow that's scarily appropriate here.
In 1993, a South Australian judge, Justice Bollen, found that "rougher than usual handling" was acceptible within a marital relationship (de facto/common law marriage included) to persuade a woman to have sex with her husband. The furore that this comment created at all levels of society and within the legal profession (both in and out of Australia) resulted in a forced early retirement of this judge.
Public voice and outrage certainly does have an effect and will also have influence on how any re-trial is conducted. Get me to a petition!
How about "involuntary sex"? This is ludicrous. I've just e-mailed both of my senators (in NY).
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I know it isn't knitting related as someone complained but it's important!
I can't imagine that judge's logic in this case. It would be interesting to review some of his other cases to see if this is an isolated incident of tampering with the defendent's right to free speech at their own trial.
Why do I have a sick feeling in my gut that the judge raped someone at some point in his life?
Oops, oops, oops. I didn't mean to imply that Stephanie had used out-of-context quotes. I was writing in general terms at that point, not referring to Stephanie's posting, but shortly after posting my comments I realized that my remark could be taken to imply that she had done so.
I'm sorry to have written something that could have been so interpreted. She didn't do that and I didn't mean to say she did.
Whoops, I meant to say the tampering with the victim's right to free speech at trial.
How is this sort of shit still allowed to happen these days?! I don't get it. Does the man have no wife/daughter/sisters/friends who are women??
So do we have to use certain vocabulary in other court cases or is it only when a women is attacked thet we have to restrict the vocabulary.
Oh my - my eyes are tearing up just reading this. What an outrage. This judge should have a taste of his own medicine!
This is an older article stating some of the problems the jurors faced in court, including witnesses testimony.
An interesting read, from both sides.
"He had unconsentual sex with me" works, but it SO does not describe the sort of pain she must be going through. Arg!
I regularly read Broadsheet, which makes me angry on a daily basis. Yes, it's exhausting. Sometimes I stop reading it. It's like watching a car crash. A horribly depressing car crash.
I'm not even going to start with the bulk of the story, as the implications are blatantly horrifying (and you covered them well enough). Some people are just scum. Regarding your postscript, however, how about this:
"The defendant committed a non-concentual sexual act upon Ms.Bowen while she was unconcious. At the hospital, medic specializing in such cases ran specific tests that confirmed this."
That's the best a communications degree and eight years as a verbal-tap-dancing sales-weasel could come up with. It does put more emphasis on the actions of the atta-- sorry, "defendant" than the consequences on the victi-- whoops, sorry again! "complaintant," but that might not necessarily be a bad thing when you've been pigeonholed into saying things were all snuggles and sunshine.
My own concern here is not so much that barring certain words is a problem. It's that we are, in the First Amendment, guaranteed FREE SPEECH.
If you cannot speak freely about what happened during the alleged commission of a crime, in a courtroom....or even frankly...
I think there is no doubt that the judge has proven himself a double-blinded fool in his efforts to avoid prejudicing or inflaming/influencing the jury.
Oh, and writing to your own senators WILL help. It's amazing what states will do when pressured by the rest of the country! Of course, that doesn't mean that you should neglect writing to the Nebraska judicial sector or the governor. :)
This is utterly, overwhelmingly, ridiculously insane. I can't believe any judge could get away with a ruling like this. I think the judge himself should be charged with obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting a criminal act. Even if you leave aside the banning of particular words, how can a judge possibly legally rationalize not allowing the jury to be told what the crime the defendant is charged with?? In fact, *that* part of it actually sounds unconstitutional: being charged for an unnamed crime.
However, all that being said, I'm a writer, and I could *find* a way to argue that case without using any of the banned words:
"Miss Bowen, what is the last thing you remember about the night before the incident in question?"
"Having a drink in the bar the night before."
"Did you ever agree to go home with the defendant?"
"Did you ever agree to have intercourse with the Defendant?"
"Did he ever ask for your permission before he began having sex with you?"
"So the Defendant was having sex with you without your consent and against your will?"
"When you realized what was happening, what did you do?"
"I told him to stop."
"Did he in fact stop?"
"No, not until he was done."
"After he finished having non-concentual sex with you, where did you go?"
"I immediately went to the emergency room to be treated."
Yes, it necessitates talking *around* the issue, but juries are not stupid, and a good lawyer could talk *around* the issue so well that no one in their right mind would misunderstand what had happened.
The whole ruling is still stupid, but there are ways to work within the stupidity and still come out with a conviction.
Political Correctness is a slippery slippery slope!
I am fuming about this...
a) this isn't political correctness. i am so tired of the term "political correctness," which was meaningless to begin with and is even more meaningless now, and is all too frequently used as a synonym for "something that makes me uncomfortable," usually with the contextual implication that it is perpetrated by "those liberals." "political correctness," in its original usage, related to using respectful, appropriate terms when talking to and about individuals in historically marginalized demographics and situations. this has nothing to do with that. this involves one man abusing his position of power in a way that reflects his own bias. confusing or misrepresenting the situation doesn't serve anyone, and reducing it to a pair of buzzwords really minimizes it, so maybe we could all use our words about this instead of talking like dittoheads.
talk about a miscarriage of justice. the worst part is this: "In a written explanation of his ruling, Cheuvront said Bowen and her friends drummed up pretrial publicity that tainted potential jurors."
This made me cry. Stephanie, if a girl can't use her own words to say what was done to her, how can she possibly expect justice? How can other women expect to be taken seriously?
We need to cry and be mad at some of the outrageous things that seem to fly under the radar. This is sexism. And perhaps illiteracy, or an inabiity to understand how communication works (never mind how the LAW works.)
I posted on my blog about untruths on Bill O'Reilly's show He's certain that lesbian gangs are going to take over Washington, D.C. Actually, considering the nitwits (with NO "K") in DC these days, Lesbian Gangs would probably be an improvement. But he had seriously twisted, amplified and spun the facts.
That's completely absurd. But, sadly, not surprising given our justice system. Judges think it's their own little Kingdom.
On another note, Dr. Steph is one of my very favorite people in the world! I'm so jealous that you get to hang out with her. I've never even met her. ::sulk:: One of these days though!
It's downright Orwellian, that's what it is... in his book 1984, and the essay Politics and the English Language, Orwell said that when you limit language, you limit ideas--this is one of the most infuriating, outrageous, horrific examples of how language stops our thinking.
If nobody in that room can say 'rape', then the rape will have never happened.
And if it never happened, we have no reason to want to beat up a tree with a 4x4, now do we?
The judge declared a mistrial before the jury was selected and Ms. Bowen's lawyers say that makes an appeal of the language decision unlikely because there was no trial. The judge said the publicity tainted the jury pool and claims that was Ms. Bowen's intent (to sabotage her only avenue for justice?!) and says there will be a trial later and possibly in a different county (like the internet and decent people aren't there, too?!). The other story in the news now is the Jena 6 -- a black high-school kid in Louisiana, Mychal Bell, was convicted for assault with a weapon (his sneakers...no kidding) and the charge originally was attempted murder. He could get 22 to 100 years for a simple school fight with a white kid, even though the white kids threatened him with a shotgun and hung nooses from "the White tree" because he sat under it. Google "Jena 6" and have a barf bag handy. Our flags are at half mast nearly every day for our country's demise. I wish I were Canadian. Truly. Now let's look at some wool....
He made me have sex with him
intercourse was taking placing that I hadn't agreed to
or (for this particular case)
I awoke to find intercourse taking place which I had not been conscious enough to agree to and which, if I HAD been conscious enough, I would not have agreed to.
is indeed an interesting piece about the case
For the record, I share all the outrage of all the other comments, but this story left me wondering about two things when I was done that I thought I'd share. First off, I'm wondering if the judge knows the offendant or a member of his family. If the judge's position is an elected one, maybe the creep is related to one of the judges financial supporters. The other thing I wondered about is if #1 isn't true, then maybe at some time or another in his past, the judge has some sort of similar or related bad behavior that makes him sympathetic to the creep. These would be the two very bad reasons that most people in power would try and pull something like this. Who is he protecting, a relative, his political career, himself or his ego? Where's the money that's involved? (not a bribe, probably something more like political contributions, his child in the right college, or a friend or relatives political career?) One thing is for sure, the Judge is definitely guilty of raping the American legal system for his own purposes, whatever they may be. I think a little snooping of the judges background may be in order. They definitely need to get rid of this judge!
How about "the defendant proceeded to perform an invasive sexaul act on the complaintet which she had not consented to and was in an incompassitated state"? Or how about "the bastard used my body for sex while I was passed out"? Think either will fly in court???
What about "we has unconcsentual sex?" I didnt read throught all the responses so I dont know if it was said already. This story is just as angering as the baby (toddler) and his mom, who were thrown of an (Continental Express Jet) airplane in Texas for talking! I couldnt believe that one either! The comments from people were astounding also that were against the little boy. Sometimes I have to stop listening to the news because it makes me so mad. Thanks for alerting us to the story which is simply unbelievable!
Sorry, I meant "WE HAD UNCONSCENTUAL SEX", not "has". Sorry for the typo above.
Shades of Alice's Restaurant..."It was just another case of blind justice"
I think we need more female judges!
"when I came to, I realized my body was being used in a sexual act."
Sad to say, but it's stories like this that remind me why scared, 13-year-old me never went forward...
I feel very badly for this woman... insert that it could be any of us. She is going to have to go armed to the trial with every possible reference from a Thesaurus. When she talkes, it will sound something like this:
I awoke to find this person setting upon me in aggressive coitus, that I did not authorize or sanction. He has desecrated my body while I was an unwilling participant. After this aggressive violation, I immediately underwent examiniation at a hospital center for women who have been aggressivly violated, by a trained professional in this field, using all necessary tests perscribed by the hosiptal, to determine any evidence that may be required by the courts for justification of my claim.
It is sure going to be one crazy case, and she is going to sound like a pompus idiot, not being able to use such simple terms that have been banned, and the jury is none the wiser. What a sad sad day for women everywhere!
For the few people who made a correlation between this situation and the current administration. I don't get it. There were these kind of Judges before. There will be these kind of Judges in the future. The beauty of our system is that action can be taken. Personally, I think Clinton set us back a bit as women with his whole debacle in the White House. I think if anything, that situation shows that we live in a Patriarchal society where men are prone to be more lenient in certain situations with other men. After all, Clinton still seems regarded as some kind of "Golden Boy" and Monica is thought of in terms of a blue dress. How fair is that? I realize in that case, it was mutually consensual. So, you would think they would be regarded in the same light, but, alas, no.
That's just awful. It makes me so mad thinking about it, I think my blood pressure has gone sky high.
I just read your blog from the 12th ( I'm a little behind; my computer & electricity got struck by lightning. no joke) anyway, it never fails to amaze me how many ways men have to violate women. This, however, is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Why isn't someone objecting to this?? Just goes to show, men, even in their ultimate stupidity, can still surprise me.
Perhaps I was not totally paying attention (I was working at the time) but it seems to me the defense lawyer was in on this B.S. too as I'm sure that's who I was listening too last night being interviewed on As It Happens on CBC 1. It was an outstanding display of doublespeak and I remember being tempted to phone in with a comment of "This Guy" is an shining example of why people hate lawyers. Tune in tonight, Fri July13 (oh give me a break) for the phone in fireworks CBC 1 6:30 pm and yes this show is carried in the US on public radio
That's awful! In my language the word for rape is "voldtekt", vold meaning violence and tekt meaning taken. Gives a good perspective to what is actually happening in those horrible situations where people are raped.
I'm glad you wrote about this!
I wished I was american (briefly) so that I could make one h*ll of a complaint to the supreme court and every other body going. What happened to freedom of speech and the right to a fair trial? How can this be justice, surely the rape word was mentioned on the indictment?
I don't think I can come up with anything to say other than "holy crap." Our system is jacked up. I'm actually starting to look forward to my impending jury duty (I'm on hold for 6 months since I'm nursing a baby).
It seems to me that what the judge was probably trying to do was to get the complainant to focus simply on telling the jury exactly what happened, no more, so that they could do their job and decide whether they believe that she did not consent. The judge could then direct the jury that if they do believe her, then that amounts to a rape (or whatever the charge is - and if the charge is not rape, then it makes perfect sense not to use that word in evidence). The judge here may or may not have been correct in thinking that the use of certain words would be unduly prejudicial in the precise circumstances of this case. I don't know. And neither, with all possible respect, do you or any of your commenters who have not read the court file and transcripts. I also , incidentally, don't know if this man is guilty. Nothing boosts the anti-feminist agenda quite like this kind of ill-informed hysteria.
If I were her- I'd use OTHER words entirely. IE... "while I was blacked out... He penetrated.... I awoke to his_______ in my_____."
More clinical... more direct, less sounding consentual.
as a side note- legal systems can be so stupid.
But sheesh, how are you suppose to tell the truth under oath... when the court system ties your tongue in knots?
political correctness taken to the extreme
Okay...I had to stop reading the comments and write my own after I happened upon "A Woman Lawyer's" comment. To suggest that Stephanie's call to action is "hasty and irresponsible" is ridiculous. I don't think she is just finding the US court system "quirky" because she is "not familiar with it". There are many examples of the US Court System taking great leaps back to a time when women (and others considered not to be equal to white men) were considered property and should be treated as such. It is not only Canadians (who are apparently not familiar with your court system only because we are Canadian)who feel this way, but by the response I see here, many Americans (who are...or they all unfamiliar as well?). I am with Gretchen who commented above(so far above) when she says that it is not about if Tory Bowen was raped...it is about if she was raped by the defendant. That is what trials are all about isn't it? The defendant was charged with a crime...then he goes to trial. He is presumed innocent until it can be proved that HE commited the crime. To not allow for language to be used that supports the theory that a CRIME took place is not justice...it is boy's club mentality that rape should not be a crime and it does not have a place in our society. The judge does not have the power to rewrite laws and rule that rape is not a crime (or am I too unfamiliar with your court system to state that?)
This is a scary time to be a woman...especially if you have "A Woman Lawyer" as your lawyer...hopefully she just works in Real Estate.
The judge needs to be removed from the bench and it is up to us voters to push this issue through. Mad? Not even close to it....I don't have words for the pain this is causing us. Too many rapes and beatings have been swept under the rug because the victim has been bullied down rather then supported. Time for it to stop....please write to your papers, Representitives and Senators.
Not having had a full cup of coffee yet, and reading this is difficult. You have to wonder how this individual came to be a judge. I am not ready to condemn America as a whole... It isn't time to abandon ship, it is time to act however. Since bringing this miscarriage of justice to our attention, lets just get to work removing this offending being from office (mind you I cleaned up what I would like to call him)
I just read the article that was posted and have to ask the question?
How can you have a SEXUAL ASSAULT case without a victim? Someone has to be the perpetrate the assault and someone has to be the victim of the assault. This whole thing has taken justice to the level of the riduculous.
I emailed my Senators - one is a presidential candidate and a woman. I also quoted you and attributed the quote, Stephanie. I haven't had my coffee, and I needed to sound somewhat coherent and not enraged. Thank you for bringing this important issue to over 8,000 readers attention, and mine in particular.
i think i've got it! what if she's permitted to say " the defendant engaged in non-consentual, unauthorized intercourse of an aggressive and offensive nature!"
How about "he had intercourse while I screamed and tried to get away?"
I hope that judge has some big, hairy man have intercourse with him while beating him after drugging him!
Speaking as an editor, and based on my limited experience with lawyers and the legal system, I've always felt that lawyers were editors who had gone over to the Dark Side. I guess it's time for me to go back to work and strive for balance in the force.
ITA agree about the feminist sites. They are right... but if I think too much about wrongness I might explode. That won't help anyone.
This is absolutely ridiculous. Next we'll be calling home invasion "visiting" and stealing will be called "borrowing". It's time for some deep breaths and happy thoughts about yarn...
I e-mailed my senator. Thanks for letting us know!
I have written to my Senators Kerry and Kennedy. And I will be contacting my friends in Nebraska to make sure they voice their opinion - while Senior senators have plenty of power, if the people of Nebraska don't stand up and complain, it will be hard to make changes!
I, too, don't read feminist blogs much anymore. As a graduate of a women's college in the mid 90's I am proud to call myself a feminist, no matter what. But I must admit, since my college days it is hard to stay 'plugged in' to social injustice. As a college student newly awakened to the injustices of the world, there was boundless energy to devote to every wrong being committed. And now? There are so MANY wrongs. Wrongs in this country, wholesale genocides occuring in others.
Ugh. So incredible sad and disappointing. Mind you, I am still FREAKIN' MAD, but there is so much to be MAD about!
I only scanned the responses, but I must beg to differ.....this has nothing at all to do with feminism, though I understand how attractive it is to think it so, this has to do with a diminishment (Webster will forgive me) of victims rights. This appears to be the same "infection" that makes it OK for judges to sentence really heinous pedophiles to house arrest and 60 day sentences so they can get "therapy" (i.e., restorative justice). It is wrong people, deeply wrong. However, it isn't just about women, it's about victims, and a judiciary that needs to be held accountable. I'd love to look at a bunch of this judge's other rulings......
Here's an on-line petition for freedom of speech for Sexual Assault Survivors. It was created by PAVE, the group that helped organize the rally outside the courtroom that led to the judge declaring a mistrial.
Console yourself with this good news. The California Habeas Project has successfully gained the release of 19 women in jail for life for killing their boyfriends/spouses after years of abuse. Until 1991, those women were not permitted to say during their trial that they had been battered/abused! Now, they can get a new trial and submit that as evidence. www.habeasproject.org
My first thought after I read this was (this is just my personal feeling) that Judge Jeffre Cheuvront has something to hide. Most likely a BIG something that he keeps in a closet under lock and key. This poor women is having her rights stomped on after she was brave enough to come forward when most women don't. I think the Judge needs to spend some time in jail with the defendant and some inmates in a nice quiet place, like maybe the basement (of course the inmates have been made aware of the situation and don't feel the same as the Judge) Just a thought.
Although I live in Illinois, I did write my Senator about this issue last night -- look what I woke up to this morning!
"Judge Jeffre Cheuvront said pretrial publicity could have tainted potential jurors" -- WTF?
I am wondering where the ACLU is,her rights are being compromised.Makes me angry. Sounds like Bill O'Reilly should do something.He has been known to stand up for victims rights.
You and I are on the same bandwagon, Stephanie. I'm on the board of directors of my local women's centre (in Nova Scotia) and we're sorting out who to write to and what else we might be able to do. Feminists should be shouting about this from the roof tops.
Thanks for bringing it the attention of your readers who may not have heard of it otherwise.
I sent your blog posting to several women I know. I wanted to show them how twisted people can be! Hopefully the story will spread so we can prevent this from happening throughout the US Court System!
wow, did I have a rant written in here a half-second ago. But it's all been said before, up there, and better/with less passionate use of the f-word.
I'm in Nebraska. Or at least I'm so close I can kick it from here. Grew up there. And this kind of thing is one of the reasons I left. The institutionalized sexism and illogical support for that sexism is just disgusting.
I'll be calling the senators and representatives and the judicial offices today to lodge complaints, and hopefully, together, we can get something done.
To address the comment that the writer was "bummed" to read about this issue(and other hard issues) on your blog; Aren't we a community of knitters and don't knitters discuss issues when gathering together and isn't this the way that word gets out about such issues. Heaven knows we can't truly rely on the media to get it straight all the time (NPR, BBC and CBC as the exceptions). STEPH, Keep bringing us these issues and as a strong, committed group we can make a difference.
If she can't say... Rape, Sexual Assault, Victim, Attacker, Assailant, or Forced.
Then how about...
and Violated! ...and then Censored!!!
I think the jury would get the point.
...and I think the judged should be considered an acessory to the crime, since his actions seem like an attempt to cover it up!
How about doing something like doctors without borders, but "judges without seats" I'm sure that we could do this
Absolutely disgusting, and sad, and horrifying.
I find it appalling and bizarre that "rape" seems to be often excluded from the legal lexicon because it's such a 'harsh' term. Um? You think? Here in Canada I think it's a travesty that we use "sexual assault" to describe anything from having your butt grabbed to being raped. Not that having your butt grabbed against your will is acceptable behaviour, but I think it greatly demeans the victim (yes VICTIM) of such a horrible, life-altering trauma as rape to throw it into the same linguistic bucket as a smack on the ass. (Sorry for the language, but this whole issue beyond pisses me off.)
That judge totally infuriates me. Just when I think women have come a long ways in equality, etc. this judge comes along. My gut feeling tells me that he probably sexually behaved inappropriately himself at some point. I'll be writing to many on this one.
Okay, I have now read several articles about this. One of the quotes from one of the newspaper articles was from the prosecutor who said "we can live with this" (i.e., the judge's order). The major reason and the legal issue that the judge and the prosecutor are dealing with is the question of double jeopardy. If found guilty, the defendant can appeal. If found innocent, the prosecutor cannot retry the defendant for the same thing. The same prosecutor said that the judges have to bend over backward to not do anything that can be deemed prejudicial. The defendant's lawyers are the ones who set the stage for the judge's ruling. They are the ones who basically said that if these terms are allowed it will be PREJUDICIAL to our client.
I have to tell you that I have been a juror on several cases in our local county. One was a rape case. And, actually, was very similar to this one. They met. They went home together. They had sex. She woke in the morning and he was, ummm, beginning to get back in the mood. She told him to stop (he did). She went to the bathroom and climbed out the window. He said their "contact" was consensual, she said it wasn't. Given all of the testimony, we found him not guilty. The basic reason for the verdict was that she wasn't believable. It is, after all, a "he said/she said" issue in cases like this. And he was way more believable than she. By the way, the judge in the case was appalled that we found the defendant guilty and basically lambasted the jury over the verdict, including mentioning that he thought that with eight women on the jury, he was sure that we would have "gotten it right."
A couple of years later, I also served on another rape case. We did spend three to four hours going over all of the evidence. In the jury instructions, the judge told us that it was our duty and it was vital that we don't immediately pass judgment but review, discuss and decide. The SOB was found guilty.
The entire jury process is fraught with misinterpretation. The American system is based on the theory that ALL defendants are innocent until proven guilty . . . even the most horrible ones.
Also, according to the media reports that I have read, the victim in this case is now using the media and the judge was forced to rule it a mistrial due to her and the media actions.
Given all of that and as we all know rape is wrong. Forced sex is wrong. Having a case be on the dockets for almost three years is also wrong. But the system, with all of its warts, does work in most cases.
I applaud the judge and think you are all delusional. At what point did we come to the conclusion that people should not be held responsible for their own actions? At what point did we decide that when a woman chooses to drink alcohol, knowing that it will impair her judgment, that she is not responsible for that choice? If I chose to drink and drive should I not be held accountable for that choice? Tory Bowen had consensual sex, period. If her judgment was impaired it is not the fault of a man. Do men have to give a sobriety test prior to intercourse? Would you feel the same way if it were a man claiming to have been impaired? I doubt it, and you would be a lier if you said you would. Choosing to drink alcohol means that you accept the consequences of that choice. If you think that she is not responsible for that choice then you should also feel that a drunk driver should not be responsible for that choice. Same thing, both made a bad choice while impaired.
I'm all for protecting the rights of the accused but this judge's gag order is frankly insulting, particularly to the jury. To think that 12 people, charged with determining the guilt or innocence of a man accused of rape can't come to an unprejudiced decision if the victim actually says the word "rape" is rather insulting to their intelligence. Nebraskans are (from my relatively little experience with the ones I've met) reasonable, intelligent people. Even if Ms. Bowen points to the defendant and says "That man raped me," the jury would take both her statement, the statement of other witnesses (including the defendant) and other evidence to determine if the man really did rape her. They aren't going to convict just because she says so and the judge should be smarter than that.
"He had sex with me without my permission. I could not and did not grant him permission because I do not remember anything after the first drink. Because I dod not remmeber what happened, it is impossible for me to have consented to intimate relations with the defendant."
Does that work?
MISTRIAL has been declared. I read it on Comcast.net.
I've just sent Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) an email, of which I pasted part of your blog. I've asked Sen. Lautenberg to speak to the Nebraska Representatives, and urge them to assist Ms. Bowen in any way possible. The "good old boys" need to give it a rest and wake up already! I am outraged! How Dare They!
You know that place deep inside your stomach where rage lives and the emotional muscle that pushes the rage up and makes you want to strike out against pigs like this judge who so obviously is quite enjoying RAPING HER himself. What upsets me more is that IN THIS DAY AND AGE, there are still young men out there who believe that women are property to be possessed, used and disposed of at their personal, sick and twisted discretion. I have a son and if I EVER find out he's taken advantage of ANYONE like this, I will personally present him to the police MYSELF! As for this judge, he probably makes the women in his family wear burkas! I know it's far fetched, but maybe sexual consent should now be in writing, since the law deems written contracts the only thing worth protecting.
I am dizzy with rage right now. That judge should be removed or better yet, taken to a dark and frightening place in the woods and told that "Deliverance" is about to be remade.
That is the most horrible thing I have ever heard. Has anyone ever heard of freedom of speech in Nebraska????
I have written my Senator (Kay Bailey Hutchinson) here in Texas. God willing, we'll get her a different Judge and a fair trial.
Ya know, I would comment, but that Judge's stupidity (and that is the nicest, most mild word I can think of) is beyond words. The damage to that young lady could be incalculatable. I pray she has strong family and friends to help her through this.
I was raped on Halloween of 2005.
I doesn't come near ANYTHING that my boyfriend and I have.
I was RAPED. We didn't have SEX. We didn't have INTERCOURSE. HE RAPED ME.
To compare that to the love and tenderness that my boyfriend and I share today is just disgusting. I have never seen the man again, nor do I want to. If I do, however, I suppose I won't punch him, or attack him, I'll give him a "handshake".
I work in women's crisis now on my college campus. I study violence and women. It really, really makes me want to vomit that he compares the two. It does NOT compare. Raping a woman is the same as killing someone. A judge would be taken off the case if he did this on a homicide or murder case.
Jaw dropping, eyes popping. After catching my breath, I am not surprised that there is at least ONE neanderthal judge out there who somehow thinks that RAPE is simply sex. She was drugged for Pete's sake!
But here is a sentence that might work. "He had non-consensual sex with Ms. Bowen while she was drugged and asleep."
GRRR.. This makes my blood boil. I hope they throw him off the bench and into a gutter.
What really upsets me is that this story was first told in Canada not the US. I had heard about it by listening to the podcast of As It Happens. The defenses lawyer was able to get all of these words thrown out. I can't understand how the prosecuting lawyer and judge could allow this.
Posted by: Ryan at July 13, 2007 10:56 AM
I'm going to devote a post on my blog at:
as I won't start this on Stephanie's blog. I'm sure this jerk is telling 8 year old rape victims that they deserve it because they spoke to a stranger.
Okay, we're all mad -- I'm also working full time and have two kids under five. I would be delighted to send letters to the judicial complaints department, but nobody seems to have posted it -- nor the judge's name no case name and number. And I don't have time to hunt it all down this week. Can somebody with more free time stick them in a post along with the relevant addresses to make it simpler for all of us?
Rape trials have always been tricky. Not only is the case trying to prove if the defendant was the criminal or not, it has to prove there was a crime. Since I'm not in the court room, I won't assume either.
The defendant is going to wear a brand of a rapist in his community even if he did not do it. Women he knows will look at him differently, and he will be treated differently. It's how people are, we protect ourselves and our own.
That said, I do agree with careful wording from both sides, but I don't think the words should be banned. How on earth do you describe the plantiff's side without those words? I can see using "rape" sparingly (come on, we all get a little alarmed when we just hear the word) but to ban is bias to the defendant.
This makes me WANT to start reading feminist and political blogs. Thanks Harlot! (is that allowed?) Yes it's not good to be angry all the time but anger should turn into action and making our voices heard. My mid summer's resolution is to pull my head out of the sand and act on my convictions. If we get so discussted that we stop looking and shouting and acting "they" win and we all lose. Remember, it's not just this one judge it's an attitude that pervades in many places....scary!
I work at a women's rights organization, and unsurprisingly we have been following this. It makes me ten kinds of angry, and the worst part is that it's based on reasonable justice. It's true that witnesses and victims can't make legal conclusions on the stand, so I may see the point in the root of all this: that she can't just conclude she was raped on the witness stand. BUT, I wonder if she can't just say, "I believe I was raped" or something not as leading. Plus it's really overreaching to not mention the name of the criminal charges or the nurse's title, to name a few. It's really out there. (If you're interested in getting a weekly newsletter with the latest feminist news and updates, email me and I can show you where to get on our list.)
Well, I've written to Feingold and Kohl. I think there is a lot of hard work spent out there by persons with penises to keep holding on to power that they have greedily hoarded for all these centuries. (Hence the Original Sin myth) I think men actually fear women because we have a lot more strength and power than they know how to cope with.
I'm so angry and appalled I could spit! Too angry to logically explain why this ridiculous judge and his rulings and just so damn typical and could only happen in this decade while Bush is in the White House...this probably makes me sound like a crackpot, but anger exhausts me too much to care.
what i'd like to know is how the trial would have gone if it was the other way around.
She slipped a viagra into his drink and took him home and had her way with him.
oh wait, there wouldn't be a trial...
I simply cannot understand the way women are treated in this country (and many, many others).
As for the sentence...
This man had sex with me while I was unconscious and unwilling. I was then at the hospital where a special kind of nurse took care of me and gave me a special kit in order to test me. I am deeply distraught.
It just doesn't have the same intensity and sense of horror as, "he drugged me and raped me."
If I were a juror on that case, I wouldn't believe her either with all that passive language. That's just not right.
This is the moment for Really Concrete Language. The judge has banned words that summarize the experience. He has not, so far as I know, banned a detailed report of the experience. Keep it in "I" language. "I had a drink in a bar. I woke up in a strange bed. A man I do not know was ...... (explicit details). I felt terrified. Since then I have had constant nightmares and I am under the care of a therapist for post traumatic shock." etc. Keep it concrete and focused on *her* experience and any jury with half a brain will figure out whe *he* did. The judge is an ass, but his rules are not impossible.
To give statement without the words disallowed:
"On the night in question, my person was penetrated by the other said party. This penetration was not of my choosing and I was in no way party to the decision to allow said penetration. Upon realization that such an act was being perpetrated upon my body, I left the scene and proceeded to a hospital where an nurse who specializes in unauthorized penetration took part in a specially formulated process for such acts that have been heinously committed against other such persons of the female persuation by those of the male persuation. Upon examination of the items gathered during this process, it was determined that, indeed, I had been penetrated without my choosing."
This is so utterly stupid. I've written my senator and spread the news. I am ... beyond ... miffed. That poor woman.
This really is unbelievable. Anyone on a jury knows perfectly well that one person's testimony has to be weighed against other testimony and evidence. It makes no sense whatsoever to prevent the victim from using subjective and/or inflammatory language. The defendant is present and capable of speaking in his own defense. Forcing a woman to use "sanitized" language in these circumstances only serves to dehumanize her. Using clinical terms to describe what is a personal violation makes it sound like she is nothing but a body, not a person.
It was my understanding that she had ONE drink. I doubt that qualifies her as "drunk", and, if she does not remember anything after that ONE drink, there is a heavy suspicion there that he slipped her something.
Yeah, that is pissy...About all she can say is. "We had sex. I didn't say it was ok, but he did it anyway." I think that avoids those words...but i'm sure they'd find a way to make that banned too!
Late to the game, and now astonishingly angry. Stuff doesn't f-ing change does it?
I'm sure a man in the same situation would be allowed to use all the words available to explain the crime committed against him (and even make up some if needed).
And just because tab A goes into slot B during rape, it doesn't make it a sexual act.
I am an attorney, practicing in Lincoln, NE and yes.....often in front of the Honorable Jeffre Cheuvront. He is an excellent judge and I have great respect for him. "Rape" is an inflammatory term that may have different meanings for different people. The term 'rape' is not used in the Nebraska Statute. In order to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crime with which he is charged, the prosecutor needs to prove the elements of the crime as verbalized in the statute.
I stand with Judge Cheuvront.
I am not quite too familiar with the US Justice system. But I cannot see how you can prove "the elements of the crime as verbalized in the statute" if you are not describing what has happened in "her words" or whatever happened proved by the Rape Kit... On the other hand in Canada we are all innocent until proven guilty.. I doubt very much that somebody would go to such an extent just for the fun of it... Plus - there is a lot of "rape drugs" going around these days: a mother a of 15-yr old girl - i found astonishing that I have to warn her of that type of things even going at a friend's party - while there will maybe be some "other friends" who may come by and put that in her soda... having to tell her not to leave her soda unattended or to throw it makes me very angry (and somewhat overprotective). At the same time, once the warning is given i have to let her go - and have confidence in her... What amazed me most is when i told her: the look on her face that - yes - some people may do that to other people.. It even happened at our office's Xmas party this year..
How awful. Justice in this country is a joke. Someone mentioned this seeming Orwellian; I think it's more like Atwoodian.
Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about this. I don't think it's off-topic or inappropriate at all. And considering how many knitters are women, and how often victims of sexual assault are women... seems like a reasonable thing to discuss indeed.
This is a very offensive case on many, many levels.
However, in the exuberance of reactions, please do not characterize all of the midwest--Kansas, the Dakotas, etc. as being in the dark ages.
I sat on a jury for a rape trial in the state of North Dakota and the word rape was used. The victim was respected during the process.
The perpetrator was found guilty and sent to prison.
How about "I awoke to find this guy was having sex with me without my consent or knowledge."
What crime is this guy charged with, if not rape? Don't you at least have to inform everyone involved of that?
This is unbelievably stupid.
to A Woman Attorney and Barbara,
It is a sad to realize both of you are defending the law, not straightforward perception of the truth as each side sees it, not a human being who says she is innocent, not even the defendent. You are both defending the law. Knowing this makes me feel so disappointed.
Maybe it's a bad law. It is certainly an inflammatory and irrational one, just look at the number of people who responded with passion to this. The other comments have not been about innocence or guilt, they have been about this appalling censorship in a country where we thought we had freedom of speech?
I find it so interesting that you are all up in arms because the judge is not allowing this man to be called a rapist when he has not been proven to be one yet. Fact of the matter is that it does convey preconceived notions if some one is called a rapist, convicted or not. The judge is absolutely right, especially in this case where it is ambiguous as to the facts of the case. The woman immediately had a rape kit taken at the hospital, standard procedure is to test for drugging, especially in a case like this. I am sure that if the absence of mentioning her being drugged means she was not. This also means it would have been more than one drink. Did she say yes while impaired? The female victim says she can't remember, the male victim (yes, I am referring to him as a victim) says she consented. Why is he automatically wrong? What is wrong with holding off on calling him a rapist until he is actually convicted? That is a legal and public record when he is called a rapist, especially with the media surrounding this. Has anyone thought that Mr. Safi has rights as well? That is called slander and liable until he is proven guilty. I am not saying he is innocent, I am just saying his guilt has not been proven.
Look, I am not the kind of guy that persecutes victims. I beat the crap out of guys that slap around or assault women... it is how I was raised by a very strong and amazing woman, my mother. But I am also a patriot and believe in what this country was founded on, and this man IS NOT A RAPIST until he is found to be such by a jury of his peers. That is my point and I think what you all are missing.
You just made me go and do something I have never done....write my senator. Thank you. Now I'm going to go knit to calm down.
This judge and the DC judge that is suing the dry cleaners for several million dollars for some misplaced pants need to form their own little society, one where they can try their own justice on for size!
I don't know how many times I have turned to your blog expecting light knitting fluff (Which is always good) And I have come away with some powerful thought provoking stuff. Thank you for realizing the power of your blog (300+comments and counting). Thank you for not being afraid to use it. (You go girl!) And thank you for bringing our attention to important things like this. Now if you'll excuse me I have a letter to write....
I know the United Methodist bishop in Lincoln. I have asked that SHE make some kind of statement about this outrage. We have to bring in every woman with any level of power to confront this issue. If not, it gives permission to others that they may commit the same outrage. I'll also be writing my senator; SHE may have something to say as well.
ok people, let's be a little creative. she could easily say "he had intercourse w/ me against my wishes" or "he had sex w/ me when I was incapacitated to the point of not being able to say yes or no"
I do agree that the judge is acting like a horse's ass. Just remember, what goes around comes around - for judge and defendant.
Well, Ryan. You don't even have the courage to list your real e-mail address. You are here strictly to stir the pot. The only reason you say your mother is strong is to get us to back down and agree with you Ms. Bowen "asked" for it by virtue of having drinks - like, what, we're all asking for it because of the way we dress, or you can see cleavage so that's your invitation? The fact that this pig was arrested and tried for two other rapes seems to mean nothing to you. I wonder if your mother went out for a glass of wine and was raped would you say to her, "you have to accept the consequences of your actions, and quite honestly mom, you had a drink so you weren't in control of your actions, so what you say is rape was more like, consentual sex and hey, how do I know those bruises aren't because you like rough sex?"
Your argument is as weak as you are. And you wonder why there is such a backlash against men. For Ms. Bowen to wake up and see a man "thrusting his penis in her" (as she's not allowed to call a spade a spade) and the FIRST WORDS OUT OF HIS MOUTH are not, "hey, how you doin?", but, "You consented" even when she said, "stop", is rape because even IF she consented prior, the minute she said "STOP!" and he didn't, it's rape.
God this is so disgusting. I don't even knit but I followed a link from a friend who's apparently one of your groupies. Now I will go share this link all over the place and get thousands more people with brains pissed off. Hopefully it'll do some good. :)
Interesting info from after the first trial. Read the whole thing. The words were banned from the first trial and they came close to convicting the guy. It can be done. On the other hand, this makes an interesting read in the issues raised in the case. She had four drinks. Her friends (and prosecution witnesses) stated that she and the defendant were kissing in the bar and that she did not seem so intoxicated or disoriented or unwilling when she left with him. There were also discrepancies and odd statements in her testimony, enough to cause doubt in the minds of five of the jurors and enough doubt for them to not be willing to convict.
On the other hand, he isn't all warmth and kindness either. And seems to have the MO of taking advantage of women in situations were they are tipsy. Even the judge (who has been vilified on this and other boards), said:
"In his instructions to jurors, Cheuvront said the verdict should be determined partly by whether they believed Safi had sex with Bowen when he knew, or should have known, she was incapable of giving consent because of a 'severe abnormality such as severe intoxication.'"
and yet the jurors deadlock. Read the article.
I printed the story when I read it and gave it to a teacher who is willing to challenge students to think about such things. I hope that it will lead to some interesting debate.
I do believe that the prosecution has the right to use the word "rape". The perp is on trial for rape, so why should the word not be used.
I wish to quote someone in a previous post:
"I find it so interesting that you are all up in arms because the judge is not allowing this man to be called a rapist when he has not been proven to be one yet. "
That man is being charged with the crime of rape, yes? Why should the terminology not be used? And, if that were your Mom or sister or wife or daughter, would you be so offended by the language?
Would you want the accused in a homicide case to be safe from the word "homicide" or "murder" or "manslaughter"? Would you prefer some alternative terminology such as "nonconsensual loss of life"?
All of us should be offended by what has transpired in this case. Nonconsensual sex is rape. A woman who is unconscious is not able to consent to sexual activity, and that IS RAPE.
Your comment, "I beat the crap out of guys that slap around or assault women... " is childish and offensive. We do not need individual men taking justice into their own hands and "slapping people around". We need a court system that puts ANYONE who harms ANY OTHER LIVING CREATURE behind bars, away from society.
If you really want to make the world safer, contact your representative.
There are a couple of words left that this woman can use; the problem is that the moment she uses either of them, they too will be banned and she may be considered in contempt of court.
If she were to say, "He screwed me," or "He fucked me," either of those phrases would indeed carry the connotation that it was done TO her, without her consent, and for the purpose of taking unfair advantage -- because that's the sense those words have in common usage. When you talk about having been screwed or fucked, it's clear that this was NOT something you wanted.
Unfortunately, both of those words are considered vulgar and "unladylike". OTOH, if she were to use one of them and the judge remonstrated with her, it would give her the chance to say, "Well, you've banned every OTHER word I can use that accurately describes what happened to me!" -- and then at least the jury would know.
When I first heard this I thought that it sounded a little strange but then, as a teacher of legal studies in another country with a similar legal system (Ireland) I saw the point. Firstly, I have six sisters, and if I thought this guy was guilty and got free (as appears in other cases he did) I would hunt him down. But I have to temper my emotional reaction with the need to be just to both parties in a trail, one of whom whose guilt has not yet been determined.
In any case in, America (except Louisiana), two parties try to persuade a jury, NOT OF THE TRUTH, but of who has the better argument (adversarial system). Need I mention OJ Simpson case? When it comes to the language issue, I presume the judge heard legal argument from both sides and the prosecutor wasn't able to adequately rebutt the defence propostion. Your anger should be towards the prosecutor, not the judge whose job it is to apply the law, not to impose his own bias on the case. This would simply be a miscarriage of justice for both sides. The woman wants and is entitled to justice appropriately arrived at. The only exception to my point here, as one postee points out, is that some of the terms not allowed are in the law and charging documents, so banning them does sound a little like the judge making legislation, which is of course not within his jurisdiction and leaves the case open to appeal (by either side).
Having said that, there are cases where men have been falsely accused of rape (I'll return to this particular case momentarily). In such false cases (ones where the guy was in a different location not just a case where both parties were together and it was his word against hers) isn't the man entitled to OBJECTIVITY in the trial? This I presume is why the words were banned i.e. so as not to use language that would almost subliminally sugeest the man was guilty.
I presume all those disgusted at the notion of a rapist walking free are equally disgusted at the notion of a genuinely innocent man being jailed. This is where the law becomes problematic. It is impossible in a democratic society to have different classes of laws for different people... remember the law is bound to treat people equally (which is why statues representing Justice show her blindfolded) . So we ( the US and other democratic states) have laws that guarantee the rights of ALL individuals, even those who later are ajudged criminal.
As horrible as we emotionaly feel it is, we can not DEFINITIVELY call it rape until until the jury has voted on the guilt of the accused. If the jury thinks it wasn't rape (subject to the definition in the legislation) then the corollory is that is was consentual sex.
Happily however the brave lady who pursued the case has not lost (yet anyway). Firstly, 'they' didn't 'have sex'... he did...she clearly did not consent. Secondly, and I assume US common law is just like our own on this, she was so drunk (drugged, etc) that she could not consent. In Ireland, the law presumes a woman in such a state did not consent and the man must prove she did. A little difficult for him to do, when as she says, she woke up to find him on top of her.
I think objectively describing what happened will work in her favour (or at least it should). My only fear is that research on survivors of rape point to the fact that when giving evidence, women often recounted in a matter-of-fact style what had been done to them but in order to be able to do this, they had to somehow detach themselves from the event and as a result, the jury didn't believe them. Juries were expecting women to be emotional wrecks, which of course they were, but couldn't handle giving the evidence unless they were 'automatons' in giving it. I hope the prosecutor points this out to the jury.(I've chosen the words 'done to them' rather than 'what had happened to them).
I hope the lady gets justice. There is nothing more cowardly and repulsive than a man who gets off on lording it over women.
Uck! Justice blind, mute and stupid in this case.
BTW, here's a sentence for you.
"The defendant partook of sexual activity with me against my will."
I did not want people like you to have my email address because you are only seeing red. For trying to point out the logic and reason of the matter you hate me for it. Am I afraid??? Hell yes I am afraid!! I am a white man in my late 20's, from a upper middle class family... the general public has demonized my demographic! A white man is guilty till proven innocent in the court of public opinion. You are a shining example of my point. To you I am automatically a jerk and a pot stirrer trying to attack the victim and legitimize the foul act of rape. Nothing could be further from the truth, but you are unwilling to see that.
As for my weak argument, it is actually formed very logically based on the facts I have read. You Rhonda, are just one of those women who thinks that any time a man is accused of rape that he is automatically guilty. Quoted from the newspaper article listed:
"At some point that evening, she and Safi crossed paths. It was the first time they met. The two shared drinks and eventually, according to trial testimony, kisses inside the bar.
After Brothers closed at 1 a.m., Bowen, who had had about four vodka and Red Bull drinks, left with Safi. She told investigators later that she next remembered waking up after several hours to find an unknown man, later identified as Safi, having sexual intercourse with her. Bowen said she told Safi to stop, and he did. He took her home later that morning."
Nothing in that passage, or the rest of the article, indicate that he forced himself on her. He also stopped when she told him to. I am not saying the guy is a saint, I am not saying that the "she was asking for it" excuses are valid or that a woman eggs it on by the way she dresses. That is crap made up by men who know they have done wrong and are trying to alleviate their guilty conscience. I am saying that the guy has not been convicted and in this country that still counts for something.
Further, the hung jury was not with in an inch of convicting him as some have said, they were split 5-7.
You are seeing red, ready to hang this guy because you are under the delusion that if a woman claims rape she is always telling the truth. Don't misrepresent what I am saying, in the vast majority of cases they are telling the truth, but there are many cases of false accusations because some one regrets a poor decision.
Here is a novel thought: All men are not evil. Not all men are out to hurt women. Some of us are just good guys who are tired of being the convenient cultural scape goats and would like a man to actually be convicted BEFORE he is pronounced guilty.
I wonder if Ms. Bowen could say "unconsenual sex" but then again that just sounds like they had bad sex, which shoudl be illegal but it isn't -- sorry didn't mean to make like of this infuriating injustice, but it's what I do to cope with it. I hear ya - I gave up rading feminist reading a while back after I graduated from college - a woman's college mind you - because it was all so maddening. We all need to keep up the fight. Thanks for the reminder!
Regarding this comment:
"It seems to me that what the judge was probably trying to do was to get the complainant to focus simply on telling the jury exactly what happened, no more, so that they could do their job and decide whether they believe that she did not consent. The judge could then direct the jury that if they do believe her, then that amounts to a rape (or whatever the charge is - and if the charge is not rape, then it makes perfect sense not to use that word in evidence). The judge here may or may not have been correct in thinking that the use of certain words would be unduly prejudicial in the precise circumstances of this case. I don't know. And neither, with all possible respect, do you or any of your commenters who have not read the court file and transcripts. I also , incidentally, don't know if this man is guilty. Nothing boosts the anti-feminist agenda quite like this kind of ill-informed hysteria."
I am a feminist, and I do not think that "feminist" is a dirty word. With that in mind, I would like to ask you what is wrong with a woman describing what happened to her in her own words? Yes, the words could be prejudicial, but are juries not instructed in these matters? Should someone who has been beaten be forced to find "acceptable, nonprejudicial" words to describe the incident?
I am not judging the accused here. I AM supporting the right of the person who has been harmed to describe how she has been harmed in her own words. What would happen to women who are not particularly literate? Should they be denied the right to tell their stories simply because they cannot express themselves in terminology that is judge approved?
Let us get down to the basics here. We tell our stories in the language that we speak. Not all of us are able to rephrase our stories to suit the judicial system. Not all of us "language" (and since when did that become a verb?) our experiences in Oxford-dictionary-approved English. Many women would not be able to think of alternatives to the words, "He raped me."
When our judicial systems begin to require everyone to express themselves within parameters that everyone cannot understand, the concept of equality before the law becomes a farce.
The woman is alleging that she was raped. How much clearer can that be?
Again, "feminist" is not a dirty word. Some of us fought long and hard to ensure that our daughters would not be victimized the way that we were. We carry the "feminist" label with pride.
"As for my weak argument, it is actually formed very logically based on the facts I have read. You Rhonda, are just one of those women who thinks that any time a man is accused of rape that he is automatically guilty."
Will you please understand that our discourse has nothing at all to do with the alleged rapist in this case?
Actually, senators or any federal representatives are powerless in this case, although they may use their general influence as prominent persons. Nebraska judges are appointed by a judicial panel and signed off by the governor; a similar panel deals with necessary reprimands. It's a state court, so even Nebraska senators don't have a thing to do with it. The guy who can do something is probably Governor Dave Heineman, whose contact info is here. http://www.gov.state.ne.us/contact/index.html
I am the site owner here, and must take a moment to redirect you. I seldom turn up in my comments, and have never banned or moderated anyone. In that spirit, I will simply ask you nicely. Please stop attempting to inflame things here, it is impolite. My post is not about whether this gentleman is guilty or innocent. Not one person here is qualified to speak to that. Not you, not anyone else. The "facts" you speak of are news items, not actual facts.
For example, it is a fact that Ms. Bowen submitted a urine sample to prove that she had been drugged. It was broken before testing, leaving this question unanswered. That you have insinuated that this means she was not drugged speaks to your lack of information. The lack of fact here is related to the lack of evidence, not the lack of a drug in her system. Please do not infer otherwise, it is unfair to all parties.
This argument centres on whether or not Ms Bowen should be allowed to use the words "rape" or, more poignantly, "sexual assault" (the crime with which Mr. Safi is charged - for the third time in his life- by three different women) when describing what happened to her. This has *nothing* to do with the guilt or innocence of Mr. Safi.
Further to all of this, and on a personal note, you will find your ass banned off this site so fast it will make your head spin around if you have the audacity to write again that the young white, upper class American male is under attack. You are the most privileged demographic in the world.
Mind your manners. This is my living room.
How bout "he had non-consenual sex with me" or " I never consented to have intercourse with him" or how bout "I did not want him to have his way with me without my consent or my wishes." Not nearly as strong or as effective but better than "he had sex with me." I can't belive some judge would actually do this - what a shame.
"Did she say yes while impaired? The female victim says she can't remember, the male victim (yes, I am referring to him as a victim) says she consented."
I know if someone I'm with has too much too drink. I take their keys, b/c I know they are too "impaired" to drive. They can't use good judgment. I also don't ask them if I can borrow $10,000 from their bank account, b/c I know they are too "impaired" to use good judegement.
So, it stands to reason that (let's say for sake of argument she was drunk) that while she is responsible for her actions..... SO IS HE!!!!! He took advantage of someone in an impaired state, unable to use good judgement and give proper consent.
If he was sober, knew she was drunk, and had sex w/ her..... guess what? He raped her.
I am sorry that you took offense to my comments. My only point, and perhaps my argument was sparatic was that guilt has not been determined and the wording does in fact denote guilt. The lawyer from this very district, Barbara agreed with this. Once again, I do apologize though for stirring up a fire in your living room.
As for the "young white, upper class American male is under attack", I have a very good friend who was fired from a job because he was a white male who tried to hold a black woman to the same standards as other employees. It was documented, it was based on metric data, and she claimed he was being racist. He was told point blank by HR "It is easier to fire a white male than a black female". We may be the most privileged demographic, but we are still a very easy target in this world paranoid by political correctness.
Please don't take offense, my response is not intended to be taken that way. If you feel it is inappropriate for your discussion feel free to delete it. I was only intending to point out some overlooked aspects. Have a wonderful evening.
Ryan...back away from the knitting blog....back away v-e-r-y s-lo-w-l-y....
OK, this really made me mad. But I thought of a sentence. I hope this doesn't offend, but what about "he put his penis in my vagina repeatedly without asking permission."
Sometimes I think men are dumb.
You could say he f'd me and I didn't say he could.
I don't know how other people describe it but as a 30 Reservist and veteran I'd say Ryan crapped in his own Canteen!
For all of you who think this Supreme Court as it sits now will side with the RAPE VICTIM you are sorely mistaken. This Supreme Court has been very carefully put together to overturn Roe v. Wade and any law that maintains a woman's rights. I will inform my senators and my congressman but I suspect they are already aware and outraged!! I think I'm calling Nebraska on Monday!!
First word: You.
Second word: Pathetic.
My non-knitting passion is writing (with a huge side-helping of feminism), and so this case, on top of making me really pissed off, also interests me for the purely linguistic aspects. What words could you use that are allowed that would not only get across that the woman was unwillingly acted upon in terms of their definitions, but that would also excite a reaction by means of their sound? How could you phrase it so that the jury might intuit what's going on with the banned words?
Well, of course, you could always point out that the woman felt the whole situation was bad plus plus.
You could say that she was the unwilling recipient of his penis. You could say that he violently acted upon her against her will. You could say that he violently took her against her will. In fact, almost everywhere that you might use 'forced', 'took' works just as well. You can say that he violated her after placing her in a compromising situation from which she was unable to extricate herself. 'Violated' works nicely anywhere that you might want to use 'raped'.
The English language is very, very flexible, to tell you the truth. We use a narrow list of words from day to day, but there exist lots and LOTS of ways to describe a man lewdly thrusting himself upon a helpless woman, and many of them are in fact more colorful and more full of ugly implications than 'attack' or 'force'.
Actually, now that I think about it, I feel just as outraged that any fluent English speaker should feel that the prosecution have been stripped of their power by having such a narrow list of words taken from them. Get out a dictionary, or better yet, one of those gothic Victorian novels. The sexual subjugation of women has been a regrettable cornerstone of Western civilization for long enough that there are plenty of words to describe it.
Oh, and Ryan? It's not that the upper class white male is under attack in this country. I would say that it's more that it's the upper class white male who feels that whatever so-called 'discrimination' he might face even begins to hold a candle to the experience of being raped that makes us all collectively roll our eyes. If you were a lower class black male or a middle class female, or a filthy rich hermaphrodite I'd say the same thing.
I come from an upper class family too, but my upbringing included lessons of compassion, humility, and empathy that seem to have allowed me to completely escape the upper class persecution that I've sometimes heard my peers complain of.
This strikes me (apart from the obvious fact that it has me so angry I actually cannot breathe) as a case of unfathomable judicial stupidity. As in, the judge who made this decision obviously would not understand any of the words I just wrote in the preceding sentence.
The judge is confusing the question of whether the defendant is the person who raped the victim with the question of whether the victim was raped. There is ample evidence that the crime of rape was committed. What the trial is supposed to determine is whether the police have got the person who committed the crime, not whether what happened was a crime. Fucking fucking idiot. Okay, I have to go find my inhaler now. And a blowtorch.
Now now girls. Let's try and see the judge's point of view. Until the man involved is found guilty he is not, in point of fact, a rapist. At best he is an alledged rapist. Remember, in the U.S. we are innocent until PROVEN guilty not suspected guilty. A movie shown of someone having uninvited intercourse with a sheep does not make him and animal abuser, merely a little strange. Oh well, it is slightly off putting to the prosecution but, then again, the defense is supposed to be given the advantage in a U.S. court of law. Otherwise we'd be in France. It's easier to prove guilt than innocence sometimes.
Ann Carpenter in Dallas, Texas
I didn't actually say feminism was a dirty word, did I? I believe I said that all this ill-informed hysteria would boost anti-feminists. If it is the essence of a defendant's case that he did not attack a complainant, no one in court will be allowed to refer to him as "the attacker" or "the assailant". If he admits a killing but denies it was murder, no one would be allowed to call him "the murderer" or say they witnessed "the murder", even though that is the charge. This is perfectly reasonable in any judicial system which does not presuppose guilt.
...and, actually, has nothing to do with feminism
This is exactly why I never tried to prosecute when I was 'raped'. I was not sober, he was not sober. We were good friends, I went willing to his house with the alcohol, we had been somewhat intimate before. I knew that once under the influence, I might not make good choices, and that he might not make good choices. It was not consensual, but it was not unconsensual. I don't view him now as a rapist, I view him as a former good friend who contributed to a mistake we both made. I am not a victim, I was knowingly stupid.
But not allowing those words in a courtroom is unbelievable. I hope karma bites the judge, and later someone is charged with a crime against him/his family, and are not allowed to use similiar words. While it makes this case particularly difficult because of the ambiguities, imagine the uproar it would cause if the same rules were put to task in a 'stranger' rape case.
THe scary part for me was that when I Googled the judge's name, the only site that came up was "Baptists for Brownback". They seem to be a group dedicated to making the USA the wonderful place it was in the 1950s. Well, wonderful if you were a white Christian (and you'd better not call yourself Christian if you're Catholic, By golly!). They think the whole idea of restricting language is fabulous. Abotion should be called "murder" and people who have abortions should be exectued. Fun people. Where are the news stories about this judge? Or are the news people being so "fair" we don't get to see his name? Of course the victem should be allowed to choose the words that describe what happened (trying not to accuse anyone of anything). If she calls him a rapist, it's because that's what she believes and the jury's job is to sort out the truth. Good luck to them.
Judges are subject to ethical canons, just like lawyers. I hope every lawyer in the bar of this state complains to the bar association, as well as to the judicial inquiry commission in their state.
In many states judges are still elected. Not sure whether this judge is subject to election or not, but I've got to say, if he is, I want to get in line to donate to whoever is going to take him on in the next election. But hopefully, he'll be impeached before then. I thought his mentality died out in the dark ages, or at least at the point where rape victim shield laws were passed. I guess this is fairness -- lets protect the rapist too. Blech.
While I've not read every single comment here about this extremely awful situation, I feel compelled to ask:
Has this woman considered legal action against the hospital where she was treated after the rape?
According to what I understand, the staff "broke" the vial containing her urine which could have proved conclusively that the rapist did indeed drug her into a state of unconsciousness with which to take advantage of her.
Just my thoughts......
I understand she has difficulty recollecting much of the events which took place after leaving with the perp until she awoke to him raping her.
This urine test result, had it been secured and tested according to proper policy could have proved pivitol to the rapist's guilt.
This side note is not to discount the fact that this judge needs to be removed from the bench and be subject to all the punishments suggested so far by the posters on this blog!
I only want to point out that the hospital involved bears an incredible amout of responsibility for their colossal negligence in not procuring proper evidence with which to convict the rapist.
After "breaking" the 1st vial, they should have procured another sample immediately instead of abandoning the issue completely.
This is outrageous, I had no idea this was happening until I read your blog..I am a sexual assault nurse examiner with 5 years working in this field...My question is has this judge ever presided over any other criminal trials and were the same stipulations in place on any victim be it murder, assault, robbery, ect??? This poor VICTIM is being victimized all over again by this judge and our legal system.
"The sexual subjugation of women has been a regrettable cornerstone of Western civilization for long enough that there are plenty of words to describe it".
Indeed there are. Unfortunately, those words do not easily trip off the tongues of every female. A female (or male) should be able to use the words that, for her, most accurately describe her experience. The victim may well be an immigrant who has very limited English. The victim may well come from a cultural subgroup in which the common language would contain words that offend some of us. The point is that language should not hobble the person who is trying to explain what has happened to her.
Perhaps the legal team could be instructed to refrain from using "inflammatory terminology". To ask the same of the alleged victim is to put her at a disadvantage. Are we, as women, more concerned with how we "lanugage" our experiences than we are with ensuring that we are all treated equally under the law?
If I feel that I have been raped, robbed, beaten, or threatened, I have every right to express myself in those terms before a judge or jury. I should be able to express how I feel in my gut and in my heart. To require a woman to use terms that she does not use in her everyday world is to require her to submit to a language that she might not understand. Deny it if you will, but not every female uses words such as "nonconsensual vaginal penetration" with ease.
Stop putting up linguistic roadblocks, and focus on what matters. Stop patting yourselves on the back because you can say big words. Start thinking about how bloody difficult it must be for a woman to stand in front of a courtroom and say that she was raped. Flaunt your ability "to language" your experiences elsewhere, where someone cares that you can use such egregiously self-congratulatory terminology.
Understand that we must level the field for every alleged victim in terms of offering a platform from which she can speak to the court in her own language--a language that is rooted in HER culture and HER experiences. If she uses the word "axe" for "ask", so be it. If she uses the word "screwed" rather than "had intercourse", so be it. Anyone who has had even the most basic writing course has been taught that when writing for a general audience, one does not "write up" to impress everyone. One writes at a level that can be understood by the majority, because the purpose of writing is to communicate rather than preen. So, too, must we allow anyone on the stand to speak in a language that the majority understands, rather than force her to speak in a language that even she might not understand--perhaps words given to her by her lawyer.
This is a huge issue here. We older women need to get out our 60s mentality and fight the good fight on this one. "I am woman hear me roar" comes to mind. Let us all roar for as long as it takes before the right to free speech becomes tarnished.
Many, many letters are being written and sent. Lots of hugs of support for everyone else sending out letters of protest.
Couldn't she have said "He made me have sex and I didn't want to have sex with the jerk! That and since I was crying should have been a big clue! He knew this wasn't at all what I wanted! I'd use other words to describe what happened, but they don't fit into works that can be used in this proceeding.
I'm a probation officer. I'm stunned.
You threatened to "ban his ass" (Ryan's) if he wrote again... he wrote again and then suddenly - *poof* - gone.
I know a word. And it isn't nice and antiseptic like sex and intercourse. The guy f@(k'd her. Just like he's doing to the justice system. If she could get away with it in testimony I'd recommend she use it in place of "sex" and "intercourse" and see just how the judge likes it. Over and over and over again.
The danger of reading that our rights are being systematically stripped from us is that we are moved into action. I'm glad that you were so moved, I hope everyone is. This is just sickening, and how does this happen in America. Iran, maybe. Taliban-controlled villages, yes. America? Apparently so.
Don't wait for the burqa, don't think it's not possible here.
Let me get the 'white middle class male thing out of the way before drawing Ryans attention to the absurdity of an earlier comment. There are certain social and economic changes occuring in the western world that leads white middle class males to believe they are 'under attack' when what is happening is (arguably) a levelling of the playing field.
Ryan said that the lady woke up to find the man having intercourse with her but there was nothing in the article to suggests she was forced.
Of course not. But only because she wasn't in a position to resist (due to being drugged). He did use force (not that it is relevant...the issue is consent) just in a very invidious way.
The words they cannot take away from her are yes and no. She did not, could and certainly would not have said yes (at least in a any meaningful way). No yes is a no. That makes the juries conclusion fairly obvious.
how about "performed a sexual act on me?" Assuming her lawyer can't sneak in "_inflicted_ a sexual act on me".
Recall election. Impeachment. My hope is that there is an option to deal with the judge to keep him from doing something so bizarre again.
What would the judge call it if it happened to him?
We are good friends with Congressman Lee Terry from Nebraska. I will be calling him to give him my opinion this week. What is going on in that state? Six months ago another judge refused to put a convicted child molester in prison because she feared for his safety because he was short.
Oh hugs to you Stephanie,
Thank you for addressing Ryan. I was getting a bit tired of him.
I agree that this is completely ridiculous. I am trying to focus on the base point here-the judge changed the rules and didn't tell the jury. I am not a Nebraska law scholar, but if the term(s) in question appears in the statute or act, it should be permissable in the courtroom. That being said, if certain words are banned, use others in the description of the incident. As another poster said, English is an incredibly flexible language. For example:
"He had sex with me against my will while I was unconscious."
"I did not [could not] consent to the sex. I was unconscious."
An unconscious person cannot consent. This is true in hospital emergency rooms and should be true here.
Ugh. I have to go hug my daughter now.
Thank God I live in California! I served on a rape trial and all those words were allowed. We found the defendant guilty. What blew me away, is how those who are being questioned to serve on a jury bend the truth. Our victim was a recovering alcoholic, and it was amazing when we got into deliberation, how so many of the jurors brought that up, even though they had been asked if that would be a factor during the trial. I have emailed my Congress persons. Thanks for the information.
I would imagine that had the "guy" been the victim there would be no word ban. This stupidity in the legal system makes me fear for my daughters.
I'll be a post-feminist in post-patriarchy.
Once more with feeling:
IT ISN'T THE JUDGE.
The defendant's attorney presented a request. The prosecuting attorney flubbed it. If you are going to be angry, be angry at the prosecutor. The prosecutor's office had a multitude of opportunities to address this and other issues (i.e., lost evidence . . . any guesses as to who maintains the chain of evidence . . . an it ISN'T the judge).
To be honest, while there are a good many prosecutors who are solid lawyers, many are not. They are often young, inexperienced and inept. Many attorneys use their local prosecutors' offices as a stepping stone and training arena for their future practices. Most prosecutors are underpaid (when compared to defense lawyers). They also do not have the financial resources and support they should have in order to properly represent US.
As to the Ms. Bowen's attorney who filed the appeal, DUH! You should have known that you cannot file an appeal in a state where you are not licensed. Even more importantly, you should have known that it is just a matter of filing a pro hac vice notice with the appropriate Nebraska court and you would have been able to file the appeal without it being thrown out. Or, if you didn't want to do that, you hire local counsel to do it. DUH. Me thinks this was done on purpose to garner more support for the cause.
Ms. Bowen could use plenty of other words and phrases to emphasize and illustrate her position as rape victim.......
First of all, "...she had a drink at a bar that was the last thing she remembers until she woke up in a stranger's bed, with a stranger, who was doing something she hadn't consented to." would be fitting to set the scene, along with specifying the defendant as being the "stranger". Then she could flatly say that the "something she hadn't consented to" was an uninvited, unwelcome, hideous, heinous, violation of her body as the defendant sought to gratify himself sexually at her physical and emotional expense, imposing himself upon her in spite of her protests, and thereby inflicting unbearable and immeasurable emotional torment and distress, as well as excessive physical pain!
**She or her lawyer should also state frankly on record that "due to a ban, unique to this courtroom, against using certain words that more directly describe the experience, (she is) hindered in describing even a bit more clearly the indescribable horror and trauma she experienced at the hands and torso of the defendant!"
In other words, Ms. Bowen should be imaginative!! The judge may have inadvertently done her a favor. Through the use of much more heartfelt expressions, let the jury formulate in their own minds the picture of
...&, of course, pray they see the Light!~~And that we all learn to use more wisdom in what we do and say as well as where!
Dear Fibercrone and others,
In order to prove a charge of first degree sexual assault, according to Nebraska law, evidence must be presented that allows the jury to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, that each of the following happened:
1. The actor (defendant) subjected the victim to sexual penetration,
2. without the consent of the victim, and
3. the actor knew or should have known that the victim ws mantally or physically incapable of resisting or appreasing the nature of his or her conduct. Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319(1)
Notice that the word "rape" is not used.
As I understand this case, the contested issue is consent.
In proving these charges, the judge, attorneys and jury all use definitions of the following terms as provided by statute (28-318): actor, intimate parts, past sexual behavior, serious personal injury, sexual contct, sexual penetration, victim, without consent, and force or threat of force. These definitions fill an entire page in the statute book.
None of these definitions include the word "rape."
This means that in order to convict a defendant of first degree sexual assault under Nebraska law, there is no need to use the undefined, inflammatory, conclusory word "rape."
The term "without consent" has as some of its definitions, "the victim need only resist, either verbally or physically, so as to make the victim's refusal to consent genuine and real and so as to reasonably make known to the actor the victim's refusal to consent." 28-318(8)(b) and also, "the victim need not resist verbally or physically where it would be useless or futile to do so." 28-318(8)(c).
This should give you some idea of the nature of the testimony that is germane in this trial.
It is my understanding that the jury was unable to reach a decision at the first trial and a mistrial was declared.
The second trial was scheduled earlier this month (July) and as the prospective jurors were entering the courthouse, the victim and her friends held a demonstration, ostensibly for the purpose of influencing the jury pool. After nearly 40 prospective jurors were determined to be unable to serve over three days time, the judge declared a second mistrial.
As for the claim that the defendant has been charged with sexual assault on previous occasions, I cannot find any evidence of this occuring in Nebraska. In any case, there are long standing rules of evidence regarding the admission of evidence of prior convictions. Yes, I said convictions, not charges.
I am surprised that so many people, across the nation, have gotten emotionally worked up about this case without ever inquiring about the specifics of Nebraska law. If you don't understand the law, you can't understand the judge's rulings or determine if you want to become involved with this alleged victim's attempts to circumvent the legal process.
I cannot support Ms. Bowen's attempts to undermine the legal system.
Ms. Bowen was legally incapaciated and the "accused" stuck his penis in her without consent. THAT undermines the legal system, which presumes that humans -- including women -- have a right to their own bodies.
I am a survivor of sexual assault and I testified in my attacker's trial. I was put through the ringer over the course of 14 hours by a Defense Attorney who repeatedly took me to task for not being a virgin before my assault, for not beating my violent rapist to death while he strangled me, and for not somehow making a video recording (after being kidnapped and moved to a secluded cabin location) to "prove" MY innocence, not my rapist's guilt. My attacker was found guilty, an impossibly rare occurrence. I am now a legal advocate for victims, and I watch them endure the same thing.
What happened to the victim-survivor in Nebraska is rape, regardless of whether the antiquated laws reflect it or not. She will not see justice served and she knows it. If she can't use the word for what happened to her, she is being silenced. Her experience is being erased by a legal system that well over 94% of the time favors rapists over victims. And while the same censorship happened to me -- I had to say "forcible sex" -- the victim-survivor in the Nebraska case is using her pain to promote awareness. That is heroism.
Yes, I comprehend the limitations of legal language and the danger of polluting a jury pool. Spend 10 hours a week in the ER with victims. Listen to their stories. Watch as their lives, their dreams, and their futures dissolve in front of their eyes. And then tell me whether or not you can allow this limitation of language to continue to control, negate and repress the horror they have experienced. Not me. I refuse to live in that world. And that's why I don't give a shit what Nebraska law says. Neither do the other outraged people who simply did not previously understand the bias of the system. Now they see it, and they are rallying with fists raised. It's about time.
What's my point? The sexual assault of women by men -- which literally destroys lives -- is normalized in our society, and it's bullshit. People are worked up about this because they are TIRED OF LAWS THAT PERPETUATE SEXUAL VIOLENCE. Laws written by rich, white men that remain unchallenged only screw all of us over. I'm grateful that so many people have gotten so "emotionally worked up over this case," and I couldn't be prouder of this victim-survivor who is throwing herself to the wolves in order to raise awareness.
You state that the victim was legally incapacitated. That is a fact to be determined by the jury after hearing the evidence at trial.
You're right. And will it happen? Likely not, because many places have antiquated, victim-blaming, rapist-enabling laws about what constitutes "legally incapacitated". However, "legally incapacitated" should translate to "unable to make informed choices about physical contact or sexual activity due to a condition of being drugged or drunk beyond the point of informed consent."
The drugging of victims by perpetrators is extremely common, as is the usage of alcohol by perpetrators to facilitate rape. Perhaps things will work out and the court will support her experience that she was drugged. I doubt it. And while I appreciate your desire to continually bring things back to a legal perspective, it sounds a lot like victim blaming.
This issue, as being raised up by outraged women, is not simply about legal facts. It's about awareness raising, activism, and refusing to support a system that operates on outdated, outmoded, sexist, oppressive, and dangerous methods that allow the drug-facilitated rape of anyone to be viewed as anything but outrageous and a crime against humanity.
This sentence stuck me as a bit odd
"A movie shown of someone having uninvited intercourse with a sheep does not make him and animal abuser, merely a little strange."
uhm, in Indiana that is a crime. It's called bestiality and is prosecuted via the our State Code. I should think this to be true in most states in the country.
Something else bothered me, beyond language. This is the third time the guy has been charged. I would think that after the first time of being aquitted, one would never place themselves in this kind of position again.
Oh god, that is just unbelievable. Yes I know exactly what you mean about the anger + exhaustion.
I have to agree with Meghan, Barbara. I appreciated your e-mail to educate me on Nebraska law, I really do and thank you for it. You have never been raped and I hope you never are, really I do. There's nothing worse in this world than the violation of our private bodies. 24 years ago, my husband's 16 year old cousin was abducted, raped and murdered in Montreal. As a woman, Barbara, no matter what you believe about the legal system, surely you must believe that rape is at epidemic levels in your country and mine and that as women, if we continue to side with the justice system that was created and written by men, then one day, those who were lucky to never have been raped, WILL be raped at some point because our voices are being taken by women who actually believe a justice system made up of men and presided over by mostly men, will one day rule that rape is not possible at all. Jill B wrote that having sex with an animal is a crime and punishable by law. Are we, as women, considered less valuable than animals?
This stinks all around. Just because a woman has had sex before, in this world, means that any man has right to her body. If she's a virgin, she's possibly better protected IF there is medical evidence that a hymen existed before the attack and considering that hymen examination was last done by doctors when I was 9 years old, it DOES NOT MATTER IF A WOMAN'S HAD SEX OR NOT and NO MEANS NO! NO MEANS NO! What about the poor Vietnamese woman during the Vietnam War who was abducted by American troops and repeatedly raped. She couldn't communicate 'no' in the english language, so does the fact that she couldn't constitue consent because she couldn't say no in english?
I perceive, from your comments, that you hate and distrust men and would like some type of vigilante justice to apply in cases of alleged rape.
You are recounting bits and pieces of past wrongs - that have little or no relevance in the Bowen case -- and then using this "parade of horribles" as justification for your anger over the fact that in a trial where the main issue is consent, the alleged victim is prohibited from calling her experience "rape"....a conclusory statement that disregards or minimizes the issue of consent.
If, as you report, you were harassed as a victim/witness over the fact that you were not a virgin, then you understand the importance of a judge controlling a trial so that it focuses on the dispositive issues rather than engaging in emotionally laden but irrelevant statements and issues that are brought into the case simply to inflame the jury and divert their attention from making a logical, rational decision.
I do not believe that if we support our justice system, eventually all the women in the USA and Canada will be raped.
Nor do I believe that "men" will decide that rape is not possible at all.
And I surely do not believe in vigilante justice which I suspect, from the nature of your comments, you would support.
The law in the US has an increasing number of women each year. In fact, my two daughters are attorneys.
Nebraska law - the law applicable to the Bowen case -- supports your statement that "no means no."
And yes, beastiality may be a law on the books in some jurisdictions, but please tell me when and where it has been enforced. Sexual assault laws are continually enforced throughout the country.
Barbara, your comments are well written. Nevertheless, I think you are maybe missing the point here: We are having a discussion about inequity.
Women are angry that rape happens so frequently, and they are angry that victims are censored in court. Of course this has to be the case in order to ensure a fair trial under our current criminal justic system. I think everyone here completely understands that. That doesn't mean we have to like it.
The system overwhelmingly works in favor of perpetrators because the burden of proof in a sexual assault case requires near-perfection on every level -- from evidence collection to chain of custody to processing. That's if any evidence remains at all beyond the woman's experience and testimony. And that burden of proof is so substantial that a woman's testimony rarely means much if there isn't hard evidence to support her experience.
When this woman is then forced in court to refer to her sexual assault as simply "sex", the court is essentially denying any possibility of wrongdoing on the part of the perpetrator and is instead forcing the victim to imply that she consented. That is the very definition of the word "sex" -- consensual sexual penetration. The definition of rape is the express lack of consent for sexual penetration on the part of the victim. So if the victim is forced to define her experience in court with a word that absolutely implies her consent, her experience of being raped (without consent) is essentially negated. She is then perjuring herself by lying in court if she tells it like it is. And there's no point in having a trial, because she is telling the jury over and over again that she had "sex", thus implying that she consented.
And yes, the jury may read between the lines. That's not the point. The point is that until we can call RAPE by it's name, it's going to keep being considered SIMPLY SEX with the victim at fault for having a drink, or letting someone walk her home, or wearing high heels, or whatever rape myths the majority of Americans choose to believe. There is no evidence to substantiate any of these, but the majority of Americans believe them. That means a majority of jurors likely believe them. And that means that there is NO POSSIBILITY of a fair trial to begin with.
Let's talk about the future. Let's talk in hypotheticals. What the hell difference would it make if a victim called rape by it's name in court? Sexual assault or criminal sexual conduct is what the perpetrator is being accused of. Those are the charges. Juries overwhelmingly don't believe victims anyway; they want CSI-style proof. Would it make a difference? I don't know the answers to that, but I do know that every day rapists walk out of courts free.
Finally, I cannot believe you wrote this to Rhonda: "I perceive, from your comments, that you hate and distrust men..."
Are you kidding me? Did you really say that? Did you really glean that from her comment? Seriously?
And this: "If, as you report, you were harassed as a victim/witness over the fact that you were not a virgin, then you understand the importance of a judge controlling a trial so that it focuses on the dispositive issues rather than engaging in emotionally laden but irrelevant statements and issues that are brought into the case simply to inflame the jury and divert their attention from making a logical, rational decision."
So it's not enough for you to question the credibility of victims. You then have to attack their character, and claim that they explain their emotional response to being raped as a tool to manipulate the jury?
Are you f*ing kidding me?
The whole point of why rape is a destructive force in society -- THE WHOLE POINT -- is that long after the physical pain is gone, the emotional scars remain. Rape victims suffer from night terrors. Not nightmares: night terrors. They try to go grocery shopping and have intense flashbacks of their rapists pinning them down and shoving a penis in and out of them while they pray to God that they will live. They have panic attacks around all men, even the ones they know, because men have penises and a rape survivor can't trust a penis. They can't concentrate on their daily lives. They feel suicidal. They can't enjoy sex. They have problems in childbirth. They can't go to the dentist without fear. They experience PTSD that rivals that of war veterans. They live with demons that people who have not experienced rape will never, ever possibly understand.
THAT is the reason that rapists need to be locked up. The legal question is: Did he stick his penis inside of the victim without censent? But the ethical question is: Should he be allowed to obliterate another person's sense of self? Should he be free to rape our bodies and pillage our souls? Hell, no.
We need to change the way we look at the issue. Rape is the most underreported crime in the US, with less than 2% of assaults reported to police and emergency rooms. The US Department of Justice finds that 1 in 4-5 American woman and 1 in 6-10 American men will be raped in their lifetime. And yet, 90% of men don't rape and never will. So who is doing all of the raping? It's the same men (and some women), over and over and over again.
When is enough going to be enough? When are the laws going to reflect reality? When will the cultural hegemony that perpetuates these crimes against humanity cease? And when will we stop hiding behind the legal armor of "a fair trial" before realizing that a trial needs to be fair for the victim, too?
And in case you feel the need to personally attack me the way you attacked Rhonda, let me give you some information. I love men. I LOVE them. I love the United States. I love the majority of the way our court system works. I love sex, and I love my life. And it has taken me three years of daily, constant work in a wholly supportive network of people to get here after I was raped over the course of 4 hours by a stranger. Most women never get there. I know because I advocate for them. I still have nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, and a fear of strange men. But those things don't cloud my ability to see the system for what it is. They don't keep me from calling a spade a spade. And as a result, I spend every day of my life fighting for victims and their rights. We have to support one another.
I pray that you or your daughters never experience sexual assault, and I further pray that if you do nobody ever attacks your character the way you did in your last post. Because that, Barbara? That is the problem.
Considering I am happily married to the MAN who's very close cousin was abducted, viciously raped and robbed of her life at the age of 16, no I do not hate men or distrust them. I hate rapists, pure and simple. I hate men who resort to drugs to get sex and that, again, is rape and so feels my very male husband, who for 24 years has been without his cousin as has her mother and brother and who still can't bring himself to talk about it nor a family where the subject is taboo and the parents paranoid that the only granddaughter they have will succumb to the same fate by virtue of being FEMALE. That's what rape does not only to the woman, but her family as well. Rape trials further humiliate women and the humiliation is further enforced by attorneys who call into question dress, behaviour, lateness of hour they were out, who their boyfriends are, etc, etc which alludes to the victim attracting the rapist and the act of rape itself. Rape is an act of violence and women do not consent to an act of violence committed against them. You're only trying to detract from the fact that you are upholding the court's decision to further victimize this woman which would make me wonder if you have a pre-conceived opinion of this woman based on what you personally consider appropriate behaviour.
A rape kit was used in her examination, so why can't she state that that specific kit was used in collecting evidence because it wasn't exactly a pap smear. Rape trails are the single largest travesty in the history of our society. I support and agree with women fighting back hard and this is one area as as victim myself I will draw the line at further knowing people who support laws that have philosophical roots in keeping women in their places. THAT'S why the report rate of rapes is so low.
Again, would you say any of this to a 5 year old rape victim? Would you support a court decision in restricting her and her family to describe her experience using the ONLY words she knows? In your e-mail to me, you stated "No, I would not". Then at what age does the justice system decide to restrict the voice of the victim, when they feel she's too young to be asking for it? Why is it that a perpetrator who breaks into your home and is shot because he threatened the family can sue? The father would go to jail or have to pay hundreds of thousands to the perpetrator he shot who successfully sued the family whom he threatened because "he didn't actually hurt the family before he was shot so was shot for no valid reason.", right? Wrong. Two reasons - Intent and Probable Cause. The perpetrator was not invited into the home as witnessed by the forceful entry into the home, so had intent to commit a criminal act as witnessed by his unwelcome attendance in the home. The father who hears the threat against his family has probable cause to act to defend his family and uses force to do so which he had probable cause to believe that excessive force would have been used on his family as he awoke to find an unwelcome person in his home who gained entry through force.
So if the question in this case is consent - and you agree with me that "no means no" - then you are in contradiction with yourself because that would show you to believe that consent given applies to the entire duration of the act consented for (like contractural law) of which it does not. When she said "stop", consent was rescinded and by law, must be abided or a criminal act is in progress for which there is a defining law of which no and stop help define that law. By continuting to sexual gratification, it became rape for which she should be allowed to communicate.
Past wrongs are what make up the jist of the justice system in every country, Ms. McCall. They are designed to keep the same thing from happening. There are laws in every country against rape and whether or not the term 'rape' is inflamatory, she said stop and when he decided to wait until he was done, he then knowingly committed a felony offence and he's being called before a judge and jury for it.
Ms. McCall, it is cases such as these which inflame the general population because we know from experience that if this guy gets away with this rape, the next one will be a murder.
... and at the age of 8, I was a virgin. Do you call my character at that time into question as you have so weakly done in your response? Resorting to name calling, as you have accused me of man hating and being a supporter of vigilante justice of which at no time in any of my posts or personal e-mails to you, did I call you anything or accuse you of supporting anything other than a decision that the collective voices of women are outraged by, Ms. McCall, shows I have won my case. You quote the law by number but have nothing concrete to back up the validity of that law other than it being in black and white.
Okay, I know I'm going to be completely ripped for this BUT I read an excerpt, maybe incorrect, that the victim alleged she was too drunk, at a bar, to consent to sex and the perpetrator knew it and so therefore it was rape. How is this different from any other crime performed while you're too drunk to be responsible for your own actions? How drunk do you have to be before you are no longer responsible for what happens to you and where it happens and who it happens with? How drunk do you have to be before you are no longer responsible for caring for a child, driving a car, saying yes, no, yes, no to sex?
I'm not saying what he did was right. But was it a crime? I've known too many women, young and old, get totally smashed at a bar, throw themselves at some guy, then wake up the next day "not remembering a damn thing". There are too many details that are not known about this case to determine whether there was indeed a rape or not.
The mistrial? Another example of how the politics of language has swung way too far in the other direction. It is an outrage. But I also think getting smashed at a bar doesn't excuse you from assuming the consequences of your actions.
P.S. Women's Studies Major, Feminist Since Forever!
I'm not planning to rip you for this. This question is on everybody's minds. I am a violence prevention educator at a Big Ten university, and this question comes up a lot, especially among athletes. Here's what I say:
The difference between sex and rape is consent. And that can be a fine line when one or both parties are impaired. If someone is too drunk to make a conscious decision about sex, they are too drunk to have sex with. You can tell someone is too drunk if they are slurring their words, stumbling, passing out, vomiting, or throwing themselves at people. That person cannot give consent because consent must be informed and freely given without coercion or while under the incapacitating influence of alcohol or drugs. Consent must be clearly and freely given.
I bartended for 7 years; I've seen plenty of the women you speak of who get smashed and start throwing themselves at men. There's nothing clear about them. Having sex with a woman in that state is rape. Men need to buck up and learn how to wait.
The way that men can protect themselves against their apparently ever-present fear of false rape allegations is to simply wait. If a drunk woman throws herself at you and begs you to take her home, make sure she gets there safely, and then sleep on the couch. If you don't do anything wrong, there won't be any evidence to incriminate you. When you wake up in the morning, if you're both still into it, go for it. Then go get some breakfast.
In the Nebraska case, the victim believes she was drugged. The nature of "date-rape" drugs is such that the victim cannot, under any circumstances, give informed consent while under the influence of them. It is not possible.
Alcohol is the number one date-rape drug, and it is often used as a way to blame women for being raped. "She was too drunk. She shouldn't have gotten that drunk" or "She told me she wanted it, but when she woke up the next morning she regretted it and called it rape." In the case of rape, there is a victim and there is a perpetrator. It's really that simple.
And regrettable sex rarely becomes rape charges. Investigators and district attorneys don't bring anything to a judge unless the evidence supports that it happened. In fact, less than 2% of all rape accusations are false, the same percentage as false reports for other major crimes. (US Department of Justice, 2001).
In the other examples you mentioned (caring for a child, driving a car), there are clear precedents that those things are not legally "possible" while incapacitated. That's because a drunk caregiver's or a drunk driver's ability to make good, safe choices are impaired. The same holds true with a drunk woman. She can't make informed choices. Thus, she cannot give consent. And sex without consent is rape.
Hope this helps.
Thank you, thank you. I really appreciate your response.
This is what concerns me. When a woman chooses, and it is a choice, to voluntarily consume so much alcohol that she is, as you say, impaired, particularly in a situation where said impairment is likely to be dangerous, she needs to, at the very least, acknowledge her own lack of judgment.
I'm not saying she deserves to be raped, god no, but I think it's high time women stopped waiting for men to do the right thing and make better choices. To get that smashed in that scenario and walk out with a stranger? She's lucky she's alive. We're angry at the judge, we're angry at the guy. Frankly, I'm angry at the situation this woman put herself in. It reads like some twisted "feminist" fairy tale where the weak wimpy woman is still waiting for strong sober man to do the right thing. Even the judge's twist on the legal language sounds like feminism turned against itself.
These kinds of choices don't make women strong.
Thanks for your response!
I actually think that in the NE case, the woman was drugged during/after one drink. In that case, she was incapable of making decisions about who she walked out with.
And while I agree that women need to step up and make smart choices, it's also important to realize that 90% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. That means friends, boyfriends, acquaintances. So it's tough for me to say that women need to be on the ball about not getting raped when the person who they trust the most in a situation is the most likely person to assault them.
I think the best thing women can do to avoid getting raped is to step up and start working to change the culture that makes it acceptable for men to rape women without penalty. And I love that people here are talking about this, asking questions, and thinking critically!
This just occurred to me. You were a bartender. If a customer you serve is so intoxicated they later drink, drive and have/cause an accident, there are repercussions for you the server. How does that work? Are there any parallels?
Also is it always easy to tell if someone is intoxicated? I'm thinking of a friend who left a family party fine only to pass out 20 minutes later on the street in front of a men's shelter. Lucky for her, oh so lucky for her, she woke up in a zebra striped bedroom belonging to a lovely gay man who picked her off the street for her own safety. Despite the stripes, and disco light, he very chivalrously got her to her family safe and sound.
Only in New York!
In most states, there are absolutely consequences for bartenders who overserve customers. Your establishment can lose its liquor license; you can personally be fined; you can be sued; you can be charged with endangerment, etc.
And no, it's not always easy to tell if someone is intoxicated/overserved. But the signs that I listed above are really good ways to tell, and they work for most people most of the time. Oh, and you should add personality change/belligerence to that list.
I have an update.
Being here in Nebraska (or right outside it, at least), we're getting the local news updates. And apparently, this judge (and I say that through clenched virtual teeth, because if EVER a man didn't deserve the robe and bench, it's this yahoo...) THREW OUT THE CASE.
Not, mind you, because he buggered it all up with that stupid gag order, but because THERE WAS TOO MUCH PUBLICITY. Since "rape" had been mentioned so much in the media, and protesters were standing outside the courthouse with duct taped mouths with "rape" written on the tape -- the jury was somehow CONTAMINATED by the WORDS THIS FREAK DIDN'T WANT USED.
I'm actually shaking, I'm so pissed off. WHY DOES THIS MAN STILL HAVE A JOB?!
What the $#R&^R#@?!!
I have a huge problem with the amount of control judges have in general because it seems to lead to absolutely bizarre situations like this.
The Judge needs to be recused. The Judge needs a background check. The Judge needs to experience powerlessness and then be stripped of his right to speak of it while seeking 'justice'.
Honestly - what the hell is with concern for the rights of the perpetrators in this world? I believe once you have trampled on the rights of others, yours are moot.
I am sick to death of stories like this. There needs to be a change and we need to fight for it. And support those who have begun the fight!
You can go shopping and still be raped. The fact that she went to a bar does not negate the fact that she said stop - drugged or not. This has nothing to do with smart choices as women - that's letting the whole idea of responsibility weigh heavy on women. So, if a man doesn't want to be a father then what, he should make sure she's on the pill? We like to put responsibility on the woman for buggering up the man's life. We are letting men off too easy and blaming each other. This has nothing to do with smart choices as women. This is a two way street. Why are we always saying in one way or the other that women are responsible for this, or that. What happened to teaching our sons? Do we as women go lurking in bars looking for the first drunk guy to take advantage of? The term "smart choices" is a farce and places blame on the woman far too much. What happened to the guy making smart choices? We're the gender that criticizes each other - "Do you THINK her skirt could BE any shorter" or "My God! She's dressed like a slut!". You don't see guys walking down the street saying, "My God, his tie is too short!" or "Oh, a Porche - his penis must be too small." NO!
Men don't do this to each other, so why do we?
According to the statements by her friends during the first trial, she had four drinks, NOT ONE.
According to the statements that she made to the police and her friends, when she woke in the morning and he was assaulting her, she told him to stop. He did.
According to the statements that she made to the police and her friends and were part of the first trial, she did not immediately ask him to leave but stayed for "awhile."
He said that when they got back to his place, they had sex and it was consensual. Both he and she said that they both had been drinking. So, given the whole argument that being intoxicated means that it doesn't constitute consent, couldn't he (since he had also been drinking) accuse her of have non-consensual sex?
Correction to last sentence of previous post:
He said that when they got back to his place, they had sex and it was consensual. Both he and she said that they both had been drinking. So, given the whole argument that being intoxicated means that it doesn't constitute consent, couldn't he (since he had also been drinking) accuse her of have non-consensual sex WITH HIM.
Yes, it is possible for a woman to rape a man who is incapacitated. However, rape is about a dynamic of power and control. There is only one victim and only one perpetrator. The victim is the person who is more incapacitated. The perpetrator is the person with control.
It doesn't matter how many drinks she had. Choosing to drink does not give anyone permission to sexually penetrate me.
Many victims feel confused and afraid after an assault, and they do things that don't make a lot of rational sense. Case in point, not leaving the scene immediately. And since society complicates sex to the point that many, many people think normal sex contains what are actually aspects of sex, a victim may need some time to sort out the cause of her uneasy feeling about what happened.
Many victims also have a hard time being clear about what happened to them because of the physiological and neural responses to trauma. Most victims have fuzzy minds after an assault, and it takes some time (and telling and retelling the experience) for all of the details to become clear, especially if alcohol or drugs were involved. This absolutely does NOT mean they are lying or fabricating details. It means that they are physiologically unable to put everything together right away due to the trauma, and it is not only normal but to be expected.
Sexual assault is intimate touching without consent, and rape is sexual penetration without consent. Consent must be informed and freely given. Consent cannot occur if a victim is incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, disability or if the victim is asleep. These are legal definitions.
Finally, there's no such thing as "he was assaulting her and when she woke up she asked him to stop, so it's not rape." There is no percentage system of rape. You can't rape someone only 25% and stop and so then it doesn't count. The second you penetrate someone sexually without their consent, it's rape.
Victim blaming compromises the ability of any of us to live in a safe world. I encourage everyone to check their impulse to do so and ask themselves, "Wait. Why am I questioning her? Why am I working so hard to discredit her? What would I want peopel to say if it was me?"
A victim has NO incentive to lie. Look through these posts and consider how many of us are lionizing this woman. Now compound that exponentially, and consider what hell she is enduring.
This hell also occurs to victims who choose not to go public with their stories. From the get-fo, they are treated like liars by police officers, emergency rook workers, and most of the time by friends and family. Their names are dragged through the mud, and their sexuality is put in the spotlight. They have nowhere to hide. These are just some of the reasons rape is the most underreported crime.
We need to believe victims and support them, and let the courts sort the rest out. And when the courts aren't behaving fairly, we need to ramp up our support of victims and speak out. I refuse to live in a world where a woman's vagina is considered public property because she wore red lipstick or high heels or had 4 drinks.
Sorry for the spelling errors...I hit "post" instead of "preview":
"...Many people think normal sex contains what are actually aspects of RAPE" (not "sex" as it is written in paragraph 3)
Paragraph 7: "People" not "peopel"
Paragraph 9: "get-GO" (not "get-fo") and "emergency ROOM workers" (not "rook" workers)
I don't think questioning the role intoxication played in this incident on the part of both parties or questioning the situation she, and other women still, knowingly put themselves in is in any way denying victim rights in general. Or denying the psychological complexity of rape victims in particular. But is it yes or it is no. When you and or your partner is drunk it's damn hard to tell. Especially when you're strangers. This sounds like a case of he said, she said, and if they were both drinking, and they were both strangers to each other, as an outside party I think it's really hard to tell. The fact that alcohol was involved discredits them both.
Can you tell I'm the daughter of an alcoholic?
As for the shopping, shop all you want. Going to a bar on your own, getting loaded and then leaving with a perfect stranger to his/her apartment? Legal? yes But is it wise?
We're in such a rush to be "equal" we forget that a lot crap men do is just plain stupid.
Like Tory Bowen, I am rendered speechless by this.
The point is there is NO situation these days that is safe, whether we put ourselves in it or not. The major point is that no one is holding HIM responsible for his behaviour in this or the prior two accusations but saying that it's the girl who put herself in this position. ARE YOU SERIOUS? All of you - put yourself in HER shoes! You will react the exact same way! The only people who see the truth of the situation in this discussion are the women responding who HAVE been sexually assaulted. Once you've been sexually assaulted, you will never utter words such as "she put herself in that position" again. Trust me on that.
Every Canadian here remembers:
Sharin Morningstar Keenan was playing at the park.
Christine Jessop was abducted.
Alison Parrot was stalked prior to her abduction.
Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French were walking home from school.
A lot of rapes become murders at some point when just raping no longer satisfies so when are we going to stop victim blaming and start screaming our heads off for this to stop - that these are OUR bodies? You are all women. We are all potential victims until the day we die. They get us in bars. They get us walking home. They break into our homes (The Balcony Rapist in the 80's in Toronto), they get us at school, they get us in cabs as reported this morning on Hot 89.9 in Ottawa - the cab driver followed her in her building and decided to start touching the woman in places he was not welcome to. So when are we all going to just stop and say MEN MUST CONTROL THEMSELVES?
All of these girls were in "positions" - which position do you find unacceptable - all were alone. Was being alone after your parents tell you not to their fault? NO! Because it is wrong to force someone into submission. And all of the girls I mentioned are DEAD but not before they were horribly and viciously raped.
Do we all need personal body guards now? Most of us don't go home with anyone after a bar but with THIS GUY, this was not the first time he was accused, so are you telling me that every drunk girl he's come in contact with put herself in that position? Three times, this guy was accused - CAN YOU KNIT THIS PATTERN???
We are not making the date rape drugs. Supporters of rape are.
The only person to blame for rape is a rapist.
Putting the burden of "not getting raped" on women hasn't lessened the occurence of rape. Clearly, that tactic is not working.
And statistically, at least according to the US Department of Justice in the U.S., a woman is no more likely to be raped for choosing to be in a bar alone, or to go home with an acquaintance or stranger, or to wear a short skirt, or to not carry a cell phone, than a woman who does not do those things.
Those are "risk reduction tips", and while they sometimes keep us safe, they also create a culture in which it is a woman's responsibility to keep a man from raping her.
Rape is the fault of the rapist. Always. A victim is never at fault. We will never lessen the incidence rate of rape until we collectively stop blaming victims.
A person who rapes is a rapist. A person who is raped is a victim.
One commenter said that 'we need to speak out' about these things...and she is right.........but don't do it in front of a courthouse where one is likely to prejudice the jury.
The idea that women should curb their activities or dress, simply because some men are rapists, is abhorent but an unfortunate REALITY. Certainly, not every woman who wears 'red lipstick or highheels' carries the same level of risk of assault (even frumpy women get are raped), but certain factors increase the risk, alcohol being one.
We can be all womanly-liberately all we like, but the sad reality is that for all our culture, it does little to remove the basic fact of our animal nature.
The liberation movement, laudable as it is, could arguably be described as having to some degree mis-directed women to believe that they can adopt whatever public face they like as a right. The belief is reasonable, and one I would idealistically support. But their are many men who care not a jot about your rights.
And this is the reality that, for example women need to bear in mind when drinking, parents need to bear in mind when allowing their children out to play on the sidewalk, or anyone needs to bear in mind who wants to drive to the shops and back. If my kid wants to play on the street, it's under my supervision. I want to drive, but I run the risk of meeting a drunk driver.
A woman who goes drinking, runs the risk of assault (so we had advertsing programmes telling people (men and women) not to leave their drink unattended. That doesn't mean women shouldn't go drinking (of course not)...but it does mean women need to assess the risks (just as one would for any activity in which one would acquire a degree of vulnerability) and act accordingly. I could say men have to do the same when they go drinking, but less gets said/published about the number of men killed after drunken brawls.
We can moan about how horrible and nasty men are, and damn it, I'm gonna dress how I like and get really pissed drunk tonight because I'm a modern woman and I have the right to do this without being assaulted. Well, bully for you; but I can't recommend it. 12,000 years of civilisation has not changed our basic nature; modern women ain't going to do it either. I would rather my daughter understood the reality and adapted to it. Sad as it is.
This is not to say it is the woman's fault. Crime is never the fault of the victim. But I would rather not have my daughter in a position in the first place where there is debate over whether or not it was her fault and whether or not if she done x,y, or z things might have been different. She would have to live with the unbearableness of the consequences; the man simply would not care.
Beautifully said Peter. I just started teaching middle school and alot of my female students dress very provocatively. They also look much older than they really are. I'm always having conversations with them about personal safety. And I have them with the boys too. Girls aren't the only ones that get molested.
Reading over the comments I realize why I stopped reading Ms. I have found more community, more support, and infinitely more love in knitting circles than I've ever found in a "women's studies/feminist" group. I majored in women's studies and if I had to choose between sending a daughter of mine to a women's studies class and sending her to a self defense class, self defense would win everytime.
Why is there only one way, one solution, one response to this case? Why can't I turn around and remind all the young people I know about the dangers of drinking on your own without inviting all this "outrage"? Aren't we all working toward the same common good?
Peter and Jacquie you have done a better job of expressing what I have been feeling about the entire discussion. Thank you.
Thanks Jacquie (and Mary Lynn). I wish I was not in a position to say those things. I teach too and one of the changes I have noticed over the last 10 years or so is that, while boys still chase girls, it is now almost more common for girls to chase boys...and the competition between girls to get a particular guy can be quite nasty.
I know we could spout on about nature and some of its faults, but I would like the guy who marries my daughter to earn it. He should do the chasing. And I would prefer to be able to to inform him of the calamity that would befall him if he got her pregnant or otherwise hurt her without him saying, 'well, she came after me'.
The upshot is that I think that boys have less respect for girls who throw themselves at them and such girls are more likely to be 'used'.
The other, darker side of this is that if a particular girls wants a guy but isn't prepared to 'put out' (I think that's what it's called in the US), the guy can move on saying that Mary Rose or whoever will. Peggy Sue ends up putting out even though in her deepest subconscious, she did not want to. Behaviour indicative of this became such an issue in a local teenagers disco near me that it had to be closed.
Sometimes I really fear for the current generation of teenage girls...and not just those from less well-off backgrounds. Try exercising one's equal rights to jobs/pay whatever while being a slobbering alco/drug/whatever holic or while nursing a welfare dependent new born baby. My fears for their children and the society they will grow into is even bigger.
I just sent my letter to the governor of Nebraska, I hope you all don't mind but I copied and pasted a lot of it-I'm not good with typing or spelling. I think it turned out okay, incidently I didn't hear about it until today 7/26/07. Or I would have done sooner. I am so tired of being told what rights I have and don't have as a woman!! This is my body and I will treat it the way I want to. No "man" is going to tell me otherwise.
I just got here. This is just one more example of persons in power seeing themselves as monitors of the rights of not the, shall we say "offended" but of the person who committed the offense against them. The judge may not, as a law, ban the use of the word "offense" in his court in any given case unless he first removes from the courthouse all books/documents which mention that word. This appears to be his attempt to avoid having to deal with this case. If the young woman's attorney has even one quarter of a brain he can request a change of venue due to language restriction imposed by the judge. If the woman in question continues with this farce she will not receive anything close to "justice"...but then it may be that this judge has also disallowed THAT word as well.
OH MY GOD! Peter wrote: "Try exercising one's equal rights to jobs/pay whatever while being a slobbering alco/drug/whatever holic or while nursing a welfare dependent new born baby."
Such a double standard from someone who doesn't have the slightest clue. My mom was a 16 year old mother who by the time she was 18, had 3 children. ALL and I do mean ALL of us are well educated upper-middle class women and two of us run our own businesses. Not once was my mother a slobbring alco/drug/whatever holic IN HER ENTIRE LIFE! My father WHO LEFT HER ALONE with 3 children and paid NOT ONE RED CENT toward food, clothing, housing and university educations has been married to the same ALCOHOLIC for 27 years and raised two losers - one who is a tatooed, unmarried, high-school drop-out father at 23 and the other who is sleeping around with God-knows-who every week. NOT the children my mother raised.
So guess what, Peter???? YOU'RE WRONG!
I would have preferred if you had considered my comments and done so in the CONTEXT in which they are written before reacting to them. To have copied and pasted one sentence out of context is less than lady-like. I am disappointed.
Certainly, on a point of syntax, their is nothing in the comment you singled out which suggests a double standard. As an educated woman, I trust you wouldn't lower yourself to preconceived notions.
Hats off to your mum...and in that context you are perfectly correct in what you say.
I am sorry for the loss of your father. Ironically however, what you said about him establishes the point I was trying to make....namely alco whatever holics aren't really (in an ideal world) the people we want rearing children. We would, I feel certain to say, not want single parent alcoholics etc rearing children either(if we could help it).
But no reading of my comment suggests that single mothers are alco/drug/whatever holic nor that they aren't capable of managing the trials of parenthood.
My comment concerns the current trend in England, Ireland and many other countries, of which I'm fairly confident the USA is one, where drinking to excess and binge drinking has (almost) become a hobby. Alcohol addiction is on the increase and is greatest in the Western World amongst an increasingly younger cohort.
So what I wrote was was an expression of concern of the consequences of this trend, most particularly for women (afterall, men don't get pregnant and usually men don't usually get abandoned with the baby).
It wasn't about single parents; it was about excessive drinkers who end up as single parents (inadvertently sometimes) and the difficulties they face.
If their was one piece of advice I would want a girl to take with her into the 'big bad world' outside of the school room, it would be 'don't drink to excess'.
That said, I am glad that once again in my life I have given someone the opportunity to prove me wrong. That afterall, is what this blog is about, isn't it?
Other than that Ronda, I apologise if you were rightly or wrongly offended. It was never my intention.
By the way, regarding me not having the "slightest clue".....do you know me? Perhaps we've met and I forgot. Two of my sisters are single mums. I helped them rear their children (yes....including the changing nappies bit).