Althouse | category: rape



a blog by Ann Althouse

"The court said they found him guilty of rape as well as of the crime of assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity."

From "China sentences Canadian pop singer Kris Wu to 13 years in jail for rape" (NY Post).

What is the crime of assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity?

I found this discussion in a 2019 blog post "Law and sexual repression in China" by Yinan Shen (Feminist Legal Theory):

According to Article 301 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, group licentiousness is a crime based on the view that assembling a crowd to engage in sexual promiscuity reflects public contempt for state law and social morality. Specifically, it refers to a gathering of three or more people (men and/or women) engaging in sexual activity and other promiscuous activities.

The activity of the participants must be voluntary. The state views such behavior as violating the public order. Those who gather for promiscuous activities shall experience criminal detention or public surveillance or imprisonment for not more than fives years [sic]. There has been much talk of the law being repealed.

Legal experts argue that there are no victims from voluntary group sex which generally takes place in private and hidden places and does not endanger public order. Why, then, should the law punish such harmless acts?

There are opposing voices say that these group sex acts can’t match the traditional Chinese morality. In my opinion, law is the lowest standard of morality. We can require the public to respect the law and use the standard of law. But we can not ask the public to act following all the traditional morality whatever it is correct or decadent....

"Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, sobbed as she described Harvey Weinstein’s 'distorted' and 'fish-like' genitals during her bombshell testimony..."

" the disgraced movie producer’s sexual assault trial Monday. Identified in court as Jane Doe 4, Siebel Newsom broke down in tears recounting how Weinstein allegedly raped her in 2005 at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills... When asked... to describe Weinstein’s physique, Siebel Newsom said: 'Lots of bruises, markings, yellow and green, lots of stretch marks on his belly, very not physically fit at all. Looked uncircumcised and strange though, kind of fish-like, the penis, something was distorted in the testicles … Lots of skin, lots of skin down there.'... Siebel Newsom, 48, said she agreed to meet Weinstein at his hotel suite to discuss a film project, and because 'he could make or ruin your career.' Once they were alone in the room, however, Siebel Newsom said, Weinstein changed out of his suit into a robe, then started to 'manipulate' and 'threaten' her, while mentioning several actresses’ names...."

From "Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wife breaks down describing Harvey Weinstein’s ‘fish-like’ penis in court" (NY Post).

"Cornell University announced the temporary suspension of all fraternity parties and social events in a statement on Monday..."

"... following alerts from the school’s Police Department over the weekend that one student was sexually assaulted and at least four others were drugged at off-campus residences affiliated with fraternities registered with the school.... The Cornell police said they were made aware on Nov. 4 of at least four students who said they drank little or no alcohol at off-campus parties in recent weeks but became incapacitated. The students told the officers they had been 'exposed to Rohypnol,' the so-called date-rape drug."

The NYT reports.

"Can you imagine Jared and his skinny ass camping? It’d be like something out of 'Deliverance.'"

Said Donald Trump, who proceeded to imitate the "Deliverance" the banjo music, quoted in "Donald Trump Belittled Jared Kushner In Front Of Aides With ‘Deliverance' Jibe: Book/It was one of a series of disparaging comments the then-president made about his son-in-law, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman" (HuffPo). 

The topic was a proposed RV camping trip for Jared and Ivanka, and we're told that Jared was in the room. I can't tell how "belittling" the remark was without understanding the larger context. Did Jared mock Trump too? What's their relationship? Did both men laugh about remarks about skinniness and fatness? Was Trump also self-deprecating, saying, perhaps, he'd never go camping — and he's afraid of rapists?

Who knows? The remark belongs somewhere on a continuum between just plain nasty and the funniest thing ever, or I guess that's more of a matrix than a continuum.

Anyway, Haberman was choosing how to present the nuggets she gathered, and I wouldn't trust her to recreate the real feelings of the human beings involved. 

And this anecdote does present the old problem of not taking the rape seriously when the victim is male.

"We are now policing traditional gender boundaries, and stripping achievements from women, in the name of gender-blindness. The gender-woke movement is eating its own tail."

Says the top-rated comment at "At Shakespeare’s Globe, a Nonbinary Joan of Arc Causes a Stir/Even before the production debuted, it had inflamed a rancorous debate about sex and gender that plays out almost daily in Britain" (NYT). 

From the article:
[The playwright Charlie] Josephine said the decision to make Joan nonbinary came after studying Joan’s life and realizing that Joan of Arc had been willing to die at the stake rather than stop wearing men’s clothing. This was “not a casual fashion statement,” Josephine said. “It was a deep need for them.” Josephine wanted to depict what it would have been like for “a young person in a female body, who is questioning gender in a very different society than what we live in now,” they said. “My younger self really needed a protagonist like this,” they added.... 

A quote from  the Globe’s artistic director: “Everyone’s got an idea of how plays should be done and how historical figures should be treated. All 'I, Joan' was doing, [said], was asking, 'Who is Joan for now?'"

Do the play-makers care about Joan's identity — to herself — or are they appropriating her interest in her own identity for their purposes? I see an inherent contradiction. 

Anyway, this issue has been around for quite a while. There's a long Wikipedia article, "Cross-dressing, gender identity, and sexuality of Joan of Arc." It cites scholarship from the 1990s. Excerpt:

The "holy transvestite" – i.e., transvestite female saint – was a common medieval archetype, and one of the grounds used to defend Joan's attire. Saint Marina followed the classic story: fearing for her virginity on her wedding night, she cut off her hair, donned male attire, and joined a monastery, passing herself off as "Father Marinos"....

The Condemnation trial found Joan's transvestism condemning....
The rehabilitation trial focused strongly on the transvestism charge.... As the trial noted, she wore "long, conjoined hosen, attached to the aforesaid doublet with twenty cords (aiguillettes)" and "tight leggings", with the cords being used to securely tie the parts of the garment together so her clothing couldn't be pulled off by her English guards. Guillaume Manchon testified, "And she was then dressed in male clothing, and was complaining that she could not give it up, fearing lest in the night her guards would inflict some act of [sexual] outrage upon her"....

One of the first modern writers to raise issues of gender identity and sexuality was novelist Vita Sackville-West. In "Saint Joan of Arc", published in 1936, she indirectly suggests that Joan of Arc may have been a lesbian due to sharing a bed with little girls and women.....
[Writing in 1996, Susan] Crane backs up the distinction between Joan and the holy transvestites, in that Joan lays claim to her virginity and her womanhood instead of burying it, identifying herself not with the traditional religious crossdressers – as Bynum notes, "as brides, as pregnant virgins, as housewives, as mothers of God"—but as a fighter. "Her continued engagement in secular affairs and her noninstrumental, secular cross-dressing queer her virginity – that is, they move her virginity beyond its canonical meanings in ways that suggest a revision of heterosexual identity."

In her book, Transgender Warriors: Making History From Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman [1996], transgender author Leslie Feinberg popularized the notion of Joan of Arc being transgender. Under the heading They Called Her 'Hommasse', Feinberg cites Evans and Murray on the "enormous importance" of Joan's male costume to her identity, and states, "Joan of Arc suffered the excruciating pain of being burned alive rather than renounce her identity ... What an inspirational role model – a brilliant transgender peasant teenager leading an army of laborers into battle." 

In Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People, transgender biologist Joan Roughgarden cites and agrees with Feinberg's assessment, describing Joan as a "male-identified trans person"... 

"I was surprised. Yeah. I thought we’d colored inside the lines. But I think if you’ve got a bunch of men and women in a boardroom talking about sexual behavior..."

"... maybe the men are going to be worried about what the women think. It’s just a weird time. It’s not like depictions of happy sexuality. It’s depictions of situations that are ambiguous. And Americans are really strange when it comes to sexual behavior, don’t you think? I don’t know why. They make more porn than anyone else in the world."

Said Andrew Dominik, the director of a new movie based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel that is based on the story of Marilyn Monroe. He's quoted in "Ana de Armas Confused by ‘Blonde’ NC-17 Rating: Other Films Are ‘More Explicit’ and ‘Have More Sexual Content’" (Variety).

I'd like to know what he thinks "the lines" are. Should it be easy to "color inside the lines" or is it good that there's nuanced analysis of what might be appropriate for minors. I haven't read the book, but I'm guessing there is manipulative and coerced sex in — as Dominik said — "situations that are ambiguous."

The star — Ana de Armas — is "confused," but shouldn't children be protected from confusing sexuality?

The director believes "Americans are really strange," and he doesn't know why we are strange. He used a coloring book metaphor as he talks about making something that would allow children into the theater to be affected by confusing, manipulative, coercing sex, and then he brings up porn. But the movie-raters don't let children see porn! Some things are for adults, including serious movies that look into sexual exploitation.

Here's the quote from de Armas, which shows no awareness that the issue is the exclusion of children: "I didn’t understand why that [NC-17 rating] happened. I can tell you a number of shows or movies that are way more explicit with a lot more sexual content than ‘Blonde.’ But to tell this story it is important to show all these moments in Marilyn’s life that made her end up the way that she did. It needed to be explained. Everyone [in the cast] knew we had to go to uncomfortable places. I wasn’t the only one." 

Is it "important" that children learn the story of why Marilyn was how she was? Why would children understand it? For all I know, the presentation in the movie is titillating during scenes of rape and quasi-rape. Perhaps it's not sexy, just depressing and rough, demanding that viewers harden themselves and face harsh "reality." That's not something to do to children. 

But wait. This is a Netflix movie. The NC-17 rating will only exclude kids if parents have figured out and set the "parental controls." 

"A [Washington] Post analysis also found an increase in grooming chatter... on platforms favored by right-wing activists..."

"By then, Christopher Rufo, a right-wing influencer credited with spearheading attacks on critical race theory, had turned his attention to grooming, his Twitter account shows. 'Grooming has a range of definitions: one can be groomed into an ideology, groomed into a gender identity, or groomed for physical abuse,' he wrote in one April Twitter post. Another April post described public schools as 'hunting grounds for sexual predators.' It linked to an essay he wrote citing a 2004 study by scholar Charol Shakeshaft, who estimated that 10 percent of K-12 students receive unwanted sexual attention from a school employee. In an interview, Shakeshaft told The Post that she is 'distraught' that her research has been used to justify claims that sex education amounts to grooming. She supports teaching comprehensive sex education. 'It gives the child a set of tools to help keep themselves safe,' she said...."

From a Washington Post article with a convoluted (and misleading) headline: "Claim that sex ed ‘grooms’ kids jolted Nebraska politics a year before it swept the nation/The unsubstantiated claim led to a backlash against sex ed that helped topple local Republican Party leaders and propelled a wave of far-right candidates for local and statewide school board."

Notice that the headline just says "sex ed" — twice — and not "comprehensive sex education." I think what's upsetting people isn't "sex ed" per se but a particular kind of sex ed. But you have to wade through the most tangled prose to figure out what kind of sex ed is producing this accusation that the state's education professionals intended to sexualize children and to undermine their defenses to sexual abuse. Even if the accusations are overblown, Nebraskans were not "jolted" over nothing, were they? Does The Washington Post expect us readers to look down on Nebraskans — those ignorant, hysterical, flyoever?

Looking for a more detailed description than the misleading "sex ed," I see: "modern sex education — including lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity" and "a comprehensive approach to sex ed that includes discussions of sexual orientation, contraception and consent." And, about Nebraska’s new "grade-by-grade guidelines for sex education":
Kindergartners would learn medically accurate terms for body parts, including genitalia, and about interracial and same-sex families. They would also learn about “consent” and “how to clearly say no.” First-graders would learn the definitions of gender identity and gender-role stereotypes. The meaning of sexual orientation would be explained in third grade.

It's just way too much sex for little kids. You're asking them to visualize sexual situations so that they can say "no." And you're demanding that children who are nowhere near the age of consent to contemplate the complexities of consent (a topic that confuses adults). Most people are inclined to create and defend a zone of innocence for children. Nebraskans, confronted with the state's different plan, sprang into action. Of course, there was backlash!

"The Uvalde, Texas, gunman gave off so many warning signs... that teens who knew him began calling him 'school shooter.'"

"A state investigative report... lays out a long trail of missed signals prior to the massacre but notes these clues were known only to 'private individuals' and not reported to authorities.... The report traces the descent of a shy, quiet boy once thought by a teacher as a 'wonderful student' with a 'positive attitude' into a mass murderer.... A former girlfriend told the FBI that she believed [the killer, Salvador] Ramos had been sexually assaulted by one of his mother’s boyfriends at an early age, the report said, but when Ramos told his mother at the time, she didn’t believe him.... Family members told investigators how Ramos had been bullied as a fourth-grader in one of the same linked classrooms where he carried out the attack. They said he faced ridicule over his stutter, short hair and for wearing the same clothing nearly every day. At one point, the report said, a fellow student tied his shoelaces together and Ramos fell on his face, injuring himself. The report noted that Ramos was flagged by school officials as 'at risk,' but never received any special education services.... In March 2022, two months before the shooting, a student on Instagram told him that 'people at school talk (expletive) about you and call you school shooter.' The next month Ramos asked in a direct message on Instagram, 'Are you still gonna remember me in 50 something days?' After the answer — 'probably not' — Ramos replied, 'Hmm alright we’ll see in may.'"

ADDED: Here's a hypothetical to ask any schoolchild: Let's say at some point in the future — a year from now — one of the kids in your class becomes a school shooter: Which kid do you think it is? 

Don't you think the kids already know who the potential school shooters are? 

Here's some advice that we ought to convey to schoolkids, perhaps not in exactly these words: If you ever find yourself inclined to be cruel to another student, stop and think that you may be part of what turns him into the next school shooter. 

"The fact that she has yet to be publicly branded as a rape survivor who got an abortion does not lessen the trauma she’s likely experiencing..."

"... as her tale gets bandied about in the news. What does it say about a political movement that expects a literal child to carry that much weight? Why do we consistently expect the most vulnerable members of society to not merely endure the most grotesque violations but to publicly broadcast their traumas for the good of the rest of us? What might it look like if abortion-rights advocacy didn’t hinge on the personal traumas of those most harmed by abortion restrictions — if, instead of highlighting the deaths, the imprisonments, the pregnant children, we simply started from the position that abortion is, at a fundamental level, both health care and a social good? What if, instead of evoking the trauma of a nameless 10-year-old, Biden had offered a platform to people who are proud to talk about how easy access to abortion enabled them to plan their lives, and their families, on their own terms?... Promoting that framework for abortion would [empower] the most vulnerable abortion seekers... to decide when, and how, to share the story of their trauma on their own terms and not on anyone else’s."

Writes Lux Alptraum in "A 10-Year-Old Survivor Shouldn’t Be the Face of This Fight" (New York Magazine).

The suffering of a child is offered up as a counterweight to the destruction of the life of the unborn. That's the answer to those questions, as I'm sure Alptraum realizes. But her point stands. She's asking abortion supporters to resist using vulnerable persons as leverage in the fight for access to abortion.

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