Yes, everyone’s talking about rape.
And we’ve most certainly got a chorus of voices insisting that rape really is always rape. And I’m not entirely sure that I agree.
Imposing sex on someone without their consent is rape, yes. This is true whether it is leaping out of the bushes, slashing them with a knife and leaping on or whether it’s somewhere in that minefield of boozy misunderstandings about consent.
To that extent, yes, rape is rape.
But then violence against the person is also always violence against the person. And we have gradations of that offense, from what, attempted bodily harm up through aggravated, gross (is that what GBH stands for?) via reckless endangerment through misadventure perhaps (any lawyers want to give the correct classifications?) and into attempted murder and murder itself.
All are indeed violence against the person and yet we do distinguish between them. And in that sense I’m not sure at all that all rape is rape. For I do think there is a difference of degree between the leaping out of bushes and the boozy misunderstandings.
Or, if you’d like to use the current example, starting off a morning quickie after the exercise of the night before while the other person is still asleep. This may well be rape in that first sense. But is it in the second? Is it the same grade of crime?
One reader here has pointed out how after getting lucky one night he found himself being woken up by a blow job. This is, in that first definition of rape, indeed rape. It has to be said that it continued to his consent, but it is, in that all rape is really rape definition, a rape. Does this deserve the same punishment as the leaping out from behind the bushes?
I realise that I’m not supposed to say this but I do think that there would be a much greater societal willingness to treat all sex without consent as a punishable crime (along with actually being able to get juries to convict for it, the CPS to prosecute and so on) if we did in fact say that not all rape is rape. That sex without consent is a crime that comes in gradations.
That we’d actually get to the point where all rape really is rape by denying that all rapes are rape.