Purposive Rambling

the journey is the reward.

Oh, Whoopi…

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So I’m at the gym on Wednesday before the sun was even up. I’m in my own little world doing some bicep curls when I hear the Roman Polanski story come up on the news across the room. First, they mention Whoopi Goldberg’s comment that this wasn’t “rape-rape.” Then, they interview Polanski’s ex-sister-in-law, who also makes a distinction between statutory rape and rape, argues that because there was no force involved it was a consensual act, and then says that prosecuting cases of statutory rape is a sign that our system is broken. To top it all off, she tries to justify her opinions by saying that she is a victim’s advocate and knows the difference between consensual and nonconsensual sex.

By the time I left the gym I as feeling a bit unglued. These attitudes – along with those of everyone else defending Polanski – are just unfathomable and appalling to me. There are reasons we have age of consent laws. Before that age, you are assumed to not be mature enough to consent. Which means that regardless of the other circumstances – whether you agreed to have sex or not, whether there was force or not – it is rape. Additionally, even if this child were not a child and instead a grown woman, rape does not imply force. If someone says no, and you proceed, it is rape. We make so many distinctions, and we find a million ways to blame the victim. We want a gray area. But it doesn’t exist! Rape is rape. It is not about violence. It is about power. I don’t know how anyone could believe that Polanski did not exploit his position of power over this child, and if you read the victim’s testimony, I don’t know how you can argue that he wasn’t acting like a predator toward her. It was no spur-of-the-moment mistake. It sounds as if the entire night were orchestrated.

Anyway, part of the argument that people are giving for why Polanski should be released is that the victim does not want the case pursued. I really feel sympathetic toward her. I’m sure she wants to be out of the spotlight. It’s got to be a ridiculously difficult position to be in. But as a citizen who is concerned about her safety and the safety of others, I want to say how proud I am of her for cooperating with the investigation all those years ago and being brave enough to share her story. She’s done all she needs to do. Polanski has already plead guilty. He fled before the sentencing. So we’re beyond the “dropping the charges” phase. All that’s left is to dole out some penalty for the crime. Personally, I don’t know why we should be considering the amount of time that has passed since he left the country or the good things he’s done since that time. What kind of message does that send? If you have the resources to get out of the country and you lead a good life before we catch up to you again we’ll forget it ever happened? If Roman Polanski were a nobody, how would we be reacting?

I still feel so worked up about this. Kate Harding has a great piece over at Salon – well, I think it’s great, but then again, I’m not on the side of child rape being okay.

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Written by Lisa

October 2, 2009 at 11:40 am

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