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Dear Germaine Greer, Rape is Anything But Lazy And Careless

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Renowned feminist and author Germaine Greer said that rape is not “spectacularly violent crime” but  just lazy, careless and insensitive.Greer, who was speaking at the Hay Literary Festival, knew that her comments would draw criticism. She further went on to advocate lowering of sentencing for rape. As per an article published in The Guardian, she suggested that a fitting sentence for the offence might be 200 hours’ community service and perhaps an “r” tattoo on the rapist’s hand, arm or cheek.

She said, “Most rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever. We are told that it is a sexually violent crime, an expert like Quentin Tarantino will tell us that when you use the word rape you’re talking about violence, a throwing them down… it is one of the most violent crimes in the world. Bullshit Tarantino.

Most rape is just lazy, just careless, insensitive. Every time a man rolls over on his exhausted wife and insists on enjoying his conjugal rights, he is raping her. It will never end up in a court of law.”

“Instead of thinking of rape as a spectacularly violent crime, and some rapes are, think about it as non-consensual … that is bad sex. Sex where there is no communication, no tenderness, no mention of love.”

Rape is more than just being insensitive

Is that all that is to one person forcing their sexual will on another person? Is there nothing more than insensitivity involved, when someone forcefully violates you without your consent?

It seems as if Greer thinks that our reaction to rape is overrated. By saying that most rapes are not violent Greer is denying rape victims and survivors their right to call for justice.

So many women and men get brutalised every day, and it is not just about inserting a penis in your privates. It is about taking someone’s dignity from them. It is about showing disrespect to someone’s consent and reducing them to a subhuman level. Perhaps Greer needs to see the global picture here and not just limit her knowledge about violence in rape to her daily news feed.

Reducing sentencing of rape would not just be unfair to rape survivors, it would also go on to tell men that forcing their sexual will on others is not a big deal after all. Because it is the punishment for rape which gives gravity to the nature of the crime. It is disheartening to see that even a feminist of her capacity can think of rape as some overrated trivial crime. If only 200 hours of community service could erase the trauma of rape.

Don’t belittle other’s suffering

Greer also confused non-consensual sexual encounters to bad sex. I agree that the matter of consent and the need to say a firm “no” when you do not want sex needs to be discussed at length. But we cannot just go ahead and label all rapes as bad sexual encounters, can we?

She has also questioned a statistic which said that 70% of rape victims had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder compared with 20% of conflict veterans.

“What the hell are you saying? Something that leaves no sign, no injury, no nothing is more damaging to a woman than seeing your best friend blown up by an IED is to a veteran?”

This trivialisation of rape also downplays the trauma rape survivors undergo. It’s not as if the only wounds which hurt, are the ones visible to one’s eyes.

Some tear deep into your conscious and consume your identity. Greer’s statement ignores the mental trauma resulting from rape. It belittles mental health issues and accuses rape survivors of having a lower threshold for anguish.

The matter of consent and what counts as sexual assault has always been a topic of debate, even among feminists. What remains non-negotiable is the gravity of the crime. Rape is violent, inhuman and vicious. The crime calls for a strict punishment which sends a clear message of intolerance of sexual crimes to the society. Greer, who herself has survived rape at the age of 18, may not have felt traumatised by her ordeal. But that does not give her the right to discredit other survivors’ sufferings.

Picture Credit: Women’s Agenda

Also Read : Feminists – Have a Dialogue, Don’t Dismiss With Surly Insults

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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