"Ordinary" and "Conversational"

[TW for rape apologia/stereotyping and ableist language.]

Kenneth Clarke, the British Justice Secretary, has just proven that he's not qualified for his post. Earlier today, he declared on public radio that Not All Rape Is Equal. I do not have access to the full 15-minute broadcast since it's not available in the States, but quoting from the above-linked article:

Clarke: "Assuming that you and I are taking about rape in the ordinary conversational sense, some man has forceful--"

Victoria Derbyshire: "Rape is rape."

Clarke: "No, it's not.

"If an 18-year-old has sex with a 15-year-old and she is perfectly willing, that is rape, because she is underage, she can't consent, anybody who has sex with a 15-year-old, it's rape.

"But what you and I are talking about is a man forcefully having sex with a woman and she doesn't want to, that is rape, a serious crime, of course it's a serious crime."

No, Mr. Clarke, rape is rape. It doesn't matter the age of the victim - and Clarke completely fails to recognize that children cannot legally give consent. Therefore, sex with a minor is legally nonconsensual, and therefore rape.

Further, rape can happen to anyone, no matter the gender. Defining it as "a man forcefully having sex with a woman [when] she doesn't want to" marginalizes victims of other genders, as well as makes invisible aggressors of other genders.

Insert foot deeper in mouth:

"Date rape can be as serious as the worst rape, but date rape in my ... experience of being in trials, they do vary extraordinarily one from another and in the end the judge has to decide on the circumstances.

“But I’ve never met a judge who, confronted with a rapist as you and I would use the term in conversation, would give him 12 months, that would be a crazy sentence."

No, Mr. Clarke, rape is rape. (Oh, and "crazy" is ableist.) It doesn't matter whether the victim knows the aggressor. Suggesting that date rape is somehow not as serious as rape "as you and I would use the term in conversation" (please keep me out of that generalization) is wrong-headed in every conceivable way, and is blatantly sympathizing with the rapist, who, contrary to what you apparently believe, is actually a rapist.

A rapist is a rapist.

Rape is rape.



Apparently Clarke has apologized: "I apologise if an impression has been given which is not my view and which I don't think I stated. My view is that all rape is serious."

Only rape as Kenneth Clarke defines it, of course. His apology has all the sincerity of a schoolyard bully apologizing to the kid he just beat up while his mother has him by the ear.

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