Wednesday, January 28, 2009

But what about the rhetorical rapists?

I want to stop focusing just on the prison system and start looking particularly at the way the (in)justice system deals with violence against women, and what that means for feminism.

First off, I want to address the way that rapists are used in discussions as stand-in for 'Very Bad and Dangerous People'. A classic example of this is David Farrer's concern about the release of Brad Shipton. These discussions, and they happen occasionally, are about rhetorical rapists. They are discussions about law and order, not about women's experiences, because they only focus on convicted rapists.

4.5% of male college students in the US admitted to having raped someone (This is a good discussion on that). If we take it as a figure that is probably transferrable to some degree if not entirely accurate (the most important reason it's not accurate is that college students tend to be young, and therefore this can't be taken as a study on how many men rape women over the course of their lifetime), then there are around 72,000 rapists in New Zealand.*

There are approximately 1,000 men in jail for sex crimes at the moment.**

When I suggest that we should end prisons even if it means letting those 1,000 rapists out, and someone replies "What about the rapists?" it makes no sense to me. 'What about the rapists?' is an important question. 72,000 is a terrifying number, but that's the problem that needs to be solved, not the 1 in 73 rapists who are in jail at the moment.

* Numbers from stats I used my base figure half the over 15 population in New Zealand. These figures are supposed to be very loose, I'm not claiming any rigour for them, just trying to demonstrate the size of the problem.

** From Corrections

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