The Culture of Sexual Assault as Reflected in the 1970s Rape Law Reforms

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Last week, the White House released a short, celebrity packed, 60-second public service announcement (PSA) on the topic of sexual assault. 1 is 2 Many addressed those who are in control of preventing sexual assault as its intended audience was those who can put a stop to sexual violence: the perpetrators or would-be offenders. Although this one minute announcement completed the task of bringing sexual assault to the forefront of discussion, it failed to encompass the central issues concerning the culture of sexual assault: societal misperceptions, the victims, and the justice system. Sexual assault is a phenomenon that has been around for centuries; the culture of sexual assault is rooted in both legal practices and societal perceptions.…show more content…
Twenty-eight states fall under the category of “true non-consent states”, where the prosecution is not required to show that the offender used “force or threats of force against the victim”, and the defendant can be convicted of a sex offense by showing that the victim did not consent (Decker, 2011). While the majority fall under the first category, nine states can be identified as “contradictory non-consent states”, where the prosecution must prove either “the use of forcible compulsion or a victim’s incapacity to consent”; according to Decker, “requiring force or a lack of capacity to consent” completely counteracts the point of having a non-consent provision (Decker, 2011). The third category, “force states”, includes states that do not have non-consent sex offenses. Although the initial impression is that the majority of states have adopted non-consent standards, it is misleading because the number of states that are true to that definition shrinks as the statutes are examined more concisely (Decker, 2011). With that being said, in addition to defining consent and force, the concept of “rape” has also been clarified and developed.
The requirement to prove lack of consent has decreased as the definition of rape has expanded. In cases such as statutory rape, where the victim is underage, the standard of proving lack of consent is dismissed—so, regardless of consent, the action remains categorized
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