on the stanford rapist, my rapists and “justice”
jes skolnik

I so appreciate your call for other strategies for dealing with sexual assault. It is clear from this Stanford case — where at least there was a conviction — and from so many others, such as the Jian Ghomeshi case in Canada (no conviction), that the conventional criminal justice system just doesn’t work for sexual assault cases, not just for lack of success in securing a conviction (if a charge is even laid), but also because of what the victims must endure to get the conviction. I keep feeling that some other approach is needed, but am personally at a loss as to what that might be. Your suggestions are a good start, I think.

As you note, as well, it is really questionable whether jail time actually does anything at all to change a rapist’s ideas or behaviour. It is very hard for me to even say, since people’s outrage and profound pain are so understandable, but I actually think there needs to be more compassion for the rapists themselves — in the sense that if we actually tried to imagine their emotional and social realities, we might understand far more about what allowed them to act in this way than we certainly do now, when all we can do is shame them and name them monstrous and not-human. They are, unfortunately, all too human — and we share something with them, as they do with us — and I deeply wish that if we tried to share a common human understanding with them, we might understand better how to change the current rape-permissive culture we currently occupy. We need to call them back into humanity — rather than exclude them as monsters — so that they cannot get away with acting so monstrously. Monsters are not accountable for their actions — they are just being the monsters they are — while humans are absolutely accountable.