When is Rape at Gunpoint Not Rape?

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Last week a Philadelphia judge dropped rape charges against a man who held a woman at gunpoint and forced her to have sex with him and three other men. There is no dispute that these acts were committed. Yet, Judge Theresa Carr Deni ruled that, because the woman was a prostitute and had originally agreed to have sex with the man for money, he hadn’t actually committed rape. Instead he was guilty of theft.

Let’s quickly go over the undisputed occurrences of the evening:

  • The man, 19 year old Dominique Gindraw answers the woman’s Craigslist ad and over the phone they agree on payment of $150 for an hour of sexual services.
  • She meets him at what she believed to be his home, but what is actually an abandoned building in West Philly.
  • He asks her if she will also have sex with his friend. She agrees, for another $100.
  • The friend shows up, no money is given, and a gun is drawn.

From here on, what could possibly be considered consensual?

  • Next, the woman is forced, at gunpoint, to have sex with the two men plus two others who show up later.
  • Fortunately, a fifth man arrives and, recognizing the circumstances, helps her to get dressed and leave.

Knowing all of this, the judge, showing open contempt for the women and believing, she says, that the case “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped,” dropped all rape charges and instead charged Gindraw with theft.

Thankfully, there has been plenty of uproar about this. Philadelphia’s Assistant District Attorney, Rich Shapiro, called the proceedings a “farce” and accused Deni of “rewriting her own laws.” The same man was accused of the exact same crime on another woman four days later, and Shapiro refused to give the case to Deni because he felt that to do so would “demean” the second victim.

This case is good reminder that the line between misogyny and feminism is meandering and complex, and not a hard, straight line between the sexes. Deni must hold terribly warped views about her own sexuality and gender. Thank goodness ADA Rich Shapiro has some perspective on the matter.

Feministe.com does an incredible job of covering the issue, including links where you can file a complaint if you wish.

These blogs also chime in on the topic:

Judge Screws Sex Worker In Court

Rape is for Nice Girls

Also on Feministe: On Rape and Power. This is a great piece that discusses the implications of ”
the way we construct the rape narrative, versus the way that women actually experience and live through rape.”

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