"Prostitute" does not mean "worthless"

Jeffrey McKee was convicted of raping two women, but received a lighter prison sentence because his victims were prostitutes.

Luckily, there are people in the Washington state judicial system who aren’t total fuckwits.

Read the article for the full story, but here are a few notable quotes that illustrate the persistent sexism and victim-blaming in public attitudes towards sexual violence. Sure, society says, we’ll protect the victims of rape – but only if you’re the right kind of victim.

Superior Court Judge Douglas McBroom said the sex acts were against the victims’ will only because they didn’t get paid,

“Only because they didn’t get paid” and they didn’t want to. Payment may be a necessary part of consent for sex workers to engage in sex, but it is by no means the only part. If you insist on equating sex workers with any other kind of worker (without regard to the social context in which they perform this work), then you must also acknowledge that a worker who is kidnapped and held at gunpoint while robbed is the victim of more than simple robbery.

and prostitutes were “a far cry from the innocent rape victim” that lawmakers envisioned when deciding the severe penalties for the crime.

Ah, yes, the “perfect victim” idea. As if the so-called “innocence” of a person determines the nature and extent of the crime. Funny, I thought the behavior of the perpetrator determined that.

In its ruling Monday, the appeals court called the judge’s reasoning behind the sentencing “a reflection of his personal opinion and subjective belief that raping a prostitute is not as brutal as raping a woman who ‘did not willingly start off ready to perform a sex act.’”

Scary, isn’t it? If you are – perhaps, if you ever have been – “ready to perform a sex act,” that makes you less of a victim, in the eyes of Judge Douglas McBroom. Ready to have vaginal sex, but your partner forces anal sex on you? Not a victim. Ready to have sex with one guy, but he calls in his buddies and they force themselves on you? Not a victim. Experience pain or discomfort during sex, but your partner doesn’t stop? Nope, not a victim.

The three-judge panel also rejected many of McKee’s claims, including an assertion that his crimes were more like robbery than rape, and that prostitutes are not as traumatized by rape as other victims.

So the perpetrator attempts to belittle his crime by attacking the victims again … Yeah, that’s an indication that you want to give this man a shorter prison sentence and unleash him upon society sooner. *eyeroll*

The fact that this ignorant, sexist decision was overruled by the appeals court is heartening – as is the fact that the news article itself is written intelligently. Here are the names of people worth listening to, and worth supporting – in elections, with donations, what have you.

Appeals Court Judge William Baker, the man who threw out the inadequate prison sentence, says that, The fact that the women “may have been willing to have sex for money does not trivialize the trauma of being raped at gunpoint.” It’s sad how rare it is that you actually hear public officials say something that makes so much sense.

Eboni Colbert, co-executive director of Communities Against Rape and Abuse, says, “It’s kind of scary to think that who I might be as a victim will impact how the criminal justice system chooses to punish the perpetrator.” CARA, if you haven’t heard of it, is a wonderful local anti-abuse organization, and I’m glad they were highlighted in the article.

The article (whose author is Tracy Johnson), also noted that prostitutes are often seen as disposable and deserving of whatever happens to them — even though abuse or other desperate circumstances may have led them into selling sex in the first place.

“Everyone deserves the protection of our laws,” Deputy Prosecutor Andrea Vitalich said. “The failure to protect the most vulnerable in our society is a failure to protect everyone.”

That’s really all you need to know in relation to sexual violence against prostitutes. Regardless of how you feel about sex work – whether you think it’s empowering, oppressive, or somewhere in between – it makes absolutely no difference as to whether a person was raped or not, nor how much of a criminal the rapist is. I’m not sure why there’s even a question on this issue – except, of course, that I know we still labor under the malicious lie that a woman who’s sexual is fair game for sexual exploitation.

I’m sending emails to the author of the article and the editor of the newspaper, to let them know that their intelligence regarding this crime is much appreciated, especially in light of the shameless misogyny of Judge McBroom. I’d encourage other people to do the same.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
This entry was posted in Abuse, rape, and domestic violence, Feminism, Gender Caste. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to "Prostitute" does not mean "worthless"

  1. Darth Sidhe says:

    But as he sentenced McKee, according to the appeals court ruling, McBroom said the sex acts were against the victims’ will only because they didn’t get paid, and prostitutes were “a far cry from the innocent rape victim” that lawmakers envisioned when deciding the severe penalties for the crime.

    What the fuckity fucking fuck fuck? Since when are people supposed to get off easy just because they hurt the “right” person? Oh wait, I keep forgetting, if you’re not innocent and virginal, it doesn’t fucking matter if someone violates your bodily integrity.

    Asshole.

  2. Darth Sidhe says:

    And I really love how one reason for not wanting to be raped is considered less worthy than other reasons. Maybe if the women had not wanted it because they would be cheating on their husbands, McKee would have gotten a stiffer sentence.

  3. Mickle says:

    There is just so much sexism and stupidity wrapped up in the judge’s comments.

    and prostitutes were “a far cry from the innocent rape victim” that lawmakers envisioned when deciding the severe penalties for the crime.

    The implication being that selling sex illegally means that one can’t really be raped. Which is like saying that gambling illegally means one can’t be robbed. Only worse, for all kinds of reasons that have to do with power and who we tend to prosecute.

    In its ruling Monday, the appeals court called the judge’s reasoning behind the sentencing “a reflection of his personal opinion and subjective belief that raping a prostitute is not as brutal as raping a woman who ‘did not willingly start off ready to perform a sex act.’”

    And that all rape is only a form of robbery, but it’s a really bad form of robbery if the victim is still a virgin/her body belong to one man, like it should. If, however, one is already willing to sell it, well then they only stole a tiny bit of your merchandise, not all your precious family heirlooms. So it’s not that bad.

  4. BetaCandy says:

    I’m just relieved the appeals court got how wrong his reasoning was. By his logic, if you rape a prostitute, but then leave her some money, you did nothing wrong.

    This guy was guilty of not only rape, but of endangering a life (leaving her naked on the street).

  5. SunlessNick says:

    In court papers, he emphasized that his decision was not because of “the victims’ status as prostitutes,”

    But as he sentenced McKee, according to the appeals court ruling, McBroom said the sex acts were against the victims’ will only because they didn’t get paid, and prostitutes were “a far cry from the innocent rape victim” that lawmakers envisioned when deciding the severe penalties for the crime.

    How does he expect people to buy this crap?

  6. Claire Michaels says:

    In a study of prostitutes conducted in 1990 by Melissa Farley and Howard Barkan it was found that

    “Eighty-two percent of these respondents reported having been physically assaulted since entering prostitution. Of those who had been physically assaulted, 55% had been assaulted by customers. Eighty-eight percent had been physically threatened while in prostitution, and 83% had been physically threatened with a weapon….Sixty-eight percent…reported having been raped since entering prostitution. Forty-eight percent had been raped more than five times. Forty-six percent of those who reported rapes stated that they had been raped by customers”.

    This may be considered part of the job accoring to some people, but in most cases the reason these women are on the street in the first place is becuase tyhey suffered abuse (physical and sexual) as children. These women started their lives as innocent victims, and as a result of their abuse thier chances of developing healthy boundaries and self esteem was taken away. They may be adults now, and able to make thier own decisions, including the one to engange in risky behaviour such as prostitution, but are they really making their own decisions? Or are they simply doing what they know best, and that is revictimizing themselves?

    “Fifty-seven percent reported a history of childhood sexual abuse, by an average of 3 perpetrators. Forty-nine percent of those who responded reported that as children, they had been hit or beaten by a caregiver until they had bruises or were injured in some way…Many seemed profoundly uncertain as to just what “abuse” is”.

    Just because a woman chooses to work in the sex trade does not mean that she has given up authority over her body. Any woman, at any time has this right to say no. Whether the woman is not known to her attacker, married to her attacker, in a relationship with her attacker, an acquaintance of her attacker, or a prostitute. Every woman deserves to be treated equally as well as she reserves the right to say no. Just as you and I have the right to pick out an item to buy at the store, carry it to the counter, and then change our minda as to whether or not we are going to purchase the item halfway through the checkout process. This of course also applies to sex trade workers. Just the fact that prostitution exists, alone in itself, shows that our society is still allowing violence against women to be an acceptable part of our lives. Sure some might argue that some women enjoy it. But in reality selling ones body is a woman’s only option in a world where they are sexualized and made into nothing more than sex objects. In a way these women are forced to sell thier bodies, and many to support children and drug habits. Until we as a society wake up and realize that these women are victimized repeatedly because we allow it. We simply say its a mere part of the job that they chose. When in reality we failed them in the first place when they were left to fend for themselves as innocent children. So why not help them now?

    “Prostituted women have long been considered “fair game” for sexual harassment, rape, gang-rape, “kinky” sex, robbery, and beatings….A 1991 study by the Council for Prostitution Alternatives, in Portland, Oregon, documented that 78 percent of 55 prostituted women reported being raped an average of 16 times annually by their pimps and 33 times a year by johns. Twelve rape complaints were made in the criminal justice system and neither pimps nor johns were ever convicted. These prostitutes also reported being “horribly beaten” by their pimps an average of 58 times a year. The frequency of beatings…by johns ranged from I to 400 times a year. Legal action was pursued in 13 cases, resulting in 2 convictions for “aggravated assault.”

    Let’s not let statistics like this stay as the norm!

    Quotes taken from: http://womensissues.about.com/od/rapesexualassault/a/Wuornos.htm

  7. Katherine says:

    Claire, I have read the personal account of a woman who currently works as a prostitute. The account was given freely through an anonymous forum and came across as genuine. She clearly enjoyed the work, was not coerced into it, worked with an agency staffed by women, and seemed mentally well adjusted. So I would say that yes, some women enjoy the work. This is obviously no excuse for rape.

    And with the “it is only theft” comments (from the rapist), it is theft if you engage a prostitute, have consensual sex with hir under hir terms and without threatening hir in any way, and then refuse to pay. And this is still not a good thing.

Comments are closed.