Here is the case of a 26 year old woman that was raped by 28 year old Richard Fourtin Jr. “Woman,” however, might be somewhat deceptive since the individual involved, unnamed for her privacy, suffers from severe cerebral palsy, cannot speak and has the mind of a three year old. Fourtin was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison in 2008.
Now he’s free because the courts overturned his verdict. Why? Because Connecticut state law says that a victim can only be “physically helpless” if they are ‘‘unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.” Meaning that if you don’t fight back, you weren’t “forced” and that implies consent. The most famous example of this cruel mindset is the infamous 1993 case in which a woman gave her rapist a condom and begged him to wear it because she was afraid of contracting HIV. Her fear of death was greater than her fear of rape and the defense argued that this implied consent. Fortunately, the man was convicted anyway but by today’s extremist right wing philosophy, he would be innocent.
And that’s what makes the GOP’s push to redefine rape so dangerous. Here you have a woman that can only really communicate her displeasure by biting, scratching or kicking. She cannot say “no” and her physical disabilities makes fighting difficult. Did she try to fight back? Who knows? If she was unable to leave a mark on her assailant and, being so severely handicapped this is very possible, there’s no proof that she didn’t consent. The onus is actually on a mentally retarded person to prove she communicated “no” through every means at her limited disposal.
Extrapolate that to a woman being held at gunpoint. If she fights or argues, she risks being killed. How does she prove there was a gun involved? Does that mean she consented if she can’t? He won’t have a mark on him and neither will she outside of her vagina. It wasn’t a “forcible rape” so it can’t be a real rape. Sooner or later, one of the GOP’s wordsmiths is going to coin the phrase “non-consensual sex” or something similar to denote the difference between what they want the definition of rape to be and the reality that the vast majority of rape in this country does not actually involve force of any kind.
This case exposed a disturbing loophole in Connecticut state law but it also revealed the kind of travesty of justice that awaits women in a Republican America. Whatever you think of the Democratic Party and no matter your opinion of President Obama, there is no denying that the GOP is pushing for this kind of world for our mothers, sister, daughters and wives. There is also no denying that the Democratic party is pushing for the exact opposite. Remember in November.