Minnesota Supreme Court Ruling Beats Women Down. Again.

It’s hard to imagine what must have gone through the victim’s mind when she heard.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last week that the actions of a monster did not constitute rape because his victim had voluntarily consumed alcohol before he violated her. While she was unconscious.

What she felt must have been a trillion times stronger than what many of us felt upon hearing the news.

Utter disbelief. Shock. Outrage. And then some. Pain. Anguish. Utter helplessness. Hopelessness. Fear. 

I don’t know, obviously, and I would never presume to suggest I do. 

But I can imagine, and I imagine it would feel like getting raped all over again.

The fact is none of us will ever know what the victim felt when the court overturned the rapist’s conviction. Or how she feels now, knowing that the perpetrator could be released from prison soon as a result.

Perhaps other rape victims know, or at least understand. 

All I know is that we, as human beings, cannot allow this miscarriage of justice to be perpetrated on another rape victim. Ever.

The truth is I wanted to weep when I heard about the ruling, for the victim in this particular case but also for every woman who’s ever been sexually assaulted, and every man, as well. Then I wanted to break something.

The ruling seems to be an extension of what we and the victims have been hearing for decades:

She shouldn’t have been wearing such a short skirt…
She shouldn’t have been out walking alone after dark…
She shouldn’t have been out running alone while it was still dark…
She shouldn’t have been flirting with them…
She shouldn’t have had so many lovers before…
She shouldn’t have gone to the party…
She shouldn’t have so lackadaisical about her own safety…

She shouldn’t have…
She shouldn’t have…
She shouldn’t have…

And, now – 

She shouldn’t have been drinking.

This has always been the narrative of rapists.

Image of a woman giving someone the middle finger

To hell with that.

It never matters what rape victims did or didn’t do. It only matters what the criminal who sexually assaulted them did.

The messages need to be:

He shouldn’t have been trolling for victims.
He shouldn’t have taken an impaired woman to his home.
He shouldn’t have been raping an unconscious woman.
He shouldn’t have been such a vile and violent monster.

But, once again, those were not the messages.

I wanted to direct my fury at the white men who made this decision. But when I looked up the Minnesota Supreme Court, I was surprised to learn four of the seven justices are women, including the chief justice.

I wanted to be angry at them, anyway. And even with what I’ve learned since, I’m still angry.

While a closer read of the news reports explains the logic, it doesn’t make the ruling any less repugnant. 

According to Minnesota Public Radio’s report, the court ruled the way it did because, based on existing state law,  “… the legal definition of ‘mentally incapacitated’ only applies if a victim was given drugs or alcohol against their will — not if they consumed the substances voluntarily.” (emphasis mine)

The story went on to explain that even advocates against sexual assault and for sexual assault victims were not especially surprised by the ruling. 

“Lindsay Brice, law and policy director at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, who said the ruling was no surprise because the statute’s language doesn’t leave much room for interpretation.

‘It makes it very clear that this issue needs to be fixed at the Legislature,’ Brice said.”

Clearly the law needs to be changed in Minnesota. I wonder, though, why such a loophole was ever allowed in the first place, or why it hasn’t been fixed before now.

Fortunately, DFL Rep. Kelly Moller has sponsored legislation “…that would change the law to say that anyone who’s intoxicated is incapable of consenting to sex even if they consumed alcohol or drugs voluntarily.”

Any Minnesota legislators who vote against Moller’s bill will be committing yet another rape, of the victim in this case and all victims of sexual assault. And they will be queuing up for future victims the same disgusting perpetrator narrative: “You shouldn’t have been wearing a skirt so short….”

Even if the bill passes with 100 percent support, there will be little consolation or justice for the people who have already been raped. There is no “fixing” what was done to them.

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4 Comments

  1. Shocking isn’t it? We have the same mentality and problem amongst the elected politician and their staff right now in our federal Parliament in Australia now.
    A highly intoxicated female staff member was taken to the Parliamentary rooms and raped late at night by another male staffer. If your law is flawed and it sure seems to be, then it must be fixed asap.
    If common sense prevailed, in these situations, we would not need to change the law but clearly many do not respect women or care for the next person.

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