Monday, September 20, 2021
Kate Greasley (University of Oxford, Faculty of Law) has posted Rape Trauma and Rape's Wrongness (Forthcoming book From Morality to Law and Back Again: Liber Amicorum for John Gardner, edited by M. Dempsey and F. Tanguay-Renaud) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In a widely discussed article co-authored with Stephen Shute, John Gardner offered a persuasive argument to the effect that the core wrongness of rape is not, as it seems, a function of the harmfulness of rape, but of something else: the rapist’s sheer sexual use of the victim, which is potentially harmless. In subsequent writing, partly in response to criticisms, Gardner sought to restate and clarify his view about the role of rape trauma in rape’s wrongness. A guiding thought in both his earlier and later work is that the reasonableness of distress and anguish as a response to rape suggests that those reactions respond to and evaluate a prior, harm-independent wrong, thus revealed as the more basic wrong of rape. More strongly, he argued, we must hold that rape trauma is only epiphenomenal to, or derivative of, rape’s basic wrongness, if we are to affirm the rationality of rape victims. In this short reappraisal, I focus most attention on this intriguing argument. Drawing on a comparison with the wrong of emotional abuse, I interrogate the argument from reasonable reactions and consider how to soften the choice it presents between affirming the rationality of rape victims and allowing that rape trauma partly grounds the distinctive wrongness of rape.