Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Rape or theft of services? October 17, 2007

Filed under: critical thinking,rape,sex,sex work — Jender @ 11:27 am

A prostitute in Philadelphia was gang-raped at gunpoint after she had agreed to have sex for money with two of the men. The judge down-graded the charge to “theft of services”. She (yes, the judge is a woman) feels great about this, as she thinks that treating this case as rape would be an insult to “real victims”. So if you’re in Philly and feeling a murderous urge, do feel free to throw stunt-people off buildings– it’s only theft of services. (Thanks, Calypso, for this one.)

Update: Want to complain? Do it here. Thanks, JJ, and also Zuzu and Mike at Feministe.


8 Responses to “Rape or theft of services?”

  1. JJ Says:

    Terrible! There’s now a link to the electronic form for judicial conduct complaints from the original post; just follow the link above.

  2. Laura Says:

    I’m posting this before I’ve read the entire thing on the link given. So, I apologize beforehand for any sin that people who do this might naturally commit.

    I would only consider “theft of services” the following:

    1. A prostitute has sex UNDER the assumption that she is getting paid as was agreed. In other words, throughout the whole act, the “clients” make the prostitute genuinely believe that she is having sex precisely under the terms that she has agreed to.

    2. AT THE END, when the act is all done, the “clients” reveal their true intentions and do not pay her the money.

    In this senario, I might consider calling what happened to her a “theft of services,” but not otherwise. And, from what I can tell, this is NOT what happened to the prostitute in article.

    So, yes, I agree that it’s outrageous. Ironically and very sadly, A WOMAN such as that judge can sometimes be the most dangerous enemy of feminist progress.

  3. Desider Says:

    I agree with Laura’s definition of “theft of services” above. And in the case of “armed robbery”, 6 men taking the prostitute by force at gunpoint would be 6 counts of “armed robbery” each – they’re accomplices to each others’ robberies. And it was really stupid of the judge to ignore the gun bit – that’s completely traumatizing all by itself.

    That said, I find the “rape” issue a bit peculiar as well. A prostitute is going against society norms on sex, payment for sex, sex tied with love/marriage, etc., and in many cases, prostitution is basically paid rape (including the number of prostitutes in the field involuntarily who never see much of the money). (I’m for legalization of prostitution, to be clear, including protection of prostitutes, not that 100% of prostitution will ever be carried out under government supervision)

    The analogies I gave is that boxers don’t typically sue their opponents or sparring partners for assault and battery, and S&M partners can have difficulty persuading a judge about domestic abuse. Rape is presumably different from other forms of assault specifically because of the sensitive nature of sexuality and the various societal totems it represents. If someone denies those totems, are they still protected? If a woman goes naked into work, she presumably has no recourse regarding sexual harassment. What is the line on prostitution?

    And would a client leaving without paying also be committing rape? If yes, why not a guy who pretends love or marriage to get a girl in the sack? That’s a form of “theft of services” as well. If no, why the guy with a gun? The issue at that point could be considered armed assault, threat with a deadly weapon, armed robbery or some other very serious but non-sexual crime. Of course the former incident doesn’t involve forcing as the latter does. What about when a prostitute starts a liaison but changes her mind? Is it the same as when a non-prostitute says “no”?

    Anyway, the judge probably should have taken up these musings in an op-ed or in the comfort of her own home, not in an opinion from the bench.

  4. Kirsten Says:

    Desider- The are no cases were it’s rape if it happens to a non-prostitute, and not rape if it happens to a prostitute. It is that simple.

    Prostitutes are people with just as much right to control what happens to their bodies as anyone else, and that includes the right to refuse or consent to sex.

  5. Desider Says:

    But Kirsten – I gave a number of scenarios. Is a client leaving without paying “rape”? Is a boyfriend promising “I love you” insincerely “rape”? And if I enter a contract to provide a business service, I can’t simply back out – can a prostitute back out of a liaison once agreed? Remember, the prostitute has chosen to conflate “the right to control what happens to their bodies” with business, and hopefully you realize that the business world is brutal. A contract is a contract. Brad Pitt can’t just back out of a movie because he has “the right to control what happens to his body”. If he agrees to do a nude scene in a movie, or a hard core sex scene, he is contractually bound. Probably in court he would not be forced to play the role, but he would pay huge damages for breaking his obligations.

    But the prostitute is consciously entering an extra-legal business relation, specifically illegal (except in a few states). If I break into a house, someone can shoot me without recourse. If I drive drunk, all consequences fall on my shoulders. If I climb over the polar bear fence at the zoo, it’s my tough luck. Is there nothing about a prostitute’s situation and access to legal recourse that changes by her profession being illegal?

    [And I think I made clear that sex at gunpoint should be highly punishable whatever it’s called]

  6. I find it laughable that someone engaged illegal activity would complain to authorities when the crime doesn’t go the way she planned. Where are the charges against her?

    That said, it is still rape.

  7. Kelly Felsted Says:

    I can’t believe this. She might have agreed to 2 people, but never at gun point and there were 5 people at least unprotected sex which she did not agree to. She could have gotten HIV from this bastard that gang raped her by gun point. And he did it to two that were brave enough to step forward, this bastard has probably done this to hundreds of women, prostitutes mostly, but hey what if he decides he likes a non-prostitute and gang rapes her by gun point? I say there is no difference. Prostitutes are HUMAN to, they have HUMAN RIGHTS and Consitutional rights. Ugg, this judge disgusts me. It doesn’t dumb down ‘real rapes’ this was one and this judges act will make ‘real rape victims’ believe they have no chance to charge the rapist with rape. Cause common, a man rapes two (and more you know there are more) women is going to rape again, and if he got away with gang raping two women by gun point… he’ll get away with it raping one ‘non-prostitute’ by gun point.

  8. What I meant to say in the above comment is that how many women does it take for a man to be considered a rapist? JUST ONE– and a prostitute has the same rights as any human being. Last I checked 1.) A contract was an agreement between two persons to exchange monies and or LEGAL services. Since 2.) Prostitution is illegal in most states the prostitute can not be forced to uphold the said ‘contract’ and 3.) The second party altered the contract/ agreement by adding people and using a gun and not using protection thereby exposing the victim to possible DEADLY STD’s. I’m sure I could come up with a thousand other solid arguments as to why this Judge was totally wrong, but I’m confident I’ve said enough.

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