Letter: Date rape: whose responsibility?

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The Independent Online
Sir: Angela Lambert flatters herself with a claim for controversy ('Faced with the sober truth, is it really rape?', 23 August), yet her argument, such as it is, is wearyingly familiar.

While apparently advocating honest communication between men and women, she places the responsibility for such communication entirely upon women and, then, with a hypocrisy that characterises her whole article, suggests that they resort to an armour of 'age-old lies'. Ms Lambert implies that women collude in attacks made upon them, yet she herself seems to be in collusion with the assumptions of mercenary gender relations, which are so often wheeled out as an excuse for those attacks.

We would agree that in the case to which Ms Lambert's article refers, the woman failed to make a mature calculation of risk, but that does not lessen either her suffering, or her attacker's culpability. Ms Lambert confuses vulnerability with 'provocation', thereby assigning guilt to the victim.

She attempts to make a distinction between 'real rape' and date rape, and yet, unsurprisingly, fails to find a term for that which she perceives to be the lesser form of violence.

Her final conflation of rape with a drunken, regretted but consensual sexual encounter betrays the fatuity that is the only thread linking her paragraphs.

Rape is perpetuated by such attitudes towards women, and is inseparable from a desire to humiliate and to reiterate Ms Lambert's view of a woman's historically subservient role. Women of our generation do not expect to be undermined by murky innuendo posing as journalistic analysis.

Yours faithfully,

JOSIE TURNER

SUSAN OWENS

Somerville College

Oxford

24 August

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