Letter: Rape is not about chastity

DAVID THOMAS suggests that the broadening of the definition of "rape" relies on outdated Victorian presumptions that women's chastity is sacred, and that this clashes with a social trend towards increased "promiscuity" ("Does unsafe sex against your will amount to rape?" Real Life, 29 August). Wrong. Objections to rape are not based on the idea that women's chastity must not be violated. They are based on the idea that women have equal rights with men to determine when and how they have sex. The fact that one may frequently say "yes" to sex does not in any way impinge on one's right to sometimes say "no".

Perhaps what should be on trial is the widespread understanding of sex as something a man "does" to a woman, to which the woman is afforded only the passive freedom of consenting or withholding consent. The recent case highlighted by the media was obviously immensely distressing to all concerned. Such incidents will continue until we begin to look at sex as the equal responsibility and pleasure of both parties.


London N16