The magic body again

Another guy – a judge this time – thinks women’s bodies have magical little portcullises that slam down during attempted rape.

A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.”

Which is why rape is so extremely rare – it’s hard to bash through the portcullis.

Johnson made the comments in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes.

Though the woman reported the criminal threats the next day, the woman did not report the rape until 17 days later.

Johnson, a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex crimes unit, said during the man’s 2008 sentencing that he had seen violent cases on that unit in which women’s vaginas were “shredded” by rape.

“I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something: If someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case,” Johnson said.

I suppose he’s talking about lubrication, and saying the lack of it will leave marks. I’ve watched enough Law and Order: SVU to know that tv cops, at least, treat that as part of the picture. (But I also know they have consultants, so they probably get details like that right, however much they simplify and dramatize.) But it’s not symmetrical – marks may indicate rape, but absence of marks doesn’t indicate no rape. There, I’m a lawyer because tv! Straightened all that out for him.

The commission found that Johnson’s view that a victim must resist to be a real victim of sexual assault was his opinion, not the law. Since 1980, California law doesn’t require rape victims to prove they resisted or were prevented from resisting because of threats.

In an apology to the commission, Johnson said his comments were inappropriate. He said his comments were the result of his frustration during an argument with a prosecutor over the defendant’s sentence.

Well ok, but be more careful.



  1. eric says

    He said his comments were the result of his frustration during an argument with a prosecutor over the defendant’s sentence.

    Translation: he gave a violent rapist a slap on the wrist or minor sentence, the prosecutor blew a gasket, and the Judge responded with his ‘this wasn’t real rape because he didn’t carve an extra hole in her body” argument (or something similar).

  2. LeftSidePositive says

    And the thing is, every single generic campus safety report they send out to our student body says that one should NEVER fight with a mugger over property–that it is safer to get robbed than to risk injury or death…and yet those all get treated as genuine robbery. Why is it that rape is the one crime where you are in a default state of consent for someone to take something from you, unless you risk your life to prevent it? It’s almost as if these people think of chastity as worth more than life!

    And another thing–there are murders that are objectively more graphic and more painful and more horrific than others…but no one goes around tut-tutting the families of those who were “just poisoned” because someone else was slashed limb from limb and hung on a meat hook to exsanguinate. No one tells the families that trying to get justice for their poisoned relatives is “trivializing” murder for those who were slashed to bits. Why is it that rape is the one crime where it has to be “bad enough” to be worth something?

  3. barbrykost says

    Actually, a shredded vagina is not enough to indicate a rape has happened. I have a friend who reported a rape on a high school campus and when the medical report said that her genital injuries were “consistent with rape” the police investigator said, “Well, maybe she likes it rough” and did not even file charges on the young man.
    She was sixteen at the time.
    This is also in Southern California.

  4. bobo says

    Rh reality check has a couple of articles on the subject.

    I have pasted the info on Zingularity, but suffice to say

    1) anti abortion advocates are campaigning even harder now to get abortion in cases of rape banned and

    2) this judge has victim blamed before, its a habit with him

  5. Francisco Bacopa says

    WTF people? Do they not understand reproductive biology? Sure, some women may get their vaginas torn during rapes, but others may not. Hell, I was once in a rapey situation with an ex and what was I thinking? “This could have huge negative effects for her.” “What would I become if we went further?” I never really thought I would get into this sort of thing, but I weighed my options and decided backing off was the better choice.

    And then there was a time that I had a violent confrontation with an ex gf. There was no way I could leave safely without resorting to a level of violence I thought was wrong, so I called 911 on myself. Cops were cool and neither of us pressed charges although we both could have

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