Spousal Rape Needs More Attention

Spousal rape is a rape that is less talked about in conversations about rape and rape culture because the power dynamic is more than just that of the perpetrator and the victim.

It is a rape that occurs between a husband and wife (or husband-husband or wife-wife).

In the state of Ohio, a person can be charged with rape if they impair another person’s judgment or self-control to prevent their resistance. This could be done through giving the victim drugs, controlled substances or any other intoxicant through force, intimidation or lying.

Spousal rape wasn’t included into Ohio law until 1986, but it was only if there was “force” or a “threat of force.” Situations where one spouse drugs another without their knowledge and rapes do not qualify as spousal rape under the law.

This is a loophole that victim advocates and state representatives are trying to close with House Bill 97, but only 17 lawmakers—all of them Democrats—have signed to co-sponsor this bill.

H.B. 97 would eliminate spousal exceptions for rape, sexual bettery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition and public indecency. Currently, spouses can only be charged with these crimes if the victim is either not their spouse or is their spouse but they live separately.

First, we have to establish that regardless if it is between two people who are married, rape is still rape and it can occur in marriages. Being married to someone does not stop human beings from being able to consent to sex on their own terms.

Second, the state government has to know (or should know by this point through H.B. 97) the spousal exemption of force or threat of force is hard to prove in the court of law. A victim spouse could have physical injury done to them due to the crime, but it would be disputed by courts as to whether or not the injury happened because of the rape or because of something else. A threat of force can easily be seen in courts as “he said/she said.” Both of these exemptions already make it hard for spouses to report cases of rape because not only are these two statutes going to be hard to prove in court, but the lack of presence could prevent spouses from getting rape kits in hospitals.

If we eliminate these exemptions from spousal rape, we may be able to see a start in spouses reporting their rapes and justice being served for these people, regardless if the perpetrator was their partner. Marital status and living situations should not be issues that are exempted from rape cases.

Last, I find it to be unsurprisingly disgusting that there is not a single Republican in the General Assembly who has co-sponsored this bill. While we have heard and seen our fair share of Republicans say horrid things about rape, abortion and Planned Parenthood, anyone– regardless of political party–should be able to see the importance of eliminating this loophole.

Rape is horrid and traumatic the United Nations considers it a war crime. It is unfair to believe rape cannot happen between two people just because they have their names on a marriage license together. Rape does not discriminate; rape is illegal and a crime. No one, not even spouses, should be exempt from being tried for that crime.

This column has been formatted for the internet and edited by the original author.
This column first appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.


Speaker: consumerism hurts feminism

A picture of Bitch Media co-founder, Andi Zeisler speaking at a podium

The University Culture Club brought co-founder of Bitch Media Andi Zeisler to the Ray Browne Conference as the Battleground States Keynote Address speaker on Saturday, where she warned the audience of the effect consumerism has on feminism.

Her presentation, “From Riot Grrrl to Marketplace Feminism,” discussed how feminism in past years has not only become actions, but also an identity that has been adapted by popular culture and businesses.

The Guerrilla Girls' movie poster titled, "The Birth of Feminism." On the poster from left to right are actresses Pamela Anderson, Halle Berry and Catherine Zeta-Jones
Andi Zeisler spoke about the Guerrilla Girls in her presentation. Founded in 1985, they’re an anonymous group of female artists dedicated to fighting sexism and racism in the art world. Since 2002, they have designed and installed billboards in Los Angeles to expose white male dominance in the film industry.

“Feminism, just in the past couple of years, has become this identity that has really been taken on by Hollywood and by mainstream popular culture,” she said. “And we see it increasingly as an identity that’s filtered through images … through Hollywood … through advertising and through branding.”

Zeisler found feminism in high school in New York City, studying visual art while working under women artists.

“They … were very aware of the institutional sexism in the world of fine art, and so through them I was exposed to pop culture critique and response like this.”

In the 80s, she said, people weren’t interested in adopting the “feminist” label and was often discussed as a “finite movement that had come and gone.”

But now, growing up and coming to feminism at a time when people did not want to identify as such, Zeisler said it’s indescribable how the evolution of feminism the past few years has a desirable identity. “It’s been really gratifying to see feminism become a lens through which mainstream media increasingly looks at politics and pop culture and current events.”

In some industries, such as the fashion designers, “feminism” has become a buzzword for a category of products.

“There’s feminist jewelry, there’s feminist underpants,” she said. “In Sweden, there’s a feminist energy drink.”

An ad for the company Brawny which features four women.
To honor International Women’s Day this past March, paper towel company Brawny launched a #StrengthHasNoGender campaign in which they featured women “embody strength and resilience in male-dominated fields.”

She calls this “marketplace feminism,” because it builds on the long history of advertising to women using the language of liberation.

“I see marketplace feminism simply because feminism itself has changed so much in just the past few decades,” she said.

In the 90s, the “riot grrrl” was a subculture that came out of punk movements and pointed out the general lack of girl power from society. At the end of the decade, “girl power” was appropriated in the form of the Spice Girls.

“They were created to be a vehicle for dolls, backpacks and lunchboxes,” Zeisler said, adding that their music became secondary to their marketing and merchandised products.“In a way this … marketing has really informed how marketplace feminism looks. “Forty years ago … there were no gendered earplugs …. Part of marketplace [feminism] is not feminism at all in the sense that it’s really biological essentialism dressed up as girl power.”

She cautioned that every feminism movement has the possibility to be taken over by both capitalism and consumerism.

Jenn Brandt, a 2007 masters alumna, has been teaching Andi Zeisler’s work in her feminism and popular culture classes for the last 10 years.

Brandt graduated from the pop culture department and currently teaches at High Point University in North Carolina. This was the first time she has heard Zeisler’s talk in person and though the talked reflected what she sees with her students.

“I see more media celebrities embracing the term, ‘feminism,’ which on one hand is great because it introduces students to a topic that they might not immediately gravitate toward,” she said. “Feminism has become more an identity than a political activist movement.”

Brandt wishes more people would have attended the speech.

“I think what she is saying is very important,” she said. “It’s a really great component of an excellent conference.”

This article has been updated for the web and edited by the original author.
This article was published in print by independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.