Well, no problem! How could we blame you? You were asleep, after all.
Come on, how many of you have sex while sleeping? Raise your hands!
Ok, now how many of you have accidentally and unknowingly raped someone while sleeping? Not too many of you?
Well, that doesn’t mean that the poor guy in the UK who was cleared of rape in a recent trial on the grounds he was sleepwalking doesn’t deserve to be pardoned.
I mean, it can be very easy to accidentally find a sleeping woman when you are yourself sleeping, to become accidentally and unknowingly aroused, to accidentally rape her, and then to wake up with no knowledge of your criminal behavior whatsoever.
Come on hetero ladies out there, how many men in your lives sleep-walk around the community with hard-ons and (ooops) rape people while sleeping? It’s an easy mistake to make!
So, why all the fuss about this guy being cleared of rape charges? We can’t BLAME him for something he didn’t knowingly do.
We might, however, blame the woman who was raped – what was she thinking being there in her own home, in her daughter’s bedroom, fast asleep, all ready and willing to be raped? Boy, the ways in which women ask for it never seek to amaze me! As if having a vagina is not asking for it enough, she had to actually be asleep too? How could we blame the poor sleepwalking guy given these facts?
Are these the kind of thoughts that went through the judge’s head in this recent UK case? Through the jurors? How in the F*** can someone be given the “get out of rape free” card on a sleepwalking defense?
Now, I admit a penis is not one of my bodily accoutrements, but from my experiences with those of penis privilege, sex takes a bit of focus – it does not seem something easily carried out while sleeping. Now, erotic dreams, (wet or dry) are one thing, but actual sex while asleep? Sounds pretty unlikely.
If sex while sleeping is unlikely, rape while sleeping seems damn near impossible. It also belies the imagination that people can violently assault, stab, and even murder in their sleep. Yet, the sleepwalking defense has been used in many such cases. For example, in May 2008 a 28 year old Florida man was cleared of sexually molesting a 12 year old girl after using a sleepwalking defense. Further, in 1999, the sleepwalking defense was used by a man who stabbed his wife 44 times then drowned her in the family swimming pool.
While I am no sleepwalking expert, I find this defense extremely problematic – and most definitely so in this recent UK rape case. For one, the man who has been acquitted, Jason Jeal, has NO MEDICAL HISTORY OF SLEEPWALKING. His lawyer suggested to the jury he should be cleared of charges as he was sleepwalking, noting that people do crazy things such as “going to the toilet in the wardrobe” while asleep. Hmmm, so dreaming of walking to the bathroom and accidentally peeing in your closet is equivalent to passing out in your friend’s home and then RAPING her as she sleeps next to her nine year old daughter? Unbelievable.
Worryingly, two other recent UK cases allowed “sexsomnia” to be used as justification for acquittal. Kenneth Ecott, 26, was not charged with raping a 15 year-old-girl as he was supposedly asleep. James Bilton, 22, was cleared of three counts of rape on a sleepwalking defense in 2005.
Jane McKenna, the woman raped by Jason Jeal, has waived her right to anonymity as she is concerned about more attackers using the sleepwalking defense. She notes, “These people should not just walk free – they should either be given a prison sentence or medical treatment, otherwise we could find more and more people finding this defence on the Internet and using it.”
Indeed, it seems just about anything can get you acquitted of rape these days. What’s next? The “hard-on defense”? “I had a hard on, judge, it wasn’t intentional. My boner made me do it.”
According to UK law, a defendant is guilty of rape only if the attack is intentional. Forgive me for my naiveté, but I think being able to claim sleep as a defense is whack. How is it that much different from “I was drunk. I don’t remember. I didn’t do it on purpose.” How is “not remembering” (Jeal’s defense) because one is supposedly asleep different from “not remembering” because one was intoxicated?
How would these cases be different, I wonder, if it was women doing the rape, murder, and sexual assault? I somehow doubt they would be handed the “get off scot free” card quite as easily…
Rape and sexual assault is a product of patriarchy (as this post at Womanist Musings clarifies). Yet, colluders such as Helen Mirin still use the “she was asking for it” card. When Mirin claims that women are “animalistic” and “sexually jealous,” she entirely forgets the ways in which patriarchy CONDONES and PROMOTES and even ENCOURAGES rape – does so, to such an extent in fact, that now men can pull the “I was asleep” card and get off rape charges with NO PUNISHMENT, NO COUNSELING, NO MEDICAL TREATMENT, NADA! Absolutely disgusting.