new york and washington are among the states to have allowed “therapy dogs” into courtrooms to give comfort to and to gently encourage traumatized witnesses as they testify against their attackers. this dog, rosie, recently sat in the witness box with a 15-year old girl as she testified against her father who had raped and impregnated her. he was convicted, and his lawyers are appealing based on accusations that the dog unfairly swayed the jury, and complaining that there was no way to cross-examine the dog. of course you cant cross-examine a dog, but isnt the issue really this: mens courtrooms and mens legal system as a whole, in requiring victims of sexual assault to testify in court, when sexual assault specifically is known to leave victims literally speechless, is specifically designed to let men who sexually abuse girls and women off the hook?
andrea dworkin has written about her own experience with literal speechlessness after she was sexually assaulted in a womens prison after being arrested at an anti-war protest. two male prison doctors had assaulted her and injured her so brutally that her own gynecologist wept as he later examined her injuries: she reports that following the assault, she was literally left without words. from her anthology “life and death”:
Speech depends on believing you can make yourself understood: that a community of people will recognize the experience in the words you use and they will care. You also have to be able to understand what happened to you enough to convey it to other people. I lost speech. I was hurt past what I had words for.
and men, being the ones doing the assaulting *and* the ones making up the rules regarding what goes on in their own courts, must be fully aware of how likely this scenario in particular is to leave men who have sexually assaulted girls and women blameless when their victims are unable or unwilling to testify against them. and this benefits all men, whether those individual men are sexual abusers themselves, or not, since women who have been sexually victimized are known to be more “sexually available” later on, and at younger ages, and are often left mentally and physically disabled and unable to compete in university and in the workplace too.
and feminists have been calling attention to this problem for over a hundred years. as sheila jeffreys writes in “the spinster and her enemies,” there was a concerted effort by feminists since the 1860s to reform mens biased legal system and to protect girls and women from the sexual abuse of men, including obvious male bias of judges, one of which summed up a sexual abuse trial by saying “this is the sort of thing that might happen to any man,” and light sentencing amounting to “slaps on the wrist” where men were actually punished, much less than in cases of abuses against boys or even minor property crimes. the police also covered up instances of sexual abuse of girls, and deliberately set out to discredit the girls account if she had been impregnated by her own father (for example) but the father was the breadwinner of the family or a “respectable artisan” where prosecuting him could “break up the home.” (see pages 55-59).
specifically regarding the treatment of young abuse victims in the courts, in the 1880s feminists worked to institute a womens police force that would take statements from young victims, female doctors that would examine the victims (instead of allowing them to be examined and further traumatized by adult males immediately after they’d been assaulted by one) and women who would accompany the young victims to court, where the common practice at the time was actually to clear the court entirely of all women, including women jurors in cases of sexual abuse allegedly as to not offend the women. (see pages 60-63).
interestingly, as all of these seem like good suggestions, here we are 150 years later, and none of them have been implemented with any force have they? at least, to the extent that there are female police, jurors and judges now, nobody is suggesting that the reason we need them is because of the terrible bias in mens legal system against female sexual assault victims and in the obvious favor of their abusers, and that this sexual bias in these cases specifically has existed for a very long time.
now, when dealing with the problem of speechlessness of sexually abused girls, the courts in some states allow young victims to bring teddy bears with them, or in the recent case in new york, service animals, to help them along as they testify. now we will have the rapists defenders crying about the mens constitutional right not to have the juries biased by a beautiful — yet unfortunately incommunicative — dog, and we will probably have animal rights activists upset too about yet another example of animals being used to help humans, where animals own “rights” to be free from abuse and neglect are far from secure. and honestly, the animal rights activists — and the rapists lawyers — would have decent points.
the feminist points, of course, having been lost to history apparently, buried beneath a hundred and fifty years of pro-male propaganda and sex-positivism, which has always, always privileged mens sexual access and entitlement to young girls and women over the rights of girls and women to be free from the sexual abuse and entitlements of men, including the abuse that occurs in mens courts of law as they disingenuously use their own biased rules to perpetuate the victimization of the rape class for the benefit of all men, and to the detriment of all women, as a sexual class.
and thats what we are, arent we? but no one will ever say it, except for radical feminists. and we have been saying it, and we will continue to say it. women and girls comprise a sexual class, and we must be free from the sexual abuses of men, including the continued biased treatment of mens sexual crimes in mens courts of law, and including mens demonstrated determinedness to continually write and enforce legal rules where all men benefit from the predictable, trauma-induced-speechlessness of the victims of mens sexual assault.