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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

 
Illegitimate rape

by digby

Ian Millhiser at Think Progress fills us in on the particulars of the laws against marital rape in case you weren't aware:

The Donald’s special counsel appears to have a very dated understanding of what constitutes rape. “You cannot rape your spouse,” Trump lieutenant Michael Cohen told the Daily Beast for an article published Monday, “and there’s very clear case law.”

The Daily Beast article centered around an explosive, if somewhat dated, allegation against the Republican presidential frontrunner: Trump allegedly raped his former wife, Ivana. Cohen, who is an attorney, reacted to the allegation with Trump-like bombast. “You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up… for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet,” Cohen told the Daily Beast. He also advised them to “tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting.”

These were bold words from a man who appears to know fairly little about the laws governing the crime of rape. Cohen also claimed that “by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.” He’s wrong. Marital rape has been a crime in all 50 states since July 5, 1993. The highest court in New York, where Donald and Ivana lived, held that a marital exemption to the crime of rape is unconstitutional in 1984, five years before Donald allegedly raped Ivana.

The Daily Beast does not identify the state where this alleged rape occurred (although it implies that it occurred in New York), so it is possible that the alleged assault occurred while the couple was visiting one of the handful of states that still did not criminalize marital rape in 1989. Nevertheless, Cohen’s categorical statement that “you can’t rape your spouse” does not accurately describe current law in any of the 50 states.


He's allegedly a lawyer so he should have known better.But he's not alone in thinking that there is no such thing as marital rape. All of humankind believed it until very, very recently. And some still do. Irin Carmon writes:

while Cohen may have been simply misinformed, there is a long history of conservative opposition to the very concept of marital rape, which is a fairly recent concept in law. Recognizing that rape occurs within marriage requires believing that husbands don’t have automatic sexual rights over their wives’ bodies.

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly has been a Republican delegate to eight national conventions, including in 2012. She ran for Congress on the Republican ticket, twice. She also has repeatedly said she doesn’t believe that marital rape exists.

“I think that when you get married you have consented to sex,” she said in a 2008 interview. “That’s what marriage is all about, I don’t know if maybe these girls missed sex ed.”

She added, “When it gets down to calling it rape though, it isn’t rape, it’s a he said-she said where it’s just too easy to lie about it … Feminists, if they get tired of a husband or if they want to fight over child custody, they can make an accusation of marital rape and they want that to be there, available to them.”

I suspect there are legions of people who agree with that. Mostly they're the same people who like Donald Trump.


*It's important to note that the Trump's divorce was notoriously contentious and while her description of the event in her deposition was very detailed Ivana Trump gave a statement after the fact and just today that she doesn't believe she was raped. And:

Both Donald Trump and Cohen have now repudiated Cohen's previous statement that spousal rape is not rape. Cohen told CNN that "[i]n my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment – which I do not believe — and which I apologize for entirely." A different spokesperson for Trump, meanwhile, says that “Mr. Trump didn’t know of [Cohen's] comments but disagrees with them."

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