IDEA Research Seminar - Can a Woman Rape a Man?

Natasha McKeever will be presenting for approximately half an hour, which will be followed by an informal discussion. All are welcome and there is no need to book.

Under current UK legislation, only a man can commit rape. This paper argues that this is an unjustified double standard that also reinforces problematic gendered stereotypes about male and female sexuality. I first reject three potential justifications for making penile penetration a condition of rape: 1) It is physically impossible for a woman to rape a man; 2) It is a more serious offence to forcibly penetrate someone than to force them to penetrate you; 3) Rape is a gendered crime. I then argue that, given that none of these justifications work, the law should make the perpetrator of rape gender neutral. Furthermore, we should also care about the double standard in rape law because it contributes to gendered sexual stereotypes, which harm both men and women; in particular, that men are always ‘up for’ sex, and that a woman’s sexual integrity is more important than a man’s.