Can we equate rape and lying?

I don’t know.

I don’t know and I wish I did. Everyone’s been asking me all day: what do you think? (thanks to Emily for letting me know the link was broken – it should be fixed now!)

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was convicted as part of a plea bargain. According to the indictment, Kashur met the complainant in September 2008 in downtown Jerusalem, presenting himself as a Jewish bachelor looking for a serious romantic relationship…The couple then went to a nearby building and had sex, after which Kashur left the building without waiting for the woman to get dressed.

In short, the man turned out to be Arab, and turned out to not be interested in a “serious romantic relationship.” She charged him with rape because “If she hadn’t thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated.”

I don’t know the answer to the question of this man’s guilt, so I don’t want to talk about that. Instead, I’d like to comment on the reaction I heard today, from some incredibly intelligent people, about this article – because I think some of those reactions were kind of surprising, and some were even a little out of line.

“She shouldn’t have had sex with a stranger from the street!” Yadda yadda, I know. She’s such a slut. No, wait, that’s not right. Her body is hers, and she gets to decide what she wants to dow with it. If she speaks to a Jewish man on the street who wants to pursue a serious relationship with her, and she decides that she wants to sleep with him, that is her prerogative. That’s not my decision to make.

“She’s racist!” I don’t know her, but from the way the article was written? Yes. It sounds like she is racist. She wants to have sex with only men of her religion, people she considers part of her “race.” Again, that might not make you like her very much, but that’s still her prerogative as far as how she’s going to use her body. I discriminate, too: I’m only attracted to men. Sorry, ladies.

“Men lie all the time!” I guess that makes it okay, then. No, wait, still not right. Men and women lie all the time – and because we make statements like that, it’s never going to change. Men and women should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, but they shouldn’t have to make decisions under false pretenses. We just act like it’s a “guy thing.” Newsflash: it’s not. First because women do it too, but second, and more importantly, because not all men do it, and therefore it is not inherently ingrained in men that they must fuck with female autonomy.

“She consented!” …well, sort of. She consented to a physical act. She consented to a physical act by a person who was lying about his identity. To use a totally trivial, probably rather offensive analogy: you go to a restaurant and order a veggie burger and you eat it when it arrives. Later, you find out it’s a hamburger, and you want your money back because you ordered a veggie burger, were told you were being giving a veggie burger, and hey! you’re a vegetarian. You consented to eating the hamburger, but that’s because your waiter lied to you.

Yeah, that probably crossed the offensive line. I apologize.

So…just a couple of things to mull over while you consider the story in Haaretz. It seemed like a lot of people were really quick to judge the story and the people involved without really taking any time to consider the consequences of their judgements. Again: I don’t know what the answer is. But I don’t think the gut responses that a lot of people had were necessarily a fair reaction.

Just my two cents for the day.

    • Eileen
    • July 22nd, 2010

    Since I posted this article on Facebook the other day and made a comment about racism, I just wanted to defend my comment: I don’t care if she’s racist. What I care about is that the ruling seems racist. I don’t know for sure, obviously, but from the brief comments contained within the article, I’m guessing if a Jewish bachelor presented himself as an Arab looking for a one-night stand, slept with a woman, and then she decided to prosecute him because he wanted a relationship and had thereby had sex with her under false pretenses, the guy wouldn’t have gotten a year and a half of prison time. Basically, I think that the court was prejudiced against this man because a) he was Arab, she was Jewish, and they were living in Israel and b) he and the woman played into stereotypical gender roles: she wanted a relationship while he wanted casual sex. Maybe I’m wrong (because my counter-example hasn’t been brought to court or because it has but didn’t get any press), but that was the impression that I got.

      • Mara Alyse
      • July 22nd, 2010

      Was it possible there was some racial prejudice in the ruling? Yeah. Do I think the ruling might have been accurate anyway? Maybe, yes. Obviously, I’d rather they get it right for the right reasons. I’d be pissed about your reverse ruling, as well, if I didn’t think there was some justice in it. I don’t really care which person was Jewish. Frankly, I don’t really care if either of them were.

      As for gender stereotypes…I don’t think the fact that both of them fit the stereotypes negates the ruling…I’m not quite sure where you were going with that comment, actually. Can you expand on it more?

      I do think that LYING about wanting a relationship to obtain casual sex verges on lack of informed consent, which is the same way we keep 16 year olds from legally having sex with their 18 year old boyfriends.

        • Eileen
        • July 22nd, 2010

        Sure. From the comment the judge made about why the punishment was so severe (and why community service was not an option), I got the feeling that part of him wanted to punish the big bad man for taking advantage of the nice young girl who just wanted to be married. Obviously, these men are jerks and deserve to be punished; whether that’s through legal or social methods. And women who want to be married deserve legal protection just as much as women who want casual sex. My question is whether the (male) judge wanted to protect a woman who wants a relationship in a way he wouldn’t have wanted to protect a woman who was in it just for the sex.

        As for the racial issue, I know you don’t care, but I don’t want it to matter to a court, either, and I have a funny feeling it did.

        And finally, the lying. I don’t know enough about the case to know exactly what went down, so I don’t know exactly how much he actively lied and how much he just didn’t tell her. Lying is bad. Not telling a woman you’ve just met everything about what you want from the rest of your life isn’t necessarily. I’m somewhat concerned, though, about the precedent. If I tell a guy that I’ll call him, and then I don’t, was he assaulted or just used? If a guy tells me how beautiful he thinks my nose is while kissing it repeatedly (I hate my nose – but that actually did happen once), and then once we’re in a relationship he confesses that he doesn’t think my nose is beautiful, have I been assaulted? The laws governing consent are tricky (although 16-year-olds and even 15-year-olds are perfectly welcome to have sex with their 18-year-old boyfriends in New Jersey), but I don’t know how much this kind of lie should be punishable by law.

    • Jeremy
    • July 22nd, 2010

    Following up on Eileen’s post, I want to discuss the lying aspect, because that to me is the most troubling aspect of the case.

    Forget the whole “want to have a serious relationship” thing, guys and girls have changing perceptions about what they want all the time, either party may think they do, and then the person is lousy in bed etc.

    The big point here is that the guy said he was Jewish. Honestly, guys lie all the time, about how much money they make, their jobs etc. Is it a good or admirable thing, absolutely not. Is it criminal? No.

    In your analogy of hamburger/veggie burger, there are restaurants that have done this before. I can’t find the link, but I believe that all they had to do was simply emphasize that the item contained meat.

    I would be a little more sympathetic if this was a civil lawsuit, but lying isn’t criminal.

    A woman is entitled to do what she wants with her body, but she should live with the consequences.

    • Jeremy
    • July 23rd, 2010

    Just wanted to post a quote that I feel is representative of my viewpoint.

    “Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person, a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian. It happens. His chances of being accepted as a human being in Israel are nil…

    Now the respected judges have to be asked: If the man was really Dudu posing as Sabbar, a Jew pretending to be an Arab so he could sleep with an Arab woman, would he then be convicted of rape? And do the eminent judges understand the social and racist meaning of their florid verdict? Don’t they realize that their verdict has the uncomfortable smell of racial purity, of “don’t touch our daughters”? That it expresses the yearning of the extensive segments of society that would like to ban sexual relations between Arabs and Jews?

    It was no coincidence that this verdict attracted the attention of foreign correspondents in Israel, temporary visitors who see every blemish. Yes, in German or Afrikaans this disgraceful verdict would have sounded much worse,” – Gideon Levy, Haaretz, on the jailing of an Arab man for pretending to be Jewish while sleeping with a Jewish woman.

    • Marc
    • July 23rd, 2010

    I have to agree with Dan Savage’s take:

    He writes: Um… I hope this doesn’t come across a “slut shaming,” because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with one-night stands, or being a slut, or fucking the shit out of a guy you’ve only just met (that’s how I met my husband), but I gotta say…

    When we have consensual sex with strangers—when we go home (or to “a nearby building”) with someone we’ve only just met—we’re not just taking a chance on a person we know very little about. We’re taking a chance on our own judgment. With no way to verify the story of the hot stranger—he could be lying about anything—we’re taking a chance on our own bullshit detectors. And no one’s bullshit detectors are 100% accurate. So someone who can’t bear the thought of accidentally fucking the shit out of an Arab or a Republican or a married man or a guy who makes less than $250,000 a year has no business fucking complete strangers. That person owes it to himself/herself to get to know the people he/she wants to fuck a bit better before visiting any nearby buildings with them.

    Not because it’s okay to lie. But because people do lie.

    And would an Israeli court have found this guy guilty of “rape by deception” if he was Jewish, not Palestinian, and had lied about his income or his political allegiances or his desire for a “serious relationship”? Israeli prisons would be filled-to-overflowing if they locked up every Jewish guy who had misrepresented himself to a woman whose pants he wanted to get into.

    • Jeremy
    • July 23rd, 2010

    Adding onto Marc’s point, I found this blog entry via Andrew Sullivan from an Israeli citizen, apparently the whole story hasn’t been reported.

    ” A point which is rarely mentioned in the coverage of the “rape by deception” case – either by Israeli or foreign media – is that the case started out as a regular rape case. The woman claimed she was forcibly raped by Kashour. Once on the stand, however, the defense demolished her story and she admitted she lied and that they had consensual sex. She admitted that after learning Kashour lied to her, she felt humiliated and went to the police. It was at that point the prosecution came up with the plea bargain. A normal court would have just acquitted Kashour, but this court decided to convict.

    Several further points:

    1. If the woman had told the true story to the police in the first place, there would have been no trial, not to mention any conviction.

    2. Kashour has no earlier convictions. In another “rape by deception”” case, which involved a lesbian masquerading as a man in order to have sex with women, she received only six months of suspended sentence. Kashour got 18 months of incarceration.

    3. One of the three judges is Moshe Drori, who was embroiled in a scandal last year, when he refused to convict a very well connected yeshiva boy who admitted – and was filmed – running over a security guard with his vehicle. The security guard was an Ethiopian woman. Drori, a Jewish Orthodox, forced the guard to accept the apology of the yeshiva boy, and then invoked a judgment by 12th century scholar Maimonides (I shit you not), which says once an apology is accepted by the victim, the case is closed. And he closed the case. He is apparently a Maimonidas affectionado. The case was overturned in the Supreme Court, and this schtick cost Drori his chance at becoming a Supreme Court justice. Let’s say that a non-Jew masquerading as a Jew won’t stand much of a chance in the court of Judge Drori.”

      • Eileen
      • July 23rd, 2010

      I do have a bit of a bone to pick with point #1. If there have been “rape by deception” cases in the past, then it’s possible that the case could have been brought to trial on its own terms; I’m certainly not going to make a judgment on whether a woman is more violated because she slept with a woman against her will or because she slept with an Arab against her will. It’s unfortunate that the woman lied initially about what happened, but that doesn’t address properly the fairness or unfairness of the sentence.

      I agree that the “interested in a serious relationship” part isn’t the heart of the court’s argument, though, because as you mentioned earlier, people change their minds. If I tell a man that I hope to marry one day (which I do), that doesn’t mean that I will marry him. If he tells me that he’s looking for a serious relationship, that doesn’t obligate him to pursue a serious relationship with me. The court can’t prove that at the time this man approached this woman he was not interested in a serious relationship – but they can prove that he was not Jewish, thereby making the religious/racial lie the only one that can hold water.

    • Rocio
    • July 25th, 2010

    Gtown girl. I usually find your analysis quite lucid but I gotta disagree a little bit.

    I’m not white, and in the course of one-night stands it has sometimes come up where the person has asked my ethnicity and sometimes not. Now obviously my name isn’t English but I’m lighter skinned and occasionally pass as white.

    You have to understand the precedent that if we’re going to be fair to both genders. This precedent basically sets that if some person hates Mexicans and can’t figure out that I’m Mexican and we have sex and he later finds out that I’m Mexican, he can accuse me of rape for deceiving him (by omission) into thinking I was white.

    As an actual rape and sexual assault victim, its hard to have sympathy for someone who lied about not giving consent (she did) and claimed to have been forced to do the physical act against her will when she did it willingly. Then she wants to claim it was rape because of deception after lying about giving consent. [Rape by deception is supposed to be about, eg hey you agree to have vaginal sex with one man, and instead there are other people secretly watching or being videotaped, you did not agree to that. You consented to an act under certain circumstances and you did not consent to what actually happened. There is court precedence for this.]

    Is it immoral and unethical to lie about who you are to have sex? Definitely and it sucks but if we’re going to start jailing people for having sex when someone thinks they are another race, we’re going to put minorities in even more in a difficult position b/c we’re likely to be the ones thrown in jail if not identifying or lying about your race is the only factor you need to be charged for rape.

    If she’s racist, she is free to not sleep with people of other races, its just not the law’s job to help her enforce this is if she was deceived. [Someone mentioned, otherwise this also sets a precedent that every married person who lied about being married, you could accuse them of rape if you find out they lied later].

    For those of us who work so hard to get rape [sexual assault or sexual acts without consent] to be taken seriously, it is difficult to see the word rape being used to basically punish for someone who regretted sex that she had.

      • Mara Alyse
      • July 26th, 2010

      Just to clarify: I happen to think the only legitimate argument against this conviction is that he could have been civilly sued for fraud and that would have been a more appropriate response. It just seemed to me that some people (although obviously not all, and I think this comment discussion brought out the people who were generally NOT in this group) were SO quick to judge without really thinking about it. When we do that, it seems like we fall back into victim blaming patterns, which means we’re not having a real discussion.

      At any rate, I think I agree with you and a number of other people who commented: she had sex consensually and therefore, it is not rape. I agree with you and Jeremy (I think) that a civil suit (you said fraud, which would make sense) would have been more appropriate.

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