THE CHARGE IS RAPE by Gerald Astor


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Not as uncompromisingly feminist in viewpoint as Medea & Thompson's Against Rape (p. 567) this is still a useful book for those who are interested in what police statistics, the few extent sociological studies, and women themselves say about victim and rapist. Astor starts out with a strong blast at fiction and film: ""From Chaucer to Updike, rape has been seen as an up."" He goes on to draw on the findings of Sex Crime Units in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, etc.; these corroborate, among other things, the fact that most rapes are intraracial, premeditated and unpunished. Though Astor depicts most cops as hard working and seriously attempting to secure conviction, he recognizes that in court ""it's open season on the woman's reputation"" and that ""credibility is directly proportional to the amount of damage done to the victim."" He goes on to suggest that the recent legislative removal (in New York) of the need for ""corroboration"" in rape cases will not necessarily lead to higher rates of conviction since the jury must still be convinced. If there is one thing that is annoying about Astor's generally reasonable book it's his seeming resignation to the fact that except for ""education"" nothing much can be done to lower the incidents of violent sexual assault or to increase the number of perpetrators sent to prison. This will not please those women's leaders who have recently been talking about rape as a ""political act"" against women; Astor sees it simply as ""the dirty little terror that it is."" But on the whole this is a balanced and sensible survey of a crime which is highly controversial and little understood.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1974
Publisher: Playboy Press