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Australian Jury Says You Can’t Get Raped In Skinny Jeans

Australian Jury Says You Can’t Get Raped In Skinny Jeans

A few days ago, an Australian jury voted to acquit 23-year-old Nicholas Gonzales of rape.  This is not particularly surprising, because like most countries, Australia has a low rape conviction rate.  But the reasoning behind this acquittal is more outrageous than usual.  The jury, prompted by the defense lawyer, refused to believe that the alleged victim’s skinny jeans could have been removed without “collaboration.”

Ever since a 1999 case in Italy when a jury refused to convict an alleged rapist by saying that the supposed victim must have consented to sex, since her jeans could not have been removed without her cooperation and thus her desire to engage in sex, these cases have popped up a few more times, mostly notably in 2008 in Seoul.  In this case, the court overturned a seven-year sentence of a man convicted of raping a woman wearing skinny jeans.  In the same year, though, another Italian court made a small move forward, upholding a rape conviction with the ruling that “jeans cannot be compared to any type of chastity belt.”

I find it horrifying that this needs to be said more than once, particularly in a court of law, but anything can be removed without a victim’s consent, particularly if the victim is drunk or on drugs (something that I don’t know about this case, but it’s important to point out, too, that it doesn’t matter if the victim took off her pants herself – removing clothing is not a substitute for consent).  According to the 24-year-old plaintiff, she and Gonzales met for drinks and “then returned to his house to listen to music. Gonzales claims they had consensual sex together; the victim says she was raped and ‘I struggled to try to get up for a while and then he undid my jeans and he pulled them off.’”

What did Gonzales’ lawyer claim?  That it would be “difficult for skinny jeans to be taken off by someone else unless the wearer’s assisting, collaborating, consenting.”

Needless to say, this is an extremely disturbing precedent.  It undermines the idea of active, enthusiastic consent and instead establishes the idea that consent can be as ambiguous as removing clothing.  I don’t know all of the facts of the case, but I do know this: just because this woman was wearing skinny jeans before her sexual encounter with Gonzales, doesn’t mean she consented to sex.  And I am horrified that this Australian jury refused to recognize that simple fact.

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184 comments

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2:38AM PDT on Oct 8, 2011

Noted!

3:37PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

So wrong!

6:49PM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

Apparently the judge and jury were mentally unbalanced.

4:57PM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

Disturbing...

7:20AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Holy! How biased is this jury? There are always ways to get around the tightness of skinny jeans :) and this is wrong!

10:43AM PDT on Jun 16, 2010

This is awful! You could get raped no matter WHAT you are wearing!

Thanks for posting this.

12:57PM PDT on Jun 15, 2010

I'd think that her struggling would make it easier for him to get them off . Or trying to use dead weight . And in any in no way shape or form does the removal of clothing constitute consent . This is implausible .It's rediculous and offensive in the extreme .

3:17AM PDT on Jun 8, 2010

@ Mel T.

Could I have a link to your source? I'd like to know more about where the information that the judge deemed it too severe to be consentual is coming from.

It's not in this article, nor in the one this article links to.

It'd be useful if we all had the same information, otherwise I'm a little sceptical. It could be coming from the sun or somewhere similar.

7:25PM PDT on May 27, 2010

I literally became sick to my stomach when I heard about this. It's verdicts like this that allow guilty people to commit rape again and future rape victims to never come forward, in fear of being blamed and victimized a second time.

I hope in the future that there will be some kind of law passed that disqualifies clothing as a means of defense in rape cases. It could literally be anything: skinny jeans, short skirts, concrete underwear, ANYTHING. If a violent monster is determined enough and his victim weak enough, he could tear anything off her. Especially considering this particular woman was only 93 pounds. He could have easily overpowered her, regardless of what she was wearing.

Now, I'm not saying that a woman can't cry wolf. There are plenty of shady women out there. But this case makes me sad for future victims, that her dignity could easily be swept away by not only her rapist, but a group of our supposed "peers."

There is a bright side though: after the verdict, the judge deemed the physical evidence too severe to be considered consensual, and could lead to an overturned acquittal and a new trial. I don't know much about the law system, so I could be wrong. But I hope the prosecutors will go through with it and make this injustice right.

I hope the victim is able to get past this awful experience and live a happy life, regardless of the trial's verdict.

9:53PM PDT on May 23, 2010

someone please post email info so we can contact these people to complain!!

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