The American South still hold too many of the ideas regarding female sexuality that were prevalent in America before it was established as a country outright. Because of this, traditional ideas about rape developed under circumstances in which women were considered the property of their husbands and wherein their chastity determined their value; rape thus constituted theft from a husband or father still apply in Southern culture (Cuklanz 17). Since Bone has no father her sexual rights belong to Glen since he married Anney and now essentially owns Bone.
Reese is immune because she has a father and other extended family that hold his claim over Reeses sexual rights even though Lyle is dead.
When women go to trial in an attempt to hold their perpetrator accountable they often find that the experience has not changed much since before reform measures began in the 1970s. During this time period, the victim’s experience of the trial, along with a very low conviction rate even in cases where extreme violence was used, motivated reformers to examine statutes to provide balance at trial.
Feminists noted that under the traditional system there was every incentive for victims not to report rapes (Cuklanz 18). Given that Glen has never been held accountable for beating Bone what reason would she have to believe that he would be held accountable for molesting or even raping her?
Before the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the Womens Liberation movement of the 1970s really began to force public debate on the subject, female sexuality was believed to be ambiguous at best.
It is, the supposed female ambivalence toward sex, which leads to presumptions of women’s inability adequately to define or certainly to prove consent or lack of consent, is often expressed in the more popular assertion that for women “no means yes” (Cuklanz 26). This attitude is also expressed in Allisons work when Wade claims A man has needs (Allison 91). The assumption here is that men have sexual needs that women dont have and/or dont understand what to do with. This is an antiquated view that is a holdover from Victorian culture where gender essentialist theories ran rampant and women were believed to be too emotional.ly immature to make rational decisions concerning their bodily autonomy.
In the 1970s, consent was not only related to the victim’s character, denned largely as her sexual history, but also to the character of the rapist (Cuklanz 28). When sexual history cannot be used against a woman then the mans family and social standing are allowed to act as character witnesses as in the case of Brett Kavanagh.
As the days of segregation and Jim Crow gave way to the sexual liberation and womens rights movements in the 1960s and 70s when rape was not explained through racist logic, it was often considered a horrific crime perpetrated on unsuspecting strangers by violent, perhaps pathological, sex criminals. There was little recognition that husbands, dates, and other acquaintances from all social classes could be and were rapists (Cuklanz 30). This still hold true today. Public figure rely on this in ever increasing numbers which we have seen both the case of Donald Trump who has claimed that you cant rape your wife, and in the case of Brett Kavanagh who used his good family name to shale Blasey-Ford and get himself confirmed as a justice on the Supreme Court.