Judge Refers to Convicted Rapist’s Actions as “Rough Play”

Trigger Warning

I’ve written before about Fernando Manuel Alves, a pub owner who was convicted of brutally raping a drugged and unconscious woman, and the judge who decided not to send him to jail because he deemed the rape a crime of opportunity.

Now, via Broadsides, we’ve got the actual decision, and what it contains is incredibly disturbing. First of all, it confirms that the judge referred to the rape as a crime of opportunity — and horrifically reveals that he said as much when the prosecution asked that Alves be ordered to undergo counseling.

[51] MS. GAULD: And, Your Honour, just another condition I would ask you to consider is counselling as directed.

[52] THE COURT: No. What you did, sir, was reckless, but not something that shows some pathological danger to the community; indeed, the contrary. It was an opportunistic event, one that has caused tremendous harm to G.E. and her family and hopefully they can put this behind them.

Nice, he doesn’t need counseling because raping an unconscious and drugged woman is only reckless and does not pose a danger to the community. (What, did you think that women were a part of the community? There would be your mistake!) Also, it wasn’t actually a crime of opportunity … just an event.

But despite the new information about the judge refusing counseling as a part of the sentence, I’ve already discussed this aspect of the decision at length. Feel free to read it again. What I’m currently interested in is a newly revealed remark by the judge about the violence that Alves inflicted on his victim. He didn’t call it “violence.” Nor brutality, or physical force, or serious assault, or any other such appropriate phrase. And yes, even for rape apologists who don’t see rape itself as violence, what Alves did should be very easily considered violent (again, trigger warning):

[5] In Exhibit A, it is clear that G.E. was very distressed over what had happened, and the fact that she had a complete memory loss. She reported by way of injuries that her shoulders were tender and bruised. There was some bruises on her legs and the back of an arm. Her nipples were sore and bleeding. There was also significant pain and swelling to the vaginal area and there was some blood in the urine. It is indicated in Exhibit A that over the two weeks following the incident that her eyes became black. She had no recollection how the injuries were received which injuries are detailed in appendix B.

I’m pretty sure that these types of injuries do not generally appear, at least not all together, for reasons other than violence. I’m pretty sure that the fact that this was violence should be especially clear when the injuries were sustained after what has now been legally determined to be a rape.

But Judge Rideout has a different term for it (bold mine):

[6] There was also detailed in Exhibit B pictures of the complainant with the accused with his cellphone taken at or about two o’clock in the morning where there is no evidence of any injuries. It would appear to be clear that there was some rough play in relation to the sexual contact which resulted in injuries to G.E.

Rough play, he calls it. And it’s not just a fluke. It appears twice more!

[30] Here, the aggravating circumstances are that sexual intercourse took place in an atmosphere which also involved rough play, and in circumstances where, in my opinion, the accused would be called upon to explore completely that the complainant unequivocally consented to any sexual activity including the rough play that is described or highlighted by the injuries.

You know what’s really playful? Raping someone! It’s just like tickling, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve written many, many times before, and at length, about the tendency for people to minimize rape by referring to it as “sex.” This strikes me as a new, inventive and particularly awful way of doing exactly that.

Play is a word regularly used to describe different “kinds” of sex, or just sex itself (“sex play”). I think this is a wonderful thing, actually, because sex is, or ought to be, a form of play. It’s the perfect word because it presents sex as something optional that participants have explicitly chosen and something fun and enjoyable rather than scary and shameful, because it implies that there are no “right” or “wrong” ways to do it and takes the focus off of heterosexual intercourse, and because it also strongly implies collaboration between sexual partners.

Rough play, as can logically be deduced, is a term that can be used to describe sex play which is rough, whether to a lesser or greater degree. It’s something that is enjoyed by a fair amount of people. It’s also something entered into consensually and safely. And Judge Rideout compared such consensual activity to rape, and rape to such consensual sexual activity.

That he cannot see the difference between the two is greatly disturbing to me. It would seem, in my estimation, to speak to an inability to understand exactly what rape is, and to see that the woman’s role in what happened makes a damn bit of difference at all. In order to believe that the term “rough play” is an accurate way to refer to brutally violent rape, I imagine that one has to not even remotely care about the woman’s experience or autonomy. Because the term here does not refer to the woman’s experience. Calling it “play” indicates that she was a willing participant, one who had chosen to engage, and was in a position to have done so. It appallingly minimizes the violence by referring to it with a word associated with happiness and fun. If anything, the term refers to the rapist’s experience (and even that is doubtful, as this strikes me as a case where even he himself saw his actions not as “rough play” but as violence, with violence being the point).

And framing the rape around the rapist’s point of view during the sentencing for that rapist says a whole lot of things about a person. And not a single one of them is positive.

Rape is not sex. It is also not play, nor is it making love, or being intimate, or fucking, or any other term used to describe sex that you can think of. Enthusiastic, non-coerced consent is what very clearly distinguishes one from the other. To refuse to make that distinction is an insult to every single person who has ever been raped. Hell, I’d say it’s an insult to sex itself, and to the people who choose to engage in it. To fail to understand the distinction is also to speak volumes about your perception of sex, and the relative humanness of its participants.

Which, I presume, is precisely why Alves is out on the streets.

0 thoughts on “Judge Refers to Convicted Rapist’s Actions as “Rough Play”

  1. abyss2hope

    This terminology is appalling and any claim that the word play doesn’t relate to what the judge believes is contradicted by the sentence the judge gave to a rapist.

  2. SunlessNick

    And framing the rape around the rapist’s point of view during the sentencing for that rapist says a whole lot of things about a person. And not a single one of them is positive.

    It says he thinks perpetrator impact statements would be a good thing.

  3. Pingback: Why does Tufts think rape doesn’t affect the community? | Tufts University Survivors of Rape and Sexual Assault

  4. gemma

    absolutely horrifying. this is like putting a plate of tacos in front of you and declaring they are oranges.

    this judge needs to read the facts and come up with something other than 1+1=54.

  5. Rachael

    In addition, this:

    It was an opportunistic event, one that has caused tremendous harm to G.E. and her family and hopefully they can put this behind them.

    horrified me. Yeah, let’s hope they can just “get over it.” And the way he spoke directly to the rapist…Ugh, it sounds almost like he was sympathizing with him.


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