Golden Gate University Law Review


Daphne Edwards


This comment will show that courts have construed the "force" element to exclude a broad range of coercive conduct. This application perpetuates rape myths and enables assailants to use a broad range of force without the act being legally recognized as "rape." Part I explains the development of rape jurisprudence to illustrate how the law has evolved to emphasize the "force" element. Part II examines rape myths that affect the courts' application of the "force" element. The purpose of this section is to dispel the "violent stranger" rape myth and to illustrate that the most typical "force" used by perpetrators is verbal coercion. Part III examines acquaintance rape cases where convictions were reversed due to insufficient "force." These cases illustrate the courts' inability to recognize verbal coercion as sufficient to satisfy the "force" element. The cases also show that when the victim says "no," the assailant's physical aggression against her, which overrides and ignores her verbal resistance, is not viewed as sufficient "force." Part IV endorses and proposes Washington's third degree rape statute, which does not require the "force" element to prove rape, as a rape statute that more accurately reflects the reality of the crime. Under this statute, courts would not have to muddle through the assailant's behavior to find a push, kick, or shove to call the act rape. If the victim says "no," and the assailant continues, then the act is against the victim's will and is legally recognized as rape. Unlike rape statutes that require "force," this statute recognizes the victim's right to simply say "no" and not be physically assaulted beyond the penetration to prove rape.

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