Fixed It: The fix seems obvious but it’s not that simple

September 25, 2020by Jane Gilmore

The Courier Mail reported a man was sentenced after being “charged with two counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16, one count of having carnal knowledge with a child under 16, and one count of possessing child exploitation material”.

The article is a bit confusing. It lists the charges but not the convictions. We can infer he was convicted on at least some from the Judge’s comments (also confusingly referred to as “Mr Long”).

Even if he was convicted on all charges, none of them include the word rape. I wrote about this for Inkl this week. How do you call a rapist a rapist if he’s not convicted of rape, even though his actions fit the definition?

Some jurisdictions have replaced “rape” with “sexual assault” “carnal knowledge” or the very disturbing “maintaining a sexual relationship with a child“.

Clearly, “having carnal knowledge of a child under 16” is not “sex”. A child cannot give consent, so it’s not “sex”, it’s rape.

Removing the word “rape” from the legislation may have been well intentioned (see Inkl article) but it has unintended consequences, such as this article, where rape is called “sex”.

Rape and sex are not interchangeable terms. When we blur the line between the words we use for these two very different acts, we diminish our understanding of the thing that fills the chasm between them: the concept of consent.

I know the words used in this article are wrong, but I’m not sure what alternatives were available to the journalist. At the very least, “sexual abuse” rather than sex.

But we should be calling it what it is: it’s rape.

(If you’re reading this on social media, links are in the OP at )

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron

If you would like to know more about how and why the media’s erasure of men’s violence against women occurs, the Fixed It book is out now!

Buy your copy here or at any good bookstore. Extracts available on why Fixed It started inThe Guardian, rape and other violence myths in The Age/Sydney Morning Herald and the Good Guy trope on my website.

Sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling and support.24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
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© Jane Gilmore 2014