National stereotypes of Sweden tend to involve pop music, loud jumpers, sexual liberation and a fairly good grasp of feminism and gender politics. Julian Assange labelled Sweden the “Saudi Arabia of feminism”, presumably due to their desire to ask him some tricky questions about the rapes he probably perpetrated.
A vital part of good gender politics is taking rape seriously. Rape is a frighteningly common occurrence, and is typically gendered. These issues must be dealt with sensitively. A few stories have come to my attention which suggest that Sweden is not doing very well at this at all. Trigger warnings apply for the remainder of this post, and any links.
In one case, a cis male perpetrator was acquitted for attempted rape because his survivor was a trans woman. The survivor had not had SRS, and did not have a vagina. The court ruled that because the perpetrator had set out to rape a woman and the survivor was not a woman the crime could not have possibly happened. This verdict seems to imply that, simply by being trans, a person cannot be raped. This “not a real woman” line rears its head from all corners, from the misogynists to some branches of radical feminism. It is a thoroughly repugnant, antediluvian mode of thought that needs to be extinguished.
Regardless of gender or sex, a person can be raped. That a court bought a defence that stated “actually, she turned out to be a man” suggests not only that trans women cannot be the targets of sexual abuse, but also cis men. The ruling reflects the patriarchal belief that rape is something that exclusively happens to women who make ideal victims.
Another case involves a young woman with Asperger’s who was raped. The perpetrator was acquitted as the Court of Appeal ruled that he could not read the woman’s expression due to her disability. This acquittal represents the swallowing of a different rape myth: that consent is the absence of a “no” rather than the presence of a “yes”. The implications of this case for other non-neurotypical survivors are quite, quite terrifying.
And of course, one can make the point that the allegations against Assange were not taken seriously by the authorities initially. While Assange’s cheerleaders like to suggest that this is due to some sort of evil conspiracy and the lying bitches were probably making the whole thing up anyway, there is a rather more mundane explanation for this: rape allegations against powerful men are seldom taken seriously. It was only as Assange’s star began to fall that Sweden began to take an interest.
A legal system is always inextricably bound up in the beliefs of the culture that created it. Rape culture is alive and well throughout the world, and therefore this damaging set of assumptions gains a degree of credibility as judges believe untruths and the minds of the lawmakers are swaddled in lies. Sweden is no different, and its implementation of “justice” is as likely to engage in rape apologism as any other legal system. It is not a haven of feminism, it is the same as anywhere else.
Many thanks to @konvention who linked me to the article about the woman with Asperger’s.