Susan Estrich argues in chapter six of “Real Rape” that “simple rape is real rape” (881). Simple rape is distinguished from aggravated rape in that aggravated rape is defined as committed through conscious coercion, whereas simple rape is defined as committed by negligence.
Estrich cites British rape case, Director of Public Prosecutions v Morgan, to demonstrate significant differences between American and British definitions of rape. The British look to the man’s mental state in committing rape, while America has almost completely dismissed the intent requirement. Morgan held that if a man believes that a woman has consented to sex, he cannot be convicted of rape, no matter how unreasonable his belief (875). Estrich argues that this is problematic on many levels. She argues that by dismissing the intent requirement, women, not men, will are on trial and the woman’s sexual history is called into question. She argues further that, the “issue to be determined is not whether the man is a rapist, but whether the woman was raped,” and that acquittal “signals that the prosecution has failed to prove the woman’s sexual violation—her innocence—beyond a reasonable doubt” (877). Finally, Estrich argues that without an intent requirement, the resistance requirement is generally used and that a woman’s resistance, or lack thereof, in a rape is no clear indication of whether she consents to sex since she may feel that resistance is futile.