54 S. Cal. L. Rev. 35 (1980-1981)
Unchaste Character, Ideology, and the California Rape Evidence Laws

handle is hein.journals/scal54 and id is 49 raw text is: UNCHASTE CHARACTER,
IDEOLOGY, AND THE
CALIFORNIA RAPE
EVIDENCE LAWS
LEON LETWIN*
Feminist critiques of the past decade have dramatically challenged
conventional ways of thinking about the crime of rape.' Feminists
have called attention to a set of historic attitudes toward sex, woman,
and woman's proper place, which had combined to present rape as a
very special sort of crime.2 These attitudes often encouraged a stance
of easy tolerance toward rapists, resting on beliefs that rape was only a
mildly aberrational form of normal male behavior;3 that most women
wanted to be raped; that a rape accusation was commonly the product
* Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles. Ph.B. 1948, University of Chi-
cago; LL.B. 1952, University of Wisconsin Law School; LL.M. 1968, Harvard Law School.
I wish to express my gratitude to Daniel L. Letwin and to Richard A. Wasserstrom for their
criticisms of drafts of this Article.
1. There is extensive and growing literature on the subject. I have found the following
sources particularly valuable and interesting: B. BABCOCK, A. FREEDMAN, E. NORTON & S. Ross,
SEx DISCRIMINATION AND THE LAW 819-77 (1975) [hereinafter cited as B. BABCOCK]; S.
BROWNMILLER, AGAINST OUR WILL (1975); Berger, Man's Trial Woman's Tribulation: Rape
Cases in the Courtroom, 77 COLUM. L. REV. 1 (1977); LeGrand, Rape and Rape Laws, Sexism in
SocietyandLaw, 61 CALIF. L. REV. 919 (1973) (discussion of rape laws, enforcement patterns, and
an argument that those laws do not express a concern with the plight of the female victim nearly
as much as with the interests of the male perpetrator).
The following works, not necessarily written from a feminist perspective, have also proved
particularly helpful: H. KALVEN & H. ZEISEL, THE AMERICAN JURY 249-54 (1966); NATIONAL
INSTITUTE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CRIM. JUST., FORCIBLE RAPE, AN ANALYSIS OF LEGAL
ISSUES (1978); NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CRIM. JUST., FORCIBLE RAPE,
FINAL PROJECT REPORT (1978).
2. See generally Berger, supra note 1, at 7-10.
3. An impressionist account of such belief was given by an observer as follows:
Talking to rape victims, I hear the story over and over that the rapist, afterwards, even
after raping her very brutally and maybe using a gun or knife, will ask her for a date or
even propose marriage to her. Of course, our automatic response to that is, well, these
men must be crazy. Apparently, this is not so. Rather, it is that they don't regard this as
a criminal act. They regard it as acceptable male behavior.
Hearings on Revising Calfornia Laws Relating to Rape Before the 4ssembly Criminal Justice Comm.
and the Caiffornia Comm'n on the Status of Women 119 (Oct. 18, 1973) (testimony of Camille
LeGrand) [hereinafter cited as Rape Hearings].

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