Part Five: The Gender of Justice
Precedent doesn’t always pave a clear path forward. Obstacles remain for women when it comes to applying the law in cases involving men and their perceived rights.
Whether at times of war, in a secluded dark alley, or the matrimonial home, the consequence for assaulting a woman is little to none. But the moment these victims fought back they became criminals in the eyes of the law.
Violence against women is as prevalent today as its always been. Sure, our leaders like to tout the unacceptable ‘idea’ of domestic violence, rape, and sex trafficking, but do little to nothing in preventing or stopping it. After all, the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality still persists.
When Judge Archie Simonson of Dade County Wisconsin voiced what all the men in the room were thinking, in 1977, he faced a recall election. When he stated that a 15-year-old rapist was merely reacting normally to sexual permissiveness of teenage girls, they drug him through the streets of a sensationalized media like the collateral damage he was, not because women were horrified by his remarks, but because his opinion cracked the tinted glass men have been hiding behind since Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem pulled the curtain down.
We need only look to the sensationalized story of Cyntoia Brown to see this mindset still playing out today. At 14 years of age, she killed a 34-year-old real estate broker, after he solicited her for sex. Claiming she felt threatened, and was convinced he was going for his gun, she reached for hers. Tried as an adult, the prosecution argued that she shot him for the mere purpose of robbing him, she was a prostitute after all. Which is interesting, given the age of consent is 17–18 (depending on the state). We must have repercussions when a girl kills a man, regardless of what wrong he is doing, lest we knock the tower of patriarchy askew.
In 2019 Nikki Addimando was convicted of 2nd degree murder of her domestic partner, she claimed physically and sexually abused her for years. While photographs depicting deep bruises to her chest and face were present at trial along with pictures of rope-burns, the prosecution insisted they were self-inflicted. The prosecuting attorney, in full Schlafly style, not only insisted that if this abuse occurred, Nikki wanted it, or she would have left, she was also successful in suppressing video evidence of her boyfriend sexually assaulting her, that he posted to pornographic websites without her consent.
Although the presiding judge agreed Addimando was the victim of abuse, he decided it wasn’t perpetuated by the man she killed. Proclaiming his belief that she consented to horrific incidents, such as having her genitals burned, and being sodomized with her partners gun, he sentenced her to 19 years to life, following a 2019 conviction of 2nd degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. In 2021, her sentence was reduced under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, to just over seven years.
Fifteen-year-old Piper Lewis was charged with first degree murder when she stabbed her rapist to death in 2020. Acting in self-defense after a man forced her at knife point to go with him to his apartment, where he raped her repeatedly. When he eventually fell asleep, Piper grabbed the knife from the bedside table and stabbed him over 30 times.
While the prosecution did in fact believe she was sexually assaulted, they felt a sleeping man was not an immediate threat and she should have just got up and left. The juxtaposition of the law itself leaves justice lying somewhere between an illusion and a right, dependent on your race, your belief system, and most certainly on your gender.
The prosecution had the audacity to complain when Piper called herself a victim, proclaiming it an example of her not taking responsibility for stabbing a man to death and leaving his children without a father. Wait…what?!
Piper Lewis eventually pled to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury. She was sentenced to 5 years of supervised probation, along with a mandatory restitution to the ‘victims’ family of $150k! Surviving rape always comes with a price.
Just another case of an assaulted woman becoming a criminal, the moment she fought back. Cases such as these are far more commonplace than anyone wants to believe. A simple internet search quickly renders dozens of similar cases across the nation.