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Marxist and Feminist interpretations on the aftermath of rape reforms

In the beginning of her essay, MacDonald states that the current legal reforms are ineffective due to their attempt to cure symptoms of the root cause. Meanwhile, the root cause remains legislatively untouched.

She also gives various examples of how implementation of the new rape law statutes is scattered. The major decision maker, the prosecutor, and his discretionary powers limit the power of these new reforms. In a contrast of methods of prosecution before the rape law reforms to those after the reforms, she states there is little change. The idea that women lie about being victimized is still adhered to, despite the new reform laws.

The Marxist-Feminist perspectives on these reforms are as follows: the capitalist society serves only the interests of the upper class. “The state protects class as well as sexual inequality.” The upper class, in order to match the Feminist ideology, is males due to the overwhelming amount of men in powerful positions (government, law, etc.). Since the upper class only serves itself, the liberal reform laws, even if passed, will fail to be implemented due to the discretionary power of the prosecutor. Therefore, although new laws that direct the rape accusatory process at the male, the discretionary powers of the prosecutor still forces a women to convince others that she was indeed sexually assaulted.

Thus, the rape reform laws will continue to justify the sexist views and policies of the status quo, and it will use the rape reform laws to justify itself. However, these reforms are only skin-deep because of the amount of discretion the prosecutor has in how he charges and in how he questions the accuser s character.


The author contends that rape reforms have not achieved the goals in which they were established to attain. However, the results of Marsh s studies, primarily in Michigan has shown more filings by the prosecutor (less reports being turned away), higher conviction rates and arrests in comparison to other crimes. It seems that the reforms have eased some of the discrepancies in rape cases, however, it is foolish to see any law as being a panacea for the criminal justice system.

Once again a charging issue has come back to the discretionary powers of the prosecutor. The prosecutor has the power to turn cases down or to prosecute. In this decision the prosecutor s power is absolute, in that he may create or dismiss a possible rape charge. Perhaps further reform is needed in the field of prosecutorial discretion, such as a rape case review board. Three persons, be they a combination of lawyers or laipeople, review the facts of the accuser s charge and make a recommendation to the prosecutor, who still would have the final decision to charge. The idea is that further studies and ideas must be put forth in the field of prosecutorial discretion.

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