Rape and the Law: An Examination of the Relationship between Sexist Cultural Attitudes and Washington State’s 1975 Rape Law Revision
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In 1975, Washington State’s legislature approved a complete overhaul the state’s rape statutes. As was the case in many states, societal assumptions about sex and gender roles were embedded in Washington’s rape law prior to 1975. An emerging Anti-Rape Movement in Washington State pushed for the recognition of these gendered assumptions and advocated for the 1975 comprehensive rape law revision. Though the revision sought to alter many of the gender-biased aspects of Washington’s rape statutes, sexist cultural attitudes hindered the successful application of the revised statutes. This paper examines Washington’s law before 1975 and argues that sexist societal opinions underpinned it. It then turns to discuss the 1975 comprehensive reform. Finally it concludes by asserting that, due to the pervasiveness of sexist attitudes in society, the redrafted law could not successfully remedy all of the problems that lawmakers had intended it to address.