In a recently published research paper in the Stanford Law Review, Aya Gruber, a law professor at the University of Colorado, considers the concept of “sex exceptionalism” in the United States criminal justice system and asks readers to take a second look at how we treat sex crimes.
Gruber previously published “The Feminist War on Crime: The Unexpected Role of Women’s Liberation in Mass Incarceration” with University of California Press.
In “Sex Exceptionalism in Criminal Law,” Gruber argues that treating sex crimes differently than other crimes is not natural or neutral but rather has a political history that should be examined.
Sex exceptionalism is the idea that sexual behavior and desires are seen as fundamentally different from other human behavior and deserve special treatment.
“There was this notion that the feminist position on rape was always more, more, more, more incarceration, more policing, more prison.” Gruber told The Crime Report. “But it was also even non-feminists who were just having a hard time talking about it and didn’t approach it like you would approach a burglary or theft or other crimes.”
Gruber’s paper challenges traditional narratives about the origin of rape laws and their moral underpinnings.
The article suggests that it is now time to critically examine whether sex crimes should be treated differently than other violent assaults and calls for a further examination of the impact the treatment of sex crime actually has on the legal system.