Scene In Passing: A test that needs to take place in Carson City

Let’s talk rape.

It’s an ugly topic, but it’s long since time we stop sweeping it under the rug, banishing it from polite society and burying our heads in the sands of time regarding some men’s hideous history of degrading women. There’s a long and sordid record detailing how males treat females like beasts of burden or buxom sex objects whose sole purpose in life should be the care, feeding and sexual pleasure of those of us with testosterone-poisoning.

“Rape and sexual assault should be understood not just as a form of forced sex,” said Naomi Wolf, a feminist writer.

“They should be understood as a form of injury to the brain and body,” she continued, “and even as a variant of castration.”

“Ouch” doesn’t cover it as a reaction to that comment, either for females or males.

Males among my readers skeptical of this topic or dismissive of the quote from a feminist should listen to Bishop Desmond Tutu, who lobbied for straight talk on the subject.

“The fact is rape is utterly commonplace in all our cultures,” he said. “Until rape and the structures — sexism, inequality, tradition — that make it possible are part of our dinner table conversation with the next generation, it will continue.”

So what’s up that makes this topic important in 2015 Carson City? First, Carson City no longer has facilities with trained people to do rape kit tests of sexual assault victims. Going to Reno/Sparks for tests is a hurdle for some victims, but tests are necessary for chain of evidence needed in prosecutions. If heinous crimes deserve prosecution, this one ranks high on the list.

People here are working to rectify the missing rape test problem. Meetings have been held and are going to soon move toward reinstating the capacity for tests here, perhaps this year, but things have moved slowly. At the same time, three things, none of which involve anybody to blame for any of this, got my old gray matter here working overtime.

Jon Krakauer’s book “Missoula,” which is on date rape in a Montana college town, was just released. The Carson City animal shelter bid was too high, and would be done again to build a facility that will cost nearly $4 million. And Mallory Foundation funding of $500,000 went to Carson Tahoe Health for safety and access upgrades at the CTH hospital’s emergency room.

Krakauer’s book brings the topic to the fore, perhaps making a teachable moment. The other two locally-related matters merely emphasize how willing society is to throw money at problems obvious to all, while little funding goes into dealing with one in the shadows. No one is to blame for such priorities; ER safety and near state-of-the-art animal shelters are fine causes.

And it doesn’t mean society thinks auto accident injuries and heart attacks, or the plight of a homeless dog or cat for that matter, trump the trauma of unchallenged rape. But it certainly feeds into the historic biases and societal blinders noted at the beginning of this column. As for males reading this who grow indignant because they aren’t rapists or in sympathy with them, think twice dear readers.

A test can clear the non-rapist falsely accused. Though rare, it happens. Evil isn’t gender specific. Rape tests provide scientific evidence that can help the side of justice in a he said/she said situation.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment