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Explain the distinction between “persuasion” and “force”—it seemed like that was a very nebulous thing.Basically, if a man could persuade a woman in any way to have intercourse, then it was not considered rape.How do you go about extrapolating what may have happened that was not reported?Unfortunately, because we don’t have all the records, we don’t really know.Outside the courtroom, societal pressures and the value placed on chastity made it difficult for women to come forward at all.And there was a huge race factor—even Mitchell admits, two paragraphs down from his dissection of the era’s conception of manhood, that “most of the rapes that northern soldiers committed were of black women,” and Murphy writes that “most states had laws stating that no crime of rape against slave women existed,” leaving them even less recourse to seek justice. Very few men are prosecuted for it during war, and commanders usually do not come down very hard on it.Again, it didn’t matter if he beat her silly in order to “persuade” her, or if he had a weapon and persuaded her that way.In other words, a man could use as much persuasion as he wanted in order to have intercourse and it not be considered rape.
For the most part, black women’s voices went unheard.But when I uncovered several hundred cases [of rape], I think that speaks loudly because very few women would have come forward.Very few women come forward during peacetime; it’s even fewer that come forward during wartime, so we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s being reported.Do you know what would have been an acceptable answer? Well, the woman usually had to go out of their way to say how much they had resisted.That’s where the title came from, “I had rather die.” A woman was testifying that she “had rather die” than be raped, and it was during those resistance questions.