“Mulligan will walk away unsheathed and free.”

I’ve shared astonishing statements about this case before: a teenager chose a man at random to accuse of rape, so that if she had become pregnant by her boyfriend (as she feared) her parents wouldn’t blame her. Even after her fears proved unfounded, she testified against the man, and he wound up serving seven years in prison before she decided to try to free him.

Many of my students were irate not only that Jane Mulligan (pseudonym that the professors who wrote the assignment chose) persisted in her lie for so long but also that her hapless victim languished in prison while she went on with her life.

Since the police, the judge, and the jury believed her, we see that she suffered no legal penalties. Since her efforts to free the “rapist” came after the statute of limitations on perjury had expired, she would not be punished for lying. Since she had not been raped, she suffered no physical or emotional damage from her sexual activity (with boyfriend) except a couple of months’ anxiety. And since she never told her parents she had been voluntarily sexually active, she suffered no punishment at home.

Unscathed. That’s what she was. She walked away from her actions and their consequences, unscathed.

My student just chose the wrong word. Don’t you love it, though?

If Jane can be considered a weapon (knife, sword—okay, they’re phallic and she’s female, but come along with me!), then she came out of her sheath and walked around that way, inflicting damage at random. That can work.

Much more fun is to think about Jane kicking off her heels and shimmying out of her sheath (silk shantung, maybe? black, maybe, or red? certainly form-fitting, as good sheaths are), batting her eyelashes at her boyfriend…then off with the clinging slip, etc., and into his arms. There she is, unsheathed and free. In this state, in this mood, she followed her passion. And as far as my student’s sentence is concerned, in this state she remains to this day! She walks away from guilt, from responsibility, from the constraints of a teenager’s humdrum life and parental supervision, and presumably into the sunset.

Unsheathed and unscathed. That’s freedom for you, all right!

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

3 responses to ““Mulligan will walk away unsheathed and free.”

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