Casablanca: Was Louis A Rapist? A GD in CS.

In the course of this thread I mentioned that Captain Louis Renault, Prefect of Police, was a rapist.

I was surprised when some of you disagreed with me, because I’d always accepted this as a given: Louis controlled exit visas from Casablanca to Lisbon. Portugal was a neutral country, so anyone who wanted to get to the United States (which set included hundreds or thousands of Europeans fleeing the Nazis) had to go to Lisbon and arrange for passage by ship.

Louis dispensed the exit visas…in exchange for sex, in the case of pretty female refugees. He didn’t care what the women’s circumstances were, or even if they were married. Those were his terms.

These women had seen nation after nation fall to the Nazis, and had no good reason to think Casablanca would remain a refuge for long. They had seen or heard about what happened to many of their friends and family back home; some of them were themselves escapees from concentration camps. They knew the Nazis brought death and torture, and had good reason to believe they wouldn’t be safe until they reached the U.S.

Therefore, although Louis, unlike most rapists, did not use force or the threat of force to get these women to sleep with him, there was a very clear choice in the women’s minds: consent to sex with Captain Renault, or die. And I think that constitutes rape.

I haven’t seen the movie yet. But what if his condition was pay me x amount of money or leave? Is that theft?

I think what he’s doing is coercive. But he wasn’t responsible for the conditions (death/Nazis/etc.)…he’s just taking advantage of a bad situation.

I disagree that all the women faced a ‘screw me or die’ choice. He simple knew that in this situation that women would resort to prostitution and he getting while the getting was good after, women may become scarce one day.

I’d say it’s somewhere between pimping and rape. Pimps take advantage of someone and their weaknesses to get them in bed, while as a rapist forces it.

Rapists don’t offer the option of death. Threaten, yes. Offer no.They’re going to have sex with you - end of story. So while as giving the option of death or sex certainly is pretty criminal, Louis is fine to let the girls choose whichever they prefer–which is a difference.

The choice offered was: (1) have sex and get an exit visa, (2) stay indefinitely in Casablanca, where you might find work (e.g., working in Rick’s cafe), or you might eventually run out of money, or (3) go back home, to whatever fate the Nazis might have in store for you.

So Louis is not saying, “Have sex with me or die.” He is saying, “Have sex with me, or face something than may be less pleasant.” He is doubtless unethical, and probably illegal – his superiors in the Vichy government could charge him with official corruption, if they cared about it – but it does not amount legally to rape.

I’ll go with the prostition angle. it’s definitely a “you give, I’ll give” situation. The women have other options, not good ones, it’s true, but then neither do most prostitutes. They might be able to get out of the country another way, they might be able to come up with enough money to pay Louis in cash rather than trade. Sure it’s a sucky choice and he is certainly taking advantage of their desperation, but I wouldn’t call it rape.

But (2) wouldn’t have been a choice they saw. There was no expectation that they’d continue to be safe in Casablanca. “Choice” (2) was effectively the same as “choice” (3.)

Louis never forced himself on anyone. Every woman had a choice (albeit an unpleasant and difficult one) whether to sleep with him or not. Every “transaction” was fully consensual (though not necessarily preferable from the woman’s POV).

Definitely not rape.

But you are looking at the people in Casablanca with 20/20 hindsight. They didn’t know just how bad the Nazis were. We didn’t just how bad the Nazis were. It would take until 1997 and the invention of the History Channel to fully document the badness level of the Nazis.

The people in Casablanca weren’t not all destined for a death camp, and they didn’t even call them death camps. They were refugees. No work in the occupied lands, afraid of ‘something’ bad, but not neccessarily death. And they didn’t know the Nazis would go and conquer everywhere. By that reasoning, why would an exit visa to Lisbon be any better than Casablanca?

Put it this way: If Louis were taken out of the picture entirely, would those women’s situations have been improved at all by his absence? No. They would have gone from a choice between “Have sex with creepy guy or be stuck in Casablanca” to having no choice but to stay in Casablanca. Now, admittedly, the choice he offered them was a pretty lousy one, but having a choice is never worse than just being forced into one of the options.

He’s still a creepy, unethical bastard, but he’s not quite as bad as a rapist.

Also, it would not be in character for Renault to demand sex; he could hint at it or point out that it would make him more disposed toward their case, but it seems unlikely he’d make it a requirement. The main evidence of what he does was the refugee woman who asks Rick about it, and it’s clear that Renault had just told her he would accept her compliance in lieu of his usual fee. It was up to her to decide whether that was worth it to her.

I haven’t seen the movie…but…is he at all attractive? That would be a factor for me. (Then again, I’m envisioning a situation where I’d have adequate birth control/condom, or access to abortion, plus all the 21st century sexual mores…)

Attractive for a man of his age. (Rick–played by Bogie–wasn’t exactly a young cutie, either.) Roguish & quite charming, actually.

I’m voting for “not rape.” Renault certainly let attractive women know how they could bribe him if they were short of funds. A woman of the world would probably find a liaison with him more pleasant than being stuck in Casablanca.

In the end, Renault did the honorable thing. And he walked off into the mist with Rick…

Here he is.

Don’t fool yourself about sexual mores during wartime. I’m a Vietnam draft dodge baby - born six months after my parents married. My father is the product of a WWII relationship between a fourteen year old girl and a infantryman (they DID marry - he shipped out - he came back - they got divorced), and I’m darn certain I have an extra aunt or uncle in the Philipines from the same period in time - but Grandpa didn’t do anything more than hint.

Louis - slime, not rape. But charming and not unappealing slime - which makes the idea somewhat more palatable.

I like the cut of his jib. Plus, the medals don’t hurt. Power and all that. I’m not a huge fan of facial hair, but I can deal.

I guess I had the idea that people in the past were less likely to hop into bed with a hot guy because of the risk of having a child out of wedlock. And all the shame. And degradation. Since those risks are reduced (well, for some of us), it’s a lot easier to do as you please. (Then again, they didn’t have HIV back then…so some things have changed, for the worse.)

And in fact isn’t the last option (come up with enough cash) is what the woman in the movie eventually did? (Helped along by a gift from Rick in this case).
So I also vote for ‘unethical and slimy but just barely on the side of pimp/john rather than rapist’.

Definitely not rape. More of a “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” trade of desireables. But not rape. And I think that calling this bargaining – something that many women have done throughout history, especially during wartime – trivializes other, dangerous rape charges and reduces their credibility in both courts of public opinion, and also in courts of law. And that hurts women more. (FWIW, I am a woman)

Not Rape.

Sure he took adavantage but the women all had the choice to go along.

He was in a position of power which he could have forced the issue but he never did. He merely offered to accept their services in lieu of money. You’ll note when she did have the money he accepted that and gacve what was promised and thus ended the issue.

Don’t forget that it was wartime. Everyone boinks more during wartime.