Tag: rape

What is sexual assault?

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past week or two, you’ll have seen the extensive media coverage around famous film producer Harvey Weinstein, and the increasing number of allegations against him of sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape.

You may also have seen, on social media, the trending hashtag #MeToo, which women around the world; normal women with normal lives and normal jobs as well as celebrities, and everyone in between, are using to highlight the fact that they too have received unwanted sexual attention of some sort. Started by a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano, the idea is to highlight what an alarming and extensive problem unwanted sexual attention is in all walks of life.

“Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

MeToo

In the wake of all this, it was with interest that I read this article, which begins with the statement “Around six or seven years ago, I was sexually assaulted on the way home from a night out. Except I didn’t realise I had been.”

If you don’t want / don’t have time to read the article, then the crux is that a woman was approached by a man who made suggestive remarks, put his hand under her dress, tried to grab her and restrain her. She managed to get away and didn’t consider it sexual assault, because she hadn’t been raped. However, on phoning the police to let them know “just in case” the police officer had a very different view, asking how she’d feel if this same man had gone on to rape another woman because his behaviour hadn’t been reported? The police took the account very seriously, and the guy ended up being prosecuted and jailed because he’d done it to many women.

How many women are out there who, like the author of the article, think that such behaviour isn’t serious enough to be reported? That it’s just “blokes being blokes”. That, as women, this kind of behaviour is just something we have to put up with?

Women are expected to be a lot of things in life; mother, professional, wife, girlfriend, home maker. I’m not saying the same isn’t true of men, in some cases it is. But generally it’s women who are subjected to the most expectations, while similarly being expected to look great too. And, to some men (not all, of course), a woman is there as a toy for them to manipulate, because they can. Powerful men, such as Harvey Weinstein, pray on the fact that they have the power to behave how ever they want to women; whether it be making suggestive lewd comments, touching them inappropriately, or forcing them into unwanted physical behaviour. He knew he had the power to make or break an actress, and that’s why this has been allowed to fester and spread through Hollywood; because no-one wants to lose their job, their career and their future by being the first one to stand up and be counted against someone who can deny the allegations, take on an expensive lawyer, and crush any accusations into the ground.

Except this time it’s different. This time it’s happened to so many people, so many women in the public eye, that it’s created an uprising. An awareness. Women realising that just because it “wasn’t rape” it doesn’t make it any more acceptable or any less serious. Women realising that enough is enough. Our bodies are ours – to be touched and enjoyed how and when we want, by who we want. We’re not public property for men who can’t control their urges. We don’t have to suffer physical and mental exploitation in order to be successful in our careers. When we say no, we mean no.

For too long, lascivious men have gotten away with their behaviour purely be being men. That it’s just what men do. They’re sexual beings and women should be complimented by the attention. It’s just a bit of fun. The women wanted it, they were just playing hard to get.

And women too have played their part (and this isn’t victim blaming in anyway). We’ve thought that, as women, we have to put up with such attention. It’s just the way of the world. And so we’ve kept our mouths shut in a just grin and bear it fashion.

We don’t have to put up with it. We need to stand up and be counted. Men need to realise that a bit of “harmless banter” and a cheeky grope is a serious matter.

I’m one of the lucky ones, if lucky is the right word. I can’t think of an occasion where I’ve felt threatened or uncomfortable by the presence, actions or behaviour of a man. And for that I’m so so thankful. While I’m not using the #MeToo hashtag to reflect anything that has ever happened to me, I fully support and stand behind every woman who is brave enough and strong enough to use it themselves, and also those who have cause to use it but, for whatever reason, choose not to. It’s still taboo, and for some women the memories or repercussions are still too much to deal with.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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The bad end of the Twittersphere – the Ched Evans rape case retrial

This isn’t a post to get into the whys and wherefores of the Ched Evans retrial, or the subsequent acquittal and not guilty verdict.

(for anyone not familiar, or not in the UK, Evans is a footballer who was accused of, and jailed for, raping a drunk teenager in a hotel room. He has been in prison since, but appealed and has now been found not guilty)

If you want to read more about the background to the retrial, the Guardian does a pretty good job of outlining some of the very questionable methods used in the “justice” system.

But this post is about something different. I just want to put this out there as an example of everyday sexism, vileness and male entitlement that exists on social media.

I shared this tweet following the not guilty verdict. I stand by it.

tweet-1

My tweet was picked up by a complete stranger, who wanted to get into conversation.

tweet-exchange

He’s entitled to his opinion, as I am to mine.

What he isn’t entitled to is to say things like this:

tweet-3

I appreciate that social media – especially Twitter – is a platform for people to express their opinion. I respect that. I don’t think everyone should agree with me, and discussion and debate is healthy.

What isn’t healthy is the growing trend for strangers to be rude, aggressive and threatening to people because their opinions differ. This isn’t an “I think you’re wrong and here’s why” response. This is an “I’m trying to intimidate you and threaten you and make you feel like rubbish” response.

Why? What possible enjoyment can this lowlife have got from being an obnoxious, vile, ignorant person?

Not content with that, he expanded his hatred further:

tweet-4

Now, if not wanting to be raped makes me a feminist then yep, guilty as charged. That would also make every woman on the planet a feminist.

And why is that such a bad thing? Why is it used as a dirty word to insult women who care about themselves, each other, and women’s issues?

I love social media, with a passion. I think it’s amazing for connecting people – friends and strangers alike. But I also believe it’s contributing massively to a decline in society, attitudes and morals. There is no excuse for belittling sexual abuse or sexual abuse victims, or using rape as a threat or, more disturbingly as is the case here, a measure of attractiveness. Bonehead is trying to tell me I’m not attractive enough to be raped. Well, thank fuck for that, eh?

It’s alarming that people feel suitably empowered to say such disgusting things without fear of recrimination. That they’re willing to put their face to a level of vitriol they would probably never say in a face to face conversation.

And it’s alarming that the social media generation will grow up seeing such behaviour and believing it’s acceptable.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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Anger management and Pretty Woman

Remember the scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian and Edward are in the bath, and he’s talking about being angry?

“I was very angry with my Father. It took $10,000 in therapy for me to say that, I do it very well, don’t I? I’ll say it again. Hello, my name is Mr Lewis and I’m very angry with my father”

Pretty Woman very angry

It doesn’t take therapy or thousands of dollars or even having a bath with Julia Roberts for me to realise I’m an angry person. I go through phases, and sometimes it’s completely irrational, but there you have it!

Some things that have made me angry recently:

  • The sentencing in the high profile US rape case (you can read yesterday’s post about it ICYMI). As more details come to light, including a defence letter written by Turner’s friend who claims it wasn’t rape, it was just alcohol and that the judge shouldn’t be so politically correct, the more angry I get.
  • Idiot drivers (to be fair this happens most days, I have a 30 mile motorway commute to work and the inability of some people to drive like a sensible human being astounds me regularly)
  • Rude drivers (seriously, you drive badly and then have the cheek to flick me the bird?)
  • Stupid decisions made by people who should know better
  • My appearance, more specifically why have I allowed myself to gain more weight than I would like but yet I still can’t stop eating (mmm, food)
  • The Stradivarius website for not making it clear how to return an order
  • Reports of restaurants and businesses still turning away Guide Dog owners from their premises (I work in the sight loss industry and it’s amazing and astonishing how many people still flout the law)
  • My arrogant downstairs neighbours and their annoying offspring who seem insistent on spoiling my peace and quiet
  • The people who think it was ok to break into my friends car and steal his possessions that he worked hard for
  • Life in general. Yes, sometimes I’m just angry with life!

Back to Pretty Woman, which most definitely does not make me angry. It’s my favourite film of all time, I can pretty much speak all of the dialogue when I’m watching it (which is a real treat for whoever’s with me at the time, obvs). Not so long back I posted a pic from the polo match scene on Instagram and my friend Ellen and I (Hi Ellen!) had a “quote off”. There was not one phrase or saying that Ellen posted that I didn’t immediately recognise and could place within the film. It’s an achievement I’m strangely proud of.

It’s a bit of a funny film really, when you look at it overall, because although it’s a romantic fairytale, let’s not forget that Vivien is a lady of the night and Edward pays her for sex. So, at it’s core, it’s a cheap tale of a rich man exploiting a young girl for sex.

But it’s so great!

I recently read an article on alternative film endings; details of what the director planned originally. The Pretty Woman one broke my heart to even think about! Can you even imagine?!

The screenwriter J.F. Lawton revealed that the original ending was “completely different”. Firstly, they don’t end up together; even worse Edward drags Vivian from his car, throwing her onto Hollywood Boulevard, where he first picked her up. He then chucks money at her, saying: “You’ll regret it tomorrow if you don’t take it. You’ll regret it the minute I drive away.” Lawson added: “The film ends with Kit [Vivian’s prostitute friend] and Vivian on a bus bound for Disneyland… with Kit anticipating a fun day financed by Vivian’s week with Edward, as Vivian stares out emptily ahead.”

You can read the rest of the alternative endings on the Glamour Magazine website.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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A shocking miscarriage of “justice” against women

There are so many things wrong with the story that I’m posting about today that I can’t even fully articulate how I feel about it.

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/06/stanford-swimmer-brock-allen-turner-sentenced.html

In case you haven’t seen it or don’t have time to read it, let me give you a précis.

A student went to a party, got very drunk (by her own admission) and then woke up in hospital having been sexually assaulted by a student behind a rubbish bin. She had no recollection of the assault, or the perpetrator, but luckily two passers by had seen the attack and dragged him off, keeping him pinned to the floor until the police arrived.

So far, so standard, right? I mean that not all flippantly. But unfortunately this is not an unusual story. Too many males of the species seem to think that a drunk woman is fair game for them to treat as they please. Thank god for the passers by, who not only reported it, but actually got physically involved to ensure the attacker was caught.

Here’s where the story gets nasty, and the victim of the attack gets assaulted all over again. Despite an overwhelming 100% guilty verdict by the jury, the attacker was sentenced to just 6 months in prison. To put that into context, the maximum sentence the judge could have passed for the crimes he was found guilty of was 14 years.

Miscarriage of justice

The reasoning the judge has given for his leniency is that this was the attacker’s first crime, and that a lengthy incarceration would have a sever impact on him.

Yes, that’s right, the judge is considering the feelings of the attacker over the victim.

At this point it’s probably worth noting that the attacker is a white male, a privately educated student with a promising swimming career ahead of him. He hopes to become an Olympian.

It’s also worth noting that the judge is an ex student of the same university.

I don’t necessarily believe white privilege is a thing, and I certainly believe it’s bandied about recklessly and inappropriately by those wishing to excuse their own behaviour, but in this case it seems a worthy explanation. If this was a black guy with previous convictions from the wrong side of the tracks, I have no doubt that the sentence would have been more severe. But the crime would have been the same. The effect on the victim would have been the same.

Incidentally, the victim has done everything she can not to be a victim. She stood up in court and faced the scumbag who tried to take away her dignity and privacy that night and she read a 7000 word statement detailing what she has been through and how it has made her feel. That statement has been released publicly and you can read it here. I implore you to do so. It’s lengthy and at times hard going, but it’s honesty and rawness should be read my men and women alike. A sexual assault isn’t just something a woman can get over, whether justice is served or not. It will remain with her, in one form or another, forever. It will shape her future, regardless of how she tries to not let it.

What we are seeing here is another example of the feelings and rights of women not being taken seriously. Instead, the attacker – who’s name is Brock Allen Turner – has the law on his side, despite he fact that he broke it. The judge said he doesn’t believe Turner is a future risk. Really? Because giving him the message that he can rape a woman with little recourse for his actions certainly raises a green flag for him to believe that his behaviour wasn’t “all that bad”. Further not helped by his deluded and arrogant father, who asked the judge not to throw away his son’s future on the basis of “20 minutes of action” during his 20 years of life. I kid you not. “20 minutes of action”. If that’s not a living breathing misogynistic pig then I don’t know what is. He points out that his son, who likes to cook, hardly eats anymore, and will never be his previous happy go lucky self. Really? That’s a defence?

He also believes his son can play a powerful role in spreading the message about excessive drinking and promiscuity.

Let’s be clear here. There was no promiscuity. This was a predatory and non consensual attack. Let’s also stop any suggestion that the victim “deserved it” because she has been drinking. She did not invite this attack. She did not want or choose to be violated. She shouldn’t have to apologise for being drunk. She shouldn’t have to apologise for anything.

There’s a petition in place to recall the Judge on account of his appallingly bad sentencing and inability to understand the severity of not only the case, but his leniency.

Please sign.
Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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