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13 November 2007 @ 10:25 am
David Cameron's speech about rape: C- must try harder.  
There has been much discussion of late about dear Mister Cameron's speech regarding rape and how it's time to get tough on it. And, although he makes some good points, some of his underlying nastiness and misogyny made me so unfeasibly angry that I am feeling homicidal urges. While, as a good liberal, I cannot condone some of the authoritarian overtones of the tips given in this men's rape prevention leaflet (OMG you mustn't make sexist jokes! Because if you stop making sexist jokes it will stop you having sexist thoughts!), I think they have it bang on when they say that:
[r]ape prevention is a men's thing, because men can make rape stop. Immediately. Right now. Rape will stop when men who rape stop raping.
This contrasts sharply with Dave's true blue Tory undertones, when he says that society has become increasingly "sexualised" over the past decade, during which time treating women as sex objects has become viewed as "cool". Rape is not about sex in and of itself, Dave. Rape is about one person using sex to exert power over another person (typically man over woman, but not always). Rape is not caused by or increased by women having the freedom to dress how they like or go out drinking with their friends. We've all had that email, haven't we? The "if a woman is drunk, don't rape her" one? And yet some people still seem to feel that the concept of the fault being with the rapist rather than the victim is contentious (see the comments in the entry linked). Some people seem to think that it's OK to blame someone else for their consciously chosen actions. I consciously chose to rape this woman, but it's OK, because she was wearing a short skirt; this is the root of the problem, right here. Rape is caused by some men (not all men) having the view that women are lesser beings, and that they have the right to do what they like to them. Rape is caused by some men thinking that lesser beings matter much less than their own gratification or hang-ups, or anger. Raped isn't caused by the lack of consequences for the rapist (we all know the statistics on this one: one in four women experiences sexual violence over her lifetime, only a quarter of rapes are reported, of those which are reported, only one in twenty will lead to a conviction...), but it certainly doesn't make a rapist think twice about his actions when he lives in a society which still expects women to be passive worshippers of the almighty cock, and is surprised when we are not. The vast majority of rapes do not lead to the rapist being being punished partly because we live in this sort of society, but this is not, by a long shot, the only problem.

Now, given the nature of our legal system, as Bob Piper says, it is always going to be the case that where rape has happened between two people who know each other, with no other witnesses, it is going to be very difficult to prove consent or lack thereof beyond a reasonable doubt; and that is, unfortunately, how the majority of rapes happen. It's not the guy in the Flasher's Mac leaping out of the bushes, it's the friend who won't take no for an answer, or the boyfriend who wants to win an argument by physical prowess or the husband who uses sex as a way to keep his wife in line.

All of this seems to have escaped our Dave. He seems to be under the misapprehension, held by a lot of authoritarians, that sexual freedom leads to more sexual violence. Rape has always happened, and happens under even the most sexually repressive regimes (it's just that in those regimes it's even MORE acceptable to blame the woman for it). And while educational initiatives such as teaching children in compulsory sex education lessons might have an impact (and is an idea that I approve of wholeheartedly), continuing to place the blame for rape on the shoulders of the victims is bloody stupid, and contributes to the one in two young men [who] believe there are some circumstances when it's okay to force a woman to have sex.

So, yes, C- must try harder. Which is not good. OTOH, it's better than an F, which is what Dear Old Uncle Gordon gets, because the Labour have been stripping funding from rape crisis centres and not discussing this at all. And as for the party of my fiancé, they haven't even talked about rape since 2003, and even then it was with a focus on stopping innocent men being convicted rather than how we can prevent it in the first place (which is, actually, something I am bang behind, but a topic for another post perhaps)...

Oh, and while I'm being all feministy, innerbrat does a fine dissection of sexual prejudices in the reporting of scientific studies, and the BBC uses any excuse to post pictures of Nigella's cleavage. Actually, the wording of that article amused me greatly (because if you don't laugh, you'll cry). It starts off being about how there appears to be a correlation between waist/hip ratio and smarts, but quickly descends to being all about how curvy women may/may not be more attractive to men. Because women can't be discussed as valid creatures in their own right, only with reference to how useful or attractive they are to men; this is, as we all know, not even a woman's primary function, but her only function...
Current Mood: irateirate