I shouldn’t have to be posting yet another blog on rape culture, victim blaming and shaming, misogyny and categorisation of sexual crimes. I really am running out of patience with who think it’s okay to say things like some rape and sexual assault is more serious than others, who think it is okay to say rape isn’t quite as serious if the woman is over the age of consent and if rape allegations don’t end in conviction, the rape did not take place.
This week I had the misfortune of having to watch The Wright Stuff on channel 5. What I saw there was beyond my comprehension. Three men sat on this panel discussing rape and sexual assault. Some of them said things like rape isn’t as serious if the woman is over consent, suspect’s identities should be kept secret in case of repurcussions, there was a woman who had phoned in saying her husband was falsely accused of sexual assault and how it was ruining his life. There was no mention of the woman who had made this accusation and what lead her to actually make the accusation. How does this woman even know the man was ‘falsely’ accused?
It shows you what kind of society we live in when the media are quick to try and disprove claims that a man has sexually assaulted a woman.
As a society, when it comes to the victims of crime, we are often very sympathetic and seek justice for them. However, this seems to change when victims of sexual assault come into question. They are often doubted and in some cases even blamed for their own predicament.
When I was fourteen years old, I was sexually assaulted in my school playground by a boy I thought was my friend. It isn’t something you expect to happen to you in the place where you’re supposed to feel safe. I was highly distressed, I went straight to my guidance teacher, who asked if I was ‘sure that’s what he was doing’ and asked me lots of questions so that she wouldn’t have any paperwork and so that it would look like I was over exaggerating. The police were not called, as they should be when a criminal offence takes place in a school and my accusation was swept under the rug and there was no action taken.
That was seven years ago, I’m not sure how things work nowadays, but what kind of society do we live in when a young girl goes to her school with a sexual assault accusation and they essentially do not believe her? You can see why the conviction rate and report of rape and sexual assault is so low when young women courageously report their perpetrator only to be shot down in flames.
The belief that there is also levels of seriousness when it comes to sexual assault is also highly disgusting to victims. I was arguing with someone on twitter, and in fact still am, who said raping someone is more serious than a man putting his hand up a nine year old’s skirt. I called him out and said one isn’t as serious as the other becausd they’re both pretty damn serious. What kind of message does that send to a woman who has been touched inapropriately? She’s going to think the police won’t treat her with as much concern as a rape victim and that is seriously wrong.
That brings me to Question Time last night with the vile Jerry Hayes, rape apologist. Hayes defends rapists in court. That says it all about what I’m about to say. Hayes believed that if the accusation of rape does not result in conviction, then the rape did not take place. This was astounding. Espeially for Germaine Greer who said in rape cases, the burden of proof is too heavy. She also said victims shouldn’t have anonimity because it makes them more ashamed than they should be, and they shouldn’t be ashamed. No, a victim shouldn’t be ashamed, but she has every right to be scared. Rape and sexual assault do often tend to trigger flashbacks, it’s a bit more psychological than shame. Imagine then, having to stand up in court facing your attacker without the protection of anonimity?
There are many questions and issues that have to be addressed here. They won’t end with an angry blog post from a student, but with action. So every time you see someone posting a misogynistic tweet or facebook status, call them out on it. Every time you see rape apologist sympathy in the media, challenge it and any time you ever become a victim of sexual assault. Report it.