New Statesman | Donald Trump has grabbed America by the pussy, and it’s women who will suffer

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A while ago, a friend set me a problem. “Why,” he asked, “is feminism structurally weak?” Feminism should, after all, be a dazzling powerful political movement. Women marginally outnumber men. The evidence that we are the subjugated class is everywhere, from the wage gap to sex ratio in senior jobs to our woeful absence from political positions to the grim inequality of the housework split to the daily drip-drip-drip of advertising telling us exactly how wrong our bodies are.

Those things should fit together into a simple plan: get the biggest gang together and force the other side to turn over what’s ours by right. But this has never happened, and today it has failed to happen on a tragic, global scale. Donald Trump has beaten Hillary Clinton because he was a man running against a woman. There are many ways to dress up his victory, but only one that explains it. This was a referendum on sex roles, and America voted racist penis.

Read the full post at the New Statesman

Independent | Donald Trump is President of the United States – so tell me again how rape allegations ruin a man’s life

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America has chosen, and it chose the pussy-grabber. The guy who said his daughter was a “piece of ass”. The guy who has been accused – in multiple, mutually corroborating accounts – of sexual assault. The guy whose ex-wife accused him of rape in a divorce deposition. So tell me again how a rape accusation ruins a man’s life. Please, I am all ears for your sympathetic descriptions of the terrible injustice done to men when they’re named as the suspected perpetrator of a violent crime in exactly the same way that suspected perpetrators of violent crimes are always named.

Read the full post at the Independent

The Pool | At what point do you stop standing by your man?

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There’s no doubting Camille Cosby’s loyalty to her husband, Bill, who has now been charged with three cases of sexual assault. She’s been consistent in defending him across decades of allegations and against dozens of women, all of whom have described identical assaults: drugged, raped, disbelieved, disgraced. “None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim,” said Camille in a statement to CBS in 2014. “But the question should be asked: who is the victim?”

Read the full post at the Pool

 

Rape, rhetoric and research: a reluctant defence of lad mags

Who wants to be an apologist for lad mags? Not me. Reading them (which I do semi-regularly for work reasons) is a distinctly grimy and tedious experience, thanks to their special mix of joyless boobery, football news I’ve already heard and summaries of things I saw on the internet weeks ago.

Remember when Zoo got monstered over a Danny Dyer advice column that suggested a correspondent “cut [his] ex’s face”? I posted the horrified twitpic that started that round of outrage. I don’t like lad mags, and they probably wouldn’t like me much, if they had any opinion on me at all. So I basically hate having to say what I’m about to say, but: lad mags have been treated unfairly in the most recent accounts of their vileness. Continue reading

“Don’t blame the women, blame those lapdancers”

While I was in bed last night, trying to fall asleep and being irritated back to consciousness by Stephen Nolan but still feeling too tired to reach out and turn the radio off, I heard something so intensely depressing I wished I’d been listening to Radio 4’s platitude half-hour Something Understood instead. Stephen was interviewing Jill, a rape victim who now campaigns against sexual violence, on why more women don’t report and prosecute rapes – by way of following up on the appalling Worboys case.

Listen to the interview (begins about 2:33, available until 22 March 2009)

Jill spoke very clearly and affectingly about her attack, the trauma it caused and the way that the investigation and prosectution compounded her distress. She made a very good spokesperson for herself, and an admirable advocate for coming forward. But Stephen Nolan was presenting her as an expert and asking her to comment on issues way beyond her individual experience. The answers she gave ranged from powerful to naive to offensive, and while I don’t feel especially good about criticising a rape victim for talking about rape, it bothers me enormously that the BBC selected her emotional response as a survivor over the analysis that a criminologist or sociologist could have given on some of these issues. This is how Jill describes what happened to her:

I was at home in my father’s vicarage. I wasn’t very well, I was watching TV with my boyfriend, my dad was working in his study, and four men broke into the house. Two of them… well, one of them raped me, the other committed sexual assaults on me.

Then Stephen asks Jill if she felt that she wouldn’t be believed, and Jill says: “I never had that doubt in my mind,” and explains that building the case against her rapists was her way of coping with the attack. “But that’s not true for very very many people,” she adds. What she doesn’t mention – and I wish she or Nolan had – was that her rape sounds unusual in that it was committed by (apparently) strangers who invaded her home rather someone she knew, and it was witnessed by two people. Assisting the prosecution probably did help her a lot, but most rapes aren’t so amenable to prosecution. Most rapes don’t involve extreme violence in a vicarage and eyewitnesses, and many attacks can be presented as something much more equivocal in the courtroom: for women who are raped by acquaintances, or after they’ve been drinking, or when they’ve gone into a rapist’s home or car, remembering all the details would simply be pointlessly reviving suffering.

Jill forcefully knocks backs Nolan’s questions about false allegations (rates no higher than any other crime) and the issue of confusion over consent: “Sex is very different from rape, which is an unwanted invasion of somebody. To say that sex and rape are the same thing seems to justify in a man’s mind why he’s doing this.” And then, having made that clear, Jill talks about why juries might be reluctant to convict rapists. And this is where it gets sort of unpleasant:

In this country we tend to believe that women ask for rape, that realistically they have some deep down desire to want to be taken. And some women portay that, and some women have no understanding of the damage that they’re actually doing to the rest of the people who don’t want to be treated in that way. […] There are some women who seem to feel that it’s their right to do whatever they want to do sexually and don’t see that what they do has an impact on how men perceive women and how men perceive how they can treat women. […] One thing that you could talk about that’s been hitting the news quite a bit recently is the spread of lapdancing clubs. […] We are eroding any kind of sexual rules in this country. […] We’re clouding the issue so much, and we’re giving so many mixed messages, that people think they have a right to go out and get what they want.

It shouldn’t need saying – and it’s painful to say it to someone who’s actually been raped – but portraying yourself as sexual doesn’t take away the right to say no. Lapdancing, prostitution or even “doing whatever you want sexually” doesn’t place you in a state of perpetual consent. Jill should have stuck to saying that sex and rape are different, because here she seems to be saying that there are some women who are so sexually available they’re inviting rape on every female. (I guess if you get raped in a lapdancing club, that would be your lookout.) And of course, this long assault on the nation’s morals isn’t backed up any study of the correlation between lapdancing clubs and incidence of rape – it’s just what Jill feels to be true.

There’s a lot that could be said about how rape is prosecuted in this country. “I blame the lapdancers” shouldn’t come into it at all.