Tag Archives: rape

What is Rape?

Being the nosey kind when I got a pingback on a previous post which explored the constructs which support rape, I immediately took a shifty.  At first I thought the blogger had just misunderstood the kind of assumptions that women live under compared with men, but once the comments started it became crystal clear that that she and clearly much of her readership had no idea what rape actually was.

And wow.  Just wow.

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Rape: Eyes, Laws and Codes

It was Germaine Greer who said that women never really know how much men hate them.  Thanks to the internet we’re starting to find out, as “banter” comes out of the backrooms and spews itself over the web.  Unilad has just been shut down after it pointed out approvingly that rapists have rather good odds, with the “lads” blaming humourless feminazis for spoiling their fun.

A week or so ago, a friend posted up a list of the things that Mens Rights Activists quote out of context to demonstrate how nutty feminists are.  Among them was a quote attributed to Marilyn French stating “all men are rapists“.  This statement as a view of how feminists see men is often given as evidence of the misanderous nature of feminism and how ludicrous it is, but the full quote, given below, which comes from “The Women’s Room” and is spoken by Val – a radical feminist character in the novel, bears further inspection.

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Rape: Myths and Media

Alison Saunder, head of the CPS yesterday warned that the demonisation of young women is contributing to the failure to secure more convictions of suspected rapists. In an interview with the Guardian she states that a debate needs to be opened up about the myths and stereotypes that jurors bring with them when considering cases of rape and that she believes that this may not only help prosecutions, but also prevent opportunistic offenders who think they can get away with it because some women don’t complain because they feel they might be vilified and that making a formal complaint might be worse for them in the long run.

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Porn, Rape and Consent

A really interesting twitterspat broke out yesterday over this article on the anti-porn men blog, with several feminists becoming rather enraged at the perceived denial of agency and objectification of women in the sex industry as base materials for the extraction of a commodity as well as the concept of “implicit rape”.

Sophie Buckland wrote a detailed response to some of the controversial statements in the article, to which Kit Withnail, author of the original article has written a further reply.  Buckland is correct when she points out that the argument advanced in the initial article is lacking in nuance, however it does raise good issues – about effective rather then idealistic agency; the labour status of women in the sex industry and what constitutes consent.  I have very little truck with the traditional porn industry, an exploitative and misogynistic creature, but at the same time, there are dangers in overblown condemnations which see women as eternal victims of male sexuality and the purpose of feminism to protect them from it.

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Pornography: Ethics and the Industry – Part 1

The Free Hetherington was a wonderful place.  Over the seven month occupation as it emerged as a hub for activists of all stripes to congregate and share ideas.  In amongst the activism, probably due to the student influence, there was a very good if a little impromptu programme of political education.  Nothing formal, although there was a popular (and continuing) Radical Reading Group, but quite often sessions would be arranged to discuss theory or ideas that had arisen.

…and it was at the Hetherington that I first saw porn.

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Women, Media and the Law

In recent years there have been a number of women caught up in the justice system, not as perpetrators of crime as witnesses or victims in a court case, but as victims of the justice system itself, and of the media which reports on it. These cases are diverse in many ways, but the thread that binds them all together is that they all concern sexual behaviour and their perceived immorality, played out across the pages of the media with intimate details of their lives splayed out across double page spreads.

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More on the Congo

Tomorrow there will be a further protest   in London over the re-election of Kabila in dubious circumstances.  This follows on from a week of protests including 143 arrests at a similar protest on Saturday.  Protests against the elections results have occurred in a number of major cities and indeed it was chancing on one in Glasgow which piqued my interest in the country.   Since coming across the demo on Saturday, I’ve been reading up on the Congo, its history, the current conflict and our complicity in it…and its horrifying.  With five million deaths and half a million rapes in a country with a similar number of residents to the UK – it is the equivalent of the population of Scotland being decimated and every woman in Glasgow raped.
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Who gets convicted if a rape is reported?

It is estimated that only 10-30% of rapes are reported to the police, while only 6% of those reported end in conviction.  Hence as a rapist, you have only about a 1.2% chance of being convicted in any particular incidence of rape.  This is really quite good odds – with a 98.8% chance of getting away scot-free, rape is practically legal.  But before we denigrate the justice system entirely, there is another clear up rate which it would seem that they are much, much better at.  A 2005 study showed that approximately 2.5% of rape allegations were possibly or probably false – extrapolating that to 2009 figures it would suggest that of the 41,000 or so reports filed in 2009 approximately 1025 are false allegations.  In the same year 61 women were prosecuted for making a rape allegation, giving a far better clear up rate of approximately 6%.  Or to put it another way, you are around 5 times more likely to be prosecuted if you make a false allegation of rape, than to be convicted if you rape someone.

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The Problem with Occupy

Occupy Glasgow today voted at their General Assembly to move the camp from George Square to Kelvingrove park, where the council have agreed to provide them with facilities including lighting, toilets, heras fencing, CCTV, heaters and a water supply as well as transportation for all tents and materials.

At one level this is a positive move – who would want to stay in a location where a young woman was gangraped, but on the other hand, I am having increasing doubts about the whole Occupy movement.  When I wrote my previous blogpost in the middle of last week, although I had considerable doubts over Occupy Glasgow, I was still supportive of the wider movement.  Despite the fact that this was the third reported rape which had occurred in activist space and dreadful rape culture reaction that I had witnessed, I put this down to a lack of awareness of the need for security, the nievety and lack of experience of the average protester involved and a kneejerk defensive reaction coupled with a good bit of Scottish machismo.  But as this week has progressed and more and more and more and more and more and more tales of sexual abuse and rape emerge from the Occupy movement, it is clear that this wasnt an isolated incident but is something which is affecting Occupy internationally.

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De-occupy Glasgow

UpdateOpen Letter from Glasgow Women’s Activist Forum

I cant honestly say that I was ever that enthused about the “Occupy Movement“.  After seeing a live link up from Occupy Wall Street earlier this month, I did feel a frisson of revolutionary excitement, but it faded by the time that 15th October came round.  It was genuinely amazing and inspiring to hear from an OWS activist live on video link, and when asked what we could do to support them his immediate response was to bring the Occupy movement to wherever we were.  But once the initial rosy glow evaporated, I cant say it was an action which filled me with much enthusiasm.

In Glasgow there was considerable debate within the activist community in the lead up to the global day of action on 15th October.  Should we be supporting the better planned Edinburgh Occupy?  Should we be looking to set up our own Glasgow Occupy?  Or should we be concentrating our activities elsewhere?  In the end the decision was kind of made for us when people unknown to the activist community set up a facebook event which attracted considerable support.  In such circumstances it would have been horribly elitist of us to stand at the edges shouting “Look, you’re doing it all wrong”, we needed to roll up our sleeves and muck in, at least to some extent.
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Teaching girls to say “yes”

In May this year a bill proposed by Nadine Dorries was narrowly passed which required that schools provided girls (only girls mind) with sex education which extorted the benefits of abstinence. Quoted in the Guardian, she states that she had spoken to many teenage girls “do not even think they have the option of saying “no” to boys”.    And that is a telling statement.

Girls are considered the gatekeepers of precious resource which they should carefully guard, while boys are extorted not to steal. The concept of sex as pleasurable intimacy is lost amongst a sea of warnings – some from the classroom and some from the playground – of disease, unwanted pregnancy and wrecked life chances. It is here that slutshaming starts, as sexually active teenage girls are envied and derided in equal measure. Respectable girls, those who value themselves, say “no”.
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Sexual Violence and the Justice System

In May 2011, Ken Clarke caused outrage by remarks made in a media interview. When questioned about the tariffs received for rape convictions, he asserted

“A serious rape, with violence and an unwilling woman, the tariff is much longer … Date rape can be as serious as the worst rapes, but date rapes … vary extraordinarily one from another and in the end the judge has to decide on the circumstances.”

Implying that date rape isn’t serious, doesn’t involve violence or an “unwilling woman” is shocking coming from the Justice Secretary.

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On Victims and Sluts

Reclaim the Night started in the UK as a response to the “Yorkshire Ripper” murders, but took off later particularly in the US in response to exposure of the high incidences of rapes on US campuses. Linked with campaigns for “blue light” emergency phones in dark areas of campus and increased security, these events typically saw women marching together along a set route with a rally at the end. Controversy has flared up amongst whether these marches should be women only, what the position of transwomen is within a defined safe space and also – particularly in the US – controversy over survivors tales which some detractors accuse of being defamitory.

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