Go Home, Barbara Hewson, You’re Drunk

I thought that everyone was pleased to have Operation Yewtree bringing justice to the victims of historical sex abuse. The victims’ mental scars will never fully heal, not just from the abuse itself, but from the people they may have told and didn’t believe them as they were just children. Yet today, a barrister has written an article for “Spiked” magazine, which has found its way from this small corner of online life into the mainstream.

The age of consent is there to protect minors from sexual abuse – from the predation of successful, much older men like those who’ve been charged in the wake of Operation Yewtree. It’s there to provide a solid line to show when teenagers would be able to make the decision to consent for themselves – understanding the potential outcomes from the situation. It has nothing to do with the age young women go through puberty. Just because you can have children, doesn’t mean you have the maturity to deal with sex and its potential consequences.

What I found most worrying about this article is that it’s penned by an extremely well-educated woman. A woman who went through puberty like the rest of us, knew the pressures from young men. Western society (where she and I are talking about) is a frankly terrifying place to go through puberty as a woman. In a small town where I grew up, it’s still commonplace for drunk guys to shout at teenagers to “show us yer tits” at 4 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. And if you ignore them, it only gets scarier. I wonder if Barbara Hewson was ever followed along a busy street with a man shouting at her, for other people to utterly ignore it.

Operation Yewtree is not about “persecuting” these well-known people in society. It’s about bringing people who raped and sexually assaulted children to justice, no matter how long it’s been since the incident, or how successful they have been. Having sex with a 9-year-old girl is not a “minor misdemeanour”, it’s rape. How can a girl that young possibly make an informed decision about sex, especially in England and Wales where sex and relationship education is not mandatory to be taught in school? Would a 9-year-old know about contraception, or even her right to say no?

In her article, Hewson suggests removing complainant anonymity – which in our Daily Mail fuelled media is nothing but outrageously dangerous. Events in America around Steubenville and the young girls who’s anonymity was not protected should make that abundantly clear. Victims of sexual assault and rape have enough problems just trying to come to terms with what has happened to them without society and the general media pointing the finger of blame squarely on them. It’s been said countless times – the victims of rape are not to blame, the perpetrators are.

Barbara Hewson’s language choice is also disturbing – claiming that “even” a deputy speaker in the House of Commons perpetuates the very ideas Operation Yewtree is dispelling. Just because a man is in the public eye, does not make him immune to committing sexual abuse and rape, and definitely should not make him above the law. The NSPCC is not a pressure group, it’s a charity there to help vulnerable children, such as those who have been abused.

Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.

No-one is suggesting the three actions listed there are rape. They are, however the sexual abuse of a minor and should be prosecuted as such, no matter how long it’s been since they took place. To say otherwise maintains the prevalent rape culture in our society, making it appear that men in positions of power are untouchable in the eyes of the law. Late justice is still justice.

You’d think a barrister would understand that.

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It Appears I May Be Turning This Blog…

…onto what appears to be Feminist Highway. This wasn’t always the intention of mine, though recently, the men who’ve come to my attention in the past few days appear to have all lost their minds, and I couldn’t keep from writing about them.

It’s actually infuriating.

On certain nights on channel 4, they show a little five minute segment after the national news which is supposed to be informative and current. Last night was somewhat different. At just prior to 8pm last night, Reverend George Curry appeared on screen to ask whether showing skin is a sin. As he said “My naked body is for my wife to see, and her naked body is for me to see”, which seems like a reasonable enough statement to make (if he had stopped talking immediately after that). However, Rev. Curry went on to talk about how immoral it was for a woman to go out showing skin “baring skin is a sin”.

I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that.

As I posted on twitter during this man’s railing against women wearing skirts (OH MY GOD), I bet that Rev. Curry goes out without a shirt when it’s hot outside and shows off his burger nipples to the rest of the world.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to walk around topless (I actually quite happen to like wearing pretty underwear and nice clothes, they make me feel more attractive, and thus I think I come across more confidently), but if women are expected to walk around covered from head-to-toe all the time, shouldn’t men? If it’s hot outside, I’m going to wear short shorts and floaty skirts because I like it and it keeps me cool. I’m not trying to attract a man or make him think about “impure” things. If I go out at the weekend with my female friends (albeit, not that often at the moment), we all go out dressed nicely, in short skirts, shorts, dresses and high heels. None of us are “inviting rape”, contrary to the opinions of several men who’ve crossed my twitter feed/TV screen/wordpress timeline have said. I honestly can’t believe the culture of rape apologists, “slut” shaming and victim blaming.

As I have said in my previous blogs, and in my letter to Missouri senate candidate Representative Todd Akin, no woman ever deserves to be raped. It’s nothing about the clothes she wears, it’s not about a woman flirting and giving the wrong impression. Guys can give the wrong impression too, you know? “I’ll call you”. Does that sound familiar, men of the one night stand game? Is the woman right to force herself onto you? No, right. So why the fuck can it possibly be a woman’s fault that you’ve taken advantage of her because she’s not strong enough to fight you off?

I think, with the weather taking a nice turn to sunshine for the first time since May, I’ll be taking full advantage of being able to show off my milky white flesh. Fuck you, Reverend George Curry, I’ll be wearing what I want.

 

I’m Now Not So Glad To Be Scottish

George Galloway

George Galloway, Assange Apologist who believes neither of the women were sexually assaulted by Assange, but instead he did things which are “bad sexual ettiquete” (Photo credit: DavidMartynHunt)

Ah, George Galloway. How much of a platform would you have had to defend Assange from if you hadn’t been on Celebrity Big Brother a few years ago, been hypnotised and made cat noises? Would you be seen as some kind of (vaguely) loveable buffoon like Boris? Or would the views you expressed in your podcast have come to light far sooner if another alleged rape case had come up in this country?

I feel I should point out my position on the Assange case (at this point I’m rather glad to be female, because my boyfriend has been called a “rape apologist” by women on twitter for telling people that presuming guilt can lead to a mistrial, and the man walking free). Obviously, I believe he should stand trial in Sweden for the crimes he is alleged to have committed in their country. Having read the statement from his own lawyer, which appeared to be a summation of the charges laid against him, the charges look pretty horrific. Particularly the charge laid by woman B, who Assange is alleged to have pinned down and pried her legs open to gain penetration into her.

However, I don’t believe the UK have any right to gain entry into the Ecuadorian Embassy to arrest Assange to extradite him to Sweden. The reason he has not answered these charges appears to be his fear of Sweden extraditing him to the USA to face trial over his Wikileaks site. If Sweden could give him some concrete answers as to his extradition, I’m of the opinion he would be there to face trial.

Anyway, this blog post isn’t about Assange. It’s about Mr Galloway, who I’m undecided as to email tonight over his viewpoints.

Now, Being Asleep Is Now Seen As Consent

Mr Galloway in his Good Night with George Galloway podcast, he defended Julian Assange, saying that as the woman had given prior consent and had sex with him prior to falling asleep, Assange was not raping the woman when he penetrated her whilst she was sleeping.

My views on this are that you are at your most vulnerable when you’re asleep, you can’t do anything to protect yourself. Galloway on the other hand, said “I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.” This may be true if you’re just changing position, but come on now. During how many one night stands have you woken up to the stranger penetrating you? In my case, never. I’m sure that’s pretty much the case for most people.

A magistrates court here in the UK has said that “What is alleged here is that Mr Assange ‘deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state’. In this country that would amount to rape.” And I’m pretty sure that in Sweden, the law is fairly similar.

In his broadcast Galloway said: “Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them. It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said: ‘Do you mind if I do it again?.’ It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.”

Bankrupt the term of all meaning?! Come on to fuck. If you want a round two with someone you’ve taken to dinner and gone home with, you damn well better ask them if they fancy it. It’s not bad sexual etiquette, what is alleged is abuse of that woman’s trust. I bet she’s scared of going to sleep with a partner now in case she were to wake up to it again.

I just can’t believe that all this talk of rape, and morons defending the perpetrators (in Assange’s case, alleged perpetrator) has come up all at one time. It’s like feeding time at the idiot zoo.

 

I’m So Glad I’m Not American

Making the rounds on twitter today is this man, Mr Todd Akin. This man is running to be an elected member of the United States GOP Senate, and I honestly can’t believe he expects any female votes in the November election. Good luck!

As to why this man is such a loathsome piece of shit, he said in interview that victims of “legitimate rape” do not get pregnant because a woman’s body is capable of somehow shutting down her reproductive system. This is not true. Statistics from the US point to more than 5% of rape victims (though I’m not sure how many of these women count as victims of this “legitimate rape”) become pregnant after their ordeal. Surely no woman should have to live with a reminder of her attack.

This man is against abortion and even campaigned to take away access to the morning after/plan b pill, so any woman with the misfortune to get pregnant at all would HAVE to carry the baby to term.

Anyway, I’m blogging again tonight as I felt I just had to reply to this man. I wonder if I ever get a response, or if he has some more people to offend. Perhaps homosexuals, people of a different race to his own…who knows. It’s his prerogative.

Here’s what I sent.

 

Dear Mr Akin,
As I’m sure you may be aware now, you’ve made yourself a viral phenomenon. Some people say, like Oscar Wilde, that all press is good press. I don’t believe this is the case at all.
In fact, your interview in which you talked about “legitimate” rape (which I would like you to clarify in your email response, as I’m pretty sure that in ANY case where a woman says no, it’s rape) has made you come across as a misogynistic, twisted man who has no regards for a woman’s rights. Also, you appear to have no respect for actual scientific data. It can be easily found from reputable sources online that more than 32,000 women became pregnant as a result of rape.
This figure as a percentage is around 5%, which to you may appear to be small. But would those 5% of women really want to carry around and give birth to, even raise a child which would forever be a reminder of what happened to her?
A woman does not ask to be raped. It is never her fault (though a lot of members of your party including yourself believe this to be so).
So would you really remove any chance women in this situation in your state have to get over their abuse? I read you had petitioned to remove a woman’s right to the plan B pill also.
Here’s some news for you, Mr Akin. The pill is not 100% effective. Condoms aren’t 100% effective. Nothing is, apart from abstinence. So why should a woman who is raped and can do nothing about contraceptive use in that case be forced to keep a child she doesn’t want?
It said on your twitter profile that you have a wife. What if she were to be sexually abused in this way by another man and fell pregnant? Would you deny her an abortion? Would you raise the child fathered by a criminal?
And don’t use adoption as a legitimate option. From the millions of children in the adoption and foster care system of your country, only a tiny percentage actually make it into an adoptive home by the time they reach 18 and are left to make it on their own with very limited help.

I was shocked to hear such, honestly, woman-hating bile emanating from someone campaigning to be an elected member of the senate.
Surely you can’t hope to get any female votes at all in the upcoming election if your plan is to remove all of a woman’s rights?
Time to rethink, Mr. Akin.

Regards,
Hannah Welsh

P.S. Right now, I’m so very glad to be living in Scotland. A country where if something this horrific were to happen to me, I would be able to receive the right help for it.