Telling rape victims how they *must* process their rape is inherently anti-feminist

I was unsure about writing this. H’s disclosure of rape in the New Statesman was incredibly brave and I do not want to bring more rape apologists and their handmaidens into her mentions. Yet, I’m still horrified by the reactions of certain feminists to H’s disclosure. Rather that simply stating the feminist imperative “I believe you”, Sara Ahmed, a professor at Goldsmiths,  wrote that she would “challenge every word” of H’s article. This is simply because Hewitt pointed the value of female-only space for her as a victim of rape. Ahmed was more concerned with making a political point that supporting a rape victim.* This is the point we have arrived at with transgender politics – instead of listening to victims and ensuring that there are support services for everyone, women are being told they have no right to a service that reflects their needs because others are more important.

Alison Phipp’s tweet concerning H’s disclosure is utterly disingenuous:

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 16.25.36 I have NEVER seen a single person suggest that transgender people have no right to support services. I have seen numerous women – and not just radical feminists – state that their experiences of male violence are so traumatising that being forced to share with anyone socialised as male is impossible. Whilst transwomen may have felt they were in the wrong body from birth, it doesn’t erase the socialisation of male privilege – including the fact that teachers still consistently favour boys over girls in class discussions. It isn’t anti-feminist to demand that every single person who has experienced male violence have an appropriate space that meets their needs at the most difficult time of their life.

Phipps, in further tweets, suggests that if a female student discloses rape to her using language Phipps deems ‘transphobic’, Phipps would immediately challenge their transphobia. The last thing a rape victim needs is someone telling them that their support needs are wrong or hateful. It is precisely this type of suggestion that makes university policies of ‘safe spaces’ utterly ridiculous. Phipps believes that an event hosted by a gender-critical feminist makes university an ‘unsafe’ space. Frankly, she’s missed the boat.

University campuses and student hang-outs are already unsafe spaces and it has nothing to do with transgender politics. They are unsafe spaces because they are full of violent, predatory men (including staff). Female students are at an increased risk of sexual violence because sexual predators choose to hunt on campuses. Suggesting universities are ‘unsafe spaces’ because you don’t agree with an opinion makes an absolute mockery of the violence and micro aggressions women experience every second on a campus.

We need to talk about women’s specific needs for spaces that they define as ‘safe’ for themselves. This includes recognising that there are already men in prisons who have committed sexual assaults and rape in women-only spaces by claiming to be trans. As long as the definition of transwoman is ‘anyone who identifies as trans’, it will be used as a loophole for rapists to access women’s spaces.

There are also transwomen in prison – in the UK, as well as the US and Canada – who are incarcerated for rape and murder of women and girls. Many of these transwomen transitioned after being incarcerated as the case of Synthia China Blast makes clear. There is already evidence that predatory men use ‘safe spaces’ like Alcoholics Anonymous to  target vulnerable women. There is also anecdotal evidence of male perpetrators of domestic violence claiming to be transwomen to access the very refuge in which their wife is living. In the UK, we have a pre-op transwoman convicted of murder who had to be moved out of a woman’s prison because of their behaviour with other female prisoners. The fact that women in the criminal justice system are likely to have histories of childhood sexual abuse and substance abuse and are uniquely vulnerable is ignored. A convicted killer with a penis in a prison full of vulnerable woman – the majority who are there for non-violent crimes – raised no flags for the potential for sexual abuse.

What we need is more investment into support services for everyone living with male violence: more specialist refuges, more rape crisis centres, better NHS provision. We do not need victims of male violence to be shamed out of accessing support because they do not feel safe around people who have a penis. This isn’t about creating a hierarchy of people who deserve support but rather insisting that investment in services reflect the needs of individuals.

We certainly don’t need tweets like this claiming that rape victims who need female-born only spaces “think like rapists”.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 16.32.35

Particularly when the tweeter then points out that they haven’t actually bothered to read the article they are objecting too:

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 16.33.02 Shaming women for their experiences and insisting that they *must* process their experience the way someone else demands of them is anti-feminist and cruel. No one deserves to be spoken to like H was for disclosing their experience of rape. If your reaction is to tweet abusive language and dismiss the experiences of a rape victim, then you need to reflect on your feminism.

 

*The tweet has since been deleted and I do not have a screencap of it.

Julie Bindel: “The deradicalisation of the lesbian liberation movement and unholy alliance with gay men”

This is a very interesting speech given by activist Julie Bindel at FemiFest 2014 about the women’s liberation movement, lesbian liberation movement and the failure of  the mainstream gay rights movement to support lesbian women.

Where are the articles exhorting men to have sex with transwomen?

Today, I have read yet another article in a mainstream press which suggests that lesbian women who refuse to have sex with pre-op trans women are bigots. There is quite a lot that I find problematic in this article including the continuing refusal to acknowledge that there are a number of transwomen in prisons who transitioned after incarceration for rape and other forms of violence against women and girls. It is simply ridiculous to pretend that Synthia China Blast is in prison simply for being Trans as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project did last year. Blast is in prison for the rape and murder of 13 year old Ebony Nicole Williams. There are Trans who are in prison for using illegal substances or engaging in sex work and no one should be in prison for this. It is very clear that those who end up in the prison, regardless of whether or not they are Trans, do so because they are not white, middle class, heterosexual men. Poverty, racism, homophobia, classism etc are the reasons that the prison-industrial complex exists. This is not to say that there are not classes of prisoners who need to be in prison for the safety of the rest of society – a group that includes rapists, but social problems are not solved with mass incarceration. They are solved by ending poverty.

What really struck me reading this particular article is how frequently I have seen the issue of lesbian women who do not want to have pre-op transwomen as sexual partners in the press and that I have never seen a similar article aimed at heterosexual women about having transmen as partners. I’ve never seen one calling gay men bigoted for refusing to have sex with transmen. And, I have certainly NEVER seen a similar article exhorting heterosexual men to have transwomen as partners.

Why is it that every single one of these letters focuses on lesbian women? Why are we not talking about the fact that many transwomen have not had surgery. Is it really bigotry for a women who is a lesbian to refuse to have sex with someone who has a penis – regardless of how that person identifies? If it is bigotry, then where are the articles labelling heterosexual men bigots for refusing to have sex with pre-op transwomen? Why aren’t there calls to insist that heterosexual pornography – like Playboy – feature the bodies of transwomen who have not had surgery like there is with lesbian porn?

We need to have an honest discussion about these questions. And, calling people bigots does not change the fact that there is a clear issue of lesbophobia inherent in these articles. If the only group of people being labelled bigots is lesbian women, we need to ask ourselves why lesbian women are considered a completely different category of human to heterosexual men and women and gay men.

 

Helen Castor’s Joan of Arc: A History

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I was disappointed by Castor’s Joan of Arc but only because I had not realised what it was Castor was writing. I wanted to read a biography of Joan and chose Castor’s book simply because I absolutely adored Helen Castor’s She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth. It was historically accurate, as well as imaginative. There is so very little writing left by the women Castor profiled that any biography would be contingent on teasing out finely spun threads within the misogynist writings of those around them.

Unknown 1Castor’s Joan of Arc is the contextualisation of Joan within the history of Europe. It is about the France that existed in Joan’s beliefsIt contains little of Joan’s own dictated letters or chunks of testimony from the trials. As I wanted to read more of Joan, I chose to read The Virgin Warrior: The Life and Death of Joan of Arc by Larrissa Juliet Taylor next. The Virgin Warrior contained more direct testimony of Joan but engaged in the hero-worship that Castor was arguing against. Equally, without having read Castor’s book I would not have been in a position to understand the historical context in which Joan was living. I knew the basics of the 100 years war and the various Henrys running about, but not enough about the political situation. Taylor’s text in focussing more on Joan does not contextualise her life and accomplishments within the greater political scene.

I suppose what I really wanted was a history of Joan of Arc that traced the myths as well as the history – rather like Bettany Hughes utterly brilliant Helen of Troy. Whilst I haven’t found that (and I’m always open to recommendations). Castor’s text is a well worth the read. She’s funny, sarcastic, and accurate – a skill set not many historians have. I love the way Castor challenges historical orthodoxy whilst making it clear that how we interpret history actually erases the lived experiences of those we are writing –  making Joan a “legend, icon and saint” but no longer a young girl. Instead, we label Joan schizophrenic without recognising the reality of faith during Joan’s life where talking to saints was considered a gift – not a curse. Castor made Joan real – and that is an essential rewriting of history.

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And, because there is never a moment when Horrible Histories isn’t a good plan:

The No-Platforming of Feminists

Today, the Guardian published an open letter written by Bea Campbell about the no-platforming of feminists at universities. I signed the letter because I am increasingly concerned by the silencing of dissenting views – particularly by women – on university campuses. It is absolutely essential that universities remain spaces which challenge orthodoxy. Students are spoon-fed heteronormative, white supremacist history in secondary schools, particularly in relation to the obsessive examining of children through SATs, A-Levels and Highers. Universities and colleges should be places where students are exposed to all manner of thought and theory – even those which make them uncomfortable.

The cancellation of Kate Smurthwaite’s show at Goldsmith’s last month was the latest in a long line of questionable decisions by universities. I’ve read accounts from all manner of people who were involved in the situation prior to the university’s security firm deciding it was “not safe” to go ahead with the event due to protests. Smurthwaite should not have been un-invited due to her stance on prostitution and the sex industry.

Equally, students who wanted to protest outside the venue should have had that option. Frankly, it’s the responsibility of university security to maintain the right to peaceful protest. I am sure they were worried about that gang of men, who normally self-define as anarchists but are mostly pro-violence, showing up to cause havoc. They do so at every single protest going and take great delight in causing damage and engaging in threatening behaviour. The fact that a group of people intent on violence *may* have shown up is not serious enough to cancel either Smurthwaite’s performance or any potential protest on site.

University and college campuses (and one day secondary schools) should be hotbeds of radical thought, protest and anger.  It should be where students are challenged, provoked and forced to confront ideas antithetical to their own. It doesn’t mean they will change their minds and it doesn’t make changing your political position a sign of weakness. It means we are teaching students to think for themselves – something which is sorely missing right now.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve been told Julie Bindel is transphobic by people who have never read any of her work and had no idea that she was involved in feminist campaigns like Justice for Women. If students find her work transphobic, they have every right to say so. BUT, they need to actually read this work for themselves and not just parrot what someone else has told them.

It is ironic the number of people tweeting out #JeSuisCharlie in defence of freedom of speech for a deeply racist and misogynist magazine who have no problem whatsoever in telling women to shut up.

We need to insist that our children grow up with critical thinking skills and the ability and desire to challenge anything they deem incorrect and dangerous. The right to protest is a fundamental right of democracy – but this right is not predicated on ensuring that everyone thinks or believes the same. I have written before about my concerns on the rhetoric of “free speech”  being guaranteed only for those in power to engage in abuse towards those without power. This is what universities need to change: ensuring that political debate is encouraged and that the right to protest remains protected.

This is why I signed the letter written by Bea Campbell: silencing women you disagree with is simply replicating the same heteronormative, capitalist power structures that exist.

The fate of Kate Smurthwaite’s comedy show, cancelled by Goldsmith’s College in London last month (“What could be more absurd than censorship on campus”, Nick Cohen, Comment) is part of a worrying pattern of intimidation and silencing of individuals whose views are deemed “transphobic” or “whorephobic”. Most of the people so labelled are feminists or pro-feminist men, some have experience in the sex industry, some are transgender.

Last month, there were calls for the Cambridge Union to withdraw a speaking invitation to Germaine Greer; then the Green party came under pressure to repudiate the philosophy lecturer Rupert Read after he questioned the arguments put forward by some trans-activists. The feminist activist and writer Julie Bindel has been “no-platformed” by the National Union of Students for several years.

“No platforming” used to be a tactic used against self-proclaimed fascists and Holocaust-deniers. But today it is being used to prevent the expression of feminist arguments critical of the sex industry and of some demands made by trans activists. The feminists who hold these views have never advocated or engaged in violence against any group of people. Yet it is argued that the mere presence of anyone said to hold those views is a threat to a protected minority group’s safety.

You do not have to agree with the views that are being silenced to find these tactics illiberal and undemocratic. Universities have a particular responsibility to resist this kind of bullying. We call on universities and other organisations to stand up to attempts at intimidation and affirm their support for the basic principles of democratic political exchange.

Beatrix Campbell

Lynne Alderson

Ruth Ahnert

Dr Lucy Allen

Nimko Ali

Dr Kerri Andrews

Lisa Appignanesi

Prof. John Barrell

Prof Mary Beard

Melissa Benn

Rosa Bennathan

Katie Beswick

Dr Sue Black

Prof Jenny Bourne Taylor

Alison Boydell

Fiona Broadfoot

Paul Burston

Dianne Butterworth

Prof Deborah Cameron

Ivy Cameron

Dr Rosie Campbell

Cynthia Cockburn

Anna Coote

Caroline Criado-Perez

Hannah Curtis

Dr Liz Davies

Kim Darwood

Dr Sukhwant Dhaliwal

Jane Diblin

Sarah Ditum

Stella Duffy

Dr Victoria Dutchman-Smith

Louise Evan-Wong

Dr Katharine Edgar

Jayne Egerton

Carol Fox

Kim Graham

Rahila Gupta

Prof Catherine Hall

Prof Jalna Hanmer

Jeremy Hardy

Dr James Harrison

Heather Harvey

Lorrie Hearts

Prof Nicholas Hewitt

Dr Rachel Hewitt

Deborah Hyde

Bridget Irving

Susan Jack

Darren Johnson MLA

Claire Jones

Jane Clare Jones

Judith Jones

Prof Liz Kelly

Karen Hanna Kruzycka

Jenny Landreth

Claire Lazarus

Kate Leigh

Prof Alison Light

Prof Ruth Lister

Dr Julia Long

Sonia Long

Prof Joni Lovenduski

David Lusted

Dr Samantha Lyle

Shakila Maan

Dr Finn Mackay

Nancy Mackeith

Rosina Mcrae

Sarah Maguire

Dr Sarah Mansfield

Elizabeth Mansfield

Heather McRobie

Gia Milinovich

Lucinda Montefiore

Dr Helen Mott

Hannah Mudge

Sonali Naik

Dr Peter Newbon

Jill Nicholls

Sian Norris

Juliet Oosthuysen

Sue O’Sullivan

Femi Otitoju

Ursula Owen

Sue Parrish

Pragna Patel

Louise Pennington

Cat Peters

Prof Jill Radford

Dale Rapley

Dr Rebecca Reilly-Cooper

Dr Victoria Rimell

Roweena Russell

Dr Adam Rutherford

Gita Sahgal

Dr Joan Scanlon

Sandhya Sharma

Vanessa Shaw

Dr Ben Schiller

Prof Sophie Scott

Shelley Silas

Karen Ingala Smith

Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Sian Steans

Mary-Ann Stephenson

Prof Ann Stewart

Marina Strinkovsky

Southall Black Sisters

Julka Szymanska

Felicity Tarnell

Peter Tatchell

Steve Trafford

Dr Sue Tate

Dr Matthew Taunton

Lisa-Marie Taylor

Helen Thompson

Dr Megan Todd

Janet Veitch

Judith Vidal-Hall

Nicky Wallace

Dr Jim Walsh

Liz Waterhouse

Prof Nicole Westmarland

Lisa Whelan

Dr Michael Whitworth

Jim Wild

Dr Heather Williams

Clair Wills

Prof Alan Winfield

Harriet Wistrich

Miranda Yardley

Man has sex with dolphin. Jezebel writes about “complicated intimacy”. (content note)

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that a man inserting his penis into a dolphin constitutes rape and not “the sincere, troubled and complicated intimacy with which Brenner recalls these events, which took place when he was only 19.”

Granted, Jia Tolentino only interviewed Malcolm Brenner because of the new documentary made by Joey Daoud and Kareem Tabsch, but it’s still all kinds of fucked up. Tolentino’s ‘interview’ wasn’t exactly a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism either. This is the type of language used to describe the rape of an animal:

About their eventual open-water sexual consummation—the dolphin had to be horizontal, him vertical; the CGI rendering in the film is really something—Brenner said it felt like he was “merging with her” into “one creature that was making love with himself.”

(And, yes, the fact that the ‘documentary’ includes CGI footage of the rape is also seriously problematic).

Daoud talked about his initial reaction to reading the “Man Has Sex with Dolphin” headline. “You imagine that the guy got into a shallow pen with a dolphin and chased it around,” he said. “But then I realized it was more detailed, more nuanced.” Tabsch added that he was taken by Brenner’s openness, and that the aspect of the story he found most surprising was “that he views his zoophilia as a product of nurture instead of nature, which is controversial, as many zoophiles and people of non-normative sexualities really feel that nature is the cause.” More specifically: Brenner attributes his zoophilia to a protracted period of molestation at the hands of his childhood psychiatrist, now linked to many such crimes. (He also compares zoophilia to interracial dating, hoping that one day, the former may be as acceptable as the latter.)

As an non-shockable person interested in the point where the unimaginable becomes mundane, I sought out Malcolm myself for an interview. We talked on the phone yesterday, and at the beginning of the call, discovered we both own collie mixes. I asked him, awkwardly, if it was confusing to own a dog and be a zoophile. I’m not indiscriminately attracted to animals,” Brenner said, “in the same way that I’m not indiscriminately attracted to women.”

Obviously, Brenner has experienced severe trauma in his life. I’m just not sure how productive it is to allow someone who has experienced serious trauma to continue with the delusion that an animal is capable of consent – and, yes, I do know that dolphins are smarter than hamsters. I’m just not buying it. Also, please save us all from tools who insist they are so “non-shockable” as to be down with animal rape being “complicated intimacy”.

I’ve included a selection of questions from the interview below to show just how badly Tolentino fucks up the interview. Brenner refers to serious trauma, drug dependency, and identifies the ‘positive’ voices in his head as coming from the dolphin. These aren’t things to celebrate. They are quite serious red flags for someone who may self-harm or harm others. There is no attempt to engage with Brenner’s anthropomorphising of the dolphin or his belief in a ‘telepathic’ bond. Instead, Tolentino has gone for the “look how UBER-COOL I am. I’m even down with animal rape.” Even by Jezebel’s piss-poor standards, this is an appalling piece of journalism.

That’s good. So, I have a general question. What is attractive to you, in animals? Is it a type of animal, or a type of personality, or a situation, or a combination of these things?

I’m attracted to animals that have a rather independent streak in them. Animals that think for themselves. In addition to the dolphin, the only animal I ever had any sexual experience with is canines.

How did it feel after she touched you? Did you immediately start thinking about initiating a sexual relationship with her?

I felt very embarrassed. I was not comfortable with my own zoosexuality—I didn’t want to be a zoophile. I was trying to do everything I could to avoid this animal, who seemed to know what my secret was. It took her literally about 3 or 4 months to begin to win me over and convince me that she was intellectually pretty much my equal.

And at that point, I had to start asking myself—well, if I have this high of a regard for her, and if this was a woman who was being so forward with me, would I hold out on her? The answer I came up with was, no I wouldn’t. And so I felt my sort of inhibitions just eroding.

Dolly actually changed her courtship tactics through the course of the relationship. At first she was gentle and forward, as you noted, but after that she became very aggressive. She would throw herself on me and rub her vulva against my knees. Any protruding part of my body was fair game for her. She would masturbate on me, essentially. I had to watch out that no one was around to witness this.

I was going to ask you if anyone in the park noticed.

Nobody picked up on it. I was slow to pick up on it, to be honest. I was not a virgin, but basically one. I wasn’t either sexually very experienced, or emotionally very experienced. That, I think, was the downfall of the relationship.

In what way?

I’d made plans to go to college out of state, at Evergreen, in Washington State. I’d been going to New College of Florida, and I was dissatisfied, and Evergreen looked like an exciting and innovative type of place. But I was also frankly freaked out by the intensity of my involvement with the dolphin. I was having telepathic connections with the dolphin.

The dolphin was acting like a girlfriend.

Yeah, she sussed what was up. And I saw, she is appropriating me like this. 

What was it like when you were finally had sex with her?

It felt like I was making love with the ocean itself. It felt like, first of all, that I had forgiven myself—gotten over my hesitations about finally giving her what she wanted. When I had that realization, then it just seemed there was this energy surging between us, growing more intense, bringing us both to orgasm. Some scientists say that female animals don’t have orgasms, but I know she did. She vocalized it.

Would you describe this as the greatest intimacy you’ve ever felt with anyone?

Yeah, it stepped right over the species line. The dolphin, I know, was just as aware. She’d had to elude a male dolphin to get to me.

Does it feel lonely to you now that this height of intimacy in your life happened so long ago, and with a dolphin?

Yeah, it does. But I had a very strong sense of intimacy with my second wife, also. It was some physical thing that happened when we were close together—her smell, or her electrical field. I thought that that intimacy would sustain our relationship. In the long run it did not, and I’ve always felt cheated by intimacy, ever since.

You’ve been married twice—was either of your wives ever jealous of Dolly?

I don’t think jealousy was a big part of what caused this relationship to founder. There were other circumstances.

Was the act of intercourse you talk about in the documentary the only one?

Yes. But the telepathic connection was much more intense than the documentary represents, and it started earlier. I was getting high a lot back then, and it began while I was high one night. The voice did not immediately announce itself to be a dolphin trying to communicate with me—it was a voice that wanted to play games, 20 Questions, that kind of thing.

I was skeptical but intrigued. And I couldn’t make it go away. I could tell it to shut up, but not to go away. I wondered if I was going schizophrenic, but most schizophrenics have voices that are violent, tell them to hurt themselves. This voice was playful and benevolent, and gradually, I came to the conclusion that it was the dolphin.

David Osborne’s “she was gagging for it” full text

David Osborne seems to have taken down his blog blaming rape victims for being raped during his interview with Stephen Nolan on BBC 5 Live. I’m reproducing it here with quotes from his interview with The Mirror since misogynists shouldn’t get to pretend they aren’t misogynists by hitting delete:

“She was gagging for it”

I have been following the latest machinations over rape allegations with some interest, as they have serious consequences for all red-bloodied males who are out on the rut.  For the past ten years or more, a politically driven agenda has been thrust down the throats of  court users about the deplorably low percentage of rape allegations that lead to conviction, and successive governments have been enjoined to do something about it.

My considerable experience tells me that there are basically two defences to an allegation of rape: either “it wasn’t me gov”, or “she was gagging for it”. It is also correct in my own experience that most of those accused of rape are acquitted, not simply as a result of the brilliance of my advocacy, but  because the jury did not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim did not consent.

Into this squirming sack of grubby emotions steps Ms. Alison Saunders, who is apparently the Director of Public Prosecutions, so she should know better.  And is it just me, or are women taking over the world?  And is it just me, or do you share my dislike for the prefix ‘Ms’?  It’s all to do with political correctness, or so they say, but speaking for my wife, and I suspect millions of other wives, when she agreed to marry me, convention dictated that she took my name and became Mrs. Osborne.  She does not wish to be referred to as Ms. Osborne, nor does she wish to be known as my partner.  It’s insulting!

Anyway, back to Ms. Saunders and her camp followers.  She has decided, or rather it has been decided for her, that anybody who makes an allegation of rape must be believed, and everything possible in the trial process must be bent towards the conviction of the accused.  Rape trials from now on are no longer to be prosecution led, but conviction led, and when you add into the mix that prison sentences for rape are getting longer and longer, the opportunities for a serious miscarriage of justice are self-evident.  Or should that be ‘ms.carriage’?

Sarah Vine, or more properly Ms. Sarah Vine the journalist, summed up the feelings not just of red-bloodied males but also the legions of fair minded people.  Like me, she deplores the so-called ‘vagenda’, the all men are rapists brigade advanced by vocal feministas like Harriet Harman and the ‘femi-fascist’ twitter mob who increasingly seem to hold sway in public policy. Predictably, Ms. Harman, and I use that form of address advisedly, replied to Ms. Vine’s comments with the usual ‘feminista’ clichés, defending Ms. Saunders for trying to ensure that victims of rape get justice.  Gawd help us!

I have always found it distasteful and unattractive the suggestion that as the victim was blind drunk she therefore unable to give her consent to sex, or more to the point, she gave her consent which she would not have given had she been sober.  In my book, consent is consent, blind drunk or otherwise, and regret after the event cannot make it rape as Ms. Saunders and Ms. Harman seem to be advocating.  Save us  from the Mssss!

I have a very simple solution which I hope you will agree is fair.  If the complainant (I do not refer to her as the victim) was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, when she was ‘raped’, this provides the accused with a complete defence.  End of story and a victory for fairness, moderation and common sense!

POSTSCRIPT:

I have been surprised by the comments from many quarters of the press and the media, as well as individuals, about this article, and in particular the interpretation placed on the final paragraph.  By way of clarification, I remain concerned about Ms. Saunders’s possible manipulation of the system by coaching witnesses before they give evidence (see my earlier blog), as well as seeking ways to excuse inexcusable behaviour.  That said, if the complainant or victim is under the influence of drink or drugs, she is perfectly entitled to refuse consent, it is quite wrong to take advantage of her drunkenness, and the red-bloodied male proceeds at his peril.

These are some of the quotes he gave to The Mirror in response to queries about his misogyny:

He told the Mirror: “The protection in law that they have got seems to me to be twofold.

“Number One: Don’t go out in the first place.

“Or Number Two: If you do go out don’t get rat-arsed. If you get rat arsed, I’m sorry, you are asking for trouble.

You’ve seen the news sequences of girls who, regardless of the weather, have their backsides sticking out of their dresses and their tits hanging out of the same dress.

“Wandering around the streets, staggering around and then wondering at the end of all that why somebody has, if you like, taken advantage of them.

“And so in those circumstances I don’t see for the life of me why the law should now be slanted – as I perceive it with Alison Saunders – towards the victim and therefore against the accused.”

He went on: “The whole thing is over slanted in favour of drunken victims and against lads who chance their arm.

“I don’t call them victims. I said that these are complainants.

“They are not victims because victims in my opinion are synonymous with people who have been taken advantage of.

“That is the grey area you and I are discussing. Does a bloke who siddles up to a girl: ‘Hello sweetheart, fancy a quickie’ or whatever they say these days – is he taking advantage of her and is she therefore a victim because she is under the influence.

“I don’t see that, I really don’t.

“I’ve advised my own daughter, although thank God she doesn’t trollop around the streets half naked and under the influence.

“She is now just coming up to her 30th birthday. I’ve said that you’ve got to bear in mind that walking the streets provocatively dressed can in some circumstances be an invitation to a red blooded bloke.

“I tell you what would drop the rape statistics would be if girls covered up, dressed appropriately and stopped drinking themselves legless.”

These 17 parents should have their kids taken away.

In the continuing theme of people wearing judgey-pants in response to others pretty much breathing in public, we also have “These 17 parents should have their kids taken away” which rocked up in my FB feed today. I absolutely agree that the parents in the first image whose child has a gun in their mouth aren’t going to win Parents of the Year. Frankly, I can think of a whole lot of nasty names I’d like to call them because its fucking stupid to let a toddler play with a gun. The parents who put their kids in carseats in the back of a pick-up truck are also fucking stupid and the dude skiing with a kid on his back is equally an ass. The father with the rope around his kids neck in Walmart is also an ass/

Many of the other pictures aren’t of serious child safety concerns though. They are images chosen with the sole purpose of deliberately humiliating either the child or the adult in the image. I’ve deliberately not linked the article because the images are nothing more than online bullying, alternating between abuse and harassment.

I opened the article because the image showing on FB was of the child with a gun in its mouth. I assumed the title was hyperbolic, but it was actually mean. One of the images is of a woman cycling with a child in seat at the back. The woman is overweight and the image is implying she will smother the child because she is so fat. Another is of a child who is obese and too big for the buggy. Cue jokes about fat kids. Because nothing says hilarious like an overweight toddler. We couldn’t possibly have a discussion as to why a toddler might be overweight without posting images of that child -who is identifiable – in order to make sure everyone gets to take 5 minutes to make abusive comments.

The rest of the photos are the same. It includes Peaches Geldof with a buggy tipped over – something that has happened to me and is terrifying even without paparazzi chasing you about. Geldof is the only mother (and they are almost all images of mothers to continue today’s theme of blaming mothers for everything) who is identifiable as wealthy. Because we can’t just insult mothers – we have to toss in some classism. Just because.

13 Of The Worst Mothers Living On This Planet

I must have been having a naive moment when I opened the link to 13 of the Worst Mothers Living On This Planet (clean link). Or, had taken one too many cold pills this morning since I assumed it would be a list of mothers who have killed their children. I wanted to write a comparison of how the media covers child murders committed by mothers versus those committed fathers. It’s not. It’s actually a list of “worst mothers” ever where most are blamed for the behaviour of a man or denigrated for having a mental illness.

Just in case any MRE asshats rock up, I have googled “worst fathers living on the planet”. This is the top five hits on google:

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3 hits refer to animals, 1 refers to a really bad vacation and the last refers to a climate change (I shit you not). Worst fathers on the planet are animals that eat their young – worst mothers are Kris Jenner who signed her kids up to a reality television show.

Now, I’ve never actually watched the Kardashians – or any of its spin-offs – and I’m not a fan of any parent who signs their children up to reality TV. I don’t think parents have the moral right to put their children in the public sphere in a way which is guaranteed to result in them experiencing abuse and harassment. If it is true that Jenner was responsible for releasing the video of her daughter having sex without consent, then she has committed sexual assault. I would absolutely agree that this makes her a bad mother but until I have actual evidence that Jenner did this I’m going to approach any such claims with a grain of salt. After all, the rest of the “13 of the worst mothers living on the planet” list aren’t exactly serial killers, child rapists or violent offenders.

Linda Hogan, Kate Gosselin, Nene Leakes, and Dana Lohan are also on the list because they were involved in reality tv shows. Also, involved in those shows: the fathers – who don’t appear to be on any “shit father” list. Because, hypocrisy.

Also on the list for hypocrisy: Brooke Mueller, Courtney Love, and Kate Moss. How many male celebrities are fathers who have a history of drug use? How many of those fathers are considered “the worst fathers living on the planet”?

Jenner’s daughter Kourtney Kardashian makes it on the list “because of the terrible antics of one of Kourtney’s lovers, Scott Disick”. I had to google Disick having never heard of him but it turns out he’s Kardashian’s long-term partner and father of her three children. There are also rumours that he is an alcoholic and all-around jerk, but I only found those rumours looking at Perez Hilton’s website and Hilton isn’t exactly renown for his attachment to reality. So, we have Kourtney Kardashian as one of the “13 worst mothers living on the planet’ because her partner is a dick. Because that is the definition of a shit mother: reproducing with a jerk. Although, clearly not the definition of a shit father because that is reserved for lions who eat their babies.

I had to google Farrah Abraham and Jenelle Evans both of whom made it on the list because of difficulties they faced following motherhood at age 16 which was broadcast on MTV. Britney Spears makes it on the list for similar reasons: unable to deal with ‘fame’ (read: unrelenting shit from a celebrity obsessed culture which prefers to destroy young women rather than celebrate their accomplishments) and because she is bipolar. All 3 of these women were raised in difficult circumstances – Spears was the main breadwinner for her family and her father still maintains control of her estate effectively infantilising her for life whilst Evans is living with domestic violence. These women are the “worst mothers living on the planet”  not because of what they have done (although all have interacted with the criminal justice system at some point) but because they have not managed to remain Paragons whilst being chased by paparazzi, labelled fat daily, and surrounded by predators interested only in how much money they can squeeze out of them.

Nadya Suleman makes the list for giving birth to octuplets through IVF despite having 3 children already and not being able to financially care for them all. Not a word is made of the fertility specialist who implanted 8 embryos in her womb or the fact that the US lacks both the healthcare and welfare structures to support its own citizens preferring instead to spend billions killing other children around the world. There are issues raised by this case – notably the ethics of the medical profession but they don’t make Suleman “the worst mother living on the planet”.

 The only mother on this list who actually deserves to be on it is the Mom from Futurama. And, she’s a fucking cartoon character.

In the interests of gender parity, I’ve come up with my list of “worst fathers living on the planet”.

In no particular order:

Woody Allen – for marrying his stepdaughter and that tiny issue of child sexual abuse

Charlie Sheen: for multiple accounts of domestic violence and years of substance abuse. After all, if it makes Mueller a bad mother, then it certainly makes Sheen a bad father – and that’s without the small issue of Sheen actually shooting a former girlfriend in the arm.

Andrew Parsons: Call me persnickety, but a man who kills the mother of his child in front of the child is  not a “good father” like the judge claimed.

Every single father who perpetrates domestic and/or sexual violence and abuse.

Every single man who has murdered the mother of his children. Or his children.