Women’s Lives. Men’s Careers.

What will it take for men’s intellectual acumen, or sporting skill, or career to be put to one side in order for fair retribution to be made when it comes to the complete destruction of women’s lives?

No one argues that the trauma will stop her career in its tracks. No one argues that she will wake up at night in a cold sweat, feeling his ghostly dream state hands around her neck for the 3rd consecutive time that week, even a year after the fact. No one argues that she was an excellent student, she was on track for a PhD and now all that is lost because she can’t muster up the courage to speak in a seminar, or focus on her essays. No one argues that her confidence will be shattered, that she will look around at other women and feel inferior. No one argues that she will continue to hear his words in her head –

“You think you’re so fucking clever, don’t you?”

“You’d be nothing without me”

“I’m going to kill you.”

No one argues that her potential won’t be fulfilled because she is dead.

Instead there’s a fixation on men’s intellect, their sporting acumen (Brock Turner – “the All American Swimmer”) , their roles in society, or the arts, or any industry that exists. To stunt men’s potential, however tentative that potential may be, is criminal. To not rehabilitate the criminal, who shows no remorse, is criminal. Any bad treatment of the rapist/abuser/assaulter is more criminal than the criminal act itself.

The caveat also being that he was only accused. Women make these things up, they exaggerate, you can’t rape someone you’re in a relationship with, she was as bad as him, she just wants money, she just wants to ruin his career, there wasn’t enough evidence.

And of course, any woman would put themselves on the stand against a man, knowing her sexual history will be pulled apart just for some cash, for revenge, for attention. Any one night stands? Unprotected sex? How many boyfriends have you had? You’ve had a traumatic past haven’t you, tell us more about that? What were you wearing that night? A thong? What did you expect?

No one willingly wants to do that.*

Domestic abuse and sexual violence is everywhere. In our homes, on TV, on signage on our A roads. As if to convince us that society’s priorities have changed. That we want to save women’s lives, improve their quality of life, help them escape their abusers, and stop men from being abusers in the first place. The overarching threat being that you will be found out, you will be caught, you will be punished.

But you all laugh, knowing that it’s just a marketing campaign, a storyline on a soap, a leaflet left somewhere to negate the need to actually do something real about it. To tell men that whoever the fuck you are, you can’t do this. Instead, rapists get big transfer deals which are only cancelled when sponsorship is pulled rather than based on morality, on doing the right thing for women.

Some would look at the Mason Greenwood case and think how far we have come. Manchester United have denounced him, Nike have dropped him. What did it take for those actions to be taken? His partner had to lay bare her trauma on social media. A police officer can witness the bruises, the hand prints around your throat, and it still will not be enough. Because, without visual, audio, literal evidence of abuse a woman will not be believed.

*I’m not saying there aren’t women who have made up claims. I’m arguing that a focus is put on a minority of cases which casts a shadow of doubt over every case, and therefore effectively distances the public from understanding the emotional, mental and physical turmoil caused by pursuing the perpetrator of sexual violence in our judicial system.

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