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.

Into the Lion’s Den

Clubbing used to be so fun. Dancing away in heels that blistered and mutilated my feet: then realising that anything that hindered the fun was out, so the flats were very in (they also enabled a much wider variety of dance moves). The alcohol would flow and every favourite song would come on. We got to the point where we did not care what anyone thought of us, we danced jubilantly – enthusiastically. We only went to the places that played the music we loved not the beep-beep-boop of an Apple Mac. It was great. There was a sort of impenetrable wall around us, like a hazy shield of alcohol that meant I never took any notice of what was going on outside of that candy flavoured bubble of post-teen fun. Then I would turn and suddenly it would become translucent where the pastel opaqueness had sheltered us. I could see, but I would turn again and there I would be in safety; re-enveloped in a bubble of my own denial. The bubble was flimsy, it was like candy floss, except instead of licking it, you just had to look at it too hard and it would disappear to nothing like it never existed.

The problem was, it was never impenetrable: it isn’t impenetrable. I can see through it now, out into the lion’s den where men linger salaciously. Then I realise, there was nothing around us at all. There was no safety net. We knew they were standing there all along, their eyes glistening in the dark, waiting for the moment that one of us would drop out of our circle. That was the only protection we had. Our dancing wasn’t carefree, now I remember the quick glances: was everyone there? Who was standing around us? The thoughts that swept over me every few moments as the alcohol began to wear off. The “you can never be too careful” of our mothers, our teachers and the horror stories that they told us ringing in our ears. The stories that meant that without fail we always went to the toilet as a group and our male friends would comment “Why do girls always go to the toilet together?” That was the problem, we did the token things like never going to the toilet alone, but still the maternal voices rang like stories, the unlucky girl, and the evil man who did that. What a rare occurrence we all thought. We were so wrong.

When they would pounce, it wasn’t an attack, but a sleek meandering into our circle. Sometimes drinks, sometimes help was promised.

“Do you want a hand with her?” They’d ask like butter wouldn’t fucking melt.

“Want some drinks ladies?” Eyeing up the drunkest of us.

Other times they’d just stand and stare. You can see the calculating look in their eyes, what one is the drunkest? What one is most likely to be left behind? What one is the youngest?

Some of them weren’t intelligent enough for calculation. Those were the scariest, the ones that have nothing to lose, you have no clue what they will do, and how far they will go. The ones who’s friends don’t even defend them if they’re confronted by a group of girls who have identified their pervert glazed eyes in a snippet of light.

“We’ll tell him, we’ll take him away” they say. Take him where? To another group of less suspecting girls. They look at you with apologetic eyes that say “we know, we’re sorry”. It’s not good enough.

The older ones too, perverse. Older than your dad, gammon faced and sweaty, and you know they’re only there because they’ve had success with this tactic before. This is where they go to pick up fresh meat, never mind what is at home.

As I’ve got older I’ve seen it more and more. As much as I drink I can’t shake the awareness, or the responsibility. They said that the novelty would wear off at some point, “clubbing isn’t fun forever.” I just grew fucking tired of negotiating away from salivating pricks to enjoy it anymore. Not only that, but I can step through the bubble now. I’ve broken down the fourth wall, and it isn’t pretty when I do. They never argue back. They know when they’ve been seen and have to fallback, walk away empty handed. I think they can see the truth behind my threats I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING I say in more violent words. I guess I’d learnt the hard way what happens when you let the sickly bubble of denial engulf you.

We can be screaming at the top of our lungs to Come on Eileen, shoes off, make-up smeared down our faces, we can literally throw up on them (true story) and men* still wait on the edge of darkness to rape us.

*Not all men, but too many to count (there are all some men who confront other men for their perverted rapist behaviour – thank you)

Consent by Thong

consent

I literally wear this style of underwear everyday. When I’m going to work. When I’m unwell. When I’m on my period. When I’m feeling as unsexy as ever. When I’m going out. When I’m drunk. Does that mean – wherever I am – whatever the circumstance – if I’m raped, it’s my fault? Was I “asking for it” for routinely putting on a certain style of underwear? Or if I happened to pick these over another style on that day. Would it be a different story if I’d but on my Bridget Jones’s? If yes, I was feeling sexy, up for it, but not with him, not there, not right then, not when I said no, is it still my fault?

It’s terrifying that blame culture endures so far that a 17 year olds choice of underwear is deemed relevant in a rape trial, as a crucial point of ‘evidence.’ In scrutinising her underwear in this way, more agency is given to the inanimate object than to the victim herself, she is shamed for her choice, ridiculed, humiliated and ignored. In this courtroom, a slither of lace does all the talking for her, despite her protestations.

Is it surprising that sexual assault, and rape in particular, is so under reported? In Northern Ireland the conviction rate is less than 2% with any tactics being employed in the courtroom to ensure that the rapist is acquitted. In a number of cases this includes scrutiny of the victims clothing. Was her dress short? Was her top low cut? What underwear was she wearing? What is her sexual history? Has she had one-night stands before? Anything to demonstrate, that yes she was up for it, she was asking for it, she’s a slut and a liar; anything to deny that men use sex as a weapon of power against women.

The objectification of women that has prevailed previously, and the patriarchal ideology that propagated the idea that women exist for men, has been replaced with a theory which continues to reify the superiority of men. Women who have been raped are painted as promiscuous, slutty and attention-seeking. Why didn’t she shout? Why didn’t she scream? Why didn’t she resist? She must’ve liked it. She must have wanted it. Because the idea that a man is undesirable is unfathomable. The concept that she rebutted a man’s advances and told him no is impossible. Who could reject a man?

This thinly veiled consideration of ‘consent’ is nothing of the sort. In such cases, anything is employed to distract from the actual exchange of consent, you know, when she actually tells this rapist to fuck off, that no, she is not interested, she does not want to have sex with him. But no, we deliberate on her thong, her skirt, her top, her sexual history and ignore the most important facts of the case – she said no.

Misogynist Comedy

I applaud the torrent of criticism that has eclipsed Dapper Laughs over the last few weeks. I question myself – how did such a ‘comedian’ even rise to profundity? It strikes me as abhorrent that any woman, especially, would condone his crude, invasive and outdated sense of ‘comedy’. I’ve seen articles attempt to ‘support’ Dapper Laughs: why, if he is so terrible does he have such a large following? Apparently, logic steers one to the conclusion that, us ‘haters’ of Dapper Laughs are wrong, and of course rape jokes have now actually become pretty funny – of course. Doesn’t logic actually assert, that rather a crime of sexual violence against a woman now becoming humorous, that actually Dapper Laughs’ following is just as deluded as him. Surely, if raping a woman is so hilarious, wouldn’t the development of this strain of comedy also pursue the hilarity of men being subject of rape too? But that’s when we reach the real problem. Joking about raping a woman is fine, but raping men, that’s a step too far, that’s not ‘comedy’. So why then is the image of women being subject to the forceful violation of rape something that a comedian can approach as a topic for a merely ‘controversial’ joke? How can a woman’s pain be trivialised in such a way?  Because she is a woman.

Who is the victim in all this? Is it not the women who are reminded of past encounters of sexual violence, who writhe with uncontrollable discomfort at even the mention of the term ‘rape’, who for them, such a ‘joke’ brings back vivid images of physical and mental invasion? But apparently it is Daniel O’Reilly who is the victim in all this. I can image how painful it must be to ‘retire’ such an abominable character, much worse than having someone viciously violate your whole person-hood for the sake of their momentary pleasure. Daniel O’Reilly’s jokes (let’s not pretend they’re not his despite the pitiful attempt at blaming it all on ‘character’) are an imitation of this – a violation to women, but for the momentary pleasure of who? -The audience? Him?

Social Apocalypse

I feel like all I write about are fucking paedophiles and shootings. Does this not just reiterate the fact that something radical- revolutionary- needs to be done to rectify these social problems? Society is decrepit, with hateful acts rotting away at it’s score, seeping hate, disillusionment and resent. The stench is impenetrable. The cause lost. Where does family, friends, love and happiness stand in a society that secretes paedophiles and murderers?

Society is perverse. There is no saving what we have become. Bring me social apocalypse because that sounds like fucking salvation from where I’m standing. I’m sick of languishing in a society of hate and greed where innocent people’s lives are corrupted by the immorality of other’s. It’s not fair that one person has the power to inflict torturous, unforgettable pain on someone else. There is no justice. No punishment could ever rectify the abhorrent memories stored in one’s mind, those memories that resurface like clockwork- daily. As much as I think rot in hell to those paedophiles and murderers and rapists and all those other immoral cunts out there their acts can never be rectified.

There’s no fucking point in anything. There’s no rosy, hazy future of rainbows and sunshine just the grim reality that we are falling deeper into this abyss of immorality where nothing can save us.

I am fucking angry- we should all be fucking angry.

Legitimate Rape?

How the term ‘legitimate rape’ can ever be uttered astounds me. ‘Legitimate’? How can rape be illegitimate? – Of course you get those rare scenarios where a woman claims rape where she is cheating, or for whatever reason: but really the term ‘legitimate rape’ should never be used. Rape is rape and that’s it. There’s no disputing that. What’s even more detrimental in this debate upon the term ‘legitimate rape’ is that it was coined by the Missouri appointed senate nominee and member of the House of Representatives, Todd Akin, who claims that ‘legitimate rape’ should never lead to pregnancy. Akin’s ‘theory’ is that during legitimate rape the female’s biological defences work to prevent pregnancy. Rape is sex- sex leads to pregnancy: simple. You can’t make these ridiculous excuses- I’m sorry but Mr Akin what the fuck would you know about female rape? It’s appalling that this pathetic excuse is being used to try and justify the pro-life attitude of many Republicans so that basically even if I’m beaten horrendously, raped savagely, and then fall pregnant this is not rape and therefore I cannot have an abortion. I am left with the memories and product of this savage attack: which benefits Mr Akin in no way, neither does the abortion of this foetus- so why does he, and other Republicans care so much? It’s a point of principle: controlling and restricting women is just what men love to do, this is a matter that has nothing to do with them, something that they can never understand. Us women would never prevent or make men have a vasectomy, I’m sure they’d find it pretty ludicrous if we did, so why should they try and impose on our rights? More importantly why should other women impose on our rights? This attitude is only pushing us backwards as a society rather than forwards. Equality and human rights should be cherished not opposed upon by Republicans and Conservatives and that is legitimate.