Rape culture, prostitution, and the dehumanisation of women

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So, this week, sportsmen have been in the news. You may have noticed; some appalling events have come to light which have shaken the sporting world to it’s very core and exposed the deep-seated arrogance and disregard many highly regarded sportsmen have for the rules of both their sport, and society. The good news is that their sporting regulatory body has taken swift action, the men in question have sobbed in front of the cameras, begging for forgiveness from their parents, fans, teammates and the world in general. They did a horrific, unimaginable – almost inhuman thing.

‘Top shaggers’

Sadly, I am not talking about the Ulster and Irish rugby plays who, despite being cleared of rape, have been outed as the worst type of misogynistic, brutal, uncaring scumbags. This story hasn’t played out on the news in England – I can tell you all about the pain and suffering that results when a cricketer sticks a bit of tape on a ball before chucking it at a wicket, but two rugby players leaving a teenager bleeding from a vaginal injury, hysterically crying and bruised, doesn’t seem to warrant the same level of exposure.

After the event on 28th June 2016, the men in question, plus two others who were involved in the trial, sent messages calling themselves ‘top shaggers’, they referenced ‘spit-roasting’, called the woman in question ‘a slut’ and ‘loose’. I believe from what I have read that these messages were sent to a wider group of people, not just the four involved; so despite the injuries they inflicted and the distressed state they left this poor girl in, they still felt their actions were something to be proud of – worth boasting about to other men, who I can only assume agreed. Now legally these men were found not guilty – this does not prove innocence – but let’s play along. Even if the group sex was consensual, what kind of man after leaving a woman in the above mentioned physical and emotional state after a sexual encounter, could feel anything other than disgusted and appalled at himself? Sex is not a blood sport and if you believe it is, you need to not be having it!

Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report it to the police and only 5.7% of rape cases result in conviction.

The pain, humiliation and degradation of rape doesn’t end with the cessation of the act itself. The statistics surrounding rape cases in the UK are appalling, and the above case highlights why most women, despite wanting justice, will never find themselves within 10 feet of a police station. It is well known, and often proved, that a woman who dares to pursue a criminal conviction against a man who sexually abused or raped her, will find herself – and every aspect of her life – on trial.

The vileness of gender inequality is never better highlighted than during a rape trial – suddenly our freedom-loving, modern, liberal culture is torn open and exposed. She’s not a virgin? She was probably gagging for it! Wore a short skirt? She invited it! Flirted with the accused? She signalled consent! Every normal, accepted, run-of-the-mill lifestyle choice will be thrown back in the woman’s face to paint her as a sexual trickster who for some reason, on this occasion, decided to cause some trouble.

During the above-mentioned trial, the victim spent around 7 days on the stand being questioned – the accused about 1/2 a day each. She had her bloodied underwear passed around the jury of eight men and three women for examination. She was made to relive her ordeal and the aftermath over and over again whilst being told she was a liar and fantasist, all for what? For these ‘men’ to walk away with the legal right to state they’re legally ‘not guilty’. They will now get to present as the victims, resume their careers and carry on with their lives, despite what has been proven about their conduct. Please can someone explain to me who exactly was on trial and how this was justice?

When were women relegated to the position of masturbatory receptacle?

In an article for Stylist magazine, journalist Elle Griffiths used the term ‘masturbatory receptacle’ and since reading it, the phrase has been imprinted on my brain. It hit me like a ton of bricks – centuries of conditioning have taught men – and many women – that men need the release of sex, like it’s a human right. That same conditioning also tells us that sex is something that is done to a woman, and that is why many men feel it’s OK to use a woman’s body as a living, breathing wank-sock.

Let’s just take this back a few steps to look at some of the cultural drivers which have shaped the psyche, beginning with prostitution. As far back as records go, there will be stories of wanton women making money by peddling their flesh and serving the ‘needs’ of men. The rhetoric is consistent; men require empty ball sacks if they are to function and deal with the rigours of being male, and loose women will always be available to quench that thirst. We’ve seen it on TV, in films, described in books – the mechanical pumping until climax and then zipper up, coins on the bed and off you go chap.

We have all been conditioned to think that that is normal, acceptable, almost understandable, behaviour by men. And at the same time the potential consequences of these often-lauded leading men not being able to successfully get their end away, is subtly fed to us; he’ll be aggravated, raging, less productive, unable to process and deal with life’s events – his resulting behaviour and actions lay firmly at the feet of the woman who refused him, for she has limited his control and ability to self-monitor – he is carnal, at the mercy of nature – he is MAN! And we are supposed to swoon at this shit.

Just look at the response to the Oxfam scandal – it’s a fucking disgrace that charity workers can go to a country that has suffered an unimaginable tragedy, and abuse some of its most vulnerable by soliciting them for sex. What makes me shake with rage was the non-apology almost justification that ‘it’s hard, emotional, demoralising work, of course men will need sex’. This sums up male entitlement – sex is seen as deserved, necessary, and the means for many are considered inconsequential, because they are justified by the end.

History teaches us that as a woman, if you’re not playing the role of whore, you must then be the dutiful virgin. In the not so distant past, women who enjoyed sex were demonised, cast-out and committed to mental institutes. In 1966 a highly regarded statement by American psychologist Mary Jane Sherfey stated that the ‘sex drive of the human female is naturally and innately stronger than that of the male, and it once posed a powerfully destabilizing threat to the possibility of social order. For civilized society to develop, it was allegedly necessary, or at least helpful, for female sexuality to be stifled’. Ain’t that the damn truth! Men, for their own reasons made sex their domain, and women are still suffering for it.

Men, you are better than this!

Nothing – NOTHING – is ever going to change this cycle of entitlement and abuse until woman are regarded as equal to men in all walks of life and society. I don’t believe for one second that all men are driven by an intrinsic need to ejaculate in order to deal with life’s events. This is a fallacy that has been peddled for god knows how many reasons, but what is clear, is that it is toxic on every level.

I heard a group of men recently describe sexual assault as ‘a male problem that women have been made to suffer’ and I couldn’t sum it up better myself. So please, women, know this – you are more than an object and no one – not the stranger in the park at night or your husband after a hard day -has the right to penetrate your body (or, frankly, even touch you in a way you do not like) if you do not want them to and if they do, it is NOT you who are in the wrong.

Men – we need you to be the driving force behind making this world one where women don’t need to be reminded of this fact. It’s time to stop disrespecting women and vaginas like you forgot you came from one and start calling your fellow men – show us you know rape is worse than tampering with a cricket ball.

#ibelieveher

Some stats about rape in England and Wales – via www.rapecrisis.org.uk 

  • Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.
  • Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year
  • 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16
  • Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police
  • Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence
  • Conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator. (Kelly, Lovett and Regan, A gap or a chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases, 2005)
  • The UK National Office for statistics state that only 4% of reported rapes can be considered false

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