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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions


313 replies

AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 20:49

Not sure whether this counts as a feminist discussion, but I'm giving it a try. I mentioned on another thread that, after seeing last year's TV programme about black-cab rapist John Worboys, I realised he 'had' me, too. I rang the helpline and the police were brilliant - they confirmed my story and discussed the case as much as I wanted to.

Bizarrely, the discovery was actually helpful to me. I'd been struggling with "denial of abuse" issues so, for me, this single episode (which I barely remember) represented all the other half-remembered and anxiously dismissed incidents of abuse that kept me questioning myself. I now accept that I have been more seriously abused, and more often, than I can consciously recognise. This denial is part of the issue I wish to discuss.

John Worboys sexually assaulted upwards of 400 women: probably hundreds more. His method was always the same - a little story, a little drinky that was drugged. Now this is what bothers me: up to 700 of us accepted that drink.

We trust London cabbies, sometimes literally with our lives. Worboys abused that position of trust. But - still! A cab driver gives you a drink, and you don't smell anything fishy? I bet none of us would have smiled and said "cheers" if an illegal minicab driver had done it. Not a single one of us rang the police, or the taxi office, to say "Driver number XXXX has just done something weird."

We trusted hansom cab drivers - rightly so. But why did we allow this trust to override our common sense? We all registered that this was "odd" behaviour, so why didn't we just get the hell out of there and press Dial? What happened to our natural alarm bells?

Answering for myself, I have to assume I was so deeply programmed to TRUST A MAN IN A POSITION OF HONOUR that I had no self-preservation instincts to go with that. In my case, this is the factor that led to my putting up with abuse in many situations. I was also, as mentioned, extremely willing to forget, deny, tell myself I'd got it wrong, etc, etc. I can trace this directly to my parental background. Did all 400 of Worboy's passengers come from families like mine?

How did Worboys know which women to trick?

I asked the cop how come so many women had bought his story. He said he wished he knew that - as more & more evidence came to light, they found it hard to believe he was getting to first base as easily as he did.

As some of you know, I'm committed to helping women in abusive relationships re/gain a sense of their own right to respect and safety. Most of you know at least something about the dynamics of abuse. Many people are conditioned to consider themselves less important than others; it's common for a woman to count herself less than a man. But 400 Londoners, each with enough independence to be getting a cab on her own at night ...? That's a lot!

If self-abandonment and self-denial are THAT prevalent amongst women, then feminism has a far bigger problem than I ever suspected.

I'm not sure if anybody's able or willing to pick this up - it's more of an emotional/psychological angle than this board's usual. It's both personally and politically interesting to me - what do you think?

OP posts:
ThePosieParker · 12/02/2011 20:53

I'm not sure it's a trusting a man thing, I think we are too frightened to offend someone unless we're really certain. We don't want to risk offence, confrontation or abuse (that would be our fault if we brought the situation to that point). Honestly I don't have that gene, it makes me outspoken and abrasive, confrontational and rubbish at making and keeping friends. You only have to read on here the shouting down when people question stuff, unless it's completely sown up that someone is wrong. Perhaps our overriding need to be polite has ruined our instincts.

ThePosieParker · 12/02/2011 20:55

I do believe, and know a fair few women that have done this, that some women feel they 'owe' a man something if they flirt or allow things to go so far.

AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 21:02

Posie, I did specify the trusting a man thing was about myself. Perhaps we are too frightened to offend - but I wouldn't have described myself that way, and am pretty sure that most of the other women were well capable of telling a nuisance where to go.

I wonder if it's the opposite? Do we feel too safe? One of the girls said she thought to herself, "Oh, this is peculiar! Can't wait to tell them about this tomorrow!" before she passed out. I imagine lots of others did, too.

OP posts:
AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 21:04

Do you think they feel they 'owe' the man, or is more like feeling responsible for his feelings?

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HerBeX · 12/02/2011 21:11

I have just bought that book The Gift of Fear and am looking forward ot reading it, I think it might discuss some of these issues.

I think that we are very strongly socialised to not offend a man. Also that if we placate a man and go along with him, he is less likely to hurt us - at the back of our mind, the possibility of rape and murder is always there with men we don't know and trust, so the fear of them is there and the training that we are instilled with, to placate and acquiese (is that how you spell it?) so that he likes us and doesn't hurt us, comes into play.

I also think some of it might be instinctive - the thing which we are always told saves hostages lives, is when the hostage-taker sees the hostage as a real person, a real human being, so that it becomes psychologically far more difficult for him to hurt or kill his hostage. I think our instincts of self-protection kick in and paradoxically, that socialisation of pleasing men, is mixed with the life-saving instinct of trying ot make them like us so they won't hurt us.

Does that make sense?

HerBeX · 12/02/2011 21:13

There may be something in the feeling too safe thing as well Grace - as I said on that other thread, we all know how stringent the process is to get a hansom cab badge, so we feel really safe (or at least we did until Worboys). Particularly if every single other experience of getting a black cab had been reassuring and safe.

AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 21:26

It does make sense, Bex. What you wrote in your 3rd paragraph has echoes of all those women in Relationships going "If I could just get him to hear/see/understand me, he'd care!"

It's funny, my dad taught me self-defence Hmm including when & how to recognise an attacker who'll respond to "knowing" you. Stood me in good stead. I'm confused,now, about whether we're too full of fear or too full of confidence!

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AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 21:33

Excuse me while I do this Shock Shock Shock Shock Shock Shock

I've just realised I'm starting to understand Dittany's pov, where she (apparently) sees all women as potential victims of male crime!

Something to with a fragile confidence, which comes from believing that if we act nice we'll be safe. So a confidence that is predicated on fear.

I'm trying myself in knots here Confused

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AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 21:48

Grace, I can't go into detail (just can't...) but your experiences resonate with me rather a lot

There was a dentist prosecuted for assaulting female patients whilst under sedation many years ago

I was one of his patients

I never came forward Sad

You can deduce the rest, I am sure

< feels sick >

< he curry I had this evening sinks like a stone >

AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 22:01

You need to float that curry on some wine, AF Wink

I hope that dentist got done?

There are some very strange people in this world ...

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AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 22:04

Yes, he got done

I have some Wine goin' on Smile

ledkr · 12/02/2011 22:05

af Shock you alright?I second the vino.

AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 22:08

thanks, ledkr, yes, just had buried it hadn't thought about it for a while

AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 22:09 you feel thankful you didn't get more (physically) hurt

or just wild with anger that he did anything at all to you ?

AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 22:09

I'm sorry for waking it up, AF

I think I'm afraid of how angry I'm becoming.

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AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 22:11

I feel hopelessly angry

which is most unpleasant

HerBeX · 12/02/2011 22:12

AF have you talked to Rape Crisis about it?

They're v. good.

ledkr · 12/02/2011 22:13

crikey-just read whole thread,it is amazing yes that all those women were in unusual situations with the taxi driver but said nothing.It must be a hard thing for you to live with grace,were the police empathic?

AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 22:15

No, I haven't HB

maybe one day

ledkr · 12/02/2011 22:19

af anger's ok,how often does it pop up? You must have been dealing with it all this time and doing ok.My "skeleton" is nicelt buried and only crops up occasionally and i feel like im talking about someone else.Always had the feeling that if i had counselling or talked too much i would be unable to re bury it afterwards,so there it stays.

AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 22:22

not very often, ledkr

and I feel like you re. "letting it out"

so I talk in general terms about stuff, while skirting around the edges

anyways, this isn't my thread Smile

AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 22:22

I dunno AF! My prevailing feeling was of reassurance - a case-dedicated officer in the Met listened to me and confirmed it really did happen. I'm so full of half-remembered bad things, this confirmed for me that my memories are real. The copper de-gaslighted me.

He told me what Worboys probably did while I was out (not rape) - it just made me go 'yeuch'. I am offended that he decided to use my body for some weird game of his own but I can't remember it. I feel politically violated, if that makes sense. How does it compare with how you feel?

I'm just gobsmacked that he found it so easy to use random women's bodies - and other perverts, like your dentist and that hypnotherapist who got caught a while back.

And why do they feel they CAN???!

OP posts:
AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 22:22

supporting others helps a lot too, somehow

AgeingGrace · 12/02/2011 22:23

Nah, feminism doesn't recognise hierarchical power structures remember? Grin It's our thread.

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AnyFucker · 12/02/2011 22:25

sorry, cross posted there, grace

I dunno, I can't articulate it

I don't remember details, only flashbacks, I guess the sedation drugs will do that to you

(I had a dental phobia at the time, and this dentist was one of the few who would do IV valium for minor procedures...that was his MO, obviously)

reading newspaper accounts of women who did come forward was very strange

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