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Feminism: Sex and gender discussions

It's the FT and I want to cry

22 replies

BlingLoving · 12/03/2012 09:05

Lucy Kellaway

The article itself is okay, although I think that LK is a complacent to say the least. But the comments beneath!? It makes me want to cry. I haven't even read them all because it's just too depressing but will force myself to go back. It just shows that you can be on a forum like MN and you can interact with people who think and feel like you do in RL but that's a small sub sect of the population and really, misogny and anti-women sentiment is alive and well in most places.

OP posts:
PattiMayor · 12/03/2012 09:09

The FT is behind a paywall so I can't read it although if it's going to make me cry, then may be for the best!

CogitoErgoSometimes · 12/03/2012 09:12

Anonymous message boards bring out the bigot in some people. Mostly inadequate people, I think. In the old days they'd pen angry letters to the local paper in green scratchy biro. Now they have the whole internet to go at! Don't be depressed that they exist, just be conscious that you make know a few IRL and be on your guard.

CogitoErgoSometimes · 12/03/2012 09:13

'may' not 'make'

bigkidsdidit · 12/03/2012 09:14

I feel like this when I see comments in the guardian comment is free. I thought the guardian would be ok but they are so misogynistic sometimes. I comfort myself by thinking it's probably the same few people ranting over and over again. I hope it is :(

BlingLoving · 12/03/2012 09:59

yes, except that the internet (or at least, not quite so blatantly or on website like the FT) doesn't bring out all the closet racists etc? So it makes me realise how deeply entrenched this all is.
You should be able to get 8 pages per day on the FT without paying.

OP posts:
KRITIQ · 12/03/2012 10:41

BlingLoving, I know what you mean - don't need to read the FT article or comments to have a pretty good idea of the content of the comments.

I was pleased this morning, for example, to see so much coverage of the "We Believe You" campaign against sexual violence, citing results of the recent Mumsnet survey that found 1 in 10 respondents had been raped, 1/3 experienced sexual assault and only 1 in 5 reported their attacks to the authorities. There was an article on Sky linked from Yahoo, articles in the Independent, Guardian, Telegraph, Huff Post, all over the place - brilliant. However, all the ones that invited reader comments were followed by ghastly, spiteful, misogynistic and rape apologetic contributions.

I agree that the safety of the monitor can embolden people to say things they'd never have the bottle to say in real life. However, I believe that what they write does reflect what they genuinely believe and the ideas and values they observe in their everyday life. That's the depressing part - that the misogyny, the racism, the homophobia, they aren't made up for effect but represent the beliefs of many folks we DO meet in real life.

I tend not to read reader comments when I can avoid it. I know there are lots of people out in the world who believe these things, but I don't need to be distracted by them in doing the positive stuff I DO do to make a difference. However, for those who haven't seen how widespread, entrenched and nasty some of the views are, here are a selection of comments following articles about the Mumsnet Rape Campaign. Please don't read any further if they are likely to cause upset.


When you go out on the town dressed in short skirts and low cut tops, drink so much that you can hardly stand up and barely know where you are, and then walk home alone at 2-3am, you are unfortunately asking for trouble.

I bet the peeps doing the survey are all rug munchers...............

This is ridiculous, and no doubt biased - some 3 million UK women have been raped??? really ???

One CANNOT believe them straight away because they have claimed a rape. To believe them straight away is to say the accused is guilty till proven innocent. Then no man is safe.

does this include those women who lie about rape in marriage to stop Dad's seeing their kids?

So many women raped, but so few were bothered enough to report it.

Sanjeev · 12/03/2012 11:45

Of those six comments, does anyone disagree with number 4 - 'One CANNOT believe them straight away because they have claimed a rape. To believe them straight away is to say the accused is guilty till proven innocent. Then no man is safe.'

The rest are either bollocks or missing the point.

margoandjerry · 12/03/2012 12:06

I can perfectly well believe that 3m women in the UK have been raped. I don't think many men understand how common this crime is. Hands up on mn anyone who has ever been a victim of a sexual crime - however minor - from flashing to rape. I'd wager it's virtually every woman in the UK (including me, several different incidents, mainly strangers, mainly "trivial" ie flashing but some a bit worse) but most men just don't know that.

I would just caution the OP against ever reading comments. Whenever there is an article about women's issues, there's a long ranty comments thread from some utter tossers usually mentioning their bitchy ex-wives. I read one the other day about the problems of going through the menopause when it's particularly bad and trying to hold down a demanding job. The comments were pure bile - and from men who, in my limited understanding of biology, do not actually experience the menopause. It's like me commenting on rugby - I know fuck-all about it so I don't tend to weigh in on threads about it. The idiot men in these comment sections are just that - idiots.


WoTmania · 12/03/2012 12:09

I don't agree with 4. It's not talking about the accused, it's saying that you shouldn't necessarily believe a woman who says she's been raped. Try substituting burglary: .'One CANNOT believe them straight away because they have claimed a burglary. To believe them straight away is to say the accused is guilty till proven innocent.'

blackcurrants · 12/03/2012 12:12

Sanjeev, to believe them straight away is to believe that they have been raped. not that the accused is guilty of rape.

It's the difference between believing them at the front desk of the police and believing them in the witness box.

If we were co-workers and you came into work one day and said "My car was stolen last night" I would believe you. I wouldn't say "oh, had you been drinking?" skeptically. I wouldn't say "Right, but you did lend someone your car once, so maybe you actually gave it away?" and I wouldn't say "Oh, lots of men say that just to get the insurance."
I would believe that your car had been stolen, on your say-so. Like we tend to believe victims of any other crime. That doesn't convict anyone, but it does give dignity to the victim and importance to the crime.

blackcurrants · 12/03/2012 12:14

Sanjeev Some people are thinking about that question on this thread and have been slightly more clear than I have, if you'd find it helpful or interesting.

Sanjeev · 12/03/2012 12:27

As a man, I have to tread very carefully here, so please bear with me. I have a wife and a daughter, so I cannot begin to imagine how I would feel if it happened to them.

Forstly, WoT - if I report a burglary, the police is will very off-hand. I know because it happened to my neighbour over Xmas, and they were so un-organised. Then she has the trauma of the insurance company, who want to be 100 per cent sure she isn't scamming them to claim something she isn't entitled to. Thy come at you from a point of disbelief, unfortunately. However, I think we would both agree that the crimes are not really comparable. We are talking about the attitude of the people dealing with the aftermath.

Blackcurrant - we are agreed that you might believe me, but those with a vested interest (i.e. the insurance company) will be a lot more inquisitive. Substitute ins. co. a defending lawyer, and the same attitude prevails.

What I think would fix this problem is a change in the justice system. It is adversarial. Neither set of lawyers cares about the truth. They are charged with proving their client's case. What is needed are the parties and expert witnesses presenting to independent judges, who then weigh the evidence and pass judgement. This way, their is no intimidation by prosecuting counsel, no aggression, no twisting of testimony.

This needs to be applied across the whole justice system, not just rape. However, it won't because lawyers have too much to lose.

blackcurrants · 12/03/2012 12:48

Yep, Sanjeev, I did make a distinction between what we expect from our courts (burden of proof, etc) and what we expect from society.

I would believe you. Your boss would believe that is why you were late that morning. Your wife would believe that the car had been stolen and not that you had given it away like some kind of cheating car-slut.

Victims of rape do not have any of these assurances, which is one of the reasons why they do not come forward. And that has to change.

Sanjeev · 12/03/2012 13:15

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I would imagine that ten per cent of a victim's reluctance are down to police attitude, and ninety per cent are down to their treatment in court. By all means fix the police handling (my son's school policy on bullying states 'our sympathy is always with the victim'. That seems like a good place to start.) However, if I were the victim, I would be far more worried about the legal types waiting to trip me up in court.

In your link, the Assange case is interesting, because I think rape is defined differently in different countries. Here is my understanding - please correct if wrong. He slept with a willing partner. She later found out he was also sleeping with another (willing) woman without her knowledge. Under Swedish (?) law, this deception means that their coupling qualifies as rape. Is that the case? If so, does anyone believe he is guilty of rape?

TheCrackFox · 12/03/2012 13:33

Sanjeev I would like to point out that men can be raped too. Imagine how you would feel if everyone thought you were asking for it?

Sanjeev · 12/03/2012 13:36

CrackFox, can we just be clear that I think this campaign is a good thing.

ElephantsAreMadeOfElements · 12/03/2012 13:55

Sanjeev, that's wrong. Allegedly, Assange had sex with woman A who had consented provided that he used a condom, but he deliberately and knowingly did not use one (not clear from wording of charges whether he "just" tricked her or actually physically coerced her). He is definitely also accused of sexually assaulting her several days later (on which occasion she didn't consent at all). Separately he is accused of having sex with woman B when she was asleep; it's not clear from the charge sheet what the circumstances around that are.

It is the case that neither woman actually reported the incidents to the police until they had found out about the other woman, but not at this stage clear why they did then decide to report.

I do think that either of the incidents of sexual intercourse described should on the face of it count as rape, yes (which isn't prejudging whether Assange is guilty of them). In the UK it would be arguable whether or not they did, but in Sweden as I understand it the legal position is far less ambiguous.

Sanjeev · 12/03/2012 13:55

Oh dear - have I killed the thread? Sorry.

Sanjeev · 12/03/2012 13:58

Elephants - I stand corrected on the Assange thing.

blackcurrants · 12/03/2012 15:04

I don't understand what you want to say, Sanjeev, which is why I stopped replying (that, and having Stuff To Do). You keep talking about how we mustn't get rid of 'innocent until proven guilty' and we keep responding that rape victims are not believed by most people that they tell about the attack.
The fear that they will not be believed by
Romantic Partners

also feeds into the fear that they will not be believed by

and so they don't report. This is tragic on so many levels:

  • because they never get to articulate what happened to them and feel heard, which can be the start of healing for many
  • because evidence suggests that most rapists are serial rapists, which means every unreported rape gives the rapist another chance to rape again
  • because rape is often a crime of opportunity, and everytime we spout a rape myth or don't believe a victim of rape, we are giving rapists encouragement and another chance to rape and get away with it
  • because we don't get to built a more just society for people like your daughter, whom I presume you have raised to believe that people should have to pay for their crimes, and be rehabilitated or imprisoned to stop them being a threat to everyone else.

When we talk about this stuff, linking to the other thread where this has already been discussed, using my nifty car-theft analogy, etc, you ... don't seem to be listening.

This "I would imagine that ten per cent of a victim's reluctance are down to police attitude, and ninety per cent are down to their treatment in court." is actually a terrible thing to write. I don't think you're a bad person but I think you are being spectacularly blind to your own privilege here. You are 'imagining' how a victim of rape might feel and then directing the thread that way; suggesting that all we are saying about social attitude towards rape and rape myths isn't as important as your project (admirable, btw) to reform the judicial system. But if you actually read some of the threads about the "We Believe You" campaign women - survivors of rape - are posting in tears about the name of the campaign, saying thank you, no one ever believed me and so I never reported it.

You don't need to imagine some totally hypothetical rape victim and then make up what they feel when real, living survivors of rape are telling us what they feel. You just need to read and try to understand. You need to listen to what these women are telling you, rather than making something up, assuming it is true, and directing this thread towards a conversation about that thing you just made up.
AyeRobot · 12/03/2012 15:33

Innocent until proven guilty means that the prosecution (the Crown) has to prove their case against you in a court of law beyond all reasonable doubt before you can have punishment inflicted against you for that crime.

Sanjeev · 12/03/2012 15:37

Well, I feel that a lot of words are being put into my mouth, and I don't know why. :(

I would back this campaign one hundred per cent. I will leave it at that. Good luck.


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