Unacceptable. Full stop.

Sometimes I forget, with all our proud espousing of how forward-thinking and progressive we are, that some of the views that are tolerated here in New Zealand are so ridiculously archaic it makes me want to cry. Yes, I know, there will always be a group of crazies and this is no way represents the majority of people and their views. But I find it abhorrent that anyone still thinks this way. I guess I can understand how people can still think like this; someone needs to be blamed when bad things happen, right?

Yes, totally. But where I stop understanding is when the victim-blaming starts. Criminals are responsible for committing crimes.

“I’m of the mind that if women head out on the town with the purpose of being shagged by a sportsman, then they must bear some responsibility for their actions.”

Sure, except for the part where going out with the intention of having sex turns into something completely different: being the victim of a crime. That part puts the responsibility into the hands of the person who committed it.

While I could write endlessly about victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and the notion that apparently women can be held entirely responsible for their actions but men not held responsible at all for theirs, these have been written about much more eloquently before, so I will choose to just focus on what Kerre has to say.

“Treating all women as victims infantilises them. If women want sexual freedom, they must accept sexual responsibility.”

Would she say this about men? If men want sexual freedom (which I imagine they do), they must accept sexual responsibility, i.e. the possibility of being raped or otherwise sexually assaulted? I know this isn’t a new argument (“how would we feel if this was being said about men and not women? Nobody would stand for it!”), but there’s a reason people use it. Apparently we, as women, have to accept a lot of things that aren’t part of the deal that we signed up for (since when was sexual assault part and parcel of sexual freedom?), but the same doesn’t seem to be true for men.

“…aggrieved slapper…” “…drunken trollop…”

Skank! Slut! Whore! Hussy! Woman of ill-repute! Hands up anyone else who is bored with the ‘woman who wants sex getting called names’ thing. And yes, the double-standard regarding wanting and having sex making you awesome (if you are male) or dirty (if you are female), is ridiculous, and it’s existence is something any vaguely tuned-in high-schooler could point out. I suppose a lot of people don’t grow out of the calling-women-sluts stage where a lot of teenagers spend some time.

I acknowledge that she calls these “sleazy and predatory” sportsmen out for being arrogant arses”, but she also claims that any woman out to ‘bag’ a sportsman for a bit of sweet consensual lovin’ shouldn’t be surprised when he takes advantage of her and commits a sexual crime of some sort. I find myself leaping to the defense of the (I’m sure) majority of sportsmen in New Zealand who are decent, normal, non-rapist guys. If I were one of them I would feel pretty awful knowing that expectations are for them to be criminals instead of guys who can have an nice, consensual sexual encounter, or refuse said encounter politely.

Also, in reagrds to her statement “The courts are there to deal with crimes that are alleged to have been committed…” (which goes on to comment on the media and it’s role as an outlet for women who feel wronged but the courts have said ‘oh no, not wronged enough for us’). Even if the woman reports the crime (and reporting rates are not high), rates of acquittal are high. So, it seems the courts may not necessarily deal with the crimes that “…are alleged to have been committed…”.

However, some of the people commenting on the article did give me hope (amongst the ones that inevitably made me quite angry):

“Unwanted sex and sex with someone in a coma (even an alcoholic coma) are rape, always. It doesn’t matter how much of a “slapper” or “trollop” a girl is, it is an act of violence and it is against the law to have sex with them without their consent, it is not an “occupational hazard” that they need to take responsibility for.”

“No means no and if you are comatose you certainly did not say “yes please”.”

Stone age attitudes all of them, falling into the stereotypes that excuse rape by focusing on the woman’s behaviour and not the actions of the man, who rapes because he can. He can claim it’s her fault and so can absolve himself from responsibility for his behaviour, he can say she asked for it, that “no” means “yes”.”

Thank you, sane commenters, for being the voice of reason.

5 Comments

  1. Boganette says:

    Great post! That column made me want to smash my head against my desk. The line about ‘unwanted sex’ in particular was horrendous. Unwanted sex is rape. Rape is not an ‘occupational hazard’! Well said Steph and great blog!

    • steph says:

      I agree; let’s call it what it is, not unwanted sex, or sex against her will, or anything like that.

      The whole column was awful; it never fails to shock me that people still think that way.

  2. ScubaNurse says:

    “Hands up anyone else who is bored with the ‘woman who wants sex getting called names’ thing.”
    Thank you, thank you. You are right, this country is out of date. But my partner is american and the attitude is also over there, and in the UK. Keep fighting the good fight.
    The more brillient, loving, positive role model women (and men) we have Shouting that THIS IS WRONG, the less likely it will continue.

  3. CheeliWeilm says:

    thank you

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  4. […] Even commentators across the Tasman got in on the act, trotting out all the tired tropes they used when Helen Clark was PM. Steph at LadyNews sorts out some of the issues for Deborah Coddington: Oh, Deborah. Let’s have a chat. And she is oh so over the ‘deliberately barren’ slut. […]

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