Like most of you reading this I was disgusted to read Melanie Phillips's piece in the Daily Mail yesterday, giving her unpleasant reaction to proposals that rape defendants could be granted anonymity. I'm not even going to link to it and I certainly wouldn't advise reading the comments unless you want to be left despairing at the levels of vicious hate that some people have for women, but it made me angry. Unfortunately I was recovering from a migraine yesterday and couldn't be bothered to write anything about it, thinking I'd do it today.
We've been hearing about - and reeling from - these new proposals for a few days now. As Barbara Ellen said in the Observer on Sunday:
'On a wider level, what are we saying here – that all women are liars, and legislation must be brought in to counteract the innate deviousness of the female? That our nation is besieged with women who like nothing better than to go out of an evening, get wrecked, have sex they regret, and then pretend they were raped? What larks! As women's groups point out, there are not that many false rape accusations, and the ones that do occur are sensationalised to the point where it resembles a "cry wolf" epidemic.'
Throughout the day I've seen a few good posts which I'm sure you'd actually much prefer to read because I'm only going to spout the same stuff, albeit in a less coherent and more hurried way because I have to go to running club tonight. So have a few links:
Cath Elliott on the Phillips piece
'According to Melanie Phillips in today’s Mail, the new ConDem government is wrong to consider granting anonymity to those accused of rape. So far so good eh? Indeed, you might now be thinking: “At last! Mel “I’ve never been considered a part of the sisterhood” (Question Time 13/5/10) has finally seen some sense and come out on the side of the angels for a change.”
In which case calm yourselves, because no, that’s not what’s happened here.
In fact far from it. Because this time, Melanie Phillips has sunk lower than it was previously thought humanly possible to sink, and has suggested that rather than granting anonymity to men charged with rape, the government should instead be looking at abolishing anonymity for rape victims.'
Quiet Riot Girl has a thought-provoking post (with very interesting comments) on the terminology we use when talking about rape
'Also I think the term ‘rape culture’ discourages us from examining the specific contexts and situations in which men rape women, and other men. How do particular conditions in the military and prisons lead to high numbers of rapes? Why do some husbands rape their wives? How can we work to reduce the numbers of sex workers who are raped by clients and employers and strangers? I don’t know the answer to these questions. Talking about ‘rape culture’ as a blanket description of the whole of our society doesn’t help us to even ask them. my conclusion so far is that unlike ‘gender culture’ , ‘rape culture’ does not offer an analytic tool or a perspective for analysing how gender functions in society to cause violence by men against women and other men.'
Laurie Penny discusses why the anonymity proposals will silence victims
'It has been proven that naming rapists encourages women to come forward to report rape, just as it has been proven that a culture where women do not speak about rape and non-consensual sex allows rape to continue as an accepted part of our sexual dialectic - which is why anonymity for those accused of rape was waived in the first place. Just last year, when serial rapist John Worboys was eventually put on trial for nineteen counts of rape, no less than eighty-five women came forward claiming to have been sexually assaulted by him. Eighty five. Eighty five women who didn't know that they were part of a far broader picture. Eighty five women who didn't come forward until seeing their rapist's face in the paper convinced them that maybe it wasn't all their fault.'