Rape. The very word makes me feel ill. I don’t know one woman who has not had a fear of being raped in her lifetime. Every time a parent says to a daughter ‘don’t walk home on your own, call me, be careful, stay with friends,’ it’s on their mind. As the Rape Crisis website says:
Most perpetrators are male and most victims are female. It is both a consequence and cause of gender inequality.
Many years ago I worked with women who believed that sex with men they were involved with was not something they could choose. If they’d had sex once they believed they couldn’t refuse on future occasions.
That was over 30 years ago.
Part of my work with those women was to say that your body is your own and if sex is forced upon you without your active consent it is rape and a crime. Your previous sexual history with that person does not count. Consensual sex once or a hundred times is not a lifetime of implied consent.
The comments made over the last few days by some men in the public eye shows that this attitude is still alive and kicking. Galloway’s comments about ‘bad sexual etiquette’ show him in a despicable light and speaks volumes about his attitudes to women. We can assume that they are not based on respect, whatever the name of his party. I believe he should resign. The fact that he yet survives is an indication that many people share his viewpoint.
Sadly, shockingly, this attitude that yes once means yes forever is held by a larger segment of society too, and by our institutions and by the courts.
And sadly, shockingly, that speaks volumes about attitudes to women and is a terrible thing to pass on to our young women and young men.
The Rape Debate
We need this debate and we need idiots like some elected politicians, and men (sometimes women) in the public eye to let loose their beliefs; then we can challenge them and look at the underlying assumptions. The underlying assumption is that a woman’s body belongs to a man if she is in a relationship with him – that women are not equal to men.
Under no circumstances does a woman in a relationship belong to a man. She is not his commodity to do with as he wills and women need to have the confidence to know that. As a society we need to be giving that message long and loud, particularly to our youth, and to both genders. We need to demonstrate respect for women across the board; this is not an issue to be dealt with in isolation.
Rape Crisis has a free hotline number 0808 802 9999 for anyone affected by this issue.
You might also be interested to read Are You Asking For It?
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Posted on August 28th, 2012 by Jane