So I’m not a raging feminist and I don’t normally post semi-political rants. In fact with the increase of twitter users in my daily life and consequently the increase in people that could read this that I possibly interact with in the real world I tend to think thrice about what I post, its different from just posting out into the internet-wilderness. But I do believe in equality and sometimes things really get my goat. It could be something small, that at first is just a minor irk, but once that seed is planted I notice more and more and more (et al) until I’m bubbling with rage reading some drivel or other on the internet. Yes, I am aware of the irony, and I am going to go ahead anyway…
My facebook newsfeed threw up a picture shared by a school-friend the other day. One of these generic pictures accompanied by well meaning advice. I say advice, I don’t think thats what it was. Headed up “through a rapist’s eyes – please take the time to read this, it may save a life”, the description went on to helpfully share information which was apparently gleaned from interviews with convicted rapists. They list out 10 points of good info to pass along, 7 points that we should remember and another 8 that we should please remember as well, thats 25 gems to take onboard.
While I’m quite sure that the person I know who shared this did so with the best of intentions I was sorry I read it. At almost every point the blame was placed with the female victim. For instance, point number 1 – what does a rapist look for in a potential victim? Hair they can grab onto. Quick ladies, best all run to the hairdressers, no scrap that, the barbers will do – I’ll have a short back and sides please, or an all over buzz cut might be better, don’t want to take any chances. Point number 2 was clothing – and quite specifically clothing that could be removed with a scissors…. COME ON, if someone is so intent on making an attack on another person, male or female, that they are carrying around a pair of scissors to cut off their victims clothing, well I don’t quite know how to factor that into my morning dressing routine – maybe some armour, some chainmail, some cutting resistant fabric??? Oh and don’t even consider going somewhere alone in your car… you may as well hang an available light like a taxi around your neck, don’t walk to the carpark on your own, don’t sit in your car on your own, don’t do something so ridiculous as to get into your car using the drivers door when there is a car parked next to it, oh no, you need to use the passenger side and climb across. What if there’s a car parked on both sides you ask??? Unfortunately they didn’t go that far with their advice, but the only logical solution to me in that case would be to open your boot, remove the parcel shelf and shimmy yourself up and over the backseat, through the gap between the front seats, mind the handbrake now, and into the driver seat – simples. And don’t forget to drive away straight away, infact every time you get in a car pretend you are the get away driver and take off with squealing rubber as fast as you can because you know nothing says attack me, rape me, take me now, like a split second of dillydallying to put you bag or your phone down or turn on the ignition. Maybe someone could invent a car especially for us ladies that starts the engine as soon as we press a remote button, it could start reversing towards us as we approach, open the door by sensor and hey presto we jump in while the vehicle is already moving. Much safer.
Don’t people get that it is not the victims fault? The clue is in the word there – they are victims of a crime, of a horrific attack and listing out ridiculous lists of things that us females of the species should or shouldn’t do is not helpful – don’t walk home alone, don’t get a taxi alone, don’t drive your own car alone – if you’re going to follow such advice you’d want to be pretty damn sure that your 24/7 male chaperone and protector doesn’t turn out to be one of those attackers who knows their victim.
Nor is it respectful to victims of such attacks, why? BECAUSE IT WAS NOT THEIR FAULT, just like if a man is attacked, violently and/or sexually, its not his fault either. The problem is with the perpetrator of the attack.
“Send this to any woman that you know that may need to be reminded that the world that we live in has a lot of crazies in it and its better to be safe than sorry” – I’m sorry you can fuck right off with your passive aggressive blame laying.
And you know who else can fuck off? the Pope. Thats right, the head of the institution that is the Catholic Church. The religion that I, and most of the people in Ireland, were raised to be a part of. The same institution that has systemically violated the trusted position they held – running homes/prisons for disgraced women and covering up decades of child abuse perpetrated by its employees, by its teachers, by those very beacons of our communities and parishes. The Pope, bless his cottoners, is disappointed in us. He’s dismayed that our government ministers, (who I might add were elected to do this very job, not him) are finally, FINALLY getting the proverbial finger out and making moves like they are going to legislate to clear up the legal and medical minefield that has at turns been muddled through or more often ignored with heads buried deep in the sand since the Supreme Court 20 years ago ruled that it was not ok to force a 14 year old victim of sexual abuse to continue on with the resulting pregnancy until full term, it was not ok to keep her in the country, to stop her and her family from going to the UK where the pregnancy could be legally terminated, it was not ok for the State to try and silence, her, her family, her doctors, her legal advisers, and anyone or everyone who could possibly hear of such a scandal. It was not ok.
And its still not ok. The only reason they are now shuffling around and looking for a decent solution is the recent death of a woman who was refused, potentially lifesaving, treatment. A woman who was apparently left in agony for 3 days, after being told that she was miscarrying – that her pregnancy was ending – could not receive a medical termination. I fail to see the logic. I fail to understand how our apparently first world country, our university hospitals, ours centres of medical excellence can be the scene of such shocking events that were perversely similar to a recent shocking storyline in a certain period drama, set I would guess, about a century ago.
So the Pope doesn’t get to butt his silly little head into this. He doesn’t get to look down on us because we are taking action. Not when, for too long, (and not long enough ago) his institution’s choice of action in similar circumstances was to lock the offending girl up in a laundry, work her to the bone throughout her pregnancy and then take away her baby when/if it was eventually born – wanted, planned, unexpected, evidence of abuse, whatever – that was all irrelevant, you had brought shame on your family, your parish, your church, you name it. We have too many people in this country that have been hurt and damaged and let down by that particular institution for him to announce that he is dismayed with us.
I’m dismayed. I’m dismayed that it took us this long to get here, that people in the world still think a victim could’ve done something to stop an attack from happening to them, that countless women have been put through un-necessary trauma either at the hands of an attacker or of a faceless bureaucracy or rule. I’m dismayed that I can’t do anything about it.