Sunday, 7 October 2012



I attended the SlutWalk march in Trafalgar Square, London. Arriving early, there was a crowd gathering for the event; a mixture of curious tourists, protesters and the SWP watched as the march came to view. I was overwhelmed by the protesters' spirit. They sang in perfect unison as they gathered around the square, where several spoke of their experiences of rape. What appeared consistent were the failings of the police in handling their cases, their lack of sensitivity, and value-laden biases to the trauma experienced. What I admire is the will of the women who did not want to be seen as victims, but as survivors.

Once more, I felt that the system had failed these women, in terms of the chauvinistic attitudes/assumptions made by the police, the rapist and society. It would be simplistic to solely blame the police for the lack of support handed to these women. The attitude of the police is a reflection of a wider social sphere that is ridden with biases and assumptions when the victim reports a rape.

We live in a selfish culture that blames the victim for wearing certain clothes, for encouraging the rapist. No one encourages rape. Rape is rape. Woman should be free to wear what they want, when they want, without stigma and prejudice. When the moralising pseudo liberal tells women that they are judged by the way they present themselves, this is another form of victim blaming. These attitudes are embedded in religious ideology, which tries to suppress/control female sexuality.

Rape culture says, 'it's okay to dress in 'provocative' clothes as long as I, the voyeur, can view you as an object, demean you of any value and dehumanise, humiliate and degrade the female form'. 

But rapists don't discriminate in terms of clothes, age or gender. Tell a child or an OAP, women formally/informally dressed, or a Muslim woman in traditional dress that they were also asking for it… Clothes are a weak excuse, it's all about power and ideas of entitlement.

We may ask why do men commit such a violation on another human being? We blame culture, the victim, bad parenting but never the assailants. Why do rapists rape? What makes them think that they are entitled?  Let's explore the culture of entitlement. Where women's bodies are commodified and objectified, as the grinding capitalist machinery regurgitates the next banal product at the expense of exploitative sexualised and infantilised images of women. Both capitalism and the media reinforce these beliefs of male entitlement. Childlike images of submission and availability are disseminated through advertising. In the UK, the tabloid The Sun's page 3 exploits the breasts of young women for every dysfunctional wanker who sits next to a girl on a train and signifies her 'availability' to his Neanderthal urges. This confusion transpires with the deranged sexual urges of an uncontrollable penis that thinks it knows better than the voice that keeps telling it, 'NO, STOP.'

Imagine the reverse where men are seen as objects of the female gaze, wolf whistled, groped and harassed at work, the subjects of lewd suggestions on transport late at night. After all, they're gagging for it…. I ask what would men do? Fight matriarchy?  As a society, I strongly believe we need to shift from our British reserve and not look away in discomfort to challenge the morons who think that one biological difference entitles them to a passport of female harassment.

Both men and women need to continue to challenge the attitudes prevalent in any culture that encourages negative representations of women's bodies and supports violation of space, where women are reduced to objects and men are applauded for their negative attitudes towards women. Additionally, the police need to rethink their attitudes towards the women, men and children whose bodies are violated. However this can only change when society's attitudes change, they are only reinforcing what's already there. We need to get to the heart.

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