Last week we saw a scandal in Westminster, one that unfortunately wasn’t at all surprising. UK Defence Secretary resigned amid allegations of sexual assault, following this an avalanche of accusations from all parties in UK politics. While Downing Street called the accusations ‘deeply concerning’, leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn addressed the ‘warped and degrading culture’. No one outwardly said, we have a problem and it’s been swept under the rug.
In the past year, sexual assault has been in the media particularly in the face of powerful figures. With the recent Hollywood conversation more and women and men are coming forward to share their stories about the abuse they had to deal with. In light of this, I believe that ultimately, we’re going to see more and more people coming forward because this isn’t an anomaly.
Recently, comedian Jo Brand hit the nail on the head as the only woman on the panel of Have I Got News For You when she said;
“If I could only say that as the only representative of the female gender here today, I know it’s not high level but it doesn’t have to be high level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons. And actually for women, if you’re constantly being harassed even in a small way, that builds up and that wears you down,”
And that is exactly what needs to be said. If, in the place that our laws are made and passed a woman feels unsafe, what hope is there for the rest of the country? Personally, I’m grateful for these women that are reporting and standing up to powerful people because it makes people recognise a problem that has, I’m sure, been happening for years.
I’m hoping that this is the start of change. That the voices that are speaking out and finally starting to be heard can break down the protection of those in power, in regards to sexual violence and assault.
As always, I want to hear from you and your thoughts! Let me know in the comments below!
This week the news has been focused on the allegations against Hollywood bigshot Harvey Weinstein, with scores of women coming forward to state that he has sexually assaulted, or in some cases, raped them. While the sheer amount of women coming forward is shocking, what was more so was the reaction of people around the world shaming the victims.
There was a variety of reasons why these women were set upon, claims that they had ‘waited too long’, that they were ‘asking for it’ or wanting attention. Some questioned whether these women were telling the truth. There was something missing, however, the trauma these women will have gone through and the outrage at Weinstein.
The fact that, yet again, women speaking out have come under fire when they have faced assault, to me, shows why we need feminism still in modern society. Rather than believe that these women have encountered a sexual predator. Their stories match up again and again. A young actress invited to a meeting about their career by a powerful man at a hotel, lead to his room where he attempted to get sexual favours or assaulted them.
With names such as Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale, Cara Delevigne and Gwyneth Paltrow all speaking about their own encounters we should be celebrating them for speaking out. Assault is incredibly difficult for a person to overcome and as these women speak out, and many more as the days pass, we shouldn’t be shaming them.
Unfortunately, we may never know the extent of this. This was a blatant act of using power to cause fear in young women. Knowing he was an incredibly successful figure, Weinstein, appeared to see himself as untouchable and able to treat these young women as he liked. At the time of writing, he is not working and has checked into a rehab centre. I’m hoping that in the coming weeks a police investigation will take things further.
If this case highlighted anything at all it’s that we need to think about the way we treat victims when they speak out. Instead of instantly questioning and trying to guess if they are guilty or not or if they ‘just want attention’. To imagine what they have gone through and the courage it must take to go to the police. We need to stand with victims of assault, and not to forget men can be victims too, and show them that they can speak out without fear or judgement.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have failed to have heard about that tape. The tape that Donald Trump dismissed as ‘locker room talk’ after shouting louder, but Bill Clinton did worse! As if the allegations against another man seemingly made his disappear and as more allegations against Trump come forward he deems his accusers ‘horrible women’, despite the fact he has been caught on camera many times, are not important. I don’t understand how this person could potentially be a leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world. After one of his comments, one girl decided she wasn’t going to take his comments lightly.
Courtesy of Twitter/@LMcCrystal
With his words and follow up Trump has tried to normalise sexual assault, calling it ‘locker room talk’. That has offended both men and women, who know that this isn’t the case. These comments are the type of things that lead to women being told to ‘lighten up’ or that ‘boys will be boys’, something that I’ve been at the centre of. I’ve had guys try and touch me when I’m out, who won’t take no for an answer and follow me around. I’ve had guys get aggressive or call me a ‘slut’ or a ‘whore’ or had lies spread about me because I’d turned them down and because they could. Because no one would question them. I’ve been in clubs and had a guy feel me up without permission and felt powerless as they’ve carried on watching after I’d shouted at them. People I’d been out with told me to ‘cool it’ and that it’s just the way it is.
The way these things are ignored and laughed off are not ok. Sexual assault is serious, because if people think they’re going to get away with it, they believe they can get away with more. This happens to both women and men, how can we start to crack down on this? How can we work on educating young people that this isn’t the norm when people in the public eye make comments like this. We need to keep talking about sexual assault. We need to stand up to the lies that this is just a part of life, because it’s not.
The Stanford Rapist was released this month, after a mere 3 months in jail after being convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, only to be caught by two men who tackled him to the ground. For women everywhere the fact that the rapist was ordered to serve 6 months (and got let out early for ‘good behaviour’) instead of the many years he could have served was a slap in the face. It was explained that a longer sentence would have a big impact on his life…with no mention of the young woman who has to live with the trauma of being raped for the rest of her life. Oh and he was and still is notoriously described as the ‘swimmer’ rather than rapist, a title he deserves.
Sexual Assault can happen to both men and women and both are considered a taboo to speak out about. While women are notoriously shamed for what they drank, who they go out with and what they wear, lawyers will also go to extreme lengths to make it sound like the woman ‘wanted it’. In this case, being unconscious behind a bin doesn’t add up to wanting sex, it adds up to being drugged and abused. I won’t write his name on my blog, because he is disgusting and repulsive plus any news outlet has too much information on him anyway. There have been an outpouring of emotional responses, none that touched my heart more than the video below:
It’s hard to have missed two huge news stories in the past few weeks. While this might be an uncomfortable topic, I want this blog to be honest and unflinching. We need to talk about Sexual Assault. Late last month the world was horrified to learn that a 16 year old girl had been recorded being gang raped by up to 30 men, it was then uploaded onto social media. As if this wasn’t bad enough, this week the media gaze shifted to the United States after a young woman had been raped while she lay unconscious behind a bin. The rapist was found guilty, but still the media focused on what he had lost. They focused on his athletic career and even his own father wrote about how his life had been ruined by ’20 minutes of action’, with no insight into how the young woman’s life had been changed after her ordeal.
This isn’t the first time this year we’ve been talking about sexual assault. Kesha is still battling the man she accuses of raping her and has been blocked making music unless she works with him. Lady Gaga stood up and wrote the beautiful song Til It Happens To You (above), performing it at the Oscars surrounded by fellow survivors of assault. With all this talk in the media, surely it has to get better… right?
It wasn’t until I came to university that I fully understood the extent of women being affected by sexual assault. On nights out girls were touched again and again, even when they said no. Guys would come up behind me and try and dance against or touch me, something I’m deeply uncomfortable with. They would shout remarks on my way home or try and grab me and then laugh. I know too many people who’s drinks have been spiked or who have been so drunk they could hardly speak, but were taken home by someone and had sex with.
The worst thing though? The worst thing is when you’re told that you’re making a ‘fuss over nothing’. When you’re told it’s sports night and they’re just trying to dance close to you. When you’re told that boys will be boys. When you’re told that when you launch someone across a dancefloor for touching you in a club you’re the one who needs to lighten up and get a grip. It’s still made out to be your fault. I was made to feel bad by other people for being angry that I’d been touched by someone and I didn’t want them too. I was pressured by classmates in my teens not to report someone when they thought it was ok to slap my butt and make comments because I was the only girl in class and couldn’t I take a joke? When I was 11 and the guys told me to go ‘suck it’ or when one boy pushed me up against a wall and was inappropriate, or when he beat me up my school didn’t care. We reported it but we were just kids this didn’t mean anything, he was just a naughty boy. So I just got on with my life and shouted when I got mad, every time I got told by someone in authority that I needed to ‘calm down’. Luckily that’s not how my family raised me.
It’s hard sometimes because you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. If I tried to report someone touching me up on a night out, nothing would happen. When we read about women getting attacked in the media the questions asked are ‘what were they wearing’ or ‘why were they alone at night’. When we read about a man getting attacked (because don’t forget, they do too) it’s made into a joke about how they should enjoy it. Recently a teacher was arrested for raping her 13 year old student, people were saying how ‘lucky’ he was. It was rape, he was a child and he was groomed and raped. That’s it.
While I appreciate that this is a heavy topic, it’s been tearing me up inside, reading all these reports. I don’t want to demonise men, not at all. I do, however, want to contribute to tackling the way rape and sexual assault are seen in the media, because only then will be get more convictions, more education and more support for the women and men who have faced such a terrible ordeal.
Scrolling through my Twitter feed tonight I come across the trending list to see what’s going on in the world. Something that caught my eye is the #westillloveyouCarter trend, there seemed to be a lot of anger so naturally I followed the story up. Carter, 19, is big on social media for his vines, as is his 16 year old ex girlfriend. This week a video was leaked of Carter trying to force the girl to not only give him oral sex but to also let it be filmed. Feeling sorry for himself after the backlash against him he created his own hashtag #weloveyouCarter about the situation which he insists has been ‘blown out of proportion’ on his twitter page. Ha, ha, no.
As a human being I’m disgusted and think that as there is VIDEO EVIDENCE he should have been arrested by now. Sexual abuse is not funny or something to defend as many of his followers have. As a woman I’m shocked and concerned at the sheer amount of young girls that are using the hashtag to support him. The kind of worship he has from these young girls is terrifying and it may lead to some of them accepting that this kind of activity is ‘normal’ from their boyfriends, partners, future husbands and not something that they can say no to.
Basically no means no. End of. No deal. The majority of young men understand this and respect it but there are some who feel that they can do whatever they like to a woman, that women are there for them. They feel that they can slap their bums in a club, make a sesxist comment at work or during sport, look at our boobs and not our faces and the absolute worst touch a woman in a place she does not want to be or force and act upon her.
I feel truly sorry for his ex girlfriend, he filmed her whilst she was saying no in a vulnerable position. That video is all over the internet and I’ll bet there are still some lowlifes saying it in some way is her fault. This will follow her for the rest of her life, how do you think she feels when her friends, her family know about this? It’s wrong. So my question is WHY are so many people supporting him and not her? Why is there not a hashtag #westandwithMaggie because that, after all, is who we should be supporting. That is who I as not just a woman but also as a human I am supporting her because no means no.