Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Anonymity of Rape Perpetrators

  The war against women continues, this time the chairwoman (that’s right, woman) Maura McGowan QC, has called for anonymity to be granted for rape perpetrators until conviction.  Victims of rape and sexual offences, who are overwhelmingly women and children, are granted anonymity as soon as they report a sexual offence against them.  Why is granting rape perpetrators so bad I hear you ask, after all innocent until proven guilty right? 

  Well there are many things wrong with granting them anonymity.  First off, only 2% of rape cases are false, whilst 82% of rape defendants walk. That is the highest rate in any crime.  No other perpetrators of any other crime are granted anonymity, except in very rare and extreme circumstances such as the perpetrator being a minor. 
  There are an estimated 78,000 rapes committed in the UK each year. 16,041 of them are reported.  2,873 prosecuted and 1,153 are convicted.  This is pretty disgraceful.  45% of rapes are committed by a current partner, which could explain why so few rapes are reported; also the fact that very few are prosecuted and then convicted plays a huge part as to why so many women don’t report rapes. 
  The big reason as to why I think rape perpetrators should not be granted anonymity is because this only helps rapists.  We already live in a rape culture where rape and sexual violence has been normalised and excused.  Only yesterday did I read a Facebook status where a guy asked "Why don't girls like to be raped?"  I mean really?  Do guys just not get that women don’t like to be touched without our permission, we don’t find it flattering and no, funnily enough we don’t like to be raped.   
  Victims are so often the ones to be put on trial when they have done nothing wrong, they are accused of being ‘sluts’ ‘liars’ and even ‘fantasists’.  They are often blamed for their rapes for just wearing a skirt or walking down the street at night.  I think if we were to grant rape perpetrators anonymity we would pretty much be saying “go right ahead, have your fill.” 
  Women are already frightened of reporting this horrific crime; you only have to look at the stats.  One great thing about the perpetrator being named, is other women who have also been a victim of this crime by this particular person, will find the courage to come forward when they know someone else has.  You only have to look at the Jimmy Saville case. 
  So no, rape perpetrators shouldn’t be given anonymity.  They should be named and shamed, sending out a message to other people who think they can get away with this hideous crime, that they will get the book thrown at them.  Well, that all depends on whether the defence decides to call the victim a fantasist or whether the judge wants to tell her to be more careful next time.    

Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Man's World

  So there was an article written a couple of weeks ago, by a woman called Suzanne Venker for Fox News titled "The War on Men." In it she states women are destroying marriage and consequently the world. 
  In the article it describes how “women have become the majority of the U.S. workforce and are also getting most of the college degrees.”  I fail to see this as a bad thing.  When women have spent years being underrepresented in workforces, only now are we breaking through and I for one am glad. 
  The article goes onto state “women aren’t women anymore.”  Well what the hell are we then?  Just because women have been fighting back against sexism, oppression, patriarchy and misogyny, doesn’t mean our vaginas have morphed into penises. 
  She also states in the article that women are angry, defensive and have been raised to think of men as the enemy.  This is complete rubbish.  As a feminist or woman fighting for equal rights, I don’t hate men. 
  It is society that angers me.  A society which makes pink cooking or cleaning toys for girls and blue science or DIY toys for boys.  A society which holds the traditional view of men going out to work and being the breadwinner, and women staying at home to look after the children. 
  A society that tells me to chill out when I get angry over sexist comments, being harassed or felt up on the street.  A society that feels sorry for a Paralympic athlete and his career, whilst he is faced with murder charges after killing his girlfriend.   
  When I see a sexist comment on social media sites or a colleague at work makes a sexist joke at my expense, my dad tells me to chill out, which incidentally only angers me further.  When I rage in despair at the fact the Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius being released on bail, my dad tells me there is nothing anyone can do, as we can’t change the laws of other countries.  I get frustrated over the fact that people told me to get an alarm after being harassed and grabbed on the street. 
  But this society is also made up of other women, so no, I don’t hate men.  I’m sick of people assuming I hate men just because I’m a feminist.  I am sick of people asking why I’m so angry or why am I bothered.  I am sick of having to say the same thing over and over again. 
  I am sick of having to fight for things, which concern me, my body and my lifestyle, no one else’s.  And I am sick of being asked why I care.  I will continue to fight, even if men or other women like Suzanne Venker  don’t like it.  I don’t hate men, but I am pretty sick with living in a man’s world. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Troubles With Feminism

   I am proud to be a feminist.  I am proud to be amongst other great women fighting against sexism, oppression, misogyny and patriarchy.  When I experience sexist behaviour, or I come across misogyny, I get angry and frustrated and then I want to vent. 
  When I experience these things I try to put across my views on it, trying to make people understand why sexism is so negative.  I also vent by writing about these things.  To me this is what feminism is about.  Or what I think it’s about. 
  I have to be honest, as a very new feminist, I don’t really know what the full extent of a feminist or feminism is.  I see all these words get thrown about, and I then try and spend my time reading through it and trying to work out what it is or what it all means. 
  I recently signed the No More Page Three petition and I have also brought the t-shirt.  But yesterday when I wrote about this on twitter, also saying I had brought a pro-choice t-shirt with the slogan “My Pussy, My Choice” on, I got a very negative response (also some positive).  I can understand how ironic it is saying I am against page three, but I want the choice of an abortion. 
  What I got from the responses, was that they thought I wanted to take away the choice of being a page three model.  But that’s not what I want at all.  I am against page three because I don’t believe it is right to use women’s naked bodies as a commodity, in any sense (and I know this happens elsewhere and not just on page three). 
  I don’t think it makes sense putting pictures of naked women in a newspaper, since that isn’t news.  I don’t want my nieces and other young girls growing up seeing this one body type, thinking that is how they have to look to get guys to drool over them.  And I also don’t want them growing up thinking this is all their worth. 
  They should have many different role models, and then if they decide that actually they do want to become a page three model, not because they think that’s all they can or should do, but because they want to, then that’s fine.  But last night I couldn’t seem to get that point across, and I felt a bit silenced by some people who it just seemed wanted to have a go. 
  So now I’ve decided to read through people’s blog posts, understand their idea of feminism and what they do, what they wish to fight and achieve and then maybe I’ll have a better understanding of it all.  I’ve realised that maybe trying to put my views and opinions across on things doesn’t always go so well as I’m not 100% sure on everything “feminism”. 
  I know I’m not going to change other people’s views or opinions, but I would like to be able to make them think twice about things.  But before I try to talk about certain things, or give someone my views and opinions I will make sure I know what I’m talking about.  From a down heartened feminist.      

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Sun - Stop Objectifying

  The Sun’s objectification of women has just hit a new high.  Yesterday they distastefully put a picture of Reeva Steenkamp on their front cover wearing, wait for it, a bikini.  A murdered woman and all they can think of is staring at her body, splashing it all over the front cover of their papers for men to drool over her and to make money for themselves. 
  Do they not realize she is a real person, a person who was cruelly robbed of her life and they’ve treated her as a commodity.  By putting this picture on their front page, The Sun has showed no respect for this poor murdered woman or her family and friends.  But they are not alone, I have watched and listened to news channels, and I can count on one hand the amount of times I have heard her name, they prefer to refer to her as Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend. 
  But she was much more than this.  She was a twenty nine year old law graduate and model, who publicly condemned violence against women.  However, a few papers and news channels have failed to recognise this. 
  It is time for us to put a stop to The Sun’s awful and increasing objectification of women.  Please sign this petition created by Hannah MCurtis, set up to demand an apology from The Sun and pass it onto family and friends, also encourage people to stop buying The Sun and together we will fight this sexist paper.  Here is a link to a blog post created by Hannah MCurtis, on how to put pressure on The Sun.     

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Response From MP Maria Miller On Equal Marriage

On the 3rd of February, I wrote to my local MP Maria Miller, asking to vote in support of the equal marriage bill. Here's her response recieved today.
Dear Ms Rogers,
Maria has asked me to thank you for your emailed letter in support of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.  I can confirm that Maria supported this Bill and that it passed the Second Reading in the House of Commons and has now moved on to the Committee Stage.
Lynn Fox
Secretary to the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Abortion - My Choice

  On the 4th of February the BBC aired an episode of Panorama on the topic of abortion.  As usually is the case with abortion, it seemed more people on the program were against rather than for.  Abortion is certainly not a rather nice subject to talk about and I’m sure there are many people who have issues against it, but it is fundamental that we women have that choice. 
  I’m starting to get a bit tired having to explain to people why we need abortion, why we should have the right to an abortion and why the Government should not meddle with the abortion time limit.  Most of us will know someone who has had an abortion, as by the time women are 45 almost one in three women in the UK will have had one.  
  I believe pro-life equals anti-woman, which is my opinion.  Many pro-life groups go on and on about protecting the life of an unborn child.  But what about the life of a woman, we’re not just here to incubate babies you know. 
  Imagine being forced to have a baby with a rapist.  Imagine being forced to have a baby with a blood-relative.  Imagine being forced to have a baby with an abusive man.  Imagine being drugged and forced to have a baby with an unknown man.  Imagine being forced to have a baby, even though you had safe sex. 
  Imagine all of that happening to; a child, a teenager, a mentally or physically challenged person, an alcoholic, a drug addict, a regular woman who just doesn’t feel like having a baby and then imagine that baby’s childhood.  Not all of abortions begin with unsafe sex.  Abortion does not last for a lifetime, but a life does. 
  People also say the time limit of 24 weeks should be lowered, as babies can survive outside of the womb at this stage.  In actual fact there is no new medical evidence to suggest such a cut would be a good idea.  Maria Miller is Minister for Women and describes herself as “a very modern feminist” yet she has stated she thinks the abortion limit should be reduced to 20 weeks, and don’t even get me started on what Nadine Dorries has said. 
  Women deserve the right to have autonomy over their own bodies, and we are entitled to make the decision to end or continue a pregnancy if that is what we want; it should not concern anyone else.  If the abortion time limit is reduced, this does not mean fewer abortions will be carried out. It will only mean that women who rely on the NHS will be forced to make a difficult decision with very little time to make it. 
  If the Government want to reduce abortions, they need to concentrate on education first and foremost.  People need better access to contraception, and I believe it should be made available at schools.  Schools also need to teach children not just about the facts of life, but about relationships, safe-sex, saying no and rape.  Perhaps that would help lower the percentage of rape cases and the vast number of teenage pregnancies, both reducing the amount of abortions.  Women have the right not to have a baby; it is our body, our womb and our choice.  Stop meddling.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Street Harassment - My Story

  On the 8th of January a hashtag called #ShoutingBack was created.  When I read the tweets I was quite alarmed at the content of them and the high amount of tweets that there was.  These were tales by women of all ages, on street harassment.  Reading them, I became quite enraged at what these women had gone through. 

@VintageRoseJaz walked home when I was 14.Man said “hello pretty lady” ignored him and he replied with “Well fuck you then” #ShoutingBack

@SelinC Being followed by a car of teenage boys who then tried to reverse into me when I wouldn’t talk to them #ShoutingBack

@TheAfricanHippy Walking home in the afternoon. Drunk guy says: If I knew where you lived, I’d follow you home and rape you. #ShoutingBack

  #ShoutingBack was created by The Everyday Sexism Project. http://www.everydaysexism.com/

  Tweeted Stories range from women being abused verbally in the street, to disturbing reports of physical assault or grabbing on public transport.  For many women being catcalled, groped and sometimes even assaulted on the street is the norm.  It is what happens almost every day. 

  Hundreds of tweets were posted in just a few hours.  The hashtag has shone a light on the sheer volume of this problem.  It has also given women a platform and a voice where they could speak about their experiences, when many before have felt silenced.  The trended hashtag showed the rest of twitter just how rife the problem is today. 

  Laura Bates from The Everyday Sexism Project told Stylist magazine:

  One of the big problems with street harassment is that if you don't experience it, you rarely see it, so there's a huge lack of awareness about just how serious the issue still is.  We started #ShoutingBack as part of the Everyday Sexism Project’s goal of uncovering ‘invisible’ forms of sexism.  We wanted to open the world’s eyes to the serious harassment women still face on a daily basis.”  http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/shouting-back-hashtag-street-harassment#image-rotator-1

  I myself have been subjected to street harassment and it is one of the most terrifying things to go through.  I have been followed and asked for money, but the most frightening occasion was the time I was grabbed in broad daylight.  There were two of them, one guy just stood near me laughing as his friend grabbed me from behind. 

  He pulled at my arm as his other hand was on my waist, trying to drag me down another street.  It was two o’clock on a sunny afternoon and there were many people walking past, but no one bat an eye lid.  Luckily I managed to get away from the two men and ran a mere few metres to my work. 

  I was shaking and only just managed to tell my boss.  I rang the police and made a statement.  They rang me a few days later telling me they had seen the incident taking place on CCTV, but because I wasn’t assaulted or sexually assaulted, they wouldn’t be taking the matter any further. 

  I was angry.  I was angry at the fact these guys did this to me, I was angry because no one who was walking past stopped to help or ask if I was ok, and I was angry because the police did nothing.  What if they strike again, this time with a younger girl? 

  Ever since then I have avoided that street.  Every time I pass a stranger in the street I avoid all eye contact.  If I hear someone walking behind me, I speed up.  That incident has made me paranoid. 

  When I read through the tweets submitted by women to the #ShoutingBack hashtag, it made me angrier.  No one should have to go through anything like that just when walking down the street.  I promised myself then, I would no longer be frightened when walking down the street.  I have a right to be there, just like anyone else. 

  Street harassment is not a compliment and is in actual fact a human rights violation, gender violence and a crime which must end.  All our stories matter greatly, let’s all do some #ShoutingBack at this violating crime, these are also our streets.  The fight back has begun.

If you would like to read other shouting back stories, here is a link to the twitter hashtag. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23shoutingback&src=typd