Facebook Blocks Another Feminist Campaigner

As was inevitable, Facebook has just blocked another feminist campaigner for posting “abusive images”; that would be the poster linked above. The administrator of the Australian Destroy the Joint FB page was blocked yesterday for sharing the poster.

Now, I’m not very surprised by this. We all know Facebook is deeply misogynistic. The campaign by Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project, Women Media Action and Soraya Chemaly to make Facebook take responsibility for the misogyny and violence against women perpetuated on their site was a victory. Making Facebook acknowledge their violence against women was only the first step.  It was an incredible first step which accomplished something I never thought would be possible.

However, acknowledging getting Facebook to acknowledge their misogyny and violence against women isn’t enough. We need to keep supporting the amazing women who fronted the campaign by continuing to report offensive pages.

It is far too easy to assume that victory will change things immediately but that’s the lazy way out. 

We need to ensure that Facebook follows through with their promise to end misogyny.

We need to keep holding them accountable. 

Far too often, we believe the promises made and do not enforce accountability.

We need to hold Facebook accountable today and forever.

Sex Worker vs Prostitute: Who Gets to Define the Terms of the Discussion

I have been thinking about this issue for a while but have been unwilling to write it. Partly, I’ve been worried about causing unnecessary distress but equally because I have already been attacked online for my stance on the entirety of the sex industry including lap-dancing clubs and pornography. I didn’t want to pop my head above the parapet again. 

I wouldn’t have written this had I not seen yet another discussion on twitter today stating that only sex workers were allowed to have opinions on sex work or the sex industry.

Apparently, the sex industry is the only industry in which you can only have an opinion if you are/ were involved in it. This does beg the question as to why people who were never involved in it have the right to dictate who can or cannot speak about the industry. Surely the logical conclusion of not being allowed to speak about the sex industry means you also aren’t allowed to decide who gets to speak about the sex industry? Perhaps, I am just confused and you are allowed to have an opinion but only if you are pro-sex industry. 

I have never worked within the sex industry. Like all my political positions, I came to my decision through research. I have read blogs, books and other forms of personal testimony by women who have exited the industry. I have read blogs, books and other forms of personal testimony by women who are still working in the industry. I have read radical feminist research and research from those who are pro-sex industry. I stand by my position.

I do not like the term sex industry. I have used it until this point to cover everything from lap-dancing clubs to Playboy to pornography and to prostitution. However, I just want to focus on the difference between the terms sex worker and prostitute. Whilst I would never tell a woman how they can and cannot label themselves, I do find the current insistence on using the term sex worker is a silencing tactic. The term sex worker implies a positive experience. Many women, both currently working and those who are exited, prefer to use the term prostitute to define their experience. They use it because the word prostitute has a negative connotation.

My question, as a radical feminist, is which term do I use to accurately define my political position without causing unnecessary distress to women. I prefer to use the word prostitute because I think it more accurately reflects the experience of the majority of the women and children whose bodies are sold. Yet, there are women who self-label as sex workers. Do I have the right to tell them how to self-label? Do they have the right to tell other women that they cannot self-define as prostitutes. 

What I find most worrying is that there is a concerted effort to silence women, especially exited women, from using the word prostitute. Even if I believed that it was not possible to have an opinion on a subject without it directly effecting you (which is clearly ludicrous), why aren’t women allowed to use the term prostitute to define their own experience? Why are we privileging the voices of some women over the voices of others? 

I would never tell a woman how they can self-define. I do have a problem with women being told whether or not they are allowed to call themselves prostitutes. I do have a problem with what is clearly a well-funded industry dictating who is allowed to speak. I’ve seen the vitriol and personal attacks on blogs written by exited women. I’ve seen them belittled, denigrated and publicly attacked for daring to speak in negative terms about their own experiences.

I am willing to believe that some women have positive experiences as sex workers. Why is it so dangerous to believe that other women do/ did not? 

If we are going to follow this new rule about only being allowed to have opinions on things which effect us directly, then why are women not allowed to define their experience by using the word prostitute?

I would really like those online feminists who are pro-sex work but who are not actually sex workers explain why the voices of exited women don’t count.

I want to know why we must use the term sex work with no attention paid to those who use the word prostituted to define themselves?

I respect the right of those who choose the term sex work but I also respect the right of those who use the term prostitute. I may find the term sex work deeply problematic, and that is an understatement, but I will not tell another woman how to define themselves. Why isn’t the same respect extended to women who prefer the term prostitute? Why are exited women attacked over and over again online without any support?

UPDATE: I got these tweets today from the organisation NorMas:

NorMAs ‏@NorMAs_201239m@LeStewpot We’re often told it’s not ‘sex worker’ vs ‘prostitute’ but ‘prostituted’. Many exited women uncomfortable with ‘prostitute’ too. 

NorMAs ‏@NorMAs_201239m @LeStewpot We tend to use ‘women in prostitution’ and ‘exited women’ as compromise, avoiding ‘prostitute’ or ‘sex worker’.

I prefer these terms “women in prostitution” or “exited” women. The term sex worker feels too vague due to the size of the “sex industry”. 



Dr Christian: Apparently, he invented twitter.


Dr. Christian Jessen is on yet another misogynistic spree on twitter. He does this frequently as he really, really dislikes it when women challenge his knowledge. I first came across him nearly 18 months ago on twitter. I knew about his reality TV show but I had never watched it since I think all reality TV is exploitative and hateful. His “Embarrassing Bodies” is up there with Gok Wan on the misogynistic body-shaming stakes.

I would have ignored him completely had a member of Mumsnet not retweeted a particularly nasty comment of Jessen into my twitter feed. Basically, Jessen had called into question the fuckability of women with leg hair. This was, apparently, the appropriate response to a member of Mumsnet tweeting Jessen to point out his information on breast feeeding was incorrect. Jessen was helpfully suggesting that breastfeeding “ruined” women’s breasts. Ignoring, the misogynistic body-shaming in that statement, it’s actually also not true. The rapid weight gain and loss during pregnancy changes the shape of women’s breasts. There is also research that suggests that breast-feeding helps women retain the shape of their breasts but, actually, that bit is irrelevant.

Dr. Christian took to twitter to make factually incorrect statements about breast-feeding and dismissed the women questioning him as unfuckable due to their leg hair.

He then proceed to suggest that breastfeeding was kind of creepy, which is also not exactly a pro-woman stance. A pro-woman stance on infant feeding is to ensure that women have all the correct information and support so that they can then choose the option which works best for themselves and their baby. Suggesting breast-feeding makes women unfuckable by ruining their breasts is misogyny.

Now, I totally would have ignored him as yet another obvious misogynistic troll had Jessen not gone to suggest that the women questioning him were “hysterical”. As you can imagine, I did not take kindly to that suggestion.

Nor did I find Jessen’s suggestion that we should thank him for giving us a platform in which to air our views.

Because Jessen, clearly, invented both twitter and the internet.

Because without Jessen us poor “girls” (as he dismissively refers to us) couldn’t possibly have a public platform in which to discuss our views.

Like, say, the internet.

Welcome to the Patriarchy Where Women Apologise for Being Victims of Male Violence

Katy Perry expressed an opinion publicly. Obviously, this was a rookie mistake since we all know that women are simply not allowed to express their own opinions. As such, Katy Perry was threatened with both physical and sexual violence. So, she apologised.

Katy Perry expressed dislike for one song and the 17 year old rapper responded to her with threats of physical and sexual violence and she was forced to apologise.

We are actually at the point in our culture where a 17 year old boy thinks its acceptable to threaten a woman for disliking his song.


I have never heard of the rapper before but I’m adding him to the #DickheadDetox. These men need to learn to take responsibility for their words. Frankly, I’m rather hoping Perry changes her mind and charges with threatening behaviour.

The people who buy his music are equally culpable. We need to stop financially supporting violent men. Without the stupid people who buy his music, this arsehole wouldn’t have a public platform on which to spew such abusive behaviour.

(Both screenshots are from the article at Policy Mic)


Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women

Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality was first published in 1995 and grew out of her work and activism following the publication of Female Sexual Slavery in 1979. The first half of the book, which is just theory, is brilliant. The second half felt outdated as it is based almost entirely on the research undertaken for Female Sexual Slavery. I would argue that the situation is actually worse now than it was even 10 years ago, particularly in relation to rape as an accepted tactic of war. I’d be interested to read an epilogue to the book which examines the reality of women’s experiences of sexual exploitation now and whether Barry thinks it is worse for women or if its just that I’ve become more aware of sexual exploitation.

I cannot recommend this book enough though. Barry’s theory on the global exploitation of women is incredibly important. She destroys the idea that prostitution can be consented to within a capitalist-patriarchy. She clearly proves that the sexualisation of human bodies renders women passive objects and men active participants. Barry challenges the heteronormative construction of pornography and prostitution and the hegemonic nature of capitalism which is built on the bodies of women.

I am adding this book to my list of Top Ten Feminist Theory Texts (in no particular order):

1. Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse

2. Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences. 

3. Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women

4. Kat Banyard’s The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today

5. Susan Maushart’s Wifework: What Marriage Really Means for Women

6. Sheila Jeffreys’ Beauty and Misogyny

7. Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue

8. Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics

9. Melinda Tankard Reist’s Big Porn Inc

10. Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women

Andrew Parsons: Wife Murderer but still a "Good Father"


Andrew Parsons has been found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of his wife Janee Parsons. Andrew murdered his wife in front of their young son. The murder was captured on a dictation machine that Andrew had hidden under Janee’s bed to spy on her. He stalked his wife and then he murdered Janee.

Janee’s crime: having an affair and ending her marriage to Andrew. Andrew murdered Janee because she ended their relationship. Yet, the judge, Patrick Eccles, summation includes the following phrases:

“You were overwhelmed in my judgement by jealous rage.

“Nobody can predict the psychological harm which will be significant to your son.

“You were and no doubt are a good father, you will suffer for the rest of your life knowing the harm you have caused to them.”

Eccles has not only excused Andrew’s violence by labelling it “jealousy” and, therefore, abnormal, he has also chosen to claim that Andrew was a “good father”. Jealous men are not good fathers. Good fathers do not murder their former partners in front of their children. Any man who chooses to abuse or murder his (former) partner is not a “good” father. He is a violent man.

Andrew Parsons lawyer, who at least should be expected to engage in victim-blaming, claimed that Parsons was “clinically depressed” and under “extreme pressure”. Many people are clinically depressed and under extreme pressure and they do not murder their (former) partners.

Janee Parsons was brutally murdered by her former husband, yet the judge has implied that it is her fault for making Andrew jealous.

There are no excuses for violence.

Jealousy is used as an excuse to diminish men’s responsibility for their violence.

Jealousy is used as a way of blaming women for their brutal murder at the hands of violent current or former partners.

Janee Parsons was brutally murdered. Her son saw his mother being murdered. They are the victims of this crime; not Andrew.

Dear Cannes Film Festival, Roman Polanski is a Child Rapist.

 Dear Cannes Film Festival,

Roman Polanski is a child rapist.

I know I’ve written this exact same letter before, although last time it was to the British Film Institute. I’m sure you are bored of hearing this. I’m certainly finding writing this over and over and over again somewhat tedious but people seem to be struggling with this issue. Still.

So, for the record, Roman Polanski is a convicted child rapist who is also a fugitive from justice.

It doesn’t matter how many “good” films he makes, or how many stupid people make excuses for him because he’s an “artiste”, Roman Polanski will always be a convicted child rapist.

Roman Polanski gave a 13 year old a quaalude in champagne and then vaginally, orally and anally raped her.

I know Polanski has trouble understanding the fact that raping children is a despicable crime for which he should still be in prison. After all, there are no end of rape apologists telling him that it was completely okay for him to rape a child [see: the entire audience the night he won the Oscar for the Pianist].

There is a reason he’s blithering on about equality for women being a bad thing and the birth control pill “ruining romance”. Polanski does not want to take responsibility for the child he was convicted of raping nor does he want anyone to question the clearly illegal sexual relationship he had with Natassja Kinski when she was only 15 years old.


Every single person who pays to see Polanski’s films is supporting rape culture.

Every single actor who appears in a Polanski film is supporting rape culture.

Every single organisation that gives Polanski awards for his films is supporting rape culture.

Every single person who uses the word “historical” to refer to Polanski’s rape conviction is supporting rape culture.

Every journalist who does not mention Polanski’s conviction for rape is supporting rape culture.

Roman Polanski is a child rapist who fled from California because he did not want to go to prison.

Roman Polanski gave a 13 year old a quaalude in champagne and then vaginally, orally and anally raped her.

He should be in prison; not receiving awards at your Festival.

Louise Pennington

Nick Ross: Not all Rape is Rape (with trigger warnings)

Nick Ross, creator of the BBC’s Crimewatch, has written a book about Crime. I have never actually seen Crimewatch and I was not familiar with Nick Ross until I read his article in the Daily Mail today. Ross’ Wikipedia page implies his research skills and knowledge are impeccable, yet he’s written an article for the Daily Mail which is basically a list of myths about violence against women. The entire article blames women for being victims of male violence. 

What the DM article demonstrates is that Ross hates feminists. Every single “fact” about violence against women that Ross tries to debunk is used to demonise feminists. Apparently, feminists paint women as “victims” of male violence and that it’s feminists fault women are frequently victimised by men because we do not hold women accountable for the violence perpetrated against them. 

Ross deliberately misunderstands research into domestic violence to imply that women are as likely as men to commit DV and ignores the research into “gaslighting”. He also blames women for lashing out at a violent partner. Ross conveniently neglects to mention that the “research” which “proves” that women commit domestic violence as frequently as men has been disproven because it is deeply flawed.  That “research” was based on frequency of reporting of domestic violence. If we were to look at it simplistically based only on that criteria then women do commit domestic violence as frequently as men. This research ignores two very basic issues: 1) women frequently experience domestic violence 30-40 times before reporting; and 2) the issue of gaslighting. Gaslighting is emotionally abusive behaviour wherein the male partner harasses their, usually female, partner into lashing out physically. The male partner then has “evidence” that his female partner is as abusive as he is. This “evidence” is used to control and belittle the female partner further, especially if their are children involved. That is domestic violence. It is not evidence that women are as violent as men; it is evidence of the myriad of ways in which men are violent.

Ross makes some bland statements about the differentiation in sentencing between men and women for crimes without taking into account the gendered construction of crime which does give women harsher punishments than men. He does point out that women are more likely to receive harsher sentences for sex crimes than men are but he neglects to point out that women are more likely to be incarcerated than men for their first crime. Men are frequently incarcerated for crimes of violence whilst women are incarcerated for crimes which are the consequence of severe abuse, substance misuse, poverty and male violence. Women receive custodial sentences for shoplifting at much higher rates than men.

The entire article is deeply offensive and wrong but it is the section on rape which is truly appalling. This is what Ross says about rape: 

Rape is one of the most violating crimes. Victims tend to feel dirty, embarrassed, racked with revulsion and self-blame, and, since it almost always involves a male assailant, rape is one of the defining issues for radical feminism. But have the red mists of politics and emotion clouded reality here? 

Rape victims were once treated appallingly, as though it was all their fault, but have we now gone too far the other way? Many of the victims seem to think we have. The main argument of my book is this: we can aggravate crime by tempting fate, and we curb it by playing safe. 

We have come to acknowledge it is foolish to leave laptops on the back seat of a car. We would laugh at a bank that stored sacks of cash by the front door. We would be aghast if an airport badly skimped on its security measures. 

Our forebears might be astonished at how safe women are today given what throughout history would have been regarded as incitement. Not even in the licentious days of Charles II in the 17th Century was it acceptable for women to dress as provocatively as they have done in Western culture since the 1960s.

Equally they would be baffled that girls are mostly unescorted, stay out late, often get profoundly drunk and sometimes openly kiss, grope or go to bed with one-night stands. 

No amount of temptation can excuse rape, or any other crime. On that point ‘slutwalk’ demonstrators [those reacting against a Canadian policeman whose advised women to ‘avoid dressing as sluts’ if they did not want to be harassed] are obviously correct. Yet for some it is heresy to suggest that victims should ever be held responsible at all.

Apparently, women are responsible for being raped for just being in possession of a vagina in public. After all, the suggestion that we hold individuals responsible for having their laptops stolen if left on the front seat of the car is the same as women making themselves vulnerable to rape by going out in public in clothes. It is women’s fault for getting raped by wearing “provocative clothes”. Men can’t possibly be expected to control themselves when they see a woman in a skirt. One has to wonder what babies wear which is “provocative”? Or, elderly women? Or, women in jeans? 

Ross also ignores the fact that the vast majority of women are raped by men they know. How are women supposed to avoid being raped by their husbands? Fathers? Boyfriends? Employers? How are women supposed to avoid being raped in their own homes? Statistically, women are much safer completely intoxicated at 3 in the morning in a town centre than they are in their own homes. But, we don’t talk about that: instead we focus on the women who are raped by strangers and then blame the women for being “provocative”. 

Not content with blaming women for being raped, Ross goes on to discourage women from reporting rapes within their relationships:

Bear in mind that some of the allegations are made weeks or even years after the event took place, and the average rape case takes nearly two years to come to trial. When cases do go to court, 55 per cent result in a conviction. 

Could it be that court proceedings are not always the best way of dealing with what happens in relationships? If that is the case, could it be that women (and men who are raped) are generally acting wisely if they choose not to take that route?

Perhaps, I am confused but I am fairly sure rape in a relationship is as illegal as rape by a stranger. But, Ross wants women to forgo reporting their violent partners. Men’s lives and reputations are, as ever, more important than the bodily integrity and safety of women. Would Ross suggest that children not report being raped by their fathers; after all, these constitute relationships too. God forbid, we actually hold men legally responsible for their own actions.


Ross continues his victim-blaming by attacking women involved in prostitution. Now, it is true that some women are involved in the sex industry through choice but these women are not statistically representative of women who are prostituted and trafficked. Many of the women who are prostituted are first prostituted as children. Many have histories of sexual abuse and are substance misusers. Poverty is a huge indicator of women’s vulnerability to sexual exploitation. Not all women who are prostitutes are victims of sexual exploitation but for every Belle du Jour, there are literally hundreds of teenage girls and boys being trafficked across cities, the UK and the world. To pretend otherwise is to ignore the realities of the lives of thousands of women and children across the UK.

Ross is quite clear though: it is feminists, especially radical feminists, fault women think they are victims. If women didn’t think they were victims, then they wouldn’t be victimised. Women are at least partially responsible for being victims of domestic violence and rape. Men who rape are “provoked”.

Men are not responsible for the violence they commit because women shouldn’t make themselves vulnerable to crime.

Welcome to the Capitalist-Patriarchy: where the lives of women and children are irrelevant.

This is the full DM article. I have reproduced it in its entirety so that you do not have to click on the DM site and increase their advertising revenue:


It’s heresy, I know. But not all women are victims. And not all rape is rape: It is a view that will outrage many, but Crimewatch creator NICK ROSS insists it is a debate we must not flinch from

Despite a century of feminism, and perhaps partly because of it, women are still mostly portrayed as weak when it comes to the issue of crime. It is 80 years since cinema audiences first thrilled to King Kong abducting the hapless blonde Ann Darrow – her only defence was her beauty.

Even now, much of the news and comment about women and crime tends to smack of sexism and stereotyping – some of it promoted by radical campaigners who are perversely keen to depict the sisterhood as ready victims.

So how much of women’s portrayal in crime stories is fair, or even true? For example, is domestic violence as one-sided as it seems? Is prostitution mostly victimisation, or emancipation? And why, if equality is a goal, do women get much shorter sentences than men for similar offences? Or, paradoxically, if they cross the Rubicon into sex crime, why are they reviled much more than men?
Why, all things considered, do women suffer far less deliberate injury than men. And what about rape? It is plainly objectionable to reproach a victim for her own misfortune – so why do so many women do it? It is common knowledge spiked drinks are a potent menace, but is it a modern myth?

These are all important questions that any sceptic ought to pose. Yet while challenges to orthodoxy were once scorned because of appalling chauvinism, they now risk the wrath of feminists.

Take domestic violence, for example. It is almost universally portrayed as though the perpetrators are men. Indeed, in 1989 the Canadian Journal Of Behavioural Science published the results of a survey that was celebrated as a classic exposé of ‘battered wives’, and was taken up as proof of typical male perfidy.

However, two years later the Journal acknowledged a different side to the story after the data had been re-analysed. While 10.8 per cent of the men surveyed had pushed, grabbed or thrown objects at their spouses, 12.4 per cent of women had done so too. And although 2.5 per cent of men used serious violence, so did 4.7 per cent of women.

Marilyn Kwong, who carried out the new analysis, also examined eight other studies and found the pattern was universal. Inconvenient facts had been cut out.


Feminism did a vital job putting domestic violence on the agenda – most police officers now take it seriously, and in some force areas it represents one in six emergency responses. Yet the success of feminism and its flattery by mainstream authority meant that for decades professional interventions assumed that men were always the aggressors, and if women were violent, they must have been acting in self-defence.

It is widely claimed that one woman in four is subjected to domestic violence, though depending on the source, that figure might include minor physical assault, feeling afraid or suffering mild psychological abuse – and any of this at some stage in their lives.

If three-quarters of women went through life without ever once fearing some form of mental or physical attack, however inconsequential, that would be more surprising.

Many reports also ignored the thought that women can be violent to men. Erin Pizzey, the feminist who, in 1971, founded one of the world’s first women’s refuges, has been trying ever since to set the record straight.

She once wrote: ‘I will never forget one woman, who was staying in my refuge, telling me in chilling tones, “Knives are a great leveller”… The truth is that much of the violence takes place in squalid, tortured relationships, often involving drink and drugs, where both partners are guilty of verbal and physical assault.’

In Britain, a large Home Office survey in 1995 found that 4.2 per cent of men said they had been physically assaulted or injured by their partner within the previous year – precisely the same figure as for women. When 15 years of British findings were put together in 2012, they told an essentially consistent story: between 30 and 40 per cent of those assaulted were men and they suffered a quarter of all the attacks.

Although in many cases neither men nor women reported injury or emotional effects, about one in ten in both genders had suffered bleeding or broken bones, and three per cent of men and two per cent of women had later attempted suicide.

The same thing was found in a health survey in New Zealand.

Not that most men would confess how they were injured. Women are twice as likely as their male partners to confide in a professional, five times more likely to tell a doctor or a nurse, and three times as likely to go to the police.

None of this diminishes the horror of domestic abuse, especially when it is repeated, severe and one-sided. Women do tend to come off worst, and a small proportion of them suffer relentlessly. However, we should not underestimate the extent of mutual aggression that takes place within the hurly-burly of human discord. Nor should we forget the extent of emotional bullying, where the wounds don’t show. So let us turn to the other crime with which women are almost exclusively identified as victims: rape.

As far as we can tell, about four per cent of British women are raped at some point in their lives, some repeatedly. About 0.6 per cent of women (and 0.1 per cent of men) are victims of rapes and other serious sexual assaults each year.
Rape is one of the most violating crimes. Victims tend to feel dirty, embarrassed, racked with revulsion and self-blame, and, since it almost always involves a male assailant, rape is one of the defining issues for radical feminism. But have the red mists of politics and emotion clouded reality here?

Rape victims were once treated appallingly, as though it was all their fault, but have we now gone too far the other way? Many of the victims seem to think we have. The main argument of my book is this: we can aggravate crime by tempting fate, and we curb it by playing safe.

We have come to acknowledge it is foolish to leave laptops on the back seat of a car. We would laugh at a bank that stored sacks of cash by the front door. We would be aghast if an airport badly skimped on its security measures.
Our forebears might be astonished at how safe women are today given what throughout history would have been regarded as incitement. Not even in the licentious days of Charles II in the 17th Century was it acceptable for women to dress as provocatively as they have done in Western culture since the 1960s.

Equally they would be baffled that girls are mostly unescorted, stay out late, often get profoundly drunk and sometimes openly kiss, grope or go to bed with one-night stands.

No amount of temptation can excuse rape, or any other crime. On that point ‘slutwalk’ demonstrators [those reacting against a Canadian policeman whose advised women to ‘avoid dressing as sluts’ if they did not want to be harassed] are obviously correct. Yet for some it is heresy to suggest that victims should ever be held responsible at all.

There was an outcry when our Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cut recompense to rape victims who had ‘contributed’ to their plight through ‘excessive’ drinking. The decision had to be reversed. But for any other crime, compensation can be reduced according to ‘the conduct of the applicant before, during or after the incident’.

There was another outcry in 2011 when Ken Clarke, the then Justice Secretary, was urged to resign by Labour leader Ed Miliband for using the words ‘serious rape’.

The transcript of the interview makes it clear that Clarke meant aggravated rape, but it has become sacrilege to suggest that there can be any gradation: rape is rape.

The real experts, the victims, know otherwise. Half of all women who have had penetrative sex unwillingly do not think they were raped, and this proportion rises strongly when the assault involves a boyfriend, or if the woman is drunk or high on drugs: they led him on, they went too far, it wasn’t forcible, they didn’t make themselves clear… For them, rape isn’t always rape and, however upsetting, they feel it is a long way removed from being systematically violated or snatched off the street.

Such stranger attacks – the sort most often reported by the newspapers – make up only a small proportion of rapes that women divulge through surveys.

The assumption is that any woman who chooses not to pursue a claim is being let down by the State or is acting irrationally. But could it be that she is right? What if she feels partly responsible for what happened? What if she realises there is no evidence other than her word against his? What if her life is bound up with that of her assailant? What if she feels humiliated as well as violated?

Should she be expected to disclose all this in public and then put her life on hold for the greater good? Do we want a justice system that overrides the victims’ sense of what is in their own best interests, or one that, in order to accommodate them, ceases to be just?

It’s little wonder that, despite the fact that reporting rates have soared, fewer than 20 per cent of rape victims go to the police. When they do, about a sixth of complaints are rejected (rightly or wrongly) by police as implausible; a third are abandoned for lack of evidence; and a third are dropped because the complainant withdraws.

Bear in mind that some of the allegations are made weeks or even years after the event took place, and the average rape case takes nearly two years to come to trial. When cases do go to court, 55 per cent result in a conviction.
Could it be that court proceedings are not always the best way of dealing with what happens in relationships? If that is the case, could it be that women (and men who are raped) are generally acting wisely if they choose not to take that route?

This brings us to another vexatious issue: drug-rape. Fears about women swooning from spiked drinks became so widespread that several TV soaps, the BBC and newspapers warned about the growing menace. The publicity turned Rohypnol – a previously obscure pre-anaesthetic sedative – into a household name.

There was always an implausibility about widespread drug-facilitated rape. For one thing, every assailant would need to control the dosage of a dangerous medication to allow extraction of the victim from her social setting without complaint or alarm from her friends.

In any case, the evidence is vanishingly thin. The UK’s Forensic Science Service tested samples from more than 1,000 women who complained of being sexually assaulted after being given drugs surreptitiously – and found most of the women were drunk.

In 98 per cent of cases, there was no evidence of drugs other than self-administered alcohol, sometimes with cannabis and cocaine. This is in line with other studies both in the UK and the United States.

Critics suggest evidence was missed because samples were not taken early enough, and that the media reinforces the impression that such drugs are almost undetectable. Not so: some of the studies were on samples taken within hours, and anyway, some of the metabolites of hypnotics can be detected for days or even weeks.

Perhaps the drug-rape story has such a grip on our collective imagination because it fits so well with the time-honoured horror story: that of the insensible woman at the mercy of the wicked male.

Prostitution is another issue where women tend to be portrayed as victims. Those who work in the sex trade tend to be scandalised by this patronising view. Females are as capable as men of making decisions on whether to work in an office, a factory or a knocking shop. But the view persists that they are fragile creatures who have been trafficked and set to work under duress.

There have been claims over recent years about a white slave trade – thousands of naive girls from abroad being smuggled into Britain and forced to work as prostitutes. Small brothels that had more or less endured for many years suddenly faced crackdowns from local authorities and police.

Government spokesmen were widely quoted saying that of 80,000 working girls in Britain, ‘the majority are under control from traffickers, pimps or brothel owners’.

The Home Secretary leapt into action and an extraordinary law was introduced. Instead of targeting the supposed pimps, Section 14 of the Policing And Crime Act 2009 targeted the clients. It placed the onus on them to prove their innocence, even though the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, warned that the measure was unenforceable.

So where had the statistics for prostitutes come from, and how could anyone know that most of them were sex slaves?
Due to the furtive nature of the industry, the only number available – 80,000 – had been extrapolated from a small survey compiled 20 years previously by Hilary Kinnell, a health outreach worker in Birmingham. She later described the constant quotation of the figure as ‘bizarre’.

As for the alarming idea that ‘the majority’ of the women were trapped by violent pimps – a figure of 80 per cent was cited by a former Minister – that really does seem to have been invented.

Nonetheless, Scotland Yard set up a dedicated Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Unit (SCD9) to tackle it. Officers estimated that 30,000 women were working as escorts or from flats and brothels, of whom 2,600 were definitely trafficked. How did they know? They asked about 250 of the women and generalised from the results. Of 210 who came from abroad, fewer than 20 indicated they were not working entirely of their own volition.

Leaving aside the statistical stretching required, how meaningful are the results? If you were an illegal immigrant, if you may have to go to court and if your mother might find out, what would you say when asked if you were duped or under duress? It would hardly be surprising to say yes.

Perhaps the proof of the pudding is what happened next. One series of 822 raids found only 11 victims who asked for police help. Two intelligence-led sweeps involving 55 forces found 250 people who might have been trafficked.

Meanwhile, the predicted surge in victims at the time of the Olympics failed to materialise.

In fact, the most reliable figure we have for people brought to Britain on false pretences and exploited for sexual purposes is not ‘80 per cent’ of 80,000 but a tiny fraction.

It’s no wonder that Hilary Kinnell, the woman who first tried to quantify prostitution in modern Britain, has become utterly cheesed off. She protests her original figure was no more than a guess, and that the trafficking scare that followed was based on wild exaggeration.

In crime, as in everything else, women are stronger and more capable of making their own decisions or running their own lives than we allow. In sex, as in so much else, almost everything we’re told about crime is wrong.



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Proud to be a Man-Hating Lesbian: On Patriachal Approved Feminism

Technically, I’m not a lesbian but I’m a RadFem which, apparently, makes me a man-hating, anti-sex lesbian by default. You know, as opposed to those other feminists who have to go around telling people they aren’t “that kind” of feminist: the lesbians who hate men and wear dungarees.

So, once and for all, if your feminism involves stereotyping other feminists, you need to work on knowledge of Feminism 101. I get that Andrew Verrijdt genuinely thought he was trying to help women and the feminist movement by proclaiming his support but what he’s actually done is reinforce a fallacious dichotomy between “good” feminists and “bad” feminists: bad feminists being the man-hating lesbian variety. “Good” feminists are the ones that men want to fuck. “Bad” feminists are ugly, man-hating lesbians.

We need to loose this discourse between bad and good feminists and stop buying into the Patriarchy’s definition of Acceptable Feminism, which is those feminists men still deem fuckable. I’m a feminist because I want nothing less than the liberation of all women from the capitalist-patriarchy. I do not need some middle class white guy telling me whether or not I count as a “good” feminist, even if the rest of his article is actually quite good.

Claiming that your feminism is different from those “man-hating, dungaree wearing lesbian feminists” just reinforces lies about feminism. Feminists need to stop stating stereotypes about other feminists and otherwise you might just be reinforcing a heteronormative construction of feminism which denigrates lesbian feminists.

#DickheadDetox: Aaron Carter’s #tipsforgirls


Aaron Carter, the Dude internationally reknown as the little brother of some other dude from some boyband from way back when, has taken to twitter to reveal his dating #tipsforgirls.

Bless his cotton socks, these are the pearls of wisdom from The Younger Brother of What’s His Pickle:

Aaron Carter ‏@AARONCARTER16h Confident woman are sexy to any man. Don’t pretend to be someone your not just to please a man. #TipsForGirls 

Aaron Carter ‏@AARONCARTER17h Be Approachable- men don’t like rejection- a woman with an attitude to her look will scare a man away. #tipsforgirls 

Aaron Carter ‏@AARONCARTER17h A woman’s appearance is a weapon to attracting a man- always look your best ( neatness, clothes,hair ,makeup,scent,etc… #tipsforgirls

I can not think Aaron enough for bringing these pearls to our attention, sometimes I actually forget that we live in a culture where women’s value is based entirely on their ability to pass the Patriarchal Fuckability Test. I forget that women’s intelligence and love is completely irrelevant unless they are white, blonde,  and thin. I forget that women have to ensure that their behaviour and appearance are pleasing at all times. God forbid, we hurt men’s feelings but not actually wanting to fuck them. 

We must always be approachable; even when we don’t want to be approached because men’s feelings are more important than women’s safety and bodily autonomy.

Some genius has suggested that Aaron write a book about his #tipsforgirls. No one try to dissuade him from this policy; just imagine the hilarity it would cause on twitter.