Monday, November 17, 2008

A Double Colluder Award Week: Are Women Tougher On Rape Victims?

image I was playing away with twitter when I came across this link via  OffOurPedestals.  In an interview, Dame Helen Mirin a previous winner of a colluder award, clearly stated that women are tougher on rape victims in the even of a trial.

Discussing examples of competitiveness among women, she says: “In a rape case, the courts — in defence of a man — would select as many women as they could for the jury, because women go against women.

“Whether in a deep-seated animalistic way, going back billions of years, or from a sense of tribal jealousy or just antagonism, I don’t know, but other women on a rape case would say she was asking for it. The only reason I can think of is that they’re sexually jealous.”

Honestly I take issue with this statement.  I cannot think of one woman that would wish to be raped.  One could only have a feeling of jealousy wherein a feeling of envy of an emotion, event, or possession occurred.  No woman wakes up and says, gee I hope that today is the day that I get violated.

Her statements were corroborated by Kirsty Brimelow, a barrister who has defended many men accused of rape. 

According to the times online she stated:

female-dominated juries were often harsher on a woman, particularly if she had been drunk or the man was an acquaintance or former boyfriend.

“I would reassure a defendant who was worried that there was a preponderance of women on the jury,” said Brimelow. “They may take against the woman instead of him.”

I understand that Brimelows job is to provide her client with the best defence before the law, but is it really necessary to perpetuate the false idea that women will attack based on sexual jealousy?

Some will always blame the victim because they have internalized patriarchal values when it comes to rape, but to claim it is out of sexual jealousy just reaches the point of ridiculousness.  If we have a tendency to victim blame, it is because of patriarchy, and as women we should try as much as possible to point out that rape has no relation to sex; it is about the assertion of power.

After careful reflection I do believe that this week I will have to hand out two colluder awards.  For Dame Helen this will be her second. 

These awards are given for the failure of these two women to consider the role that patriarchy has on our understanding of rape and sexual assault.  The idea that  a woman is asking for it because of the way she was dressed, or that a woman does not have the right to turn down sex originates with a male desire to control female bodies. 

You cannot discuss rape without looking at the way each sex is socially constructed.  Saying that women are jealous is just another way to blame women for actions that are beyond our control and does nothing to break down the awful constructions that allow some men to feel that they have the right to access our bodies on demand.


Donna said...

I think it's more likely to be out of denial. Women like to think that if they do everything right then they can't be raped...therefore only bad women get raped, the ones who asked for it somehow. If a woman admits that isn't true, her whole concept of her own safety crumbles beneath her. If she admits it's random, being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man, then she loses that sense of control over her own life. That sense of control is an illusion though. It can happen to any woman.

AR said...

I understand that Brimelows job is to provide her client with the best defence before the law, but is it really necessary to perpetuate the false idea that women will attack based on sexual jealousy?

It must not be, because she didn't. I looked up that quote from her, and in every article I could find, that's all she said: that, in her experience, women are more inclined to side with the defendant. She does not, unlike Mirin, then go on to speculate as to the cause.

offourpedestals said...

Wow--I totally missed the previous colluder award you gave her, but having read what she did to earn it now, good GRIEF. She goes in the "good actress/total nutjob" file for me from now on.

Renee said...

@Ar read the quote that I posted from her and re-evaluate your issue.

AR said...

I have. Brimelow says nothing about sexual jealousy, or indeed anything about why female jurors go the way they do in rape cases.

green flying cat said...

Rape in our society, unfortunately, equals sex. Rape (and any sexual activity) prevention lies solely on the shoulders of the victim. If she didn't prevent it, then it must be her fault.
We are taught to hate each other from the minute we are born. Women in law enforcement or juries are no different.

Anonymous said...

Mirren's "billions of years" comment is an interesting line of thought. She may be suggesting that rape was a part of our evolutionary past (and is common with chimpanzees) so women may be evolutionary jealous of missing a mating opportunity.

Valerie said...

Ben -

Considering that dinosaurs, never mind apes, didn't appear on earth until 250 million, never mind billion, years ago, I think we can move her comment from the 'interesting' column to the 'ignorant' one before even inspecting it for logic. Once we do that though, we have to move it to the 'stupid' column. Women do not view rape as a 'mating opportunity'. That is what sex is for, and rape is not sex.

Women do no 'wait to be raped' like some women 'wait for the man to make the first move'. Not the same thing, okay?

In other words, major fail.

napthia9 said...

More than denial (and definitely more than this BS 'jealousy' reason), if women are any harder on the victim than men on rape/sexual assault cases, I'd expect it to be because women are the main recipients of all these victim-blaming "if you do X, you'll get yourself raped" lecture-myths. After all, these myths don't just exist to let men avoid feeling guilty, they also keep women from reporting or recognizing that someone committed a crime against them.

Martin Swash said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Renee said...

@Martin NO rape apologism on a post about rape apologism...