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.