Thursday, 10 May 2012

Men who hate women

This is a quick post on the conviction of nine men jailed for raping, trafficking and sexually exploiting girls in Rochdale yesterday:

The nine men convicted yesterday of trafficking, raping and sexually exploiting girls as young as thirteen did not commit their crimes because they were Asian, as some parties or news outlets would have you assuming.

They committed their crimes because they were men who chose to traffic, rape and sexually exploit children.

Contrary to the reporting in the Guardian of judge’s statement yesterday, it wasn’t that in some cases "those girls were raped callously, viciously and violently".’
Because all rapes are vicious, callous and violent. 

These girls weren’t raped and sexually exploited because they had ‘chaotic lifestyles’ including being in care. They were abused because these men chose to abuse them. 

And these girls continued to be abused because when, four years ago, one of them came forward to the police to report the crimes she had suffered, she was deemed ‘unreliable’. The police and the CPS didn’t pursue the case. How many girls were harmed in the remaining four years? How many girls were harmed because the system refused to believe the testimony of a young, abused and traumatised girl? 

This case is not about ethnicity. This case is about the men who choose to abuse women and girls. Those men are identified not by the colour of their skin, the country they were born in, their class or job or status or family or wages or music taste. They’re identified by the fact that they are men who hate women, men who choose to exploit and harm and rape women and girls. 

We need to change the conversation when we talk about cases like this. We shouldn’t be talking about race for starters. We should be talking about how we live in a society where violence against women and girls is endemic, is increasing and is ignored. So far this year 3.3 women have been murdered every week as a result of violence against women and girls. Rates of domestic violence have increased since 2010 ( and on average 80,000 women and girls are raped every year. 

These men raped and exploited these girls because they hate women. And because they could. And because, for so long, we let them.  


hazymat said...

Hi - saw a link to your blog on Twitter.

The debate as to what depth of analysis we work towards in explaining criminal behaviour has always been a raging one, and you have weighed-in eloquently.

For example, do we agree with Cameron about last year's London riots that they were "pure criminality", or should we be looking at the confluence of factors that brought the riots about? Given the riots were shown in the media as such a brazen display of greed and theft, should we even engage in discussion about whether there was a valid cause that started it off?

Of course, supporters of the coalition's cuts will say "NO!" and critics will say "YES".

My point is that if you set up a dialectic that says "rapists hate women, and all other factors are peripheral", then are you not at risk of being similarly black-and-white?

To cut an uncompromising line between crime (rape, murder, etc.) and social problems (multiculturalism, education, race, religion) may suit a theorist but in the real world our judicial system (police, courts, prisons), and our media (TV, twitter) need answers as to the root cause of social problems.

One thing I don't understand about this case - mainly because this small point has been under-represented in our media - is *why* the police rejected the first victim who came to them as unreliable. You noted that, but I feel you dismissed it as "bad policemen" just as the media have done. Is that really the case? Perhaps there simply was not enough evidence to arrest? I don't know, I'd be interested in finding out.

I don't disagree with much of what you've written. Rape is rape; its definition must not be diluted.

But the conclusion that this is *purely* about men who hate women I feel doesn't do justice to the complexity of the issue.

sian and crooked rib said...

According to the Guardian's woman's blog today they dismissed the case because they felt she was an unreliable witness who the jury wouldn't believe.

My concern is that when we look for all the reasons why this happened, we don't tend to look at the fact that men who commit these crimes do so out of a disregrad for women's humanity and because they know they can get away with it.

I don't think the riots are really comparable.

It's not black and white, but if we ignore the fact that these crimes happen because some men hate women and those men choose to abuse women and girls, then we risk not preventing similar crimes in the future because we are ignoring a fundamental cause.

This is a really quick post so i didn't have time to go too much into the complexity (!) but would v recommend Jane Martinson's blog on the subject in the Guardian women's section :-)

Jennie Kermode said...

Speaking in an interview recently, one of the girls said that she didn't come forward because she felt dirty. We're so used to people who have been raped experiencing self-loathing that we don't question where it comes from. The girls thought it was their fault, or had tainted them, in part because they live in a society that fosters that understanding - that looks at them first, talking about their behaviour and their dress and the fact they hadn't been responsibly locked away - and only then at their abusers. As for the race factor, it's classic othering, a refusal to acknowledge that this kind of misogyny is endemic in Western society and doesn't need to be imported.

sian and crooked rib said...

Jennie - absolutely. Well said.

Rebecca said...

Thought I'd weigh in! First of all, I agree that the dialogue around rape needs to be improved.

"I don't disagree with much of what you've written. Rape is rape; its definition must not be diluted.

But the conclusion that this is *purely* about men who hate women I feel doesn't do justice to the complexity of the issue."

Shall have to agree with this. I just think it is worth clarifying because even the stance of "rape is hatred for women" can be a harmful one.

I believe that rape is rape, and some types of rape are not "better or worse" than others (cough, Ken Clarke) but also that rape can arise not simply from a hatred of women, but from a naivety that arises through social conditioning, where men genuinely don't recognise verbal and physical "no's as a valid "no". And I like that new rape advert for this very reason, I'm sure you are aware of it, with the young man screaming at the scene of what he did; not only does it address this, it moves away from the typical image of rapists as "evil" and "unfixable".

And many rapists are evil. But the ease by which people rape, ignore "no"s, and disrespect women are also a product of a wider society which enables these thought processes. So if we resort to "evil" and "uncurable" as the "default" image, I believe that does very little to rehabilitate rapists back into society when they do leave prison, with increased understanding and awareness of their actions and the ramifications for both themselves and victim(s).

And zero of that is a defence or an excuse for rapists. Also, this is a bit utopian; many rapes go unconvicted, and restorative rehabilitation programs do not exist everywhere. All I am saying is that the "evil" stance is simplistic, reductive and can even distract from the fact that offenders may need assistance to break away from the ideas that caused them to rape in the first place, so whereas it is true that many rapes are born out of a hatred of women, I feel it can be a hindrance to perpetuate this as a blanket view.

I'm sure you are aware of the complexities anyway, being a blogger who is well-practised in tackling these awful issues. I just thought it needed saying.

sian and crooked rib said...

i agree that we def need to move away from a conversation where rapists are 'evil' or 'monsters'. I was going to mention monstering in the post but wanted to keep it short.

If we dismiss all men who are violent against women and girls as evil or monsters then we ignore how common this violence is, and refuse to look at how society allows and ignores this violence.

It's too easy to dismiss someone as an 'evil monster'. It's a lot harder to look at the numbers and face up to how we turn our back on victims and survivors - just as we see with the girl's testimony being initially ignored.

sian and crooked rib said...

PS - which is why i very deliberately never use the word 'evil' ;-)

Rebecca said...

Indeed; I also think it's psychologically easier for people to accept "monsters" into their reasoning, than to examine the culture which allows this to happen. We've grown up with narratives about monsters, after all; we rarely grow up with dialogues in schools and the media about the factors involved in violence against women (well especially not in my school anyway!) So I think it's easier to write people off that way, which of course goes hand in hand with victim blaming "there are bad people out there, what was she thinking" etc. I had a horrific example of this on facebook some weeks ago, where a man blamed girls for going to bars showing skin where there are "hammerhead sharks" just waiting for them. It's painful to challenge sometimes x[ eurgh.

I was speaking generally with the evil reference while I was commenting btw; I was keeping in mind the tabloid culture with their "burn the paedos and rapists!" themes. Sorry if it looked like I was metaphorically putting words in your mouth.

I do personally use evil in extreme occasions, but how and why I won't bore you with in this instance.

sian and crooked rib said...

Absolutely. It puts the emphasis on the victim again, in the way your Facebook example illustrates.

It prevents us having the conversation.

Rebecca said...

It certainly does. In fact I think I'd like to write a post myself about this in the near future, work permitting. You have inspired me! :)


Only reason these men were prosecuted is because Chief of Crown Prosecution Service was replaced by another male who reviewed the case and believed the young woman's charge that a male had subjected her to sexual violence. But issue of pseudo male right of sexual access to any female continues because men learn as boys it is their innate right to sexually coerce/threaten/sexually exploit women and girls. Focus has to be on how men of all ethnicities learn as boys it is their innate right if they choose to subject innumerable women and girls to male sexual violence because male sexual gratification must be obtained irrespective of womens'/girls' right of sexual ownership of their bodies. It is that simple - the fact men do not view women and girls as human but instead view us as dehumanised men's sexual service stations and men know legal system supports this misogynistic belief.

elisa hill said...

The ethnicity of the men does have a bearing on this,because the Authorities were scared to bring them to account because of being accussed of racism,the Judge said that they somehow looked down on the girls because they were from a different race than theirs.These men chose to rape these children, they are responsible for their actions,and the Authorities who hesitated as you have said could have stopped others being raped by listening earlier.

elisa hill said...

It is interesting what Rebecca says about 'monsters', thats the title i gave the story i wrote about what happened to me,in wwwcarewrite.blogspot, will have to re-think that now....

elisa hill said...

In fact the title is 'who's that coming over the hill, is it a monster,is it a monster' you have to scroll down to june to find the story.It was playing on a carnival float going past when i was writing the story!!..
Its easier to think of them as 'monsters' its less scary that way!!! one wants to think that their Dads. brothers, Sons could be that person.....