Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Violence against women and girls - more than numbers

This is a version of the speech I made last night at the Radical Film Festival's 'Women and Resistance' event.

It didn't actually sound much like this as a. I nearly started crying and b. I nearly lost my voice. Which meant I rambled a bit. But it was well received. 

I've been asked to speak to you about why feminism is still relevant in the 21st century. And I have to admit, it’s hard to know where to start, because there are so many reasons why, so many reasons why the battle for liberation from the patriarchy is not over, so many reasons why women and men aren’t equal. 
But when on Sunday night a charity called Nia Central tweeted a list of names and ages, I realised what I wanted to talk to you about. Those names were:
Susan McGoldrick, 47
Tanya Turnball, 24
Alison Turnball, 44
Kirsty Treloar, 20
Karen Climpson, 46
Claire O’Connor, 38
Kathleen Millward, 87
Marie McGrory, 39
Rebecca Holmes, 47
Sarah Laycock, 31
Zudba Bi, 34
Josephine Gilliard, 42
Cheryl Tariah, 17
Patricia Cairns, 42
Sarah Gosling, 41

I doubt you will have heard these names before, or come across them on the news. But these 15 women have all been murdered since 1st Jan as a result or allegedly as a result of domestic violence. So far this year, a woman or girl has been murdered every 3.8 days as a result of domestic violence. A recent home office report found that nearly half of all women homicide victims were murdered by their current or ex-partner. 
To me, the reason we still need feminism today is because we are in a crisis of violence against women and girls. The list of names I have read out is proof to that. Women are being killed every few days by their partners and ex-partners. In Bristol, there are on average 130 rapes per month, 80,000 nationally each year. Across the world, 60 million girls will be sexually assaulted on their way to school every year, and 1 in 3 adult women will be a victim or survivor of rape or sexual assault. An estimated 70,000 women living in the UK have undergone female genital mutilation, and up to 7,000 girls remain at high risk of having it done to them. Across the world 3 million girls are at risk annually. Things are so bad, that in the UK teenage girls are now at a higher risk of intimate partner violence than adult women – at 1 in 3 as opposed to 1 in 4. 200 million women are missing across the world as a result of gender based violence. 
This is a crisis. This is femicide. Both the UN and Amnesty International are quite clear that violence against women and girls is the greatest human rights violation of our time. Every day women are being raped, assaulted, cut and murdered. 
And what do we hear about this?
Well – had you heard of any of the women on my list? 
Meanwhile, justice is all too often denied women victims and survivors of violence. There have never been any prosecutions for practising FGM in this country. The conviction rate for rape in the UK remains stagnant at 6.5%. Today a report revealed that police are still failing to take rape seriously, putting an average of 12% of reported rapes as a ‘no crime’, even if the alleged victim has not said that no crime took place. Police forces still aren’t joining up the dots on serial rapists, and they’re still not linking up how violence against women happens – how it might start with harassment and continue to rape. Although, I need to say, Operation Bluestone in Bristol which deals with rape and sexual violence are better than most and are leading the way. But this is in part thanks to pressure and collaboration with women’s groups. 
And when it comes to the murders – well what if I told you that a man who beat his wife to death in 2010 was jailed for 18 months, because the judge said that he was an upstanding member of the community and this was a personal row. Or that this year, a man is appealing his sentence because he claims that murdering his ex-wife was her fault as she had a new lover. Or that our own minister of justice last year said that there was a difference between being raped by someone you know, and ‘real or violent’ rape. 
These incidents sound archaic, they seem like they’re from another age. But they’re not. They’re happening now. 
When we ask what our government is doing to end violence against women and girls in the UK, they know how to talk the talk. They tell us it’s a priority. But their actions do not bear this out. The government spending cuts are slowly unravelling the hard and vital work feminists have done since the 60s to protect and support survivors of violence. A report by Professor Sylvia Walby has found that 230 women leaving violent relationships are being turned away from refuges every day. Refuge provision has been decimated. Support workers are instead advising women to go sleep at Occupy camps – themselves not free of sexual violence – because they have no-where for them to go. 31% of national funding to domestic support services has been cut. Small organisations have had 70% of their funding cut, whilst the big charities have lost 30% of theirs. Meanwhile, cuts to legal aid and other benefits will make it harder for women trying to leave violent relationships, whilst the legal aid changes risk women having to be questioned by their abusers in court. The government is turning back the clock on the vital and life-saving work that has happened to end violence against women and girls. It’s pretty stark – the government spending cuts will lead to the deaths of more women. 
And it isn’t just the government. Other areas of public life continue to refuse to take violence against women and girls seriously. Whether it’s the teacher who responds to a girl’s complaint of sexual harassment that ‘boys will be boys’, or Brian Paddick’s Leveson evidence yesterday that the Met covered up its failings when it came to dealing with rape. 
So, to return to the original question that I was asked to come and talk about. Why is feminism still relevant in 2012? Because I believe that feminism is the key starting point to ending to violence against women and girls. It was the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s that started the change; that started to get violence against women taken seriously. It was that movement that built the refuges, the rape crisis centres. That got violence on the agenda. But we haven’t yet ended the violence. We still need to stand together and fight to end it. We need to fight the causes of violence against women and girls, and, unfortunately, we have to fight to keep in place the support services that survivors need. This is a feminist fight, but it’s also everyone’s fight. If we all stand under the banner of liberation from patriarchy and call for an end to the violence, then all together we can make it stop. 
The crisis of violence against women and girls is met with an overwhelming, deafening silence. We are facing a huge humanitarian crisis, and instead of it being headline news, the subject of international summits, the focus of government campaigns, there’s just this silence. Even though there is so much evidence to show how the spending cuts are impacting on women’s safety, this is not making headline news. It’s time to break the silence. To me, VAWG is the key feminist issue. And it is why I am still a feminist, and why we still need feminism in 2012.  

Monday, 27 February 2012

What do Chris Brown, Normal Mailer and Roman Polanski have in common?

In 2009, we woke up the day after the Grammys to shocking images of Rihanna’s bruised face on the internet and on magazine covers. Her then partner, Chris Brown, was swiftly arrested and eventually found guilty of assaulting her. His sentence involved a few weeks community service and a probation period of five years.
In the three years since that night, Brown has had multi-million selling albums, garnered the love of millions of teenage girls and performed onstage to screaming fans. Exactly three years after the assault, he was invited to perform at the Grammys, where he then scooped a gong. The Grammy organisers enthused about the invite, even going so far as to say that they, not Rihanna, had been the victims of the situation, as it had prevented them from having the honour of inviting him before. 

At the time of the assault, few celebrities or people in the public eye spoke out against Brown. Those who did, like Usher, were swiftly made to apologise to the abusive singer. Instead, Hollywood, as it so often does, closed ranks in protection of an abusive man. Responses, such as the ones below, came in:

Carrie Underwood: “I don’t think anybody actually knows what happened. I have no advice.”
Lindsay Lohan: “I have no comment on that. That’s not my relationship. I think they’re both great people.”
Nia Long: “I know both of them well. They’re young, and all we can do is pray for them at this point.”
Mary J. Blige: “They’re both young and beautiful people, and that’s it.”

This is, of course, not the first time this has happened. The celebrity world has form in protecting and supporting abusers of women. Polanski , a man who went on the run from accusations of anally raping a child, not only has almost unanimous support from his Hollywood peers, but he is a regular recipient of awards – including a Best Director Oscar ( The Academy has only ever managed to give one woman a Best Director Oscar, but seems to find no problem in rewarding an accused rapist-on-the-run. Mike Tyson, a man who served time for rape, is now a cult hero, called a ‘legend’ in magazine headlines ( Norman Mailer, the so-called last great American novelist, was renowned for beating and stabbing his wives ( Then who can forget Charlie Sheen, who last year was interviewed with concern about his drug use, whilst his repeated abuse of women was fairly glossed over. This in spite the fact that he has shot, stabbed and beaten, as well as threatened to kill, numerous women ( Then there’s David Soul. Sean Penn. Mel Gibson.  Ike Turner, Phil Spector, OJ. Bobby Brown.  

And that’s the tip of this particularly ugly iceberg. Other celebs who have allegedly abused women include Michael Fassbender, whose former girlfriend filed a petition for a restraining order after he allegedly broke her nose and caused her to burst an ovarian cyst ( There are the allegations against Gary Oldman for beating his wife with a phone. Both of these men were the actors-du-jour last year, feted and loved. 

I could go on. There are hundreds more to list. But that would defeat the word count on this post! 

This acceptance and excusing of domestic abuse shouldn’t be surprising. After all, domestic abuse is pretty common outside of Hollywood, and sentencing of abusers is pretty weak whether you’re Chris Brown or the man who beat his wife to death and only received 18 months ( 

But it still is surprising. Because we like to think that in our society we don’t approve of domestic abuse and violence against women and girls. We like to think that we hold abusers to account. But this celebration of famous abusers shows just how much we spectacularly fail in that. 

One of the most terrifying aspects of the Chris Brown case is that by failing to hold him to account, by failing to universally condemn his violence, he now has legions of girl fans who will happily tweet ‘I’d let Chris Brown beat me’ ( By excusing his actions, by sweeping his violence under the carpet, we have succeeded in normalising and even glamourising domestic abuse. Rather than challenging it, and showing young women that his behaviour is not acceptable, we have allowed an abusive man to become a heart-throb. Worse, his fans tend to blame Rihanna for the violence. And where does this lead? To young girls who think being beaten is a sign of love or passion; and who think that women are to blame for the violence committed against them. The cultural lauding of Chris Brown sends a far more damaging and powerful message to young girls than we may realise. After all, girls are more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence than any other group. Meanwhile, Rihanna has been mainly silenced. She has to praise him in interviews and they’ve recorded a song together. And, in a horrific piece of hypocrisy, she’s been accused of being a ‘bad survivor’ for these actions. As if there is such a thing. As if record labels and management and bad headline writers don’t have a pretty big role to play in colluding to diminish his violence. She isn’t the baddy here. He is. 

This is rape culture. Right here. Our culture is teaching young women that the victims and survivors are to blame for the violence committed against them; and that the men who commit the violence are cultural heroes.
Chris Brown is just one in a long line of celebrity men who have abused women and got away with it. He isn’t the first and it’s likely he won’t be the last. But he needs to be. We need to stop this now. We need to stop letting men get away with violence against women and girls, and we need to stop this collusion that protects and celebrates the Browns, the Polanskis, the Tysons and the Sheens, so that these men who abuse women are never held to account. Instead, they get to reap the rewards their male privilege brings, whilst the women they abuse, all too often, are silenced. 

If you have any more examples of famous men abusing women, please list them in the comments below:

PS – but at least we have Ryan Gosling :

Saturday, 25 February 2012

A welcome alternative to real women

*Trigger Warning* - this post contains discussion of violent pornography and includes a segment of Kat Banyard's 'The Equality Illusion' where she describes a porn video.

Someone left a comment on my blog this week, on my post about Unilad and rape culture. I deleted the comment, but one sentence really stood out and frightened me:

'it [porn] offers a welcome alternative to real women, in that it never says no'.

I shared the story on Twitter, and one of my followers replied that although s/he was not anti-porn, this attitude was horrific. What causes it, s/he asked. Well, I have three answers. Porn. Patriarchy. Entitlement.

Both Kat Banyard's book 'The Equality Illusion' and Natasha Walter's 'Living Dolls' explore some of the reasons why men use the sex industry, from pornography to lap dancing clubs to prostitution. One motivation that has consistently stood out for me is the idea that by paying for a sexual interaction with a woman, these men are able to escape from the modern world and return to a sexist's paradise where women are submissive, do as their told and sexually gratify them. As one former lap dancer in Kat's book says:

'I truly believe that the reason men pay for lap dances is not because they are titillated visually by the sight of a naked woman, or even because the sexual contact is particularly stimulating. They do it because they get a power rush from paying a woman to take her clothes off. She is vulnerable and he is powerful, and that's the real allure - that's the real reason the clubs are getting so popular. Lap-dancing clubs are places in which you can all pretend that feminism never happened.' (p 139 first ed)

This 'pre-feminist paradise' is part of a continuum that starts at places like Hooters, where women laugh at the men's jokes and aren't allowed to object to being sexually harassed and objectified, to porn where women are degraded and harmed for a presumed-male audience's sexual gratification, to lap dancing clubs and prostitution.

Natasha's book also quotes some research on men's attitudes to women in the so-called sex industry with similar findings. I've lent the book to a friend though so don't have the data on hand.

The comment left on my blog reflects this attitude. It's almost hard to be angry about the comment, as opposed to feel a sort of pathetic pity for a man who feels so much anger and resentment at women that he sees porn as offering a 'welcome alternative...because it never says no' (actually, scrap that, I'm furious). What is this guy saying here? He's saying that the women in porn aren't 'real women'. Instead, they're objects, disembodied objects that perform sexual pleasure, or are even victims of filmed sexual violence, for his own sexual gratification. As Kat says in her book, 'the sex industry requires its consumers to detach mentally from the living, breathing human being stimulating their sexual arousal, as if she were simply a collection of body parts' (p. 142, 1st ed). The fact that he can separate the women in porn from the 'real women' he interacts with in his day-to-day life betrays a very real sexism and misogyny that refuses to see women in the sex industry as anything other than objects. Because, of course, the women in porn, women in the wider sex industry, are real women too. Just like me, just like this commenter's mum or sister or girlfriend. But the sex industry successfully sells its 'product' as just that, an object to buy and use, as opposed to see and understand to be human, to be a woman. How dare these people say that the women in pornography aren't real women, with thoughts and desires and a voice that might want to say no, but can't? Who do they think they are?

The real disturbing part of the comment is of course the 'it never says no'. Unlike those pesky 'real women' outside of porn, to this man the women in porn don't get to say no. Or, when they do get to say no in the films, it's ignored. They don't say no to being hurt, or degraded, they don't have a voice to say stop, or that hurts, or sorry but I just don't fancy that tonight darling. To the porn audience, the woman on the film, whether she is consenting or not, (and, as I always point out, we don't actually know the answer to that question - look at Linda Lovelace) is just a collection of body parts. To put it bluntly, a collection of orifices. Her voice, her pleasure, her desire, her bodily autonomy - none of that matters to the person sat in front of the screen, getting off. As far as I can tell, it doesn't matter to the porn consumer or the john who pays for a woman in a brothel or on the street or in a lap dancing club if the woman is consenting and has a voice to say no if she wants to. If it did, then we wouldn't have this scenario [trigger warning]:

'A man off-camera asks her how she's enjoying America. She doesn't understand and it becomes immediately obvious that the woman speaks very little English. The film then abruptly cuts to a scene of a man repeatedly thrusting his penis down her throat so far that she throws up...she throws up a second time...The film cuts again, this time to show a man having sex with her...she is crying. The sound she makes when she is crying suggests she is also in physical pain...The video...had an average rating by viewers of 7.84.' [The Equality Illusion, p. 156, 1st ed]

The woman in that video was denied a voice to say no in every way. Even if she consented to the filming and the lack of consent is acted (and I question that), the point of the film is that she is denied a voice, and in the film consent is not given. The point of the film is her sexual exploitation. That's what the viewer is being asked to get off on. She wasn't allowed to say no, or stop, or object. And I mean, I'm not here to police people's desires and fantasies, but I can't help but feel there's a problem with people giving a 7+* rating to a video of what pretty clearly appears to be filmed rape. But then again, with comments celebrating porn because it 'doesn't say no', I'm also not surprised.

Why are these men so angry? Why do they resent women's right to say no? Well, I believe it is rooted in a sense of entitlement, that is part patriarchy, part rape culture and part the never-hear-the-word-no-and-even-if-you-do-it's-ignored porn culture. As we've already seen, the men who express these views have successfully managed to compartmentalise 'real women' who aren't in the sex industry and who might say no, with the 'unreal women' in the sex industry who always say yes, or whose mouths are kept shut. I've often observed that men who are misogynists, or men who are violent, have this sense of entitlement over women's bodies. They don't have any respect for women's bodily autonomy. They've learnt or learnt to believe that they can do what they like to women. And if that woman doesn't want to, if she says no, then she's difficult, or a bitch. Unlike the 'welcome alternative to real women' that the sex industry offers, where men can do what they like to women and she doesn't have a say in the matter.

It's like every MRA argument I have ever heard, ever, has its roots in an unshakeable sense of male entitlement to women's bodies.

One comment that often gets made in defence of violent porn or filmed rape (because, as I say, you don't know if that free vid on the internet is real or acted rape. You just DON'T!) is that just like violent video games don't make players shoot people in real life, violent porn doesn't mean you're going to be violent against women and girls. And, of course, this is true in many ways. But there's also plenty of research from Gail Dines and others about how it incresases tolerance of violence against women and girls and in some cases is causal. And I know mentioning Gail Dines is like a red rag to a bull to pro porn people, but she has done the research, as have others. My experience speaking to Rape Crisis Centres is the same - that something like 90% of the cases they hear involve porn as part of the grooming or violence. The other point is that people don't tend to have an orgasm when they're playing Grand Theft Auto. But with violent and rape porn, we're learning to associate sexual pleasure, one of the most intense physiological experiences, with images that degrade and harm women. Young men are growing up learning about sex and satsifying their very normal and natural sexual curiousity via porn (because god knows Gove isn't going to let them learn about it in school). They are then left with the message that their girlfriends want to be hurt, or degraded; and their girlfriends are learning that this is what they're supposed to like, even if it isn't what they actually want to do or want to consent to (this is a great post by TheNatFantastic on why if that is what you want, then it isn't up to others to police your sex life 1 in 3 teen girls have now experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual violence - this is a huge problem and has something to do with the fact that young girls are losing their voices, losing their right to say no to sex they don't want to have (whilst simultaneously being told they should say no to sex they might want to have).

I'm going to finish this post with a bit about how this links into prostitution. I don't know if you've ever had the misfortune to read the comments on Punternet, but it's an ugly place, and the culture of reviewing women in the sex industry is honestly and movingly portrayed in this stunning blog post by Secret Diary of a Dublin Call Girl A lot of the reviews show an utter contempt and disgust for women (totally undermining the argument that men who buy women 'respect' them and are, in fact, the ones being exploited). And most of all, they show a total lack of concern for consent. They describe how 'she isn't really into it' or 'looked like she was in pain and wasn't enjoying it' (from memory in Living Dolls). Research also quoted in Living Dolls found that men who paid for women weren't put off even if they knew the woman was trafficked and being exploited. The only thing that put them off (and this knowledge was the insight that drove Object's and Demand Change's poster campaign when the law changed to make 'paying for sex' with an exploited person illegal) was the shame or embarrassment of being caught or arrested.

I mention this because I think it starts with Hooters, it starts with porn, it starts with lap dancing clubs. It starts with comments that porn offers 'a welcome alternative to real women because it doesn't say no'. It's that normalisation of the sexual objectfication of women that stops women being seen as full and active citizens of the world, and instead sees us as passive objects, or unreasonable bitches. Of course, not everyone who goes to Hooters or watches porn or pays for a lap dance goes on to 'pay for sex' with an exploited woman or girl. I am categorically not saying that. Instead, my point is that when we don't challenge this idea that women in porn aren't real women who are 'good' because they don't say no, then we're basically refusing to recognise and allow women's bodily autonomy. Every woman is a real woman. Every woman has a right to bodily autonomy. And when we say porn is good because it never says no, then we're saying that women's right to bodily autonomy is a bad thing.

That's patriarchy. That's a sense of entitlement to women's bodies. And it fucking terrifies me.

Useful Links:

Find your local rape crisis:

Women's Aid Domestic Abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247

Poppy Project helpline:

Friday, 17 February 2012

Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness and how disordered eating is accepted and expected

Portia de Rossi’s memoir of having anorexia during the period of filming Ally McBeal is brutally and searingly honest, and offers a damning indictment on a society that not only accepts, but expects, disordered eating in women.

I have some personal experience of eating disorders. I’ve never had one but a close relative has had an eating disorder and disordered eating for most of my life. Like many women, I also had schoolfriends who suffered from anorexia. I just mention this as it influenced the way I read the book.

De Rossi explains how her eating disorder was partly caused by her fear that her sexuality would be exposed and impact negatively on her career. She also explains that she felt her mum was disappointed that she was gay, and so she strove to be perfect in order to make up for that. She started working as a model when she was 12, where perfection was of course synonymous with being thin. It was as a teen model where she developed unhealthy eating patterns (supported in many ways by her mother who was also a dieter) and her arrival in Hollywood to join the hottest show around resulted in more and more severe disordered eating.

I’m not going to go into detail here about how her eating disorder manifested itself or her journey from bulimia into anorexia, back again and into recovery. Instead I want to focus on the two key issues that her book realised for me. The first, that Hollywood colluded in and encouraged de Rossi’s eating disorder. And the second is that a disordered approach to food is encouraged in women.

Portia de Rossi describes how she felt under intense pressure to be an American size 6 when she joins the cast of Ally McBeal. That was the sample size designers used at the time, and she wanted to be ‘good’ for wardrobe, making it easy for them to find clothes to fit her. However, thanks to her disordered eating that involved a starve and binge cycle, her weight would go up and down. This led to her feeling that she didn’t fit the clothes in the show. She described assistants struggling to do up zips and having to adjust seams, and the sense of guilt and disgust she felt about this. The fact that sample sizes are stupidly tiny, or that the clothes should be ordered to fit the woman, don’t really matter or occur. She just knows that every day she is made to feel that her body is wrong.

This is exacerbated by a photo shoot for L’Oreal. With her lovely long, blonde hair, de Rossi is an obvious pick to be the face of the shampoo giant. But when she arrives on the shoot, none of the clothes the stylist has picked fit her. She tries on suit after suit, with assistants unable to do up zips and complaining that they can’t release the seams any more. Frustrated, the stylist eventually says in disgusted tone that ‘no-one told me she was a size eight’.

What we have here is a very slim woman with disordered eating being told over and over again in lots of different ways by the Hollywood system that her body is not good enough. At 130 lbs, she is told she is simply not the right size. Everyone was telling de Rossi she needed to lose weight, and so she did it the only way she knew how. She broke out of one cycle of disordered eating and went straight into another, effectively starving herself to fit the clothes.

As the weight started to drop off, the system that had told her she was too big, now fell over themselves to tell her she was looking good. Despite becoming obviously underweight, de Rossi was constantly rewarded for her weight loss. She was told how ‘good’ she was being, how she was a ‘skinny Minnie’ who looked great. She was asked ‘what her secret’ was to her ‘gorgeous’ figure. Wardrobe said she was their favourite actress to dress. Everything was telling de Rossi to carry on, because she was doing so well. Rather than being the woman who couldn’t fit into a sample size, she was now praised for her thinness. No-one would say she looked the dreaded ‘healthy and normal’ again.

I feel that de Rossi’s story shows us how her industry, i.e. Hollywood, encouraged her eating disorder, if not directly caused it (there were, as mentioned above, various causes such as the guilt she felt over her sexuality). By accusing her of, and framing her as, being wrong, they created a situation where her only option was to change herself to ‘fit’. And then as she lost the weight, her eating disorder was validated by the compliments and accolades she received. She was made to feel a success, and her success was defined by her weight loss (as opposed to being an amazing actress in my favourite TV show as a teen, and a great comic actress in Arrested Development).

This is reflected outside of Hollywood as well of course. But I think it is magnified in that kind of industry where your size and your ability to ‘fit’ is under such scrutiny. De Rossi’s insecurity about her sexuality meant that she sought to find control and perfection through food and her size. This was allowed because by industry standards, she was being so ‘good’, doing ‘so well’.

At the end of the book, de Rossi shares some fashion images taken of her when she was ill, finishing with a shocking image of her at her thinnest. But what is perhaps most shocking of all is that these images where her upper-arms are thinner than her elbows aren’t a world away from fashion images we see every day. The fact that she was being photographed for fashion shots at all shows very clearly that her weight loss was normal in the world she was living in, that she was acceptable.

The second point that the book brought home was how de Rossi’s eating disorder showed just how common and expected disordered eating is in women in general. Pick up a magazine and you’ll be approached with a new diet or a new guide of how to eat, with fashion editors or beauty editors or actresses or nutritionists or members of the public listing what they eat in a week, and then being told what they should be eating, or being rewarded for doing it right. De Rossi explains how eating with chopsticks meant she ate less – I have read diet tips that say use baby cutlery for the same ends (like Liz Hurley! they cry). Counting calories, reducing calories, talking about food, obsessing about food – this is what we are told to do as women. Women in workplaces bond over diets and food – praising each other for being ‘good’ if they don’t eat the chocolate cake shared around the office. Special K ads make food the ultimate sin, Weightwatchers ads tell you ‘no-one wants a stripy wedding dress’ – i.e. that if you don’t lose weight, you won’t find love. Magazines obsess over skinny celebs and curvy celebs and "too big" celebs. Men on comments boards under articles about anorexia or body image tell women that ‘they love curves and don’t like skinny girls’ – as if anorexia had anything to do with what men like and don’t like.

Imagine how much time, how much energy, how much confidence women as a group would have if we weren’t constantly being told as a group to think about, and not eat, food.

De Rossi weighs and counts and cuts down on calories. Magazines inform us that 12 tablespoons of brown pasta is a meal. She exercises obsessively to balance out the few calories that she eats. Magazines tell us enthusiastically how many calories you can burn having sex (the best reason to have sex obviously!).

Obviously I am not saying that magazines push eating disorder or cause them. What de Rossi describes in her book is a serious illness caused by many different factors. But I think we can recognise and argue that disorderd eating to a lesser effect is more and more normal for women than we think or like to admit. And the way the media focuses women's energies on food and dieting creates an atmosphere where disordered eating becomes normal and acceptable. Women are taught from a young age to be conscious of food, their weight and their diet. The rhetoric around dieting is powerful. It's a multi-billion industry because it's very good at what it does.

We know the end of her story, and it is a happy one. Doctors tell her she is on the brink and she embarks on recovery. It isn’t easy. She relapses and binges and her weight goes up and down. However, after being outed by the press she starts to find peace. She’s not hiding any more and she’s not afraid any more. She realises that healthy eating is eating when you are hungry, and not eating when you’re not. She meets Ellen and you want to punch the air in triumph at that moment.

De Rossi learns in recovery that food isn’t a punishment or a reward or something to feel guilty or ashamed over, or a measure of perfection. Unfortunately this isn’t the reality or solution for a lot of women. Magazines and advertising and Hollywood are still sending this message our way – loud and clear. So many women have disordered eating. Some have eating disorders. And nearly all of us are told all the time that food is a battleground, not something to enjoy, something that enables us to live.

Imagine how much time, how much energy, how much confidence women would have if we weren’t constantly being told to think about, and not eat, food.

You can buy her book here:

Saturday, 11 February 2012

It happened one Wednesday...

It feels like there can't be anyone left on the internet who doesn't know what happened to me on Wednesday. But I wanted to write about it anyway to reflect on what happened, to answer some accusations and just to continue to speak out about it to show that I won't be silenced by threats and abuse.

On Tuesday I got a text saying that Hooters had closed down. On Twitter, people were posting the same. Then the BBC called, they wanted a statement from BFN about the closure. I was in the middle of doing some work and hadn't had a chance to really look into the issue of why it had closed, so just said that we thought it was a positive step as it meant that Bristol had rejected this retro-sexist establishment, that they had voted with their feet to say they weren't interested in a restaurant whose USP was the sexual objectfication of women (

I mention this as I've been accused on some online comment boards of gloating over job losses and been told that I should have waited a few days before I issued a statement (that's not how news works btw!). The BBC contacted me and it isn't actually my fault that they didn't contact a Hooters Girl or other member of staff instead (or maybe they did and for whatever reason they didn't get a quote, I don't know how the BBC makes its decisions).

I was then asked by a Bristol Fawcett and BFN friend and colleague whether I'd have time to write a joint press release about the closure. Which I did, and which was signed off by the BFN co-ordinators. I put it on my blog and sent it to some press outlets - I knew I was going to have a busy few days at work in my day job so we wanted to ensure that we had done what we could to prevent phone calls from the press by issuing the group statement instead.

Then, on Wednesday, I looked at the BFN Facebook page to find comment after comment from Hooters staff and Hooters fans accusing BFN of being responsible for closing down Hooters. It was quite remarkable really. How we could possibly have the power to close down a restaurant ran by an international corporation when we couldn't even prevent it opening is beyond me! Perhaps we also have the power to prevent the city council granting renewed licenses to lap dancing clubs...oh no, sorry, they've decided to let most of them stay open.

When we heard that Hooters was opening, BFN did take part and co-organise the campaign to try and prevent it happening ( We wrote to the council, attended the licence application hearings, we signed and circulated petitions, we worked with concerned residents and we organised an event to discuss the issues around the commercial sexual exploitation of women. We were also subjected to some vile misogyny from Hooters supporters during the Evening Post's bizarre pro Hooters editorial campaign ( However, despite our objections, despite resident objections, despite police objections and despite it being in a cumulative impact zone, Guy Poultney and the rest of the licensing committee gave Hooters permission to open its doors on the grounds that it 'offered something really different to Bristol'.

Sexism, degrading imagery and language (careful! blondes thinking!) and the sexual objectfication of women. A restaurant that caters to stag parties. Yep, that's 'different' all right. Never seen that on my high street...

But anyway, it opened and our campaign was pretty much over. We kept an eye on things, and when a bikini contest appeared to be in breach of the licence (which was pretty clear on how wet t-shirt and bikini comps etc were not 'family friendly') we encouraged members to complain to licensing. Residents who were disturbed by apparent licence breaches such as outdoor drinking after 9pm and standing drinking indoors also kept the pressure on the police and licensing. But Hooters stayed open and over time I distanced myself from the campaign as I was busy working on other issues and had some concerns around some areas.

I'm going through this history to show categorically that BFN didn't have anything to do with Hooters closing and if we did have that influence then it would not have opened in the first place. Gallus (the management company) could not, as one supporter threatened, sue me for harm to their business. We never threatened staff or customers, and, apart from speaking out about the sexism and the impact this sexism has on equality, we never put pressure on people not to attend. After some of the accusations any one would think we had picketed the doors and thrown rotten eggs at customers! Hooters in Bristol closed because the management company are mired in debt, have been in an expensive row with a neighbouring business and because people did not go there. The money they were making was not enough to cover their costs.

I've heard from various people that Gallus management didn't pay their staff for two weeks and then made everyone redundant. Hooters employees have a right to be furious. Having been made redundant twice I know how utterly crap it is. We consistently made it clear that the we are sorry people have lost their jobs. But employee fury should be directed at the employers who sold them down the river. Not at me.

Throughout the day the nasty and angry comments continued until a friend emailed me to say that she had looked at one critic's own Facebook profile to find that he was calling me a cunt who needed to pay. He was writing how he was going to find me and make me pay, post my online details on 4chan, as well as encouraging his friends to join in with harassing me. Another critic commented on his profile how I was a douchebag, writing 'screw you'. His friends joined in, one of them saying that he would like to 'kick me in the vagina'. The original poster liked the comment, and his friends joined in the threats of kicking me. Because I have a private page on Facebook they couldn't threaten me directly. And because they have public profiles I was able to screen grab the threats and call the police.

The police have been incredibly supportive and taken the incident seriously. I reported it because this is an incident of gender based hate crime, and needs to be recognised as such. There's a real disbelief in whether gender based hate crime exists, and a consultation is happening right now as to what to do around recognising it. I hope that by reporting the threats against me it offers more evidence that gender based hate crime is real and happening and very, very common.

Bristol 24/7 contacted me to do a short interview on the harassment ( Comment is Free got in touch and I wrote a short piece for them, making the links between these kinds of threats, and the so-called 'bantering' tone lad culture takes when it comes to violence against women (indeed, the vagina kicking comment defended the words as a joke) ( BBC Bristol have called me repeatedly and the Evening Post ran two articles about it (stupidly illustrating an article about the online abuse with my face - collusion I wonder? Have I grounds to go to the PCC? Advice appreciated). I have declined to talk to the BBC and any further press outlets as I kind of just want it all to stop now and go away. I was happy to do the CIF piece as it gave me the control to make the very important links between lad culture and the threats. But without that control I'm concerned the story becomes about me being a victim of crime, not as a woman speaking out against how this culture dehumanises women.

The conversations continued on Facebook, CIF and the Evening Post. The mantra that feminism is about choice has been repeated ad nauseum, along with the assertion that we therefore need to respect that women choose to work at Hooters. I have to call bullshit on this one. Yes, feminism is about choice in lots of ways. But for me, feminism is about liberation from the patriarchy, and the capitalist patriarchy at that. Feminism is about questioning how our choices under patriarchy are not always free, or how they are influenced by the inequality we experience and the unfair ways in which women are valued. I have real beef with "choice feminism" that completely de-politicises our choices. Under patriarchy, where women's value is placed on her ability to conform to a narrow male-defined beauty ideal, then what do our choices mean? And when this pressure to self-objectify and fulfill this beauty ideal has a negative impact on our self-esteem, mental health and leads to increased tolerance of sexism and sexual violence (, then I ask again, how meaningful, how real is this choice? Do you really think in a world where women are equal and valued we would need to perform a narrow version of male-defined sexuality for the minimum wage? Don't make me laugh. Being told how to dress, how to smile, how to laugh, how to talk, how to perform your sexuality - this isn't choice. This isn't liberation.

However, let me be clear, these restrictions on our choices through patriarchy does not make us victims or mean we are floating helpless on a tide of oppression. Laura puts it brilliantly in the F Word's 'Ask a feminist' blog this week, saying:

"[this] doesn't mean painting women who use fake tan or remove their body hair as incapable of thinking for themselves. The same goes for other examples of social and cultural pressures. Women have the capacity to make different choices, but given that most people want to feel a sense of belonging and do not want to be singled out as different, it makes sense to go along with the dominant cultural norms. And if they're not exposed to any alternative perspectives, or if those alternative perspectives aren't perceived as credible because they're demonised within mainstream society, women are unlikely to question the status quo. That doesn't mean we're unable to: we just need access to alternatives and the tools required to deconstruct what has always been portrayed as normal and natural. We can then make more informed decisions about our lives, which may or may not include conforming to social norms.
For me, that tool is feminism. Reading feminist theory enabled me to stop thinking my hairy legs were disgusting, but prior to reading it I had never come across anyone or anything that told me any different. That doesn't mean I was helpless or irreparably brainwashed, just that I didn't have any reason to think outside the box."

The conversations have also included a lot of confusion as to where our criticism of Hooters was aimed. As a feminist, I have never criticised or commented on the women and men who work there. Neither has BFN as an organisation and no comments of this nature have ever appeared on our page. Our criticism and anger has always been reserved for Hooters the brand, the corporation, and the culture that allows for companies to profit from the sexual objectfication and dehumanisation of women. The company that values women as nothing more than T&A that brings in money. Contrary to some of the comments I've received, I have never made negative remarks about Hooters' employees. My feminism is (in part) about tackling the culture that tells us a woman's worth is based on her ability to conform to a male defined beauty ideal - a culture that fundamentally harms women and men. I think that the abuse I have received this week pretty much proves me right in my belief that this culture contributes to the dehumanisation of women. Do you think that men who respected women, who saw us as humans with rights and bodily autonomy would threaten me with violence? Or make 'jokes' about kicking me in the vagina? Nope. But men who see women as objects might do. After all, as the APA research linked to above shows us, this culture that sees women as sex objects contributes to the increased tolerance of sexism and sexual violence. I've certainly felt that this week.

In contrast to us not criticising the employees of Hooters, staff and supporters have called me many variations on ugly, unable to get a man, a bitch, a cunt and threatened me with violence. I challenge anyone to find me writing anything like that about them!

The silver lining to what has been a horrible week has of course been the overwhelming support I have had from women and men on Twitter and Facebook. Some of them are people I know in real life or online, some are strangers. I must have had around 200 @ messages within hours of me tweeting the abusive screen grabs. Messages of solidarity, support, care and kindness. Overwhelming doesn't really cover it. I'm sorry I was not able to reply to everyone individually but there were so many and I was desperately trying to not let anyone at work see that anything was wrong (futile in the end, work have had to have a meeting with me to check that they don't need to do anything to ensure my safety after all the press coverage). It was incredibly moving and heartening to see and hear all the messages of solidarity. In a week that has shown some of the worst of the internet, I have also seen some of the best of the internet. A vast, international commnunity of women and men standing against sexism and online abuse. The love and support of family, friends and boyfriend has also been wonderful. In spite of all the nasty things said and written about me this week, the abiding memory is of this support, and the sense that I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many people who care about me. Thank you.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A victory for equality as Hooters closes its doors

Since its licence application in 2010, Bristol Feminist Network and Bristol Fawcett have campaigned against the opening of self-styled ‘breastaurant’ Hooters. Just over a year later, we are happy to report that it has closed its doors for good.

We believe that Hooters contributed to the normalisation of the sexual objectification of women on our high street. We have repeatedly argued and demonstrated that the impact of this objectification culture is very real and far-reaching. Research from the American Psychological Association on the treatment of women as objects shows that:

• Pressure on women and girls to look and behave in certain ways negatively affects their self-esteem and their mental health.
• Gender inequality is reinforced, and hopes for a level playing field are dashed, when women are valued for their supposed sex appeal at the expense of their other attributes and qualities.
• After being exposed to images that sexually objectify women, men are significantly more accepting of sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, rape myths, and sex role stereotypes.

From its sexist and degrading imagery and language to its uniforms, signage and bikini contests, Hooters normalised a culture that values women as only and always sex objects. We argued that an establishment that seeks to make profit from sexism in this way had no place in a forward thinking and equal opportunity minded city like Bristol.

We are pleased to see that Bristol agreed with us. The fact that Hooters has now closed shows that its presence was not welcome in our city. Potential patrons of the restaurant voted with their feet.
We are of course sorry that its closure has resulted in women and men losing their jobs. However we hope that the premises are quickly filled, and new job opportunities created, by a company that doesn’t seek to treat women as sex objects. We look forward to celebrating the opening of a new harbourside restaurant soon, one that fits our vision for an equal and forward thinking Bristol.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

This is rape culture: Unilad, lad's mags and the Daily Mail

*Trigger warning* this post includes very upsetting quotes from Unilad, lad's mags and rapists regarding rape of women and children.

When I was interviewed on BBC Bristol the morning of Reclaim the Night 2011, the presenter accused me of being 'alarmist' when I said that we lived in a rape culture. I responded that I wasn't being alarmist, but that the situation is alarming. I explained that in a society where 1 in 4 women are survivors of rape ( and the conviction rate from incident to conviction is 6%, whilst sentencing remains low, and rape is a trope used across the media, advertising and pornography as something 'ok' (, then yes, we do live in a rape culture. 

This week reminded me of the extent of the rape culture we live in. I'm sure you are all aware of the Unilad magazine furore, which started on Twitter and has been picked up by plenty of the mainstream media. It began with anger over an article called 'Sexual Mathematics', where the "journalist" wrote that if a girl doesn't want to have sex with you, then you just have to do the maths. He states that 85% of rapes go unrecorded, and those are pretty good odds. In short, you might as well rape her, because chances are you'll get away with it.

This isn't banter. This isn't lads together, jauntily joking at women's expense. This is pure and undiluted hatred of women. I don't think that's too extreme to say. These men must hate women. Because if they didn't hate women, then they wouldn't see women as objects that are there for their pleasure and their use. They wouldn't see women as non-human, who are just there to be at the other end of their dicks and their orgasm. They would see women as people in their own right, with feelings and bodies and a sexuality and a voice.

Let alone the fact that of course he's right. Most rapists do get away with it. Because we live in a rape culture.

The Sexual Mathematics article was the one that got reported. But amazing and horrifying research by tweeps Lori Hearts and Renireni revealed that threatening women with rape was par the course for the lads of Unilad. Articles and comments about how if your girl doesn't want sex, then that's still fun for one (advocating rape), as well as 'jokes' ('every hole is a goal', that '9 out of 10 people enjoy gang rape'), and sexualised insults ('take the sand out of your vagina'). A post on their Facebook page featuring a screen grab of a 10 year old girl's question to a problem page received over 18,000 likes and some horribly hateful comments. They call the girl a 'slut in the making', suggest that maybe her 'da rapes her in her sleep' get the picture. My final example comes courtesy of Lorrie Hearts twitter feed (I can't bear to look at the facebook page anymore), where Unilads Facebook fans joke that 'if it's old enough to bleed it's old enough to breed' - advocating and joking about child abuse (some girls start their periods age 10 or even earlier) (!/LorrieHearts/status/165098360573923328/photo/1). They exchange rhymes that 'if they wipe their own pee it's old enough for me', 'if there's grass on the pitch let's play ball', and, the one that made me retch the most 'if it's old enough to bleed, it's old enough to butcher'.

And that's before you even get on to the rampant homophobia, the hideous trivialising of rape of men and the ableism. I only have energy for one blogpost on this subject but would refer you to my blogpost on the intersection of sexism and homophobia about how in this environment men assert their heterosexuality by being misogynistic because of their homophobia (

To these lads, women are simply holes. We aren't even called women, we are 'it' or sluts or whores. But mostly, we are three holes. Sex is violence, a conquest to defeat a woman. Sex is 'butchering' and the goal is the 'hole'. Consent is meaningless, because to recognise the need for consent would be to recognise that women are women, are humans, with our own voices and desires and bodily autonomy. When they say that the odds are good if you rape a woman, it's not actually startling. Because in the minds of these lads, sex is something that is 'done' to a woman. They don't get a say in it - positive or negative. In the Unilad world, women can't win. If she wants to have sex, or engages in consensual sex, she's a slut. And if she doesn't, then she's a hole to be 'conquested'.

Anyway, Unilad offered a useless apology (we're sorry you were offended) and the story has got a smattering of press attention and widespread condemnation. The site was closed down but the Facebook page is thriving, with lads and ladies calling their critics dykes who are attacking their freedom of speech (I can't decide what the most tragic element of this whole debacle is, but the support the site has from women is definitely one of them).

But let's not allow the outrage over Unilad trick us into thinking this is a one off, or that the rape culture in Unilad is somehow unique to them. Because Unilad aren't the originators of this rape culture. The quality of their writing is enough to prove they're not clever enough to think of this shit on their own. They are reflecting our culture, our rape culture that refuses to see women as fully human, that sees them as objects and that views sex as a conquest of holes, that is done to women. Their language and 'jokes' or 'banter' is lifted from the pages of mainstream lad's mags and porn content.

A study that was published last year by Middlesex University and the University of Surrey ( provided quotes from lad's mags and convicted rapists, and asked participants if they could identify the two sources.  Here are a selection of the quotes:

    1. There's a certain way you can tell that a girl wants to have sex . . . The way they dress, they flaunt themselves.
    2. Some girls walk around in short-shorts . . . showing their body off . . . It just starts a man thinking that if he gets something like that, what can he do with it?
    3. A girl may like anal sex because it makes her feel incredibly naughty and she likes feeling like a dirty slut. If this is the case, you can try all sorts of humiliating acts to help live out her filthy fantasy.
    4. Mascara running down the cheeks means they've just been crying, and it was probably your fault . . . but you can cheer up the miserable beauty with a bit of the old in and out.
    5. What burns me up sometimes about girls is dick-teasers. They lead a man on and then shut him off right there.
    6. Filthy talk can be such a turn on for a girl . . . no one wants to be shagged by a mouse . . . A few compliments won't do any harm either . . . ‘I bet you want it from behind you dirty whore' . . .
    7. You know girls in general are all right. But some of them are bitches . . . The bitches are the type that . . . need to have it stuffed to them hard and heavy.
    8. Escorts . . . they know exactly how to turn a man on. I've given up on girlfriends. They don't know how to satisfy me, but escorts do.
    9. You'll find most girls will be reluctant about going to bed with somebody or crawling in the back seat of a car . . . But you can usually seduce them, and they'll do it willingly.
    10. There's nothing quite like a woman standing in the dock accused of murder in a sex game gone wrong . . . The possibility of murder does bring a certain frisson to the bedroom.
    11. Girls ask for it by wearing these mini-skirts and hotpants . . . they're just displaying their body . . . Whether they realise it or not they're saying, ‘Hey, I've got a beautiful body, and it's yours if you want it.'
    12. You do not want to be caught red-handed . . . go and smash her on a park bench. That used to be my trick.
    13. Some women are domineering, but I think it's more or less the man who should put his foot down. The man is supposed to be the man. If he acts the man, the woman won't be domineering.
    14. I think if a law is passed, there should be a dress code . . . When girls dress in those short skirts and things like that, they're just asking for it.
    15. Girls love being tied up . . . it gives them the chance to be the helpless victim.
    16. I think girls are like plasticine, if you warm them up you can do anything you want with them.*

I couldn't tell the difference. Can you? I bet you can't guess who said Number 12.

*Answers. 1. Rapist, 2. Rapist, 3. Lad mag, 4. Lad mag, 5. Rapist, 6. Lad mag, 7. Rapist, 8. Lad mag, 9. Rapist, 10. Lad mag, 11. Rapist, 12. Lad mag, 13. Rapist, 14. Rapist, 15. Lad mag, 16. Lad mag

Although there has been a lot of moves to restrict lad's mags, move them to the top shelf or have age restrictions; the fact remains that these mags are picked up by young boys when they buy their sweets or footie stickers at the newsagents. They grow up learning that if you don't want to get caught raping a girl, then you 'smash her on a park bench'. That women are just three holes. That consent doesn't matter, because women don't get a say or a voice. Combined with the prevalence and easy access of violent porn that portrays acted and real rape as something that women want or deserve, then the existence of Unilad is simply not that surprising. This is the language, the cultural landscape we live in.

I thought I would take a quick look at a couple of lad's mag sites to support what I've just said. It's literally a sea of disembodied body parts. A pair of tits here, a thong-encased bum there. Women are not seen as a whole, they are seen as parts. Nuts is a sea of breasts, with the 'assess my breasts' click through a headless pair of boobs. The jokes section of the site helpfully informs me that this section is not for girls (that would be 'soft'). I feel a bit dizzy in this boob smorgasbord, where women are defined and measured by their tits. All in all, that is half hour of my life I am never going to get back.

It's just so endlessly degrading! It's so depressing as a woman to know that you are being used, that your body parts, your sexuality are being used in this way - to degrade you, so that you are judged as nothing but the sum of a good pair of tits and a nice ass. That you are nothing but a potential conquest, that in the eyes of Unilad and their ilk you are nothing but three holes to be fucked. This constant dehumanisation, this slicing up of women for consumption - we're on the menu. When people ask me why I'm anti porn, why I get angry about Hooters, why I disagree with lad's mags or page 3 I can articulate my argument about the links between objectification, low self esteem and VAWG. And god knows the research by Middlesex and Surrey shows that. But sometimes it comes down to as basic a response as this. As a woman, I do not want to be treated this way anymore. I don't want men who read these mags or who absorb this culture to see me as nothing but a potential hole to be fucked. It sounds extreme. But we can't ignore this any more. We can't ignore that lad culture is raising a readership of men who see women as objects to be fucked, and women who then see themselves as objects to be fucked ( When a guy walks up to me on the street and shouts in my face that I need to suck his cock, he hasn't been reading Wollstonecraft. He's been reading Unilad, or Zoo, or Nuts, and learning that women are his property, are objects that he can use as and how he wants. Even if that want at that point is to assert his own power in a public space.

I just can't believe we can achieve equality when women are on the menu.

We must remember that these men aren't monsters. The men who write 'old enough to breed old enough to butcher' are not oddballs or weirdos or 'evil'. This isn't a one off. This is part of a culture that allows violence against women and girls, that allows for women to be dehumanised. Unilad aren't creating this culture, they're reflecting something that already exists and has existed for a long time. Take a look at those quotes again from the research. These aren't from Unilad, but they are no different.

My final point on rape culture comes courtesey of a Daily Mail article published online on Friday ( The piece was about the rape of a 12-year old girl by a 35-year old PCSO. The Mail reporter described it as an 'affair'.

I include this example because it shows how rape culture isn't just confined to the obviously misogynistic world of porn and lad's mags. It is everywhere, including the "respectable" media (yeah, I know, it's the Mail, but it doesn't get any more mainstream and they at least think they're respectable). Calling child rape an 'affair' taps into an idea that rape isn't really real unless it exists in a very specific setting (outdoors, with a stranger and weapon). We've said it to the Daily Mail before, but legally a 12-year old can't consent to sex. Therefore if an adult man has sex with a child, no matter if his marriage is unhappy, or she wanted to move in with him when she was 18, it is still rape. An adult has a responsibility not to rape a child. If a child has a crush on an adult, then he has a responsibility to recognise that doesn't give him permission to rape her. And the Daily Mail has a responsibility to report this responsibly. If they report child rape as an 'affair' then they are colluding with the rapist to present his crime as harmless, to present it in the way that he wants it to be seen. He wants the girl to be culpable and they are tacitly agreeing to that. So that girl, and the next girl, and the next - they are seen as co-operating in the violence committed against them. Not calling rape what it is is part of a rape culture that diminishes its seriousness, shifts the blame onto women and girls and ignores how different forms of violence against women and girls are inter-connected.

It's all part of the same pattern. If we see women as dehumanised objects, then it is impossible to rape them. If chatter in our cultural landscape is devoted to trivialising rape, to joking about rape, to blaming women for their rape, to saying that rape is 'good odds' or 'fun for one', then the end result is that in the mainstream, rape is trivialised too.

And as research published last week shows, in our rape culture jurors are less likely to convict rapists ( Rape culture isn't alarmist. It's real, it's happening, sometimes it's caught out, most times it isn't. In the end, it's women who are suffering.