The Media War on Women’s Bodies

I think that most women who have survived male violence (and the accompanying justice system) are accustomed to reading the papers and having a little weep from time to time.  I know I do; not from sadness, but from anger and frustration.  I cry when I read how we are portrayed in the mainstream media.  I cry at the snide little insinuations, the implicit message that we are all just whores on the make.  Although the papers are often unable to identify us unless we oblige them by dying, they have their own little ways of making their feelings about women who have the audacity to complain about male behaviour crystal clear.  But just lately, it seems to me that things are getting worse, in the papers and in the courts. 

To start with, it seems that women cannot avoid having their actions counted against them and used to hold them accountable for the behaviour of the men around them.  There was the case of the woman in the RAF, where a fellow officer had drunkenly gotten into bed with her and grabbed at her.  He was cleared of sexual assault as she had been flirting with him earlier in the evening, which is of course a clear way of saying 'get into my bed and scare the life out of me'.

Then there was the delightful-sounding Quinten Hann, a professional snooker player who was cleared of his assault on two women as, of course, they had gone back to his house, they must have known they'd be expected to be up for it.  Not only that, but one of then had then had the audacity to sell her story to the press: assault against two women on the grounds that one of them had sold her story to the press: Snooker ace cleared of sex attack

I don’t have any legal qualifications myself, but I was under the impression that, in this country, we judged cases on the pure facts of what occurred at the relevant time.  Indeed, I’m assuming that it is this presumption that prevented previous accusations of rape made against Mr Hann being revealed.  How strange that a jury is allowed to draw inferences from a woman’s behaviour after the fact, yet are not allowed to know if the man in question makes a habit of harassing women. 

Then there was the policeman who was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, as he claims his wife had 'bragged' about having another bloke.  He got 8 years; one month for each of the 96 stab wounds he inflicted on her while their children slept next door.  In this case, it struck me that it’s funny how in rape cases we’re always hearing misogynist woman bashers moaning about acquaintance rape ‘well, it’s just one person’s word against another’s, isn’t it?’, as Graham Jones’ entire defence was built upon a remark he claimed his dead wife had made to him and him alone.  Seems it’s perfectly ok to administer justice on ‘one person’s word against another’s’ if it so happens that the other person is dead and unable to defend themselves.  Killer Won't Quit Force

All these things are bad enough, but to women like us, the survivors of male violence, they are just so much cultural white noise, that buzzing in the background that serves as a constant reminder that we are dirty, lying sluts who are probably making it all up cos we’re malicious, don’t you know?  Yes, these news stories depressed and appalled me, but what really left me gasping for breath was the shocking hypocrisy shown when the very same tabloids who print these salacious, nudge-nudge accounts of brutal attacks on women went into moral outrage overdrive about the brutal attack on Abigail Witchalls, who was left paralysed after being stabbed while out and about with her toddler. 

Now, what happened to Abigail Witchalls and her small son was truly terrible, but the papers’ hysteria sticks in my craw somewhat.  After all, can these people not see that all we have here is an extension of the war on women's bodies that these same papers help perpetuate with their extremely biased reporting of violence towards women who may be less angelically pure than the saintly Mrs Witchalls?  When he raised his knife to her neck, Mrs Witchalls' attacker did not know she was a good Catholic woman and adored wife; to him she was just a piece of meat, and, despicable though this viewpoint is, it is completely unsurprising to me that a young man growing up in Britain today would think in such a way.  I would say it is even encouraged by the way women are dehumanized by the press, by their partners, by passing men in the street every day. 

I feel that people are deliberately missing the point.  If there was as much day-to-day violence between any other discrete groups as there is between men and women, we would be being told that there is open warfare on the streets.  As it is, everyone says 'how terrible', and then looks the other way when you ask them to see the bigger picture. 

It makes me think: when are we going to see violence against women classified as the hate crime it is, as racist and homophobic attacks are?  Would it be SO unreasonable to have this tide of (it seems to me) unprecedented violence against women punished as are hate crimes, and have ‘gender-based violence’  taken into account as an 'aggravating' factor when sentencing these wastes of sperm and egg?  Yes it'll be difficult to prove, yes it'll be controversial, but the laws of a country are indicative of what that country's society finds acceptable and unacceptable, and at the minute we are saying to our men: 'come and have a go if you think you're hard enough, I probably asked for it anyway'.  This has to STOP!!!!

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