Friday, 20 November 2015

Bookish Spinsters: Rape & Sexual Assault

Bookish Spinsters

Bookish Spinsters is a weekly link-up where we discuss feminism based on a topic/question/prompt, and other feminist book bloggers and book tubers join in with their response. Feel free to join in at any time, I just ask that you link back to Bookish Spinsters. For more info and the list of future Bookish Spinsters topics, go to the Bookish Spinsters page.

This week's topic is Rape & Sexual Assault.

I had written a really long post for this, and then it all disappeared on me and I couldn't get it back. So this is the shorter version, with the hopes that I can share my thoughts of what I originally wrote in the comments, if we can get a discussion going.

I talk about rape, sexual assault and rape culture for the next week or so as part of Sex in Teen Lit Month II, so today, instead of giving my thoughts generally on this topic, I want to talk about something in particular. On 2nd November, BBC aired Is this Rape? Sex on Trial (from the date this post went live, there are 18 days left to watch the programme on BBC iPlayer). In the programme, 24 male and female 16 - 18-year-olds are shown a three part drama of a party, a sexual encounter at the party, and the aftermath, and are asked to discuss, at the end of each part, what they saw, and answer a specific question. I knew this programme would annoy and anger me, but I also found it really interesting. The teens were so confused over what constituted rape, and what constituted consent, and various opinions on what they saw. What was interesting to me was how they were given the opportunity to explain why they thought the way they did, and it was so eye-opening as to how little understanding there is about rape and consent. It's a hugely important programme, one I hope you watch by clicking the link above, and discuss with me in the comments.

I found the programme quite scary because of the confusion everyone had, but it's so fantastic because it got these teens talking, and I'm sure the audience talking and thinking too. We all really need to have this conversation to understand exactly what rape is, so we as a society can change the way we treat victims. I seriously think this programme should be shown in schools, or at least just the drama, to get all older teenagers thinking and discussing this, and realising exactly what's what. I also really think a non-fiction book, Asking For it by Kate Harding (which I review at the end of the month) should be in schools too, because it answers all the questions the teens in the programme had, and would clear up all confusion. I seriously think everyone should read it, but let's start opening eyes and changing people's perspectives while they're still young, and we could change the future.

Macmillan Children's Books will be publishing Courtney Summers' All the Rage, a novel about a rape survivor's life after her attack, in January (which I'll be reviewing this month). I'd like to share with you some links and information they emailed me that shows just what our society is like when it comes to rape:
  • Newsnight followed Is This Rape? Sex on Trial with a feature discussing the so-called ‘grey area’ surrounding rape and sexual consent.
  • According to the ONS, there were 29,265 accounts of rape and 58,954 sexual offences in the year ending March 2015. This is the highest number recorded by the police since 2002/03
  • The Office for National Statistics published research that showed that 44% of interviewees (in the 2013-14 survey) argued that victims of rape were partially responsible if they had been ‘flirting heavily’ beforehand.
  • An 18-year-old student from Sheffield University was raped on her way home and during the court hearing stated ‘I blame myself at times, questioning why I walked home alone.’
  • Chrissie Hynde caused controversy following her Times interview and autobiography where she discusses the blame she places on herself for her own rape and states that ‘if you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him.’
  • Following this, Chrissie’s comments were picked up by ITV’s Loose Women who started a poll asking ‘is it ever a woman’s fault if she’s raped?’
  • The Hungarian police posted a public safety advert which showed three women on a night out wearing “provocative outfits” drinking and dancing with men. The advert ends with one woman on the floor after being sexually assaulted with the line ‘you are responsible, you can do something about it’ at the bottom of the screen.
  • In Celebrity Big Brother, Jeremy Jackson pulled open Chloe Goodman’s dressing gown and grabbed her breast. Viewers claimed that her reaction was over the top because as a glamour model she shows her breasts for a living.
  • Sussex Police released a poster that read ‘Which one of your mates is most vulnerable on a night out? The one you leave behind.’ This poster has been widely criticised as it places responsibility on victims as opposed to blaming the perpetrators of the crime.
  • James O’Brien, LBC presenter, discussed whether women who blacks out after a night of drinking should contact a rape counsellor. A woman called in and claimed that if a woman was inebriated and then raped, she bears the responsibly as she gave consent through getting drunk.
  • A judge sparked outrage when he stated that an 18-year-old rape victim was “extremely foolish” for getting so drunk and leaving herself vulnerable.
  • YouTuber Joey Salads conducted a “social experiment” on how easy it was to abduct women, driving around at night, asking drunken women coming out of bars if they wanted to go to an after-party. This experiment sparked outrage as he was placing responsibility on the women rather than the perpetrators.
  • And in India, a rape survivor was denied an abortion and forced to balance a 40kg rock on her head in order to prove her purity so that she may return to living with her husband. 
Just let that all sink in. We, as a society, seriously have issues.

Macmillan Children's Books ended this email with this:

In 2016, we want things to change.

All The Rage by Courtney Summers [is] an astonishing and starkly written novel about the aftermath of a rape, examining the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them. All The Rage is a powerful portrayal of what it means to be a girl, speaking up and being a survivor, and we’re so proud to be publishing it in January.

#ToTheGirls2016 is our way of sharing messages of strength, advice, inspiration and courage for ‘the girls’ - and for everyone - for the year ahead. It’s an incredibly important conversation, and we need as many voices to speak up as possible.

We need your voice.

We would absolutely love for you to send your message #ToTheGirls2016 from 1st January 2016 and join the conversation @panmacmillan.

And I sincerely hope you will raise your voice with me come 1st January in sharing messages; maybe, just maybe, they will be read by someone who really needs to read them.

And now it's time for you to share your responses to this week's topic! Join the link-up below with the URL to your Bookish Spinsters post/video, along with your name and your email address. Then check out other people's posts and lets get talking!

No comments:

Post a Comment