...growled Peter Wyngarde in his never-forgotten 1970s opus 'Rape' - until now, the most offensive thing ever written about rape.
I say "until now" because I've just been on the Daily Mail website, after a few days' absence. The story is about how women have overturned a decision by the criminal injuries compensation authority to reduce their compensation because they had been drinking before being raped.
The BBC have done a rather good job on the story, interviewing a victim and providing plenty of background. And it's worth noting this paragraph, because it's important to bear in mind when we get to the mountain of shit from the Mail:
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority acknowledged its rules had been applied wrongly in 14 other cases.
Not 'fought against the ruling'. Not 'battled against the appeal'. No, admitted. They admitted they were wrong to do what they did.
Now we come to the Mail, and an article by Roger Graef, who was a contemporary of Wyngarde's in the 1970s, I guess you could say. It was an era when rape was treated as some kind of suspicious crime and the victims were often blamed for having been raped - sound familiar? Well, Graef's documentary 'A Complaint of Rape' did a lot to change attitudes, he'd tell you.
Let's leave aside the awfulness of the staccato sentences, meandering around aimlessly; the dreadful construction of the article; the abysmal use of language. This man is, after all, a film-maker and not a writer by trade. We should also bear in mind that he wasn't responsible for writing the headline or for selecting the pictures - that disgrace belongs to someone else in the Mail's offices - but even so, it's a pretty fucking terrible piece of work.
Let's look at that headline - and yes, Graef didn't write it, but whichever sub-editor came up with this shit should be thrown down a fire escape:
Don't blind-drunk women who cry rape bear any responsibility for what happens to them?
Two utterly reprehensible lies in one headline: good work fella; well done. Lie 1: we're not talking about 'blind-drunk' women. Lie 2: how dare you use the phrase 'cry rape' - you know full well that this implies some kind of invention on the part of the victim. People don't 'cry GBH' or 'cry assault', do they - so why 'cry rape' unless you're trying to bring in a connotation of 'cry wolf' and imply that nothing really happened? Why take this stance? Why imply that women who are raped are making it up?
And that's just the fucking headline, but it gives you a clue as to how the Mail are going to treat this story. You can't say you weren't warned. I've said before that I've sensed a strange agenda with the Mail when it comes to rape, a whiff of a suggestion that women are kind of making it up most of the time. I don't know where this should come from, in a newspaper that has such a high female readership (Christ knows why) - but it's always there, bubbling under.
I think, if I were to try and pin it down, it would be some kind of Mail attitude about people being responsible for things that happen to them - we've seen many times how victims of crime are painted as deserving what they got in some sense - and some kind of disapproving look at lifestyles. Therefore, rape is just the kind of thing that happens to other women, often lower-class, single and poor, who somehow kind of deserve their fate for being promiscuous, for having sex outside of marriage, for being young and single, for going out and drinking alcohol, that kind of thing. Somehow there's a judgment on lifestyle rather than on the facts of whatever case might actually be there. I find it extremely distasteful.
Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy ride.
Yesterday, it emerged that a woman awarded compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority after being raped had her payout docked because she had consumed alcohol.
Her case is only the latest in a string of controversies.
The victim said she hadn't drunk that much.
The authority accepts her account and has restored her money.
NO, ROGER, NO! No, it's not a controversy because, as you'd actually recall if you knew anything about the fucking story, the CICA admitted that it had got it wrong! So where's the 'controversy' there for anyone? And why are you couching things in terms of 'the victim said' rather than saying it as fact? Don't you believe her? Everyone else did. The CICA admitted it had got it wrong. You are the only person arguing with this woman's version of events.
The authority also admits to 14 other cases where the victims had been drinking and had their compensation reduced.
We are entering a minefield here.
Don't women who get plastered beyond control have any responsibility for what happens to them?
No, Roger, no. We're not entering a minefield. You're entering a minefield. And you're going to get your fucking legs blown off, if there's any justice.
Disgracefully and unforgivably, Graef talks about 'women who get plastered beyond control' when talking about this matter. But was this the case with the victim concerned? Was she really 'plastered beyond control' or 'blind-drunk' as the headline would have us believe? Was she? No? And if not, what kind of fucking witch-hunt victim-blaming crock of shit is this? What kind of utter disgrace to journalism is this? You can't use this woman's case as a springboard but then pretend you're actually talking about other people, without ever thinking you're going to taint her by association.
The Mail's subs have done a fine job with sourcing photographs: one of a woman lying on the pavement, presumably drunk, with the caption "Boozy night: Ladette culture has become a common feature of contemporary society"; one of women sitting at a bar, looking drunk with the caption "Blurry: Excessive drinking by females has become the norm (pictured posed by model)" and one of a container of Rohypnol, with the caption "Rohypnol, commonly known as the 'date rape' drug, has been blamed for a number of alleged incidents".
So the pictures are telling you a different story from the one about the victim whose case prompted Graef to write this appalling barrel of excrement. The pictures are telling you that women go out and get pissed, and that 'excessive drinking by females has become the norm'. Has it? Where are the data for this? Or is it just some kind of given in Mail-land that women get pissed all the time nowadays? Is it really happening, and is it really the majority of the population? And even if the majority of people are going out and getting pissed, does that mean that men are entitled to rape them?
But how do you decide what is consent?
When I was a young man, flirtatious women often said no, while sending strong physical signals to the contrary.
It was very confusing even when sober.
One had to tread very carefully to be certain what was going on.
See, when you're pissed, you can get 'confused' about whether a woman wants you to rape her or not.
As ladette culture has spread across UK towns and cities and abroad, more and more women have gone out on the town - drinking to excess and behaving ever more raucously, sending blunt signals to young men also on the prowl.
Subtle it's not.
But ambiguous it certainly is - if the women don't mean it.
What signals are these? 'Please rape me'? I don't understand this at all. I genuinely don't get it. What signals? I'm not trying to be obtuse, but what signals? What are these women saying by behaving 'raucously'? That rape is acceptable? That they want to have sex with every man? That they're available for sex? Is that the kind of thing?
But the spread of binge drinking among young women has effectively cancelled the progress made in court procedures since those dark days before my film.
After the witness describes her ordeal, defence counsel triumphantly produces CCTV of the victim having a drink - or two or three - with the accused, or being too drunk to remember what happened to them.
I certainly defend women's right to enjoy themselves and, in all cultures, men must always take responsibility for their behaviour.
There is never an excuse.
Thank you, Roger, for single-handedly changing everyone's attitude in the world about rape. Well done. Couldn't have done it without you. Feminism in the 1970s obviously achieved nothing whatsoever, and it was your film that on its own turned around an entire society's attitudes. Do you know what - we should really put up a monument of you in the middle of Trafalgar Square for getting rid of the 'dark days'.
Three drinks? Are three drinks enough for someone to think that rape is OK? Really? Is that how far we've come since those 'dark days'? Because if it is, then we haven't got anywhere at all, and we're still in the dark days. Three drinks isn't the 'blind drunk' of the headline or the 'plastered beyond control' of Graef's opening gambit.
But so must women - and brewers and publicans who ply them with cheap drink.
Women always retain the right to say no whatever condition they are in.
But if they have been drinking, they may not be able to make that clear to someone stronger than them who doesn't wish to hear it.
Well then... that's rape, isn't it? And I don't see how being sober would save you against someone stronger than you who doesn't want to hear no.
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Hello. I'm a Bristol-based writer and soon-to-be-redundant journalist. You can read more about me and the Enemies site here, or follow me on Twitter. Email me if you like - antonvowl at live dot co dot uk
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