Wednesday, 18 May 2011

a high price

as with most high-profile rape cases, the one involving dominique strauss-kahn (head of the IMF) has left me feeling a little sick. the woman alleging sexual assault is apparently in hiding, unable to return to work and who knows how she is surviving.

details of her ethnicity, immigration status and religion are now in the public arena. yet again, the media response gives a clear lesson to women: if you're raped by a high-profile man and don't keep quiet about it, expect for your life to be made miserable. there will be no waiting for justice through the court system and very little about your identity will remain secret. expect every aspect of your past and present to be scrutinised. that is the price you pay for being in the vicinity of a rapist who has a public profile.

i can't find links to it, but i heard in the news today that the woman concerned did not know who mr strauss-kahn was when she made the complaint. she had absolutely no idea that her life would be drastically affected. the underlying implication seems to be that she probably would not have spoken to police had she known that this would be the result of her actions.

yup. this is rape culture in action. pretty hard not to feel sick about it.


LadyNews said...

I read a comment questioning why she was cleaning his room alone and not in a team of two or more (which the person asking the question said was standard and the norm). Even though the victim-blaming, "why were you doing X?" line of thought is in no way new to me, reading that just made me feel ill, hearing this woman who was just doing her job being judged for doing her job. Is there any job where women can be sure they are safe from rape or do we need all need to travel in packs at all times, using some sort of buddy system to protect ourselves from rapists? That comment was, to me, an excellent representation of rape culture and the real problem that we have.

Hugh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ross Brighton said...

I've also heard talk from the radical left (sigh) about how this is somehow a conspiracy to stop him from ousting Sarkozy - pretty similar in tone to the whole Assange business. Sometimes I just dispair.

goodgravey said...

The comment from LadyNews is something we see so often. And the "personal safety by travelling in numbers" argument might sound reasonable to some.

But it is only reasonable if you start from the perspective of accepting rape as something normal or expected. If you start from the perspective that women (or anyone for that matter) should be able to feel safe wherever they are, then the answer is obvious.

It seems to me that it is not only part of the endemic rape culture in our society, but also of the oh-so-common trait of not questioning things enough.

"Stay with your friends to keep yourself safe". Makes perfect sense when you stop there. But as soon as you ask "Why should you?" and "Precisely what is it that creates the danger?" then it is utterly absurd.

LadyNews said...


It's funny how I was still shocked to hear the "why was she in his room alone?" question given how often I've heard the "stay in groups", "stick with friends", "why were you there alone" comments made. I had imagined my capacity for shock and outrage over rape culture had been worn down a bit, but I'm glad to see it's still alive and kicking.

The "stick with friends" argument is not exactly the best one to make either, given that even though we (society) makes rape out to be a thing that a stranger in a bar does to you the reality is much different, and those friends who are supposed to look after us while we're out living our lives could also potentially be rapists. So saying stick with friends is not great rape prevention advice. Stupid "rape prevention" advice born out of rape culture is stupid.