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Playing The Rape Card

May 21, 2011

Rape is everywhere it seems at the moment, especially in The Guardian. In the last seven days there have been no less than 120- yes, 120!- articles featuring ‘rape’ in The Graun.

You’d think there was a rape epidemic or something. But no, it has just been an average week, in which a UK  politician has said some ill-informed things about rape and the criminal justice system, a French politician has been accused of assaulting a chambermaid, and women have GOT ANGRY like it was 1969.

Suzanne Moore is no exception. She has been inciting women to get angry ever since she reclaimed her rightful position as Chief Feminist Columnist at The Guardian a few months ago. Reading her columns has felt like being an audience-member in an avant-garde piece of po-mo theatre, or a sci-fi movie. It is a simulcra of the 1970s feminism I grew up in, with added ‘performativity’ and Jimmy Choos, and Prossecco. This is Feminism 2.0

But today Moore excels herself.  First, she plays the victim card. It’s like a joker, you only get one or two in a pack, so you have to use it strategically and she has. In a week when the leader of the opposition called for the Justice Minister’s resignation/sacking, over his comments about how some rapes are more ‘serious’ than others, and his ignorance about the difference between rape and unlawful sex with a minor, the ‘rape victim’ card has particular value.

Suzanne Moore is telling us that she is qualified to pontificate about rape, not just because she is a woman, or a Guardian columnist, or a feminist, or someone of a certain age who understands the history of the term. Her special qualification is that she has been raped herself.  And in telling us she has been raped, not only does she gain ‘victim status’ making it nearly impossible for anyone to argue with her, without being labelled a rape apologist, a rape denier, or, by insinuation, an actual rapist, she also is canny. She won’t give us the gory details of her ordeal (and I am sure it was an ordeal) because that will be playing the tabloid hand of demanding titillation with your feminism with your cornflakes in the morning. She is taking the moral high ground. She is also avoiding any argument over her authority about the facts of her case. Rape pretty well always boils down to ‘her word against his’. Two people have sex. One of them says there was no consent. If there are no witnesses it is very difficult to ascertain which one is telling the truth. But we all believe Suzanne, because she is our trusted Guardian columnist, our friend on facebook, our twitter follower/ee. We take her word for it and we don’t question anything she says.

So, once she has played the rape card, how can we question anything else she says in the article? She is the victim here, right? She is the survivor. She is the journalist whose piece on cif has been given special treatment, so comments below the line do not get published until a moderator has approved them. Usually an article by Suzanne will attract at least 300 comments. Often going up to 500 or 600. As I write this, in the afternoon of the day it was published, there are only 94 comments. Were all the others ‘misogynist’? ‘offensive’? We will never know.

But what does she say?

Firstly Moore tells us she is ‘disgusted’ that rape has become a party political issue.

‘Rape is rape. But rape is not a party-political issue, and I am fairly disgusted that it has been treated that way this week.’

Then she tells us that

‘Pretty much everyone agrees that our conviction rates for rape are appallingly low and the system has to change.’

I don’t agree that conviction rates for rape are appallingly low. But this is not the time to be arguing with Suzanne. She is a victim don’t you know. She knows best.

She then goes on to state:

‘All we have had from this government so far was the bizarre proposal from the Lib Dems about waiving anonymity for victims, which was thankfully thrown out’.

This is incorrect. The lib dems did not propose waiving anonymity for victims, they proposed giving anonymity to defendants. A slightly different suggestion.

She then defends Clarke’s proposals to reduce sentences for guilty pleas in rape cases, as an attempt ‘to avoid the trauma of trial, which for so many women is another further violation’.

Likening being in court to being violated is something feminists do a lot. Everything is a ‘violation’. Women are being ‘raped’ by the system. It is the metaphor of drama queens, of victim culture.

Suzanne then mentions how there is only ‘one small (rape crisis) centre serving nearly 4 million women’  in London, and suggests it is under threat of closure. When actually, it has been confirmed that the Mayor has agreed to increase that number to four rape crisis centres in the capital.

Once she has established that ‘misogyny is the theory, rape is the practice’, Moore feels free to conflate rape with any other form of unwanted sexual attention or violence against women. And to blame men for it.

‘Every time a high-profile man is accused of rape or harassment or assault, not only is there usually a backlog of complaints, there is usually a protective entourage. Tyson, Clinton, Schwarzenegger, Berlusconi etc etc. Powerful men have powerful urges, you see’ she writes.

‘There is an argument that we should see rape as an extension of assault and not a specifically horrific crime. It is not the worst thing that can ever happen. A penis is simply a piece of flesh. That’s all. But rape culturally is about power and humiliation and real, or threatened, violence.’

So Moore has placed herself carefully as someone who does not blame ‘penises’ for rape. But she still invokes the power of the phallus when she says ‘rape culturally is about power and humiliation’.

In my comment on cif, the one that was passed by the moderators, I said that Moore can talk in this way about men and rape, because technically women cannot rape men. Rape demands a penis to penetrate an orafice without consent. So even if feminists begrudgingly acknowledge that women can sexually assault men, which Suzanne does not in this particular article, they always have ‘rape’ kept special. The crime that only men can commit. And according to this article it seems, only against women.

She finishes with a final blow, that could have come out of Dworkin or Brownmiller’s mouths, forty years ago:

‘There is more than one way of imprisoning people and rape acts culturally as a form of incarceration. For women always. And for those men who do actually want us to set us free.’

This is what happens when we allow women ‘victim status’. They have us by the balls and they can say whatever they like about rape, about men, about power. And we can’t do anything to challenge them. Without being labelled as rapists ourselves.

Fine. I am ok with the label of ‘rapist’ however inaccurate it may be. If it is the only way I can counter the hate and the lies that have been spouting from feminism and from The Guardian lately, I will take it.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. suzanne moore permalink
    May 21, 2011 3:20 pm

    Do you want the details then Elly? The actual injuries ? Would that turn you on? You are lying when you said I wouldnt talk to you when I often do. You also called me a bitch. Are you wilfully stupid? Rape is common. An unwanted dick does not define me. I dont play the victim. You are simply full of hate and spite. Why for me in particular I have no idea. I get worse on a daily basis from all sorts of people. Your obsession is just creepy. I dont ask you to agree with or ever read a word I say but then where else would you get your kicks?’ I’d hate if you had to engage in any world beyond your ‘oh -so -clever I am a woman who hates feminism doesnt that make me interesting stance’ If you are a woman? I’d hate to be so essentialist? Goodbye . Dont bother to ever speak to or about me again.

    • May 21, 2011 3:22 pm

      I shall continue to read your articles and criticise them if they need criticising.

      When I said you won’t speak to me I meant you wouldn’t respond to any of my questions. I noticed you did leave one comment under your article today. But only on a day when your piece had been protected by the moderators.

      I said today to a friend on twitter that you were ‘being a bitch’. I meant it in terms of your sentiments in this article. I don’t think you as a person are in fact a bitch. But your feminism is a bitch.

      If the one piece of criticism you get of an article is considered ‘obsession’ I think that’s for you to deal with not me.

      Best wishes.

    • May 22, 2011 10:28 am

      P.s. I have engaged in the world. I was born into feminism. I wrote my Phd on it. I was a feminist till very recently. I have my credentials just like you. This is not ‘interesting’ to me it is deeply saddening.

  2. May 21, 2011 3:41 pm

    “conviction rates for rape are appallingly low”

    Another place where the stats have been misrepresented time and time again in the press. Harriet Harman and others compared conviction rates for crimes that had already gone to court (around the 60% mark in many cases) to conviction rates for crimes reported to the police – always a much lower percentage.

    If you look at the latter measure, I think assaults and murders were around the 11% mark, rape was around 6% – presumably lower because of the fact that it’s “his word against hers”? – and criminal damage was at 1%

    But in the media it was constantly represented as 6% for rapes vs 60% for other crimes. I think it was Hitler’s propaganda chief, Goebbles who said “if you tell a lie a thousand times it becomes the truth”

    Rape is such an incendiary subject that people with dissenting views are being shouted down and ridiculed by the righteous gang. So how about any man who is wrongfully convicted of rape and is sent to prison? What do you think might happen to him one or two times, while he’s there?

    Also what about the feelings, reputation and career of any man who has been tried, but not convicted of rape? Moore and her buddies seem to see those who weren’t convicted as “ones that got away”. The point of the law, and of Moore’s favourite word: equality, is that every human being has an equal chance when accused of a crime

    But it seems feminists do not think that this equality before the law applies to men. They think that in any dispute in life between a man and a woman, the tables should be tilted in favour of women. It is actually the most revolting, ignorant cheek to suggest that the law be changed in the same spirit, but that suggestion is being made here and now. People would do well to wake up to this fact.

    • May 21, 2011 5:17 pm

      You are right Henry. Feminism is all about re-asserting the imbalance of power between men and women, which means in their eyes that women deserve special protection in the law and in discourse. But, as is shown by Moore’s article this only applies to some women. I have had some of my comments deleted under her column, and she has questioned if I am in fact ‘ a woman’ or not. You have to subscribe to the women’s ‘victim culture’ if you want to benefit from it.

  3. redpesto permalink
    May 21, 2011 8:33 pm

    Hi, QRG – I read you response to my comment at your main blog (I didn’t realise GraunWatch was still active). I’ve nothing to say regarding what’s going on between you and Moore, especially if it starts getting heated (see Moore’s ‘Would that turn you on? ‘). What I took from her piece was an article that was a lot better than most of the others I’d read in the past few days, precisely because she wasn’t simply demanding that Clarke resign, or undertake compulsory radical feminist re-education or denounce rape using the following words, or whatever. It was also better than I’d was led to expect if she was tweeting Dworkin quotes.

    (I’ll post this over at the main blog as well)

  4. elflojo84 permalink
    May 23, 2011 3:20 pm

    “The lib dems did not propose waiving anonymity for victims, they proposed giving anonymity to defendants. A slightly different suggestion.”

    You’re right. Unfortunately I forgot that and had taken her at her word, I feel a bit of an idiot now for explicitly agreeing with her on that point in the comments…

    Nonetheless, I did actually think it was generally a good article, certainly compared to most of the shit CIF has thrown at its readers over the last week, but you are correct on some of the details. I also noticed “everyone agrees convictiosn are appallingly low” but didn’t comment on it because I didn’t have space. I used up my wordcount on something you haven’t mentioned here, one of my major pet peeves among the ‘rape culture’ articles – the old “rape is not about sex” canard. Wev’e had this discussion before so I won’t elaborate, but suffice to say it is an insanely irrational assertion to make, with zero supproting evidence, and it is actively damaging to the cause the people saying it claim to support. Graun-brand feminism in a nutshell.

  5. May 23, 2011 4:46 pm

    I tell you something boys. It is a good job I, unlike feminists, do not expect any kind of ‘team loyalty’ on issues of gender. Because you both seem to be supporting Suzanne’s article! 😀

    But seriously, in the context of all her other recent writings on this kind of subject, how is she suddenly being all reasonable, notwithstanding the several factual errors in her piece? What in the substance of her argument do you agree with?

    • May 24, 2011 5:51 pm

      I have to admit it’s one of her better articles – you wouldn’t think that from my tangential rant above 🙂

      Not that I’m expecting her to drop by on this blog much in the future, sadly

    • elflojo84 permalink
      May 24, 2011 5:57 pm

      OK I can’t say I follow her closely, so was judging the one article on its own terms not as part of her body of work – and I made that comment before I read about your Twitter flame war on the other blog which lowered my respect for her significantly! The only article I remember reading of hers (I may well have read others but the only one I mentally identify with her name) was the slutwalk one, which again I thought was pretty good compared to the others on the same subject that week (and as i recall you liked it too?)

      But generally, although still suffering from many of the tired issues Graun-Feminism suffers from (you highlight some, also my own hobby-horse…), it did pick up the important central point regarding that particular shitstorm, which was that Clarke was entirely misrepresented (in the face of which his shocking ignorance of the law was overlooked by many, including myself I have to say – Heresiarch did a fantastic piece on it though…), and that his suggestions, although insensitively expressed, represent a genuine attempt to stimulate informed debate and to discuss practical solutions to the problem. She says:

      “Yes, in terms of the law, some rapes are more “serious” than others. Sentencing and punishment vary according to circumstances and aggravating factors. Lack of evidence is a key problem.”

      In the context of the moronic outrage of the sisterhood, you have to admit that shows some sensible, rational, non-sexist thought regarding rape. I thoghut she deserved credit for that. In short I suppose I was saying the piece is “Good for a Graun-Fem” rather than “Good” per se…

    • May 24, 2011 6:46 pm

      ..though sentences like “But rape culturally is about power and humiliation and real, or threatened, violence” get on my wick.

      With feminists everything is “about” something, which really doesn’t mean a single damn thing. OK, come on, what does the sentence quoted above mean? Any takers?

      Does it mean “Rape is only ever done to humiliate a woman” (not sure – haven’t asked every single man who has committed rape why he did it, or even one actually. Has Moore?)

      Or is she trying to imply in some way that because women are understandably afraid of rape, that it’s a “cultural phenomenon” (I don’t know the language theorists use here) and therefore in some numinous way a conspiracy to subjugate women by fear?
      (Rubbish. If anyone thinks that they are a moron. How would such a conspiracy work?)

      I think her language is vague and implies the sorts of things I’ve suggested above without saying them

  6. redpesto permalink
    May 24, 2011 5:47 pm

    Careful, QRG: you can’t assume I’m a bloke….

    I don’t buy into ‘Team Feminism’ either. Maybe my agreement is a fluke (stopped clocks and all that) or there was one bit (the part I referred to) that I chose to highlight. If next week’s article is a stinker, I’ll probably say so.

    • May 24, 2011 5:49 pm

      I was going by the name on your email that you use to sign in with. Sorry for the assumption.

  7. May 24, 2011 5:53 pm

    I think you have all been fooled by some clever writing. I think she says exactly what she was saying on those tweets I quoted on my own blog.

  8. elflojo84 permalink
    May 24, 2011 6:12 pm

    PS Love the illustration. I can’t help thinking how awesome it would be to wear a tshirt like that and nothing else under a flasher mac and lurk in parks revealing myself to women…!


  1. Does Suzanne Moore Practise What She Preaches? « Guardian Watch
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