November 27, 2014
(Cross-posted from Feminist Borgia)
Edit: I see I have acquired some visitors from the Mens Rights subreddit. Hi there! Just so you know, this is my space. You can comment if you like (I see some of you have) be aware that I will authorise your coments or not, on my whim. No free speech here.
So, here we are again. Another ‘high profile’ rape case-and by ‘high profile’, I mean involving someone the media can get plenty of column inches out of. Another acquittal. Another round of calls for anonymity for men (and let’s be clear, the vast majority of cases involving sexual violence have men as the perpetrator) accused of rape. Another round of misogyny. More screams of ‘liar’ against the victims (although to be entirely fair to those who hate women so very much, they scream liar whether the defendant is found guilty, or is acquitted. You have to give it to them, they are consistent).
There has been a lot written about this case (and there will be a lot more), by more eloquent women than I. I am just adding my voice to the choir, or at least adding my howl of sorrow and rage at yet more women failed by the justice system.
What can I even say? I can point out that a not guilty verdict does not mean that he was found innocent. It means that the jury were unable to convict beyond a reasonable doubt. And a not guilty verdict does not mean that the victim lied.
I can offer my unconditional support and belief to all women who come forward to say they have been raped or abused. And I can offer the same to women who can’t come forward (and give the appalling conviction rates, who could blame them).
I can hope that one more voice of support and belief can act as a counterbalance to the appalling media coverage. One more voice of opposition to the sympathetic cries of ‘why was this poor pensioner dragged through the courts’ and discussion of ‘false claims like these’. If these are phrases that make my skin crawl and my throat hurt, then I can only imagine how the women in this case feel.
And I can ask, why is it that famous men are so rarely convicted of the rapes and abuses with which they are charged?
I suspect that the answer lies within their fame, and the crimes with which they are charged. Evidence for rape or sexual abuse (especially hisotrical offences) so often comes down to the testimony of the victims vs the testimony of the abuser. And the jury is to decide who they believe, who they trust.
Trust comes with familiarity. With a face you know. Who is the jury going to believe? Women they don’t know (against a background of a deeply misogynistic media which constantly spins them the story that women lie about sex, and they lie about rape), or a face that everyone knows?
Which story will they accept as true-the well written, well rehearsed, consistent script, or the painful, confused recollections of abuse, memories that shift like smoke.
It’s no wonder so many women have feared coming forward. It’s no wonder so many famous men can rape and abuse with apparent impunity.
So what’s the answer? I wish I had one to give. I’m starting to suspect that the jury system may not be the best one when it comes to judging the crimes of famous men. And the alternatives would only work if judges were given mandatory training in how to deal properly with cases of rape and abuse, to stop them spouting the same victim blaming garbage they are prone to.
In the mean time, all I can do is say the same thing: I believe her. I believe them. I believe you.
Feminist Borgia : I blog occasionally about feminism, rape culture and games [@feministborgia]