Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Is it feminist to say rape is a male problem?


We debated child sexual abuse at Bradford's full council meeting this evening. The debate was, as these things always are, something of a mixed bag. There's no doubt that we're all genuinely concerned about the problem - both the historic abuse and the real truth of continuing abuse in our city today.

I spoke and gave over part of my speech to the vexed matter of misogyny. After all 90% of the cases we're dealing with here involve the raping and repeated sexual abuse of teenaged girls. And I made the observation that this is about a culture that sees women as either distant and mysterious princesses or else as sluts, slaves and servants of male desire. In prosaic terms too many men see women as either wives or whores.

After the meeting I did a little interview. The interviewer asked me to go over the main points of my speech. Or rather, as she hesitatingly put it, my...er...feminist speech. I repeated my belief - stated in the speech that rape in a male problem and that men have to challenge the definition of women by their role rather than by their character. If it is women who set out that challenge then it's all to easy for the man to respond with 'you're a women, you would say that'. Making light of sexual violence needs to be challenged just as we would challenge any other glorification of violence. And it must be challenged by men.

Now I don't consider this a matter of feminism but rather that the idea of treating another person as merely an object of self-gratification is pretty repulsive. But I am curious how saying rape is a male problem - women don't ask to be raped however dressed, spoken or drunk - is somehow a reflection of feminism rather than a matter of how we make a better human society. Perhaps that's what feminism is about?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Surely the point of these abuse scandals is that the young people involved are of below consensual age. What adults do consensually is one thing - but under age, consent being present not is legally is irrelevant anyway.

The rape issue is different , there consent matters legally.