The anti-rape pact we really need
By Alison Grundy
I am infuriated by the continued and deliberate misrepresentation of the crime of rape by the media and various ‘experts’, such as NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione.
As a clinical psychologist, manager and supervisor in the field of sexual assault for 21 years I have been personally involved with thousands of rape victims from as young as 18 months through to women in their 90’s. None were raped because they were drunk or sober, because they were young or old, because they were attractive or not, because they were wearing any particular type of clothing or were behaving in any particular way.
They were raped because a man or group of men decided that their right to have power and sexual control over them was more important than their victim’s human rights and dignity. It is not drunkenness that elicits acts of rape. Attitudes like those expressed in the media last weekend continue to blame the victims and completely ignore the responsibilities of the perpetrators of this crime – who almost always get away with it.
In which other crime do the ‘authorities’ and the community continue to relentlessly scour the victim’s behaviour, character, clothes, friendships, alcohol intake etc. to find reasons why their offenders offend? It’s ludicrous. It’s illogical.
Yes of course being intoxicated makes you an easy target for crimes of this nature. And for that matter many others. That is because men who choose to sexually offend are not doing it as a “crime of passion” – they are selecting their targets consciously and to guarantee the greatest chance of avoiding consequences. That does not mean that it logically follows that if women stopped drinking then the sexual assaults would stop. It is not drunkenness that elicits acts of rape. Otherwise drunken men would be raped as often as drunken women.
By far the greatest “characteristic” you can have that makes you vulnerable to this crime is and has always been being a female, followed closely by being a child, being disabled and being mentally unwell. There are varying and infinitely complex “vulnerabilities “ to all types of crimes. Should women be asked spend all their waking time and energy minimising their vulnerability to rape – given that every time they do modify their behaviour the men who rape just adjust to target some other vulnerability anyway – or should we be focussing on stopping men from committing this crime?
How can confining, controlling, monitoring and blaming the victim of any crime stop the perpetrators from perpetrating? How can the fact that men choose to act violently towards women in staggeringly high numbers continue to be invisible in these discussions and continue to be left off the social agenda?
No amount of constricting women’s behaviour will stop rape….no amount. It is happening in 10 percent of women’s homes for goodness sakes. It happens to every type, race, class, age, religion of women. And let’s not forget that men also rape other men.
A male somewhere can find any type of woman, or their clothes, or their behaviour, or their ‘anything’ attractive….and use this to justify sexually assaulting them. The myth that there is a way to dress, to be, to act and to exist, that makes you safe as a woman from rape is just that…a myth.
We cannot control women as a way of stopping rape. What will stop rape is when men decide that they will not rape anymore. I agree with Nina Funnell when she says: “What about a pact between male buddies which says ‘I will not rape a girl or watch on as you try to rape a girl- and not say anything’?
Why not a pact between blokes which says “If I see you trying to take a girl home who is clearly too drunk to consent, then I will speak up and rescue you BOTH”.
In fact, why isn’t the Police Commissioner saying “Don’t Rape! Just don’t do it. Don’t rape sober women, don’t rape drunk women, don’t rape young women, don’t rape old women. Don’t rape thin women, don’t rape fat women. Just DON’T.”
This is when and only when rape will stop.
Also by Alison Grundy: ‘Sexual assault counsellor asks why is it OK to use sexual violence as a marketing tool’