And another sexual assault survivor who isn’t laughing
Late yesterday afternoon Brian McFadden sent these tweets:
So, it seems he’s upset his song is “getting attention for the wrong reasons”. Lyrics about doing damage to an inebriated women were just meant as a bit of fun. And anyway that woman was his fiance Delta Goodrem, so it doesn’t matter anyway. And even though he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, he’ll give all the profits to a charity that works with rape victims.
The analogy comes to mind of a man who makes light of robbing and beating a blind person then so kindly sends money to a charity for the blind.
McFadden says it’s not a PR stunt but it’s hard to see it as anything else. And look at how the controversy is portrayed on his website – which, by the way, is accessed by clicking on a full screen image of the McFadden police mug shot cover of the new single.
Looks to me like McFadden and his record company are cashing in on the controversy with wording like ”You be the judge, buy Brian’s new single here”.
And what’s with the “Controversial new video?” Will the music video clip be a visual illustration of the lyrics? Is McFadden going to show us what ‘take advantage’ and ‘do some damage’ really means?
Given that Universal - the target of our petition against Kanye West’s Monster which has just cracked 15,000 signatures - is McFadden’s label as well, perhaps we need to brace ourselves for something truly horrible.
If McFadden is really concerned his song is being interpreted as promoting date rape, why say he doesn’t want it played on radio? What’s so special about radio? If it is causing this much angst – and triggering sexual assault survivors – why not just withdraw the whole thing? And can the video?
It’s difficult to see McFadden’s gesture as sincere when he blames all those who have criticised Just as you are (Drunk at the Bar) (including me here and here) . It’s our fault, see, because we don’t have a sense of humour. And he doesn’t want to give “haters” the pleasure of backing down. But it is his lyrics that are hateful. He just doesn’t see that. He won’t back down, even when more sexual assault survivors are speaking out about what this song is doing to them.
I’m a survivor of sexual assault and I’m not laughing: your song diminishes the trauma of my experience and belittles my feelings
Nicole obviously doesn’t have a sense of humour either. Following ‘anon’ on my blog Tuesday, Nicole is another woman who has come forward to describe the impact of this song on her, posting this comment:
This brings up so much for me. I don’t really know where to begin. It was such a long time ago, but it still hurts and humiliates me, some 20 years later.
I was about 16. I went to a party hoping to see a boy that I really liked. I got way too drunk and my friends tucked me into a bed at the house to recover. The boy I really liked then came into the room and tried his luck, but seemed to realise nothing was going to happen. Maybe 10 minutes later, his friend came in and he too tried his luck, however he was more determined. I have no doubt that if my friends hadn’t come back to check on me when they did, he would have raped me. He already had my clothes undone and had his hand inside me.
Later that night, after I had sobered up, we went to another friends house and I told my friends what had happened. They confronted the guy involved and he outright denied it. I never reported it and I never spoke of it again to anybody. The guy on the other hand ran around telling everybody that I was a liar and a bitch and that I was just pissed off because he wouldn’t have sex with me. I was humiliated.
So, Brian McFadden, do you think this is something to poke fun at? Does my story deserve it’ own catchy tune and rounds of laughter and applause because you were so clever to come up with something witty that ultimately diminishes the trauma of my experience and belittles my feelings about it?
I’m really ever so glad that we live in a society where cretins like you can influence a whole new generation of young boys and men to sexually assault women and girls and then have a big old laugh about it later on… not to mention make yourself rich at our expense. (That was sarcasm, in case you hadn’t quite picked up on it, and yes, I’m more than a little angry over your stupid song)
Maybe, Brian, you should consider that you have little girls growing up. I hope to God that they are never sexually assaulted by boys who have listened to your song and think it’s hilarious to ‘take advantage’ of your daughters while drunk, so they can ‘do some damage’ to them.
Where does Delta stand?
Delta Goodrem is one of a number of celebrity spokeswomen supporting Avon Voices, which raises money to address violence against women. She is also Brian McFadden’s fiancé. Shame she didn’t have a word to him before he released the new song. Or are violent lyrics – and the violence of a rape enabling culture – just so passé now,they weren’t noticed? Remember, this isn’t McFadden on his own. There’s an entire production chain involved in getting a single like this out. Did no one think to say ‘maybe this isn’t such a great idea’?
Help answer McFadden’s request
McFadden wants recommendations for charities working to help rape survivors. You can tweet him at @BrianMcFadden with your suggestions or contact him throug his website or feel free to post your suggestions here and I’ll make sure he gets them. Then let’s see him if he means it. But you know, there are some charities which may not want to accept his tainted money.
And even if he sends truckloads of money, he is not absolved. Nice of him to help out a charity and all, but what we really need is a genuine show of sorrow and regret. For that we are still waiting.
An anonymous woman bravely posted the comment below on Collective Shout’s site . If anything should shame Brian McFadden – and all involved in the song’s production and distribution, including Universal Music – for creating a single making light of sexual exploitation – it is what she has written. Brian McFadden says his song is ‘tongue-in-cheek’. Tell that to women like this and all those other women and girls preyed upon and sexually violated.
This song leaves a particularly bad taste in my mouth as I was actually done some damage to after being taking advantage of. A drunken night which saw me going home to a “friends” house to hang out, and then being dropped off in the morning by one of his friends. Well, let’s just say I have a huge gap in my memory, and a huge hole in my heart after the incident. This hole only formed though, when I heard from a friend that the “friends” friend had sex with me that night. Charming. It’s taken me a few years to come to terms with what happened and the resulting anxiety and shameful feelings have been horrible. I haven’t told anyone about the fact that I don’t remember anything and I WOULD NEVER have consented to having sexual intercourse with the person if I was coherent enough to say no. I can’t speak up about it though because I doubt anyone will believe me, and as everyone will think, I brought it on myself, getting that drunk.
You did not give consent. You are not to blame
I asked Nina Funnell, anti sexual violence campaigner and herself a survivor of sexual assault, how she would respond. This is her answer – to Anon and to all women like her.
I would like to start by commending you on your bravery in being able to articulate your experience of sexual abuse so openly and eloquently. I am saddened however, to say that while your experience is yours and yours alone-and no one has the right to claim they know how you feel- many other women will find echoes of their own experiences in your words.
Your response to what has happened to you is very normal. It often takes victims years to come to terms with what they have experienced. Some never do. The resulting shame and anxiety you feel is also completely normal for someone who has experienced what you have, however I must stress that while feelings of shame and self blame are very typical following an assault (as they are a function of PTSD) you are in no way to blame and the shame rests with him and him alone: getting drunk is not a crime. Sexually assaulting a drunk person is not only criminal, it is a low, vile, predatory act that has to do with a power, dominance and a desire to exert control over another person.
So often we hear the myths that “drunk girls are asking for trouble” and that “men can’t control their lust”. Firstly, no person has ever “asked” to be sexually assaulted. This is a myth which is used to excuse the actions of perpetrators by shifting the blame onto victims.
Secondly, sexual assault is not a function of uncontrollable lust. This myth is not only inaccurate but it is also insulting to men as it casts them as slaves to base, animal emotions. If I were a man I would be eager to knock this myth on its head. If it were true that sexual assault is a result of sexual lust then men would be raping attractive women in the cereal aisle at Coles. We’d also have to ban men from the beach during summer.
The truth is that research shows that men who sexually assault women do so in a calculated fashion based on three primary factors.
1) Access to the victims: perpetrators select or groom potential victims whom they have direct access to. It is a deliberate and thought through process.
2) Perceptions of the victim’s vulnerability: perpetrators choose victims they perceive as being more vulnerable than others. But it is important to note that vulnerability can take many forms. Women who are unconscious or heavily intoxicated may be more vulnerable than other women. Perpetrators must always be held 100% accountable for their actions and it is nonsense to suggest that the more drunk a woman is, the less responsibility a man has to take for his own behaviour. Disturbingly, perpetrators also identify and prey on other types of vulnerabilities. For example, blind, deaf, physically and intellectually disabled women are sexually assaulted at a much higher rate than the rest of the population. This is because they are perceived by some as being more vulnerable and less likely to report to police- particularly if they have trouble with communication skills or if they are dependent on their abuser (such as if their abuser is a carer). Perpetrators also target other populations which are perceived as being more vulnerable either physically (such as children or incapacitated women), socially (such as individuals who have no strong friendship or social networks who might encourage them to report), women who are dependent on the abuser in some way (such as in cases where the abuser is in a position of power such as an adult relative or boss) or perpetrators who know that their victims are unlikely to be able to access support and judicial services for a range of other reasons (such as sex workers who are often not believed, victims in same-sex relationships or victims who have previously had consensual sex with the abuser- such as wives and girlfriends).
3) The likelihood of them being caught and reported on: Perpetrators also weigh up the likelihood of being interrupted by a witness or witnesses and they make a series of calculated decisions based on location and risk. In particular perpetrators often manipulate victims into a location where they have more control over the situation. This is all done to avoid detection and to maintain power over the situation and the victim.
The point of this is to stress that rape doesn’t happen by accident. Research shows that perpetrators know what they are doing and they make a series of detailed decisions around their behaviour. So it is ludicrous to suggest that men can’t help it. The overwhelming majority of men never rape. Those who do, do so deliberately and must be held to full account.
The next thing to say is that silence is not consent. “I’m not sure” is not consent. “Maybe later” is not consent. “Yes” tonight is not “yes” tomorrow night. Consent must be active and given freely and without any force, pressure or coercion by someone who has the capacity to consent each and every time. You clearly did not give consent. You are not to blame AT ALL and full responsibility lies with him and him ALONE.
I also note that you feel concerned that you would be either blamed or not believed if you spoke out. I wish I could tell you, “no! you are wrong!” but your concern is not irrational or unjustified. Unfortunately we still live in a society where victim blaming mentalities exist. Approximately 85% of victims will never report to police because they do not trust the justice system. And with the odd exception, this is justified. Less than 1% of sexual assault cases in NSW are successfully prosecuted.
Victims do often disclose to a family member or trusted friend. But unfortunately even those who love us are often schooled in the same victim-blaming mentalities as the rest of society and they usually blame the victim, interrogate them as though they don’t believe them, or minimize the experience by saying things like “maybe you are exaggerating” or “maybe you just misinterpreted things”. BUT THERE IS HOPE!
So we are clear about this, a person’s capacity to recover (and recovery is possible!) is directly dependent on a number of factors (including the relationship they hold with the abuser, the length of time between the assault or assaults and the decision to speak out, the nature of counselling (if any) they receive on disclosure, prior mental illness or drug and alcohol dependence …. Etc etc). But without question, the number one thing that determines a person’s ability to recover is the types of attitudes they encounter on disclosure. Victims who are believed, supported, not judged, and treated with the dignity, compassion and respect they deserve are far more likely to recover than those who are blamed, humiliated or not believed.
As a community it is vital that we support survivors and their supporters. There are three things I always tell survivors who disclose to me.
1) I am sorry this has happened to you (translation: “I believe you”).
2) What has happened to you is a crime (translation: “you are not to blame”)
3) I will do whatever I can to help (translation: “you are not alone”).
These were things I wished someone had said to me when I was sexually assaulted almost four years ago. While we cannot all be counsellors it is my hope that we can better educate the public so that those of us who fall into the role of an accidental counsellor (this is someone who is not a trained counsellor but who finds themselves- unexpectedly- on the end of a disclosure) can better respond to survivors with empathy, compassion and a desire to protect their best interest.
I also want to stress that while it is wise and prudent to think through who you can disclose to (as some people just don’t get it), there are expert counselling services out there (which are also free!) for individuals who have experienced sexual assault and for those who support them. I can firmly recommend the following.
NSW Rape Crisis Centre offers a 24/7 hotline run by trained experts for survivors and anyone supporting a survivor. Their number is 1800 424 017. They also have a live 24/7 real time internet counsellor, because sometimes it’s often less confronting to type rather than to have to speak out loud. The link to that service can be found on their website here.
A nationwide service can also be reached on 1800 RESPECT. This line is run by trained experts for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence- as well as their supporters.
Most of all I wish for you to know that you are not alone and that there is a community of us out there who really do care about you and who are appalled by what you have experienced. Please, PLEASE know that what you have experienced is not just an abuse. It is a HUMAN RIGHTS abuse and that there are many- like me- who care. Reading your words moved me to write this post. I hope it has some impact- no matter how small.
Can someone please tell Brian McFadden that ‘taking advantage’ of a woman when she’s drunk is sexual assault and against the law?
Because he seems to have missed the announcement.
The Irish singer-songwriter and ‘honorary’ Australian on account of his four-year engagement to songstress Delta Goodrem, McFadden today officially releases Just The Way You Are (Drunk at the Bar).
The barn-dance meets rap recording is described here as the novelty song from hell and hard to beat as the worst song of the year (and it’s only February).
But apart from its all-round awfulness it’s these lyrics which, with International Women’s Day almost upon us, show us just how far we haven’t come.
I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit dancing at the bar, I can’t wait to take you home so I can do some damage
I like you just the way you are, drunk as shit dancing at the bar, I can’t wait to take you home so I can take advantage
Describing the song as “infectious”, Universal Music in a statement Friday said the dance track will “rattle around in your head for hours”. Doing some damage, taking advantage of a woman under the influence of alcohol… is this the soundtrack we want going round and round in the heads of males?
Just one more message reinforcing the rape myths circulating in our culture: that inebriated girls are asking for it, and that you’re not really to blame. One more message encouraging boys to help themselves. I love you just the way you are, drunk, because it’s easier to get what I want that way.
A recent UK study found that 48% of males aged 18-25 did not consider rape to have taken place if the woman was too drunk to know what was happening.
There’s a kind of party atmosphere around these criminal assaults, with many men boasting about their conquests. An on-line genre known as ‘Passed Out P*ssy’ encourages men to share photos online of women and girls they have taken advantage of while drunk. ‘She’s drunk? Don’t call a taxi and make sure she gets home safely! Call your friends, have some fun and share the pictures!’ men are exhorted.
Love you just the way you are (drunk at the bar) helps legitimise this behaviour.
McFadden – also a judge on Australia’s Got Talent and a father of daughters – hasn’t taken well to the criticism. He swears on his heart that he wrote the song for Delta.
That’s right, ‘Can’t wait to do some damage’ is the sort of poetry McFadden writes to demonstrate the depths of his love for his bride-in-waiting. Look into my eyes Delta, he croons, I stayed up all night writing this ode to love, just for you my darling. Wow, lucky girl Delta.
Perhaps he even expects her to swoon?
The song was first played on 2Day FM’s Kyle & Jackie O show last week. Jackie O – who could also benefit from reading ‘Consent for Dummies’ – gushed that it was her “new favourite song”. “I love it, I’m a big fan of this song… this song rocks.”
And Kyle Sandilands, not exactly legendary for his sensitive treatment of young women -recall the lie detector scandal involving a 14-year-old rape survivor – said, “It’s a fun sort of song.”
Discussing this with Nina Funnell who campaigns to end sexual assault and is a member of the NSW Premier’s Council on Preventing Violence Against Women, she says McFadden’s lyrics echo a broader culture which ostensibly opposes rape while simultaneously demonstrating no real understanding of what actually constitutes sexual assault.
“Unfortunately many people still believe the myth that most sexual assaults are committed down dark alleys by strangers in balaclavas. This myth is damaging as it conceals the reality that the overwhelming majority of sexual assaults are committed by people known to the victim – usually a family member, friend, someone they go to school or work with.
“It is important that we recognize that the sort of behavior that some people are referring to as ‘taking advantage’ may legally count as sexual assault. In NSW the consent laws now state that a person cannot give consent if they are intoxicated to the point that they lose the capacity to do so, such as if they are passed out. To ‘take advantage’ of someone in such a state would unquestionably constitute sexual assault”.
“Having sex with a woman who does not have the capacity to consent is not called ‘taking advantage’. It’s called rape. Calling it ‘taking advantage’ reclassifies an action from being a serious crime to a negative but essentially trivial behaviour with no legal dimension whatsoever. “
Alison Grundy a clinical psychologist in the field of sexual violence for 20 years, describes the lyrics as “one more open demonstration of the contempt shown to women’s human rights and the fundamental legislation that is place to protect them”.
“Now we have thirty years of research to show that the sexualized and violent messages of popular music, media and video games do shape and provoke male aggressive and sexualized violence. I wonder how long it will be before songs like this are seen as inciting crimes under the criminal code?
“Not soon enough for those of us who work with victims on the long road to recovery after experiencing the ‘do some damage and take advantage’ behaviour lauded in this song”.
So there you have it. A fun sort of song about sexually exploiting women – doing damage to them – to top off a night out. Let the good times roll. Just not for the one in five women over 15 who are sexually assaulted in this country.
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