Tuesday, 31 March 2009


This made me so mad when I read it on the bus the other day.

Now let me get this straight; he claims she consented because
""I thought she gave me the come-on - the body and eye contact was there and she did not give me the brush-off.""
and "she did not stop him helping her take her jumper, bra, tracksuit bottoms and underwear off"
and, worst of all
"he thought that the woman had enjoyed the sex.
"She groaned," he said. "I'm not saying she had the time of her life, but she was there," he told the police. "She gave the impression she was enjoying it.""

So from this we can deduce: firstly, if a woman looks at you, or touches you, and doesn't make it explicitly clear that she does not want to have sex with you, she is giving you a come on, and it's ok to have sex with her.
If she does not attempt to stop you taking her clothes off (no matter whether she is capable of stopping you or not), then she wants to have sex.
And finally, a woman enjoys sex if she was "there". So any sex where the woman is present, she enjoys. And therefore there's no such thing as rape.

This is the problem when you assume consent until told otherwise. If the woman is then not capable of making herself clear, because she is drunk, or drugged, or whatever, then according to this judge and jury, she cannot be raped. Well thank you very much Patrick Hooton, your honour. You prick.

According to him "the woman's comment that she could not give consent because she was drunk was "completely wrong".
So I take it he was off sick the day they covered "diminished responsibility" in law school?

And Ms Kahn, the defense lawyer obviously skipped that class too, if she can say "there was no evidence that the woman had given consent or not, and that drunken consent is still consent." ... so, there was no evidence that she had consented either? But because of the way our stupid, stupid law is at the moment consent is presumed until proven otherwise.

What if this woman had been unconscious in a hospital bed, instead of drunk? Or if she'd been severely autistic? Or there was some medical reason where she could not give informed consent? What kind of sikko would he be portrayed as then, taking advantage of her? Why is this any different? Because she consented to getting drunk. Not sex, getting drunk.

It is still seen as the Woman's responsibility to a) not get into a situation where she can be raped, and b) if she does, issue a loud and clear "NO!" to the man involved (whether she is capable of doing so will not be taken into account.) It's practically Biblical - Deuteronomy 22, v24. "The woman is to die because she did not cry out for help"

Sadly, the woman was not right when she said "'the law has been changed for f like you, if you are too drunk to give consent it's rape', or something along those lines',", but she should have been. And it's worrying that a solicitor could have made such a mistake. If she could, who else could have? How many women are there out there who've been getting drunk, believeing that the law offers them the same protection as it would if they were sober? Because that's what this ruling says. It says you are no longer protected by the law if you are drunk.

And the worst part is, the guy is now complaining that his life has been ruined because of a false rape charge hanging over his head. Well surely, the solution to that would be don't f***ing sleep with women when they are pissed. It is called "Taking advantage". Guys, if you're really concerned about being brought up on rape charges, then it's really simple: think to yourself, "Does she really want sex, or is she just doing this because she's drunk? Is my need for sexual gratification more important than her physical and emotional wellbeing?" and if there is any doubt at all on the first question, remember the answer to the second is always, always No. If you respect a woman as a human being, and not just as a walking vagina, you will have nothing to fear.

Seriously, do you care that much about getting sex, and that little about the woman involved that wou're willing to take the risk that she might not actually want this and sleep with her anyway? She collapses on the bed, fully clothed, completely hammered, and any normal person would tuck her in and let her sleep it off. Instead, he decides to undress her and have sex with her?? And doesn't think this is in any way a violation of her rights?? That is rape, no matter which way you cut it, and to think that this man has been aquitted??? I feel sick.
Seriously, I've been that badly drunk once or twice (and I've known boatloads of men who get worse drunk regularly, and have nothing to fear from it) and right now, I'm just counting myself lucky that all the guys who've walked me home in that state have been kind enough to plonk me on the bed, leave me a bucket just in case, and quietly let themselves out. Because apparently, if they had decided to rape me instead, they'd be getting off scot free.

If I honestly thought anyone reads this who has any power to change things, I'd be down on my knees right now, begging them to campaign to change the law, so that consent is not presumed, and women can have a little bit of justice for once.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Mens Rea

I have often argued that in rape cases (and only rape cases) if it comes to court, the burden of proof should be on the Defense.

My main reasoning for this being it's much easier to prove that something did happen than it didn't - ie in cases when it's already been established that sexual intercourse did take place, it's easier for the defense to prove that the woman did give consent than it is for the woman to prove that she didn't.

The whine then comes from every section of male society (even some of the nice ones) "but if we actually make it easier for women to secure a conviction after they've been raped, then what's to stop all women who've had a one-night-stand and regretted it the next morning from hauling that poor little innocent man in front of the judges and ruining his life?" (I paraphrase, obviously.)

There seems to be this paranoia from men that if female consent is not presumed whenever they have sex, and must explicitly be given, then women in their thousands will start vindictively ruining men's lives on trumped up charges of rape. Guilty conscience/ fear of revenge much?

Why is it so hard for men to just suck it up and deal with the fact that women are not just there as something to stick the vagina to? What is so hard about treating women with respect, and making sure that sex is something she actually wants before you do it with her? Apparently it "kills the mood" - well sod that! Any man who puts "the mood" ( ie his pleasure) before a woman's safety and/or wellbeing isn't worth the time of day (I have a similar argument for men who won't use condoms). Similarly, if a woman's obviously drunk - what is wrong with, I dunno, not taking advantage of her?? Is a man getting his jollies really that important?

Presume non-consent until proven otherwise, and no-one's going to try and convict you for rape. It's that simple. The onus should NOT be on a woman to stop herself getting into a situation where she might be raped, it should be on the man to not create such a situation in the first place.

And even if a change in the system would lead to abuse - and I don't believe it would - I don't care. That is a problem for another day, and not an excuse to not change the system which is already open to horrific abuse, only the other way around. It is vanishingly rare these days to get a conviction on a rape case. Go look at the stats if you like, they're not hard to find. Sorry, guys, but with a system as crappy as this, you have no right to whinge that a positive change for women "might possibly be open to abuse". Boo fricken hoo.

But here I have it, the one piece of evidence that should finally shut men up about this "open to abuse" "problem": Mens Rea.

It means "guilty mind" (and not "men's excuse", as I would love to joke...) and means, in British Law, that if a man honestly believes that the woman was consenting, he is not guilty of rape. Seriously. Check it out on the 2003 sexual offenses act.

Now stop whining.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Evidence grows to support the former theory - that I am, in fact, plain stupid sometimes. It's long enough after the event that I can say this without ruining it for anyone...
I tuned into the first episode of the new season of Heroes* just a bit late. And by that I mean I caught the last, say, 5 minutes. The scene - some sort of flying craft, many characters from the show in orange jumpsuits, strapped to their seats. The hull of said craft has just been accidentally breached, and air is rushing out at an alarming rate, we see inside the cockpit, the view out the front, they're about to crash horribly... roll credits.

My reaction? "Wow! Heroes in Space!"

I am politically blind, sometimes. Orange jumpsuits still say to me "astronauts" rather than "Guantanamo". I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.


In other news, Microsoft have delved to a new level of moral cowardice.
I was discussing this with a friend, and he pointed me towards this further example.

Now, I don't know about you, but I think this kind of attitude is absolutely abysmal. It comes down to Microsoft and Blizzard and similar organizations actively condoning homophobia. You just do not ban anyone from using your services because they're openly gay: that is called discrimination, and as far as I am aware that is illegal, never mind completely unethical. It's like saying "no, you can't eat at my restaurant, you're openly black" - you see how prejudiced this sounds now?

This kind of homophobic attitude seems to be endemic on the interwebs. I've even seen some dude on Youtube suggesting that being harassed online is the gamer's fault for self-identifying as gay, and she should expect that kind of prejudice. Oh, and that if you have to tell people you're gay, then you obviously have no personality. Most people seem to think that a blanket ban on all references to sexuality is ok online, because it avoids the issue entirely... well, no it doesn't. As Lambda say in the above mentioned article "although preventing harassment is an admirable goal, a requirement that LGBT people remain invisible and silent is not an acceptable means of reaching that goal."
And it doesn't seem to apply the other way at all, despite what Microsoft may claim. Seriously, go onto any online MMO like WOW or X box live or similar, and you will find people regularly using terms like "gay" or "fag" as perjoratives, and no-one's pulling them up for it. To use my previous metaphor - do you really think this would be ok if they were yelling stuff like "Shit! I lost a life! That is so Black!" or, "Dude, you killed me! You are such a nigger!"... Something tells me Microsoft wouldn't be quite so blase. And yet apparently it's ok to bash queers. Joy.

I find it really odd/cowardly/abysmal that when a woman complains that she is being harassed by other gamers for being a lesbian, she is the one who gets banned. They're effectively condoning the actions of the bigots. What Microsoft are doing is saying that this woman asked to be harassed because she told people she was gay. That's a lot like saying a woman asked to be raped because she was wearing a short skirt. It's exactly the same logic, and it's disgusting.

I can see how it must be easier for the big companies to do that - I mean, what's easier, tackling one lesbian, or a whole crowd of bigots? I've heard suggestions that it's almost impossible to effectively police harrassment online, that "considering that it's an environment in which almost all communication is over unmonitored and unmoderated voice channels, there is nothing they can to to prevent anonymous Nazis from being vocally offensive - you can report a player but with no proof they can't take any action." but that didn't seem to stop them when someone reported Theressa for identifying as gay. Or when Andrews was plugging her LGBT friendly guild in, again, an unmonitored chat channel. People reported them, and the companies took action. Obviously they have the ability to prevent harrassment, but the moral cowardice to tackle a prejudice that has become endemic on their systems.

As someone famously said: All it takes for evil to triumph is for good [people] to do nothing.


In happier news, chimps might be conscious.


Also went to see Watchmen at the weekend. It's good.

It's probably the most faithful adaptation of the Graphic Novel possible - a lot of the dialogue and shots are lifted almost verbatim. Obviously they had to change a few things, but that's understandable, and thankfully, what they did change wasn't too glaring - it was only in retrospect when we were all sitting around afterwards that we started to notice some of them.

As a film in and of itself, it's fab. Beautifully, beautifully shot, but then from the director of 300, you'd expect that. You can definitely tell he was behind it. He does like his slo-mo, but in context it does work, and the colours and the choice of shots show so much care and attention to detail, it's stunning. It really captures the look of the book, if anything even more gritty and dark, because you can do more with shades of dark colours on film than you can in print.

The actors are absolutely fantastic, some stunning performances - none that stand out above the others, but no weak links either. It really is an ensemble piece.

The only possible point where it lets itself down is in the music. It's all fantastic music (with the exception of the worst rendition of Hallelujah I have so far heard.) but it's just not always appropriate to the scene. It's not quite as bad as having Live and Let Die at a funeral (Shrek III... oh dear) but it's stuff like that Hallelujah over a rather gratuitous sex scene - a little distracting, and doesn't quite work. And All Along the Watchtower as Nite Owl and Rorschach are approching Veidt's Antarctic base. At the same time, there are a few moments where they get it spot on - The Times, They are a Changing over the opening credits, which are in themselves The most stunning montage I have ever seen on film. Ever. Without exception. And there are a few moments that I thought it worked, but I'm sure people would argue with me over - Mozart's Requiem near the end, and The Sound of Silence at Blake's funeral (much more appropriate than Live and Let Die...)

A couple of things bugged me - mainly to do with the Sally/Blake stuff, in that the film comes out much more apologistic than the book - I'm sure for some naffy PC reasons that suggest someone just didn't think it through - but I'll leave that for a later date. I'm actually quite happy, in some ways, that they did what they did - simply because it gives me more to put in my thesis :D

Also, I think the focus of the film has changed a little from the book. Whereas the book is very much about universal decay and collapse, because of time restrictions, and the fact that the film has to focus soley on the protagonsits (I want to say Heroes, but no...) it comes out a lot more about individual tragedies. Which makes the end feel a little tacked-on, but there you go. It still works as a film, and I'm still going to see it again (partly because the Thesis demands it) and will almost certainly get the DVD.

*First Episode of volume 4, which I think is something like the beginning of season 3, or half way through it, or something.... It's complicated. But it's the first one of the new lot they've just started showing in the UK