Friday, 18 March 2011

Daily Mail Fail

TRIGGER WARNING please note that as this post talks about rape it may be triggering.

So, a week after the NYT blamed the gang rape of an 11-year old girl on her, whilst the rapists received sympathy for having their lives ruined, the same thing happens on our side of the pond.

Of course, it is no surprise that it was the Daily Mail. After all, this is the paper who praised their natural enemy, Julian Assange, as a “crusader”, when it became clear the extradition proceedings around him gave them an opportunity to indulge in a bit of ‘all women lie’ reporting.

The article opens with:

"Reading Crown Court heard how the soccer players were encouraged by the schoolgirl 'Lolitas'"

Now, it just so happens that I read Lolita at school and at university. Clearly, our friends at the Daily Mail have done neither. If they had, they would know that contrary to the porn-ization of Lolita in magazine editorial, mainstream movies and porn films, Lolita is a victim of rape. Humbert rapes her repeatedly, and then when she leaves him, the other man is a rapist also. We know this because, when she goes to Humbert’s room after the first time, he writes ‘you see, she had no-where else to go’. We know this because he threatens her with abandonment if she doesn’t give in. We know this because he murders her mother in order to rape her. And even if all of this didn’t happen, we know this because she is TWELVE and he is a GROWN UP. Seriously, one of the greatest tragedies of literature is how fucked up people’s responses to Lolita are. The whole book is Humbert’s fantasy of being seduced by Lolita. As you read the book, you are struck by how upset, frightened and disturbed Lolita is by the experience. She is not a ‘tease’ or ‘seductress’ she is a little girl who chews gum, has greasy hair, and is the victim of a paedophile.

But anyway, I digress.

Apparently, according to the Daily Mail, the girls had ‘sneaked’ out of a party to meet the men, who are footballers, and told them that they were older then they were. The defence reportedly told the court that the girls could not be trusted, and that they had exchanged suggestive text messages with the men. Apparently one of the girls had a false age on Facebook.

The Mail reports that one girl was raped by five of the men, but one girl “was more reluctant and was raped by just one player”. Don’t even get me started on the utter horror of that sentence. Reluctant to be gang raped? When you’re a teenager? Fancy that!

Apparently the rapists were shocked and disgusted when they discovered the age of the girls. Which makes me furious. They should be shocked and disgusted with their own actions of raping the girls. Whatever age those girls are. They should be horrified that they thought it was ok to coerce girls to have sex with them, with no thought or respect for what the girls felt or wanted. They should be disgusted with their actions.

The Mail writes about the girl who was raped by five men:

‘She was initially reluctant but eventually gave in to his persistence.’

It is sentences like this that mean the Assange defence lawyer could describe having sex without someone’s consent as the ‘ebb and flow of sexual relations’. It is sentences like this that mean people go ‘she wanted it really’. It’s sentences like this that mean the conviction rate for rape stays low, at 6.5%. Five older men (their ages ranged from 19-21) pressuring a girl to have sex with all of them, no matter what age she is, or what ages she says she is, is wrong.

The Mail also writes:
"They [the defence] added that the careers of the promising young footballers had been ruined by 'the biggest mistake [of their] lives'."

And the girls? What about their lives? What about the psychological trauma of being 12 years-old and being forced to have sex with five men. And don’t pretend that ‘eventually gave in to his persistence’ is anything but being forced. These girls are children.

Of course, thanks to being groomed by the Daily Mail to think that all rape victims are liars, or are asking for it, because they are outside, or have drank alcohol, or have spoken to the rapist, or have spoken to any men ever; the comments place the blame squarely on a 12 year-old girl. She’s a slut, apparently. They’re wayward, who are ‘more at fault than the lads’ (notice affectionate term for rapists there). They ‘claimed to be 16 and we all know how tarty girls can look’. Apparently we should save space in prison for ‘genuine criminals’ and it is the ‘girls who should be punished.’ Yes Daily Mail reader, lets punish girls for being gang raped. Lets call the men, adult men, ‘misguided’, and lets say that children, young girls, are ‘slutty’ and ‘instigated it’. Well done. Congratulations.

I can’t even be bothered to point out the irony of a news media that wants to bring back the death penalty for paedophiles, insinuating that a 12 year-old girl deserves to be gang raped.  With this thinking, it is apparently ok if men want to rape 12 year-olds who look older, it’s only bad if the girls look 12. I don’t quite understand the logic.

So, here’s a lesson for the Daily Mail and their readers.

1.     Having sex with a 12 year-old girl is statutory rape.
2.     Pressuring and coercing a child into having sex is rape
3.     If someone is 12, 16, 26, 48, 97 or ANY AGE and they are forced to have sex, it is rape
4.     If someone looks 12, 16, 33, 52, 75 or ANY AGE and they are forced to have sex, it is rape
5.     If a woman or girl wears a short skirt, or a low cut top, or skinny jeans and is forced to have sex, it is rape
6.     If a woman or girl flirts with, talks to or knows a man who then forces her to have sex, it is rape.
7.     Lolita was a rape victim
8.     If you lie about your age on Facebook, and a man forces you to have sex, then, amazing I know, this is rape.

It astounds me that we are still having these conversations. But so long as this keeps happening, and the news media keeps blaming the victims and sympathising with the perpetrators, and their readers keep blaming the victims and sympathising with perpetrators, then we need to keep reminding why this is wrong.

As Coventry Rape Crisis tweeted earlier:
‘We have 12 year old clients who have been raped but don’t call it that, they call it 'love' or what you have to do 2 have a boyfriend’

We need to educate our children about active, informed consent. Starting now.


Neetz/ Bonita/ Sinitta said...

Well said.
Say it again, and again and again.
Get everyone to do the same.
I cld write a book about the way the Mail write..more obsessed with writing 'Is Kylie Anorexic' stories because she was spotted eating a salad one day, in a restaurant, or bitching and slagging off Diana in the way a child wldn't do at school aged 7, than understanding justice, morality, reform of both justice and morality, and as for proper journalism and use of their circulation to achieve this, forget that.
Thank you.

VictoriaJane said...

I won’t go on about how upsetting and disgusting the original story is but will say that this is a really well written piece. While justifiably very critical of the Daily Mail it does not descend into a hate piece in itself, but calmly points out the absurdity of the way the Mail represents the various issues at play here. Thank you for showing the intelligence and insight in your writing that the journalists of the Daily Mail so pitifully lack.

EthiKay said...

What angered me as well in the article was the defense pointing out that 'if the activities (sorry since when was rape classed as an activity????) had taken place just four weeks later than they had, when the main girl would have turned 13, none of the defendants would have faced any criminal charges because of the defence provided by her actions.'

Right so gang raping a 12 year old wrong. Gang raping a 13 year old fine.
so so awful but thank you for article highlighting it. really interesting blog you have.

sian and crooked rib said...

thank you for the lovely comments. I agree EthiKay that that line about them being 13 making a difference had me stumped. I don't know about the different parts of the law - does anyone know?

sian and crooked rib said...

I'd recommend these posts on this subject too:

Jessica "Wolverine" Metaneira said...

Thanks for this...I'm so angry...I'm tired of this cancerous culture that blames girls and women for being raped because they were breathing...

Susan Kruse said...

I agree with the first poster, say it again and again and again.


Below is extract from the explanatory notes to the Sexual Offences Act, 2003. Note: in effect if a male targets a teen girl who he knows is 13 the likelihood of his being charged let alone convicted becomes remote. Why? Because when a girl reaches the age of 13 she is deemed in law to be able to 'consent'to penetrative sexual activity - unless of course prosecution counsel can convince a sceptical jury the male coerced/threatened/forced the girl into penetrative sexual activity.

Therefore whether or not male rapes any female over the age of 13 depends on how we define whether or not the male defendant was reasonable in his claim 'your honour she consented and didn't resist/say no/cry out or do anything to tell me she wasn't consenting.

Naturally (sic) all women and girls over the age of 13 are seductresses tempting innocent men in to penetrating their bodies and therefore rape is a very rare crime is it not? Wrong - rape is the easiest crime for men to commit with the least likelihood of their being charged let alone convicted.

So the law only 'protects' girls who are under the age of 13 and even then the Daily Male promotes the misogynistic lie that in certain cases any girl aged 12 has not been raped by a male(s) because she is supposedly a seductress. No need to focus on how and why so many males all adhere to the claim it is their right to have sexual access to any female of whatever age because this is what females exist for. To be men's disposable sexual service stations and as such we do not have any sexual rights or ownership of our bodies.

Remember it is the poor men whose lives are destroyed when they are falsely (sic) accused of raping a girl/woman.

Just remember men - always target a woman/girl you know because juries will commonly believe you and not the female victim. Child rape only happens when the male rapist(s) target girls who are not known to the males, otherwise even girls under 13 are apparently all seductresses targetting innocent men!

Below is the explanatory notes to the Sexual Offences Act - so in effect the claim that any female under the age of 16 has been raped is a lie - because that only applies at present to any female under the age of 13. How long before this age is reduced still further?

Section 9: Sexual activity with a child.18.Section 9 makes it an offence for a person (A) aged 18 or over to intentionally engage in sexual touching of a child under 16. Where the child is aged 13 or over but under 16, the prosecution must prove that A did not reasonably believe that he was 16 or over. “Touching” is explained at section 79(8) and covers all forms of physical contact including penetration; “sexual” is defined at section 78. Whether or not the child consented to the activity is irrelevant.

Alex said...

I came here having followed a link from Mark Clapham's blog, and the rank hypocrisy and the bare-faced sanctioning of punishments for rape victims on behalf of the Mail is thoroughly disgusting and has sickened me to the core. I salute you for bringing attention to it with this erudite and well-argued post.

James said...

It's utterly mind-boggling isn't it? This is 2011 for ****'s sake.

By fostering the myth that this is all part of "lad's culture" and acceptable(!) the Mail do actually increase the incidence of rapes of all sorts.

I hope everyone involved with the article feels thorougly ashamed of themselves. I hope against hope that the relevant journalists resign and pursue more productive lives. But I'm not optimistic.

Very, very well said Sian.

mail said...

Thank you so much for writing this brilliant article. I find it utterly shocking that Daily Mail journalists, many of whom are surely parents themselves, feel their viewpoint is in any way acceptable. Is it any wonder survivors of childhood abuse are so often treated with extreme prejudice when the nation are fed this rubbish in their papers.
Emilia di Girolamo

jw7878 said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the above comments. This kind of repulsive, hypocritical misogyny should be fought against for as long as it exists.

One minor correction, though: in Lolita, Humbert doesn't murder Lo's mother. She's killed by a car while running across the road, shortly after finding out his secret.

sian and crooked rib said...

ahh, you're right! can't believe i forgot that. silly me!

Annabelle said...

Hello, I've only just read this but thanks for an excellent post. The Daily Fail needs exposing as the hypocritical, misogynist and fundamentally damaging publication that it is.

CONDRON. said...

Brilliantly written. The sister of a friend of mine went through hell to get a conviction for her rapist, absolute hell, and although she was in the tiny number successful, the damage that can be done in media and the courtroom is almost as great as the damage of the rape, itself. The men are judged innocent or guilty or the crime, whereas the girls and women are guilty as soon as they say no?