It’s Rape, Jim…. A Clarification.

I have had quite a bit of feedback following the publication of my blog post “It’s Rape, Jim.  But Not As We Know It.”   To all who took the time to offer me constructive criticism, thank you very much indeed.  The following is some clarifications and updates based on the negative comments I have received in recent days.

While I was writing in the opening paragraph what rape meant *to me*, and not what it meant in Law or in a dictionary, I acknowledge that my impressions were naive and poorly written.  Rape does not need to be accompanied by violence or the threat of violence.  This point was put strongly to me by posters to the blog and by female friends of mine, some of whom have actually been victims of rape.  So I apologise for my limited perspective as shown in that opening paragraph, and readily concede I was wrong.  As a poster called EdinburghEye pointed out, there are multiple varieties of rape, and not all require violence or menace –

1.  You could set up a situation where, without saying a word of menace, you make clear to the woman there are unpleasant consequences to saying “no” to you.  (a) You’re her boss or have influence in her career (b) You’re say the driver and you make a sexual proposition in the car miles from anywhere (c) you’re a lot bigger than your target, alone together, and she couldn’t physically stop you and you make that clear.

2.  As you say, you could just wait until she’s asleep and then do what you want.

3.  You could get angry and unpleasant if she says “no” until she learns from fear of your temper not to say “no” even if she really isn’t feeling anything sexual for you any more.

4.  In the context of a long-term relationship, you could become a nagger for sex such that your partner knows she won’t get any peace, once you demand sex, until she gives in.  Then you can rape her regularly because she knows that she has no choice until the day she decides to ditch you.  And you might be a very pleasant person otherwise. You can even tell yourself it’s not rape, even though she doesn’t want it, because she “consents” – ie she knows the consequences of saying “no” mean you will keep on at her and whine and moan and refuse to let her sleep no matter how tired she is, because you don’t care what she wants, only what you want.

And that is the essence of rape. Overriding what the other person wants: just taking what you want.

I accept all of this without reservation.  My critics are right on this point, and I was wrong.  I ask forgiveness for any offence my myopic view may have caused.  A fabulous article about what rape actually is can be found on the EdinburghEye’s blog.  I found it very informative indeed.

It was put to me by some that, as a man, I have no idea about sexual assault, rape, and predatory males.  This is not quite true.  I was a victim of an attempted sexual assault by a man when I was about 13 or 14.  A man, who I did not know, but who knew me as a player for the school football team, approached me one Sunday while I was out for a walk along the shores of the River Clyde at Dumbarton.  He pulled a knife on me, and pushed me to the ground.  He tried to pull my trousers down while waving the knife in my face.  Somehow I managed to struggle free and ran faster than I ever have back home.  It was a fortunate escape.  It turned out the man had a string of offences against young boys to his name.  In mitigation, I would say this event has possibly coloured my view of what rape is or is not.

Regarding the allegations against Julian Assange, I acknowledge that to echo George Galloway’s view on what the allegations amount to was hasty of me.  If the allegations are 100% correct, they amount to far more than “bad sexual etiquette” as George stated.  They amount to a criminal act (in Sweden) if true.  Initiating sex without a condom with a person who has expressly asked you to use one, is more than just bad form, it is a terrible liberty to take, and arguably a sexual molestation offence.  Whether it amounts to ‘rape’ or not is another matter altogether.

“If initiating nocturnal sex with a sexual partner who is half asleep is rape, then every girl I have ever slept with is a rapist, and so am I…”

When I wrote this I was thinking of the many, many times I have woken to find a girlfriend playing with my penis, or even engaging in penetrative sex.  This has happened to me several times.  I do not regard that as me being raped.  But I accept that it is of a different order of magnitude from that alleged against Julian Assange, as I, for one thing, am unlikely to end up pregnant.  Neither did any of my girlfriends try anything that I had previously refused consent to.

I hope this addresses some of the concerns that have been put to me.  I still think the pursuit of Assange stinks to high heaven, but I am open to persuasion.  If there is anything else, please feel free to get in touch.  I am not arrogant enough to think I am always, or even mostly right, and welcome differing perspectives and viewpoints.  Thanks again for reading, and commenting.

http://www.thenation.com/article/169632/julian-assange-justice-foreclosed#  (interesting article with VERY interesting comments)

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How I Became a Black Sheep.

I watched the film ‘Broken Arrow’ on television last night.  Despite the fact I went to see it at the cinema in 1996, I could remember nothing of it.  After watching it again I realized why – it is absolute garbage.  Still, the film did get me thinking.    It started me off on a nostalgia trip to my salad days, and in particular my life in 1996, and how it evolved over the following few years.

In 1996 I was 24 and earning VERY good money with British Gas as a service engineer.   I had a pension, and was also the regular recipient of dividend cheques from a multitude of shares that British Gas kept throwing my way.  I also had a £21,000 mortgage on a little flat on Castlegreen Street in Dumbarton.  Life seemed a complete doddle.

Broken Arrow was released in the UK during April of 1996, and it would have been there or thereabouts that I first saw it.  I remember going to see it with my then girlfriend Fiona, at the UCI multiplex in Clydebank.    I’ll admit now that it wasn’t one of my better ideas for a date.  Whether she had a thing for John Travolta I can’t recall, though I can’t imagine anyone fancying Travolta in that movie.  His girning alone would be enough to give any woman nightmares.

Life seemed so easy in those days.  The only clouds on my horizon were generally the product of my lovelife.  I had no real awareness of the wider world outside my own social circle, and had no thoughts or opinions on anything ‘political’.  My life revolved around work and beer, with increasing forays into dope, and guitar-generated rock and roll.

It was in about 1996 that I started to become a regular concert go-er.  Looking at my collection of ticket stubs, I can see how my musical tastes gradually changed.  In 1996 I was paying to see Bon Jovi, Oasis, Del Amitri, Reef, and Ocean Colour Scene.  By 1997 I was watching the Verve, Skunk Anansie, Live, Primal Scream, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, and Beck.

The late 90’s went on to become, for me, something akin to a ‘perfect storm’.   I had moved away from Dumbarton to live in Rothesay on the sunny Isle of Bute.   For the first time in my adult life the Labour Party had won election to Government.  My formerly apolitical nature had been eroded by exposure to the music of Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine.  And possibly most significant of all was the new time I found for reading.   I started reading broadsheet newspapers, particularly the Glasgow Herald, and a new work colleague was introducing me to the works of Noam Chomsky, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Waits, and Hunter Thompson.  I developed strong views on nuclear weapons, on the 1998 Gulf War, and the 1999 Kosovo bombing.  Almost despite myself, I was slowly turning into some kind of political black sheep.

And suddenly life seemed not so simple.   I saw in the millenium listening to Godspeed You Black Emperor and Mogwai.

Before long I was resigning from British Gas and getting arrested in front of nuclear submarine bases.

I wish I’d never saw that damn film 😉