How do you annoy a new-style, with-it 2017 feminist? Two ways, apparently: being a successful career woman who is independent-minded, and giving sensible advice to girls that might prevent them getting raped. At least, that seems to be the moral from a trial that took place in Manchester last week.
A highly unpleasant yob forced himself on a very intoxicated 18-year-old in the wee hours after a night’s clubbing. He got a richly-deserved six years for rape. After sentencing, the judge – who happened to be female – made what most of us would think was a pertinent and highly sensible remark. She said girls out for a night on the town should think very hard indeed before drinking themselves silly because – well, there were bad people out there and they might end up the same way as this unfortunate victim.
At this all hell broke loose. One Rachel Krys, Co-Director of End Violence against Women (also a hard-line proponent of compulsory sex education from the age dot and making wolf-whistling a hate crime, not to mention a devotee of feminist baking, whatever that is) excoriated the judge for victim-blaming and supporting violence against women. And, as if this was not enough, Dame Vera Baird, ex-Labour MP and now vocal and oh-so-PC Northumbria Police Commissioner (some of whose previous antics were noted here on TCW) also accused the judge on Radio 4 of victim-blaming. She added that any suggestion that heavy drinking might lead to rape was unacceptable: in her unforgettable words, “I’m sorry, but that is putting responsibility on it” (!!). (Irresponsibility, it seems to follow, is acceptable and to be encouraged – an interesting point of view, you might think, for someone running a police force).
It’s difficult to know where to start with all this. For one thing, if you read what the judge said, the words were crystal clear and understandable to anyone, even (one would have thought) to Rachel Krys and Dame Vera Baird. A woman, the judge emphasised, had an absolute right to decide what to do with her body, however intoxicated she might be. The fact that she might have had too much to drink and thus be unaware of what was going on was, the judge continued, never any excuse or justification for rape. In the light of this, how anyone could take the judge’s remarks as supporting or condoning violence against women is, to say the least, puzzling.
For another, let’s assume what seems highly plausible: namely, that at least some people might heed the judge’s warning and avoid the risk of brutalisation as a result. On this assumption, the view of Ms Krys and Dame Vera that such a warning should not be given carries a stark logic: namely, that they are actually prepared to see an increase in the number of rapes and assaults in the name of the sacred doctrine of not-blaming-the-victim. If this is what they really think, it is monstrous. It is equivalent to saying: “A few more rapes, but don’t worry, sisters: it’s all in a good cause. It’s not our fault: we remain pure in doctrine.” One hopes, and suspects, that they don’t really believe anything so outrageous, and are guilty only of the muddled thinking typical of ultra-feminist campaigners. But one can’t be certain.
Actually, one suspects that what really got the feminist establishment’s goat about this case was that the circuit judge concerned was female (how embarrassing: they couldn’t blame the patriarchy); was a very highly-respected family law judge; had a commendable history of thinking independently rather than taking the easy way out and following received opinion; and in any case pretty clearly didn’t give two hoots for what they thought because she was about to retire anyway. You can understand their frustration. If you are used to being able to say, “Now, all together, repeat after me: the victim is never to blame” and have everyone jump to it without further ado, it must be very uncomfortable indeed to find yourself up against someone who insists on thinking matters through for themselves, and sometimes has the temerity to disagree with you.