Talking to a Feminist about attitudes to rape

I today had a chat with a woman on twitter, Juliet, about attitudes to rape. She came to my attention after suffering some pretty bad abuse from followers of Leon Knight after she responded to a Ched Evans tweet sent by someone else. Unfortunately now it looks like she had to protect her Twitter account, which is a shame, due to the abuse she was receiving.

She said that society was at fault for poor attitudes towards rape, and I questioned if she meant the media. I thought that society knows rape is a terrible crime, on par with murder, and maybe it was how rape is reported in the media was to blame if there is an attitude of not taking it seriously. Anyway, she stated that it definitely was society.

Juliet then went on to say as a man I will never be able to understand rape, or what it is like to be a “woman living in a rape culture with rape jokes and soaring rape statistics”. Are we in England really living in a rape culture? I find it hard to believe that we do. She then describes to me that “the threat to us [women] is constant”. Are we really living in an age where women think that they are under a constant threat of rape?

She said that I could help her, so I enquired how. I didn’t know what her answer would be and was surprised when she said I could “cross the road if you see a woman looking over a shoulder at you” and adds “she doesn’t know you’re not a rapist”. In addition I can “stand up for women when you see jokes being made” and “donate to woman’s charities”. Now I agree if we see jokes being made about any vulnerable group we should speak out if that joke is causing upset but asking men to cross over the road in case a woman thinks we are a rapist? Come on, surely that is mental levels of paranoia?

I don’t know if Juliet’s views are so hard line due to her Feminist beliefs but I see them just as unhelpful as people joking about rape, as Dapper Laughs was highlighted to do recently. I think the most sensible way forward would be to be more trusting of society, not label all men as potential rapists and all women as potential victims.

This conversation came about due to tweets relating to Ched Evans. I have been following his story since he started looking for a football team to employ him and the arguments for his employment and against it are quite interesting. I can see both sides and for me either viewpoint isn’t black and white. I feel uncomfortable that a convicted rapist would be playing football in the public eye but I also feel uncomfortable about the media and social media campaigns to keep him from getting his return to football.

It’s quite a divisive subject and to be honest I’m getting a little bit bored of hearing Ched Evans name being on the news every day, as I am sure his victim is. Maybe it is time to accept that eventually he is going to get a job in football and the best way forward would be to give him no media attention at all? I honestly don’t know what the way forward is. What I do know is the media attention is drawing in the idiots and encouraging them to vent off, as they did to Juliet this morning.

Despite Juliet’s pretty hard line views and her abrasiveness towards me I enjoyed our chat this morning and I do hope she suffers no further abuse on Twitter – no one should be bullied on a social media site.

Note – Since writing this piece I did some research.  According to the 2011 UK census there are 31, 029,000 males in the UK.  Also the BBC reported that in 2006 85,000 women raped in the UK.  Now I know these figures are a few years apart, but that equates to 0.25% of the male population could be rapists.  Even if this figure doubled by 2011 (0.5%) is that a rape society?

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