This is rape culture –


I’ve sat with this for the last day. I wanted to write an emotive, reactive piece, full of as may expletives I could fit into one blog post. But I decided to sit with this and come at it from another position. Angry, yes, frustrated and pissed that I even should write this, you bet! So exceptionally frustrated that I made the decision last night to not write anything at all.

But after giving myself some time to sit with, and really think about what I wanted to say, what I really needed to put to paper I realised that this deserved more from me than silence. Silence caused by a fear of being labelled nothing more than “hysterical feminist nagging”.

I have never hidden the place of feminism in my writing. I am a feminist who writes about female sexuality and submission. I try to use this platform to bring an alternative position to some of the more dominant framing of both female sexuality and submission; because I think it’s needed and important to those of us who live this. If we only get to see or participate in one version of all of this; then how can we evolve our sense of self to a place it’s most safe within? If the only way that I am allowed to write about any of this is from a place which positions privilege of and obedience to those with power than doesn’t that rule most of us out of both conversation and change?

If I can’t write in a way that makes people uncomfortable and, yes, challenges those who have done wrong to see their choices as illegitimate within BDSM, then I have no reason to keep on writing! For me, as an ardent and unapologetic feminist, I am all about challenging the status quo. About recognising that the way things are, and have been, are so deeply saturated in patriarchy that women have little safety and legitimacy; especially when it comes to our sexual autonomy, choices and voices.

I write because I believe my voice is important and legitimate. I believe my words are needed. And if my words can empower one woman to feel safe enough to explore her sexuality and surrender, or let one victim of sexual violence feel like they are heard and believed then I’m going to keep going.

Even if some would characterise what I write as interfering!

This has all been prompted by the appearance before the courts of “the wolf” (from here on in only referred to as this man) and the allegations of bullying made. Allegations may not be the right words here. I’m not sure if they are exactly that; but they were repeated in the media overnight, and so I am going to go with allegations made. Yesterday it was implied there is an organised attempt to make a mountain out of a mole hill when it comes to the acquisitions of sexual assault being investigated and before the courts. This man, genuinely believes that he is the victim of an orchestrated campaign against him. One that is being undertaken by any of us that comment about him in any way; and I can only assume is a continuance of the one that was happening before he was arrested.

If I believed for a moment that this man felt bullied I would completely disengage with what I’m doing. I’m not calling him a liar, or saying that his lawyer stood before the Bench yesterday and made a false claim. I just don’t believe that what he’s experiencing is bullying; so much as it is the seismic shift of power being taken away from him!

And power is the key theme here. Power over others to extract what you believe that you are entitled to; be in submission, sex, social platform or silence. Silence begotten through the accusations of bullying, and positioning him as the victim. You see, the second men like this lose power, they become the victim. Because they no longer wield the authority to control that becomes the oppressed! Pretty pathetic huh?

The connections between this bullying claim and his manifesto are so obvious to me. See, he was saw himself as an almost puppet master; not just of women – his victims and otherwise, but of the outsiders too. Those of us questioning is writing. Laughing at his predictable prose and poses and supporting those who were posting pieces against him.

One of the most telling pieces he published was a piece called “The exquisite blondes”. The title itself tells you a lot about his need to objectify in order to find connection. For me it was a particular paragraph that really cemented who this man believes, and even now still believes, about himself. He writes …

“I’d been thinking about almost nothing else for a week. I’d been with multiple girls before and yes, the thought of that alone is enough to (literally) keep me up at night but there was far more two this, another level of adventure that had me completely enthralled. I played the scenarios over and over in my head. I could expect complete compliance from both of them, I held the paintbrush and they were my canvas. How corny is that? But how hot is it too?

He held the paintbrush. He, and he alone was the one on active control over everything. His image, the caricature of “the wolf”, his audience and the stories permitted about him. And, like he wrote, he expected complete compliance (how many times can we say this COMPLIANCE IS NOT CONSENT) and, unfortunately, he got it.

Until one woman stood up and said no more! Until she went to the police and made the initial complaint, that lead to the initial investigation, his arrest and multiple charges being laid. An ongoing investigation with the potential of more changes being laid.

The moment Miss X went to the police was the moment that the paintbrush fell out of his hands and his imagined, compelled blind and complete compliance of those around him began to fracture.

Bullying or a smear campaign by the media and those, like me, who write about this, have nothing to do with him being where he is today. The relationship of victim 2 (full disclosure here, if this is who I think it is I have no respect nor time for this man. I think he’s sexual ethics are just as atrocious as this man’s) has now if of no concern to the facts of the (alleged) act of sexual violence perpetrated against her. It is his choices, his absolute lack of regard for the law and for the autonomy and wellbeing of those that, genuinely, loved him, trusted him and wanted to be with him, that see him and his smug face plastered across the Sydney media, and his ass hauled before the courts.

Likewise, and more importantly, it is neither those of us who are discussing this nor the bullying that he is claiming, that is empowering women to step forward and talk about him; to the police or others.

How one can even begin to rationalise that it is through bullying that women venture into the vacuum that is the legal justice system is beyond me! This idea that it is only because of bullying towards him that another woman has stepped forward is, quite simply and nothing more than rape culture!

For those unaware of the concept of rape culture let me explain what I mean by it.

Rape culture are all the dysfunctional, erroneous and compounding ideas, the social norms and sanctions, the language of the media, legal arguments, attitudes and statements of politicians and the public that combine to not only frame the way that sexual violence is perpetrated upon the female body but to constrain the way women are allowed to speak about, and demand redress for their own experiences of sexual violence.

Let me put what was said in context. This case in no longer about two women who were victimised by the sexual choices of this man. This is no longer about victims seeking out the courts to get justice for the crime/s perpetrated upon their bodies. For victims to access legally entitled redress from a man who chose to ignore their agency and violate their right to make informed, reactive decision about their bodies and sexual labour.


This is about a conspiracy.

This is about a man. And another man.

This is about one man orchestrating a vendetta against another and using an allegation of sexual violence to bully the other.

This is about a perpetrator of sexual violence using the courts and the media to discredit and silence the victim. She cannot possibly be believed because she is lying; and she is lying because her boyfriend is bullying the accussed!

Look up the statistics! Listen to the reasons why women are reluctant to come forward with accounts of sexual violence.

Now take every vile word, attitude and deed that creates rape culture and add to it, that women are now the pawns in an orchestrated bullying campaign for male supremacy in BDSM.

He “claims he has been the victim of an “online bullying campaign”, leading to an extra charge of sexual assault being laid against him”. Yep this man believes, once again, that he is the victim here!

Sound familiar to anyone else?

You see, the second his lawyer stood up yesterday and said the “B” word he not only began his campaign against the second victim, but he began his platform to curate and control the parameters of discussion allowed about this.

This is about, one last desperate attempt, to take back some control over the story that he is the lead villain in. One last pathetic attempt at rebranding himself as a victim as opposed to the perpetrator of sexual violence against women.

This is nothing more than rape culture!






Humanising the rapist: Destroying the myths of rape culture one at a time.

I really don’t like reactive pieces and I certainly didn’t ever think I’d go down the path of writing from a point of physical/emotional reaction rather than considered position. It took me weeks to sit down with the aftermath of the Ghomeshi trial. I needed to sit with what had happened, clarify my thoughts and write what I thought needed to be said rather than what I wanted to say. But I’ve bitten the bullet tonight. I’ve spent the last few days, like so many, in tears and utter disbelief at the reality that has been the rape and subsequent trial of Ms Doe. I’ve read (and cried over) her victim impact statement and I’ve read all about the sentencing, his fathers’ and friends defence and of course his statement. I’m choosing not to name him here; we all know who I’m talking about. His name and his all American yearbook photo is everywhere. He doesn’t need me to name him, he doesn’t care what women like me think. To him women like me are part of the problem that got him thrown in prison. Women like me are the ones who need his mansplaining – sorry education, that he begged the sentencing judge let him go forward with, as punishment for his crime.

What I felt the need to sit down and write has confused me. It’s not anger it’s not surprise its resignation; not something I desire but something that I feel is genuinely inevitable. Inevitable because it needs to be done and done now.

Rape is something that not only can happen to anyone but is something that can be done by anyone. But more often than not this message is not being heard. We see rapists as something of an other, a monster lurking in the darkness. A myth that has stood the test of time. It’s something that we use to place rape and rapists as something away from me. It makes us feel safer. I get that. No one wants to believe that the man I know can do something as abhorrent as rape.  The man who raped Jane Doe is not a monster. While he was a stranger to his victim he was not a stranger to his family, his friends and his community. He is just like men I know – except for the fact that he chose to and was convicted of rape.

A lot has been written over the last few days, nothing I could put here can come close to the eloquent well constructive pieces that have been published so far. But I feel the need to contribute, after all I made this space to add myself into the conversations I feel relevant to how we think about and have sex. And, for me, rape culture is a part of this. One of the ways that rape culture and its assumptions, minimising and victim blaming, is central to this particular rape is through the character references offer up to the court as a means of supporting the rapist.

The character references offered by his father, grandparents, coaches, classmates and friend are not something out of the ordinary, as far as I’m aware (keeping in mind that I am not a lawyer) statements such as these and the content of them are normal. Just as victims of crime are entitled to place before the court accounts of the crime perpetrated upon them and the impact that the crime has had on themselves and their lives, so too can the convicted. The rights and wrongs of this are many and complex. Should we really be seeing those who have committed crimes away from what they have been convicted of? Should judges be able to consider them as influential in their sentencing decision? I just don’t know, and I don’t think it would do anything is I pretended that I did. There are others who are much more educated about the legitimacy and need of such character references, and I will leave it up to those to find these answers.

Let me be very clear here – the rape apologies, the minimisation, the excuses and the victim blaming are not, JUST NOT what I am talking about here. I can’t begin to get my head around this part of their statements. It’s frustrating and nauseating. The best I can come up with is “it’s just plan fucked up” which would neither do justice to the reality of these words nor offer anything new to the conversation.

This is not what I want to take away from these character references. It’s not actually the first thing that I noticed about them. Nor do I want to make a post about his lack of recognition or remorse in his own statement. I want to take the character references and remove the rape culture that has saturated them and reframe them in a way that I think (and I could be totally wrong here) could bring about some kind of change.

Character references are given to humanise those awaiting sentencing, to present a picture of the defendant not as the prosecution portrayed him as during trial, but that of a young man who, because of “20 minutes of action” has been irreversibly changed. These references are a collection of facts and opinions, they revolve around all of the everyday things; what we eat, how we walk, we live and work, our accomplishments and our dreams who come together to make us who we are as individual humans. He is a son, a swimmer, a classmate and a friend. We need to start recognise these facts in rapists, not to glorify them but to acknowledge that these parts of us, are part of what makes up a rapist too. Rapists are humans who make the choice to commit crimes.

The person who ate the steak – is a rapist.

The son who ate his dad’s snacks – is a rapist.

The budding swim star – is a rapist.

The man who had dreams and accomplishments – is a rapist.

The people who fall into this drinking culture – are rapists.

Men who have never been in trouble before – can rape.

Awkward teenagers trying to fit in – can rape.

People who are mild mannered – have raped women.

People who are happy drunks around friends, who keep control and act rationally – do rape.

Great kids – rape.

Teenagers, intelligent enough to be admitted to Stanford – can be rapists.

I absolutely understand the reaction to the release of these references. They, in context, are horrifying to read. I sat here on Monday reading the statement given by his father and it floored me. I asked my husband ‘what type of person thinks about steak when he’s writing what is a plea to the judge sentencing their son’? But neither of us could come up with an answer, is there one? I’ve read the words written by those that know this man and can only wonder what they think rape is.

But they gave me insight into who this man is. The man behind the rape. The man who chose to get drunk at a collage party and make the deliberate decision to take an unconscious woman away and out of sight and rape her. He is the person that is outlined in those character references AND he is a rapist.

We need to humanise these men. We need to see them as part of the swim team and kids who sit at the dinner table eating steak with their fathers. Because that is who they are. These men, these people who choose to commit sexual assaults are men who dream of being doctors, who look like the men we love and socialise with, the ones sitting next to us in class and who we see on the station platform on the way home from work. These are the men who rape and we need to start seeing them as such.

Dismantling rape culture can only be done by removing, one by one, the myths and erroneous assumptions about rape. Not just the myths and assumptions about rape victims but the ones that surround and create our myths and assumptions of rapists.

The confusion I am feeling having written this is uncomfortable. I feel as if every word I’ve just written is wrong and that the best thing I could do is hit delete and forget everything that I’ve thought over the last few days which has cumulated in this post. I feel like I’m ignoring one of the core elements of my feminism and my reasoning for this space. The centring of the needs and experiences of females. To take away from her and make it all about him feels counter to what I see is crucial to the advancement of a feminist rebellion. But there is this part of me that feels this is important and needs to be said. Humanising the rapist, taking him from the shadows, the dark alleyways, removing the stranger and putting him in our swim teams and classrooms putting a face in the picture can and will challenge some of the most prevailing and frustrating myths and assumptions about rape.

But I’m going to give the last word to Jane Doe. I want these words to, once these overwhelming emotions settle a bit, be the thing that I take away from her.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you.

To girls everywhere, I am with you.

What the Ghomeshi trial has taught me: Or how rape culture really looks.

I’m not a lawyer. I am not Canadian. I am coming at this from a limited understanding of law. None of this is “expert” advice. While watching the trial and acquitting of Ghomeshi as well as participating in some of the social media associated with it. I noticed that there are a number of elements that constitute the case that have been playing around in my mind a bit.

It’s not that they are specifically relevant to this one particular trial, it’s just that they seem to be ideas and arguments that I found myself being confronted with more and more during this one case. So I thought I’d write them down and add my, not asked for 2 cents worth of opinion and characterisation on this trial.

Opinion 1

When it comes to the crime of sexual assault it is the peripheral issues rather than the central story that matters.

A sexual assault trial should revolve around a central statement of fact. That is what the prosecution claim that on this day this happened, presented as a sequence of events. Events that are explained further through evidence and witness testimony. What seems to be happening though is that the central statement become irrelevant and the peripheral issues like what came before and after becomes the focal point. Reasonable doubt – the keystone of modern day criminal defence, comes from discrediting the witness testimony & character than from disproving the events of the sexual assault.

Opinion 2

In his defences closing Ghomeshi’s lawyer made a very particular and telling statement.

“The truth is between the lines”.

I take this to mean that there is something of truth in what is not being said; I could have totally misread this of course but I am pretty sure that this statement has been offered up as some kind of direction to read between the line.

If you consider that (as far as I can tell) the defence never offered up an alternative statement of facts/events and never claimed anything beyond ‘what she said didn’t happen’ then you can only assume that not only is there is no defensive claim that ‘it didn’t happen’ but there is no evidence to prove that it didn’t happen. I understand that the burden of proof is placed solely in the hands of the prosecution. But if you are going to make a definitive claim then shouldn’t you do so with some kind of evidence to back this up? That “reasonable” doubt must be in fact reasonable: something that comes from a sound judgment.

What we seem to have is a reasonable doubt caused by the victims themselves. It’s not his actions on those nights in 2002, 2003 and 2008 that shows the prosecutions statement of facts is wrong but the actions of his victims after those nights up to and including their individual performances on the witness stand.


Opinion 3

He said/she said is a lie

Discussions of sexual assault allegations are often framed as case of he said/she said until the point a jury (or judge) casts their vote and decides who was right. What happens is more along the lines of she (the victim) says he (accused) gets his lawyer to present a section of questions and statements that will bring about reasonable doubt. While victims do not lay charges or prosecute and become a witness offering up testimony in the same way that a police officer or forensic scientist does. It is her and her alone that more often than not win or lose a case. She recounts her version of events as she understands them, and then answers to questions put forward to her by a defence team paid to ensure that their client gets what he wants. He actually says nothing – his defence team does all the talking.

Opinion 4

We are a generation of know it all women – how can a man take advantage of that?

This doesn’t necessarily pertain to the trial itself but the narrative that surrounds it. We, as in modern Gen X Y & Millennial women are cast as being the most knowledgeable, independent, confident, educated women who are given this “gift” of walking through life in ever encounter we happen to come across in absolute perfection. That somehow those of us who happened to have been assigned a certain chromosomal structure at the moment of our conception have this innate, maybe even evolutionary, attribute or instinct that makes us aware of harm and directs us in another direction. We are so controlled by this innate perfection that if we do (choose to) walk into a “grey area” situation then it is of our own free will and we alone should be held accountable for any adverse or illegal consequences. In other words we really should just know beter!

Opinion 5

We also have this other subset of women who are “fuckable”. She is the imagined ideal of sexual perfection (although being one who is not this I cannot tell you what it is, maybe it’s a secret passed down to you once you are deemed worthy). She is all of those things we modern woman are but she has this additional innate attribute that dissolves her sexual prey, I mean predators, man I don’t know what they are! From any and all responsibility. Something like the mythological succubus; but this modern version doesn’t kill her conquests she frees them back into the wild. But the point is these women cannot be raped! If you are a woman who is fuckable and who chooses to flirt, kiss, have sex or enjoy the company of men then you are the problem here – not the criminal actions of another.

Opinion 6

It’s not Ghomeshi or men like him that are the problem. It’s that *we* women just aren’t using our innate ability to effectively predict or react to others behaviour. It doesn’t really matter that I really can’t tell if the man I am finding attractive and kissing in this moment is going to wrap his hands around my throat and choke me in a few minutes’ time. It’s unimportant that I have no idea of predicting if in half an hour the man I’m having sex with & wanting to have sex with is going to change his game plan and do something else. It’s irrelevant that I’m not this physical being that is able to drop a portcullis across my vulva when I sense an imminent invasion. And just not good enough that I don’t become coated in some toxic goo to fend off any further touch or attempts to touch when uninvited.

That fact that I have no way of reacting to fear and confusion in a way that does not take me into the flight, fight or freeze automatic responses. Case and Statute law across the Western world recognise the variations in trauma reactions. Medical, psychological, social and legal discourse constantly recognises the inconsistency and factual errors in the assumption that women will without hesitation adequately react in these situations.

But none of this matters! These facts are irrelevant. Men are men and as such need are to void of the realities and the consequences of their choices because we cannot or just do not effectively predict and react in the way that we are supposed to.

Opinion 7

Consent is still the word no!

Opinion 8

This is just so fucked up!