It’s hard being a victim. The very word implies submission to a violent or aggressive act, one in which we were overpowered and controlled. It makes us feel helpless and vulnerable. Being a victim or coming across as one leaves us open to further victimisation. And so we prefer to say we are survivors. We were able to overcome the horrific circumstances that threatened to shut us down and because we have survived we deserve praise for our resilience and ability to rise up. To do this, we need recognition. Firstly to recognise for ourselves that we fought hard and that it wasn’t our fault. Our clothing is not to blame, nor our looks or the time of day. Secondly, that our supporters believe us and in doing so protect us from further harm, defining the line for what is acceptable, ensuring that we do not begin to believe the lies our media and politicians spin in order to control our movements and associations.
A sex scandal is what happens when a supposedly happily married media ‘personality’ cheats on their long suffering, eternally loyal partner. Why it is any of our business, I won’t pretend to understand but for the sake of a comparison, that is how it reads to me (and I hope for most people). My aversion to the phrase aside, I strongly object to those words being used to describe CHILD ABUSE/STATUTORY RAPE (where patriarchy calls the underage victim willing and ‘older than their years’). In one article exposing the child abuse/sexual violence perpetrated by the voice of Elmo (yes, really), he is described as having ‘sexual relationships’ with underage ‘accusers’. Minors cannot consent to ‘sexual relationships’.
NON CONSENSUAL SEX IS RAPE.
(You can read the article here http://huff.to/WMoubA)
The writer of this article calls it underage sex and suggests the voice of Elmo continues to experience ‘misfortune’ as a result of the allegations. Hey Elmo, it really is bad luck that you’ve been caught abusing children. Maybe if we tarnish your young victims with the sort of language that implies something sexual happened but they’re only making it known now cos they want to see you go down, you’ll be spared a proper punishment and the victims will be ridiculed instead.
What do Berlusconi, Dominique Strauss Kahn, Jimmy Savile and Elmo have in common? They have raped and abused and violated women and children without their consent. In the British press, they are all allegedly involved in ‘sex scandals’. There are numerous attempts on behalf of the patriarchal press and media to silence the victims by giving a platform to the perpetrators (‘I’m not an abuser and that’s the end of that. Now give me money’) and using language to convince you of their innocence. Victims do not want to be associated with a sex scandal. It is sordid and implies they were actively involved in some way. By implicating the victims and suggesting that they are in some way to blame, patriarchy ensures that survivors remain victimised. It creates a barrier for other victims to speak out too. It normalises abuse by rebranding it as just sex and the ‘accusers’ as jilted lovers or scroungers after their 15 minutes. Just like the many women who believe partners have more rights to their bodies than they themselves do (wish I’d been there when patriarchy invented this one) even when she doesn’t feel like it, the message we are consistently given is that there are levels of rape and your rape isn’t even rape rape. In fact rape rape is extremely rare so in this way patriarchy has convinced you that sexual violence against women just isn’t even a thing (what rape culture?).
This is one of many examples I could give regarding the way news is reported in a patriarchal system and how it influences society’s attitudes to victims of gender related crime. In as many weeks, 2 perpetrators of domestic homicide murdered their wives before committing suicide. Neither case was reported to involve domestic abuse. There was an emphasis on the behaviour of the murdered woman in the run up to the incident, perhaps she liked a drink and was ‘bubbly’ (read overly friendly/in your face). There were no indications as to the behaviour of the perpetrator except maybe he’d had a spell of depression (sympathy please) and don’t forget what an amazing personality/leader/sportsman he was and what a loss this will be to the world. The language used attempts to invoke sympathy for the abuser; it paints a tragedy not a brutal murder.
It is powerful and influential and they know this.
..Don’t even get me started on child ‘porn’.