Sue Cook vs Nick Ross: The Tale of Two Crimewatch Presenters
We recently published an article about extremely problematic statements by Sue Cook: Sue Cook, Formerly of Crimewatch, says old, rich, famous men shouldn't be accountable for child sexual abuse. in 2013, we published numerous articles about Nick Ross, also of Crimewatch, who suggested that rape wasn't really rape in certain situations:
2 Crimewatch presenters who made offensive and grossly inappropriate statements about victims of rape. The difference? - the response to their comments. When we published the articles about Nick Ross's use of rape myths and victim blaming language, we were inundated with people angry at this use of words. What we didn't receive was attacks on Ross as a person. Within minutes of publishing the article about Cook's minimisation of child sexual abuse, our mentions were full of gendered abusive language:
- paedo protecting witch
- Old withered has-been
- screw loose
- as bad as paedos
Obviously, we do not support Cook's statements about historic child sexual abuse cases. Her statements are dangerous, but it's important to recognise the ways in which people respond to celebrities minimising sexual violence. With Ross, the vast majority of comments came from women who wrote about 2 things: how Ross' words made them feel about their personal experiences of sexual violence and the danger of rape myths. Men, including men who have never engaged with our campaign, were responsible for the majority of comments in our twitter feed about Cook and most used gendered language. Interestingly, the word stupid has come up over and over again in response to Cook, but didn't feature in the responses to Ross. Stupid isn't a word we would have labeled gendered, but in this case it is clearly being used as a gendered insult.
Partly the responses have been because Ross was referencing rape of women whilst Cook is referring to child sexual abuse, however this doesn't explain everything. We have been, repeatedly sharing our post on why the term paedophile is inappropriate, as well as the article written by Liz Kelly as we need to be very clear that the vast majority of men who commit child sexual abuse do not meet the clinical guidelines for a diagnosis of paedophilia. Instead, these are men who make a clear choice to commit child sexual abuse and rape. Rather engaging with research written by practitioners with the field, we got defensive comments about the #paedobritain campaign - a campaign not supported by anyone who has worked with child victims of sexual violence. There is a performative aspect to the responses to Cook.
Whilst Cook's words are inaccurate and misleading, she is not "as bad as" men who choose to sexually abuse and rape children. We certainly did not get any comments suggesting that Ross was "as bad as" a rapist when we called him out for his rape apologism.
If your response to Cook was to used the gendered insults listed above, then you need to reflect on why you chose to do so.