Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Barbara Hewson and Moral Responsibility

Part of me wonders if giving Hewson more publicity is a good thing, after all she is quite clearly a rent a quote looking to a career of BBCQT invitations and being known as someone unafraid to speak her mind (translation spout whatever hateful shit will get her copy).

She has form, victim blaming an underage child who was apparently an evil seductress. Her latest pronouncements are so dangerous though, feeding as they do the myths around rape that yet again we have to repeat some pretty basic shit.

In the telegraph she is quoted as saying;

“It seems to me, simply factually, we all know if you’re drunk you are more likely to have accidents. So if you fall off a bar stool and hit you head and have a serous brain injury because you’re drunk people are gong to say well you chose to be drunk.

“So it does seem to me something a little sanitized about the idea that (when discussing rape) we cannot even have a discussion about the moral responsibility whatever people may want to say about the legal responsibility.

You seem to be a little confused about what rape is Barbara, so let me explain. It is not a man accidentally putting his penis into your vagina* when he was going about his otherwise normal everyday business. Someone isn’t walking down the street and suddenly they trip and whoops, look at that I am having sexual intercourse with someone, how did that happen?

Rape is a decision, a conscious act, a choice not to get the full and informed consent of the person you are with. Falling off a bar stool involves one person, unless you want to look at the moral culpability of the person who sold you the alcohol, rape involves more than one person. One of the people involved has a choice (the rapist) the other doesn’t (the victim) Is that clear you pestilent rape apologist?

She goes on to throw a few more half-baked, semi formed thoughts out there, to make it look like she has pondered this for more than the nano second it took her to realise she hadn’t been in the papers for a few days.

The first is the idea that rape and sexual abuse is very widespread but largely unrecognised even by victims themselves who need to be taught to realise what’s really happened.

“Secondly, that it has long term damaging effects. Thirdly that its morally absolutely unambiguous, the victim is utterly innocent and the victimiser is utterly guilty and this is infinitesimal. And finally that claims of victimisation must always be respected, anything less is victim-blaming.”

Her first point seems a dig at those who worry that rapes are going unreported, that the CPS and police simply do not take rape seriously. I don’t know a single woman who has not been sexually assaulted, I don’t know a single woman who has reported it to the police.

Perhaps I am the unusual one, perhaps we are outliers and Hewson lives in the real world where it is perfectly safe for women to be out at any time, can I move there please?

Her but is of course completely disingenuous. The first and second parts of her statement are unrelated but she wants to perpetuate the idea that there are lots of false rape claims, and if people didn’t have evil feminists telling them they had been raped then these would not exist.

You know who needs to be helped to realise whats going on? Domestic violence survivors, the girls of Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford. Victims of incest, grooming and abuse. Over and over again we hear, I thought he loved me, I thought it was normal, I thought this is was everyone did. So yeah Barbara, sometimes people don’t know there is a word for what is happening to them, they just know it hurts, it hurts their body and it hurts their soul.

I actually agree that there is no one narrative around the effects of rape, and I am not sure in 2013 anyone would argue differently. Hewson is so determined she has something radical to say but has no idea what anyone else is saying on the subject.

Then we get to this

Thirdly that its morally absolutely unambiguous, the victim is utterly innocent and the victimiser is utterly guilty

Have I missed something here? Are there new definitions of rape that have passed me by? Rape is having sex with another person without their consent. You do that, you are guilty, guilty of rape. I can be drunk, wearing nothing, behaving in a manner you consider slutty or provocative, have sex with me without my full and informed consent and you are a rapist, you are guilty. You chose to rape, I did not choose to be raped. Got that? Do I need to write it in 60 foot high letters across the sky? Rape is a choice, it is a choice to ignore consent.

Barbara Hewson seems to believe she is saying something new and radical. She is not, she is perpetuating the same tired old rape myths. The idea men are animals who can’t help themselves, that women can stop rape by their behaviour, that there is “real” rape and the other sort. That women “cry” rape because they have changed their mind. She is about as radical as any other person who believes that mini skirts and a WKD too many cause rape. Her status in society though means that her voice gets listened too, and that is scary, and dangerous for all women.

* Rape in this context is as UK law defines it, which is sadly a very heteronormative cis definition.

Added by Admin - UK rape law under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 is the insertion of a penis into the mouth, vagina and/or anus without consent

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2 thoughts on “Barbara Hewson and Moral Responsibility

  • Hecuba says:

    Unfortunately Barbara Hewson is saying what innumerable men believe is the truth – namely that men are never ever accountable for their decision, choice and agency to subject any female to male sexual violence.

    Only certain males are held accountable for their choice to commit male sexual violence and these males are the minority, whereas the majority of male sexual predators continue to declare they are the ‘real victims’ and the female victims are innate liars.

    Hewson was right in one respect and that is many women and girls do not realise a male/males has/have subjected them to male sexual violence because we live in a Male Supremacist System and this means men learn as boys it is their innate right if they so choose to sexually prey on women and girls because males accord themselves pseudo sex right to females of any age.

    These male beliefs do not happen in a vacuum, because our male supremacist system ensures that it is always women and girls who are held responsible for not supposedly preventing any male from subjecting them to male sexual violence. The excuses/denials/justifications males claim are innumerable which is why rape myths continue to be widely accepted as truths not mens’ women-hating lies.

    Likewise women learn as girls it is their responsibility to ensure their behaviour/clothing/appearance and even fact they are females does not provoke male sexual aggression. This is why so many women and girl survivors of male sexual violence do not realise what the male sexual predators subjected them to was sexual violence because males and their male supremacist system continue to uphold the lie that male sexuality is innately aggressive; dominating and it is a male right to have his sexual desires satisfied because women and girls aren’t human but merely males’ disposable sexual service stations.

    Men continue to eroticise male sexual aggression against women and girls as supposedly ‘normal male sexual behaviour/expression as well as interlinking these ideas with male sexual power over women and therefore this is why male sexual violence against women and girls continues to be a pandemic. After all those innumerable respectable male sexual predators are merely enacting their male pseudo sex right to females!

    Male sexual aggression against women and girls continues to be eroticised as ‘normal male sexual behaviour and because males continue to associate male sexuality with male sexual power over women this is why male sexual violence against women and girls continues to be a pandemic.

    Until such time as men are held accountable for their choice and decision to subject women and girls to male sexual violence, nothing will change. We will continue to have the Barbara Hewsons parotting mens’ lies because it is vital mens’ male supremacist system must be maintained because this system ensures that mens’ legal system continues to uphold males’ pseudo sex right to females of all ages.

  • Laila namdarkhan says:

    Women such as Hewson are for ever the foot soldiers of the patriarchy. They get plenty of air time to spout outrage against their own sex. Where as truth speakers for feminist theory research and experience is degraded and made as invisible as possible. This is the struggle for RFs not bolstering po mo neo liberal values that have become so damaging to social and sex equality progress.