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READERS’ BLOG

'Judy Finnigan's comments about rape were foolish and uninformed'

  • 17 Comments

Nurses can offer a critical role in supporting women who are victims of rape, but society needs to change its perceptions

There is not a lot in common between Loose Women and Nursing Times. Except perhaps that the majority of both audiences are female.

Last week Judy Finnigan described a famous rape case as “not violent”; stating that the girl had “had lots to drink”.

Her comments have resulted in uproar. My response to these comments predominantly focuses on the rape of women, and the perception of rape, also by women.

The word ‘rape’ is thrown around often insignificantly.

Nobody says a mugging was “not a serious one”

Women in particular appear keen to downplay rapes and there is a perceived rape hierarchy that exists in society. This ranges from the woman who is dragged down a dark alley by a stranger, to the woman raped by her partner after a night out. More sympathy is often extended to the stranger rape.

Perhaps this is because we would like rape to be anonymous? We do not want to believe that the men we know are capable of rape. This belief is the reason women are often blamed for provoking rape.

Categorically, rape is forced penetration when consent is not given.

No other violence is simplified in the same manner. Nobody says a mugging was “not a serious one”.

Maybe the reason for this is the fact that rape is seen simply as unwanted sex. Yet rape is not about sex, but control. Rape is an abuse of women on a level larger than any other gender related crime, on a worldwide scale. Rape is an attack so personal it replaces self-esteem and confidence with self-hate and shame. It is a crime.

It does not matter in what context a woman is raped, because she has been raped. Whether a knife has been held to her throat, or she is silent because she cannot believe what is happening, the horror of the crime remains the same.

There is no faceless rapist. There is no “lesser” rape. There are rapists, and there is rape.

There is no greyness, there is no such thing as hierarchy in rape. Either women consent to having sex, or they do not.

“There is no such thing as hierarchy in rape”

As women, there should be no restrictions in what we wear, where we travel, how we behave, or how much we decide to have to drink. Our bodies are our bodies, and we should have full control of them at all times across all cultures and contexts. Unfortunately it appears that the people who are quickest to judge women, are other women. ITV’s Loose Women, by presenting the views that this rape was “less serious”, have undermined all women.

Comments like Judy’s are foolish and uninformed.

At best, they fuel the inaccurate assumption that some rapes are worse than others, feeding society’s minimisation of a serious crime.

At worst, they will put women off reporting rape, because they will question if what has happened to them is in fact rape, just because it wasn’t down a dark alley, or because they knew their rapist.

Worst of all, it may convince them that they may not be believed by anyone, and encourage them to stay silent.

This is the saddest outcome of all, but it is one that can be prevented with support, trust and respect, particularly by those at first contact, and particularly by nurses.

 

Caroline Estrella is a newly qualified nurse, working towards an MA in Research Methods for Health

  • 17 Comments

Readers' comments (17)

  • Pussy

    Well the silly woman is paid to open her mouth and that's just what she did and will continue to do!
    There should of course be no restrictions on women but it's a sad and unpalatable truth that as a woman you just DO NOT put yourself in a vulnerable position because human nature being what it is will always look for an opportunity to strike.
    Rape will never be less than serious but as society is at present education for women is the key.

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  • who's Judy Finnigan?

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  • Judy Finnigan is a journalist and television presenter. Whilst I agree at present it is not safe for women to be in vulnerable situations I would also argue that by focusing on educating women we are missing the issue.
    By ignoring the fact that women cannot behave in the same way as men, we are maintaining an unequal society where subordination and oppression of women is commonplace and accepted.
    There is never an excuse for rape, there is no logical reason why women should be 'vulnerable' just because they are dressed in a way that a man would be 'unable to resist'. Educating women simply removes responsibility from the behaviours of men and accepts it as normal. By standing together against sexual violence, we are rejecting it and only by doing this will we ever see change.

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  • Majority of rapes are by people known to their victims. Would education convey the message all men are potential rapists and women have a responsibility to avoid proving assault?

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  • Pussy

    Agree with all that but at the end of the day a man will and can overpower a woman and suit yourself it's a fact of life!
    Women are not inferior or subordinate and
    we are NOT missing the issue by being educated and taking as much care as possible! sorry but it's how it is.

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  • I think it is an incredibly difficult topic to discuss. It is a sad state of affairs to consider all men as potential rapists but it is also true as anon argues that most women know their rapists. Rape is a much more common crime than is reported and yes I agree educating women so they can recognise rape may be beneficial. However would educating society as a whole not be more beneficial, so men are aware that to have sex with someone too drunk to consent is also rape, that way we are all aware of our behaviour, and understand potential outcomes of that?

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  • An excellent and interesting discussion. Thank you Caroline. The other thing to add is that there are also some vulnerable men out there that have also been raped and find it so difficult to come forward.
    Society does need to change its attitude but with our current politicians photographing body parts for people they have never met, we have a tough job on our hands.
    Messages from the media are key, as is education- a two pronged approach is required.

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  • Is then a woman who has intercourse with a man whilst he is unable to consent either through drink, drugs whatever also gulity of rape??We all need to be very careful as the above comments read like a man-hating diatribe.

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  • The difference between the rape of a man and the rape of a woman is that when a man is raped, no-one blames the victim!

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  • Thank you all for your comments. I do not believe anything I have written can be construed as 'man hating'; if you refer to the article the focus is on women's perceptions of the rape of women. Of course the rape of men is a heineous act and one which requires equal attention and support however this was not the focus here, when discussing Judy Finnigan's points.
    Men, by law, cannot, as far as I believe, be raped by a woman sine the nature of rape involves penile penetration without consent. Sexual assault of a man, by a woman, is also an awful act and one which nobody here has denied.
    Only a small minority of men are rapists, yet a large number of victims are female, equally a large proportion of Nursing Times audience are also female. This was the reason for aiming the article at women. When considering that education should be inclusive rather than exclusive of men, in an area which affects both genders whether directly or indirectly, it has the potential to benefit both men and women. Is it not a way for men to protect themselves as much as women, if they learn the laws regarding sexual violence and rape?
    Ultimately discussion of this delicate topic can only be beneficial in helping victims of rape, both male and female, and defend us all against the perpetrators of sexual violence, by maintaining awareness in and challenging a real crime in society?

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