Category Archives: rape

An open letter to Rape Crisis South London from a devastated survivor

Content note: This post discusses rape and transmisogyny

Dear Rape Crisis South London,

I’m at work today. I’m supposed to be working, but I can’t. My hands are shaking, and a knot in my guts twists about itself as I veer on the edge of vomiting. My head is full of thoughts of things my rapist said and thought, things I’d worked hard to believe aren’t true about me, things that aren’t true about anyone–or at least shouldn’t be.

Some years ago, you helped me get on top of the violent chattering in my mind and the sickness pervading my body. You were there for me, and you helped it stop hitting me like this.

So it’s horrifically ironic that it’s you, Rape Crisis South London, who are responsible for throwing me right back into this state.

You hit me with a blindside–it feels like it was hours ago, days ago, weeks ago, like I’ve always been like this–a mere half hour ago:

RapeCrisis SthLondon on Twitter   @stavvers Hi Zoe. Have you considered choosing to apologise for this  You can hold yr point   rage   also respect for survivors speaking out

It was in response to a string of tweets of mine from a few days ago. A deeply transmisogynistic article had come out, and I’d spoken out against it as a survivor. I said:

Storify link

After demanding an apology from me, Rape Crisis South London, you decided to pretend like both sides were in the wrong.

RapeCrisis SthLondon on Twitter   @stavvers Hold onto your rage and your point Zoe. Both are important. But all survivors deserve respect. You   Rachel. You have a choice.

Yet I don’t see you going after Rachel Hewitt. I don’t see you demanding an apology from someone who thinks in the same way as my rapist. I only see you going after me, the Bad Survivor.

You’ve made it clear, Rape Crisis South London, who you prioritise in your help, and it’s not women like me. Women like me can be thrown to the wolves to protect the hurt feelings of bigots and transmisogynists. You don’t mind rage of survivors, as long as it’s rage directed at vulnerable women, rather than rage directed at those who exhibit exactly the same pattern of logic as rapists.

I feel myself growing stronger as I write this, because a lot of survivors, trans women and trans women who are survivors (which is a fucking big overlap, if you’ve done your research) have got in touch with me, and they feel the same as me. And the way I deal is I take their pain with mine and I scream and shout about the lies you’re supporting in demanding an apology for me.

Rape is not something that springs into being due to the presence of a penis. It’s a choice a rapist makes. In supporting the transmisogyistic line that a penis is some sort of magically-guided rape missile, you’re letting rapists get away with it. My rapist claimed he couldn’t help it, and you taught me that yes, yes he could. It’s devastating to see you taking a U-turn on this.

Genitals don’t matter, it’s obsessing over others’ genitals that’s creepy. My rapist viewed me as a walking pussy. A lot of other survivors I’ve spoken to have had the same experience. So I find it really disturbing that you are implicitly supporting the transmisogynistic line that genitals should dictate who should and shouldn’t be allowed in women’s space. I don’t want to be around people who are thinking about what’s in my pants. I find it terrifying that you would prioritise having creeps who do in survivors’ spaces over women who are more likely to experience rape and sexual assault.

Our trans sisters need our help. Let’s fucking give it to them if we’re serious about tackling male violence.

Survivors shouldn’t have to apologise for anything. Once again, you taught me this, when I felt bad about feeling angry and upset at seeing my rapist’s reasoning everywhere and reacting to it. Pretending a valid emotional reaction to someone reducing you down to your genitals is something to apologise for is…yep, you’ve guessed it, something my rapist did. So yes, it fucking hurts like fuck to see you turning around on this.

I say these things so they will sink in to me and I can believe them too, after the huge setback you provoked this morning. I know them to be true, and I know they will break through and become truths to me once again as this triggered feeling passes.

Meanwhile, I want something positive to come from this destruction of me this morning. I offer my hand, sincerely, in helping you to avoid hurting survivors in this way again, because it’s not just me who feels this way. I will come in and talk to you, I will work with you on these topics. I offer my hand in friendship, because I feel like you were integral to helping me recover, and I don’t want to see you slip under and become an organisation that does more harm than good.

Before that can happen, I need to know that you’ve read this and understood it. I need to know that you’ve realised you’ve fucked up quite seriously. From there, perhaps we can heal. I’d like for that to happen, because it would help me heal, too.

Update 11.13am 2/3/15: RASASC_London have offered to engage by telephone. I’ve replied that this isn’t possible for me, and asked them to send me an email. I await their response.

13.30 2/3/15: RASASC and I have arranged to discuss this issue this evening by email. I will keep you abreast as to how it goes.

18.30 2/3/15: I was emailed by the tweeter from RASASC opening the lines of communication. She offered a heartfelt apology which I accept. Right now, I’m holding off replying fully because I want my thinking to be clear. I’m also aware I have decentred the issue of transmisogyny in support provision onto myself, and I want to talk to trans women about the problem and what you want to happen. If you’re a trans woman survivor, please email me with your thoughts. Thank you, everyone.

3/3/15, 10.30: I received another email from RASASC which makes me less optimistic, reiterating their demand that I apologise. RASASC also tweeted the text of yesterday’s email, again publicly demanding that I apologise. I have storified my response in tweets to this. I am very disappointed that this has happened, especially given how positive I felt yesterday. I am still clinging on to hope that this can be resolved, and that resolution must include justice for trans women survivors.


Let’s talk about how the front page of The Sun is fucking terrible

Content note: this post discusses sexual violence

Rumours of Page 3’s demise have been premature. This is very good news for The Sun, because it means that everyone is furious about a photo of boobs on the third page, rather than what’s on the front cover. Indeed, most of the outrage over the front cover seems to be about poorly-constructed breast pun rather than the truly terrible thing. Allow me to draw your attention to the headline story–that’s the bit underneath the boob pun and to the right of the other boob pun.

B76LDhBIUAE2Mq5

It might not look it, but that is a report about a woman who was kept as a slave and trafficked to rich and famous friends of her abuser between the ages of 15 and 18. New legal documents have been filed, with more detail, and this is how The Sun have chosen to report it: as a fun little royal romp.

What does this front page teach those who will see it about sexual violence, about abuse, about women? First and foremost, that it’s cheeky and fun. The way it’s presented, it seems as though these traumatic events occurred with a Benny Hill sax parping away merrily in the background. It seems almost glamorous, as well as sexy: orgies and a real live prince!

The word “rape” is unsurprisingly absence from what happened here, as is “coercion” or “trafficking”. A survivor’s search for justice has been turned into lurid, titillating revelations, and given exactly the same editorial treatment as the testimonials of the “kiss and tell girls”. It is calculated to arouse rather than to anger, to excite rather than outrage.

Alongside the frankly horrible article is a picture of the survivor. It’s hardly just The Sun that have violated her privacy, indeed, I commend them ever so slightly for not using her name right there on the front page like many of the headlines about this story have. Nonetheless, each instance that this happens contributes further to a culture wherein we are perfectly happy to parade women who speak out about sexual violence around, to suck away their anonymity.

I’ve spent more time than I ever cared to receiving vile tweets from fans of rapist footballer Ched Evans. They believe it’s perfectly fine to provide private details of rape survivors. They all, also, seem to be labouring under the false impression that sexual violence is sexy and glamorous. With the front page of a national newspaper sending out messages like this, of course they believe these things. It’s all part of the background radiation of rape culture. Headlines like this are not a meaningless bit of fun, they’re teaching people that rape isn’t so bad, and they’re showing the world how survivors should be treated.

It is not enough to remove nipples from the tabloids. The misogyny problem, the rot, goes far beyond that, to far worse places. Over the last week, The Sun has shown clearly its attitude towards consent, and it’s an attitude which matches the logic of many rapists. Sadly, I think they know they can get away with this, that Page 3 will draw the fire of the people who should really be destroying them for a front page like this.

Every single page of The Sun is nasty. The pitiful excuse for a newspaper reflects and magnifies every ugly bigoted thought. The whole rag needs to die; it becomes clear again and again that this is the only solution. Dismantling that foul rag piece by piece would be but a start, but a tiny step along the way, because all news sources contribute to the problem in the same way. So let us see The Sun in flames, and as we dance upon the ashes, let us turn to the other hacks and let it be clear to them that they’re next.


A guide for men who want to avoid getting their lives ruined

Content note: This post discusses rape

At the time of writing, we see another MP add his voice to Nigel “drunken overfamiliarity” Evans (whose own defence argued he was “just” a creep who preyed on much younger men) in making life easier for rapists. Mark Pritchard, who was accused of rape and predictably cleared by policemen, suggests a “review” of anonymity, not making it clear whether he wants anonymity for defendants (stops victims coming forward in cases of repeat offenders) or to end anonymity for victims (I don’t think I need to explain to you how awful an idea this is). The rationale for this defence of rapists? Poor little diddums feels like his life has been ruined. Meanwhile, a chorus of men are continuing to bleat that unless Ched Evans gets to continue an illustrious football career his poor darling life has been ruined forever.

Apparently, being accused of rape ruins men’s lives. So, I present to men a two-word guide in how not to rape.

Don’t rape.

It’s really, really simple. If you don’t want to be accused of rape, don’t rape people.

Unfortunately, even this advice seems too complex for men, whose precious little manbrains cannot seem to comprehend this very basic advice, so allow me to break it down for you.

1. If she’s drunk, don’t have sex with her. Alcohol affects consent. If she’s been drinking a lot, she won’t be able to consent, so having sex with her is rape. Even if she seems like she wants to, hold off. If she’s really into you, she’ll still want to have sex with you when she’s sober. If you don’t think you can get laid unless she’s drunk, the problem lies squarely with you. Yes, you. Sort out your fucking self-esteem and only have sex with sober women.

2. Accept she can change her mind. Sometimes you might have got down to it and you’re really horny and then she changes her mind. Stop. She doesn’t consent to anything else happening. If you continue, that’s rape. And if you can’t control yourself once you’ve got a boner, at best you’re a pretty terrible shag. At worst, you’re a rapist.

3. Consent to one thing isn’t consent to others. So, you’re doing some fun sex things and you’re both enjoying yourselves. That’s great. But wait! You want to do something else, but she isn’t all that keen. Don’t do it, then. If you do, that could be rape. She’s consented to something, but not this other thing. Respect that. Go back to doing the mutually fun sex things.

4. Talking makes you a better lover. “What would you like to do?” is a hot question. It’s also a fucking mandatory question. Ask and listen, lots. This will make you a better lay, and also stop you from raping someone.

5. If in doubt, don’t. If you have the slightest doubt in your mind that she is consenting willingly and completely, don’t have sex. Sex is not a basic human right, not an entitlement. You can do without it. Fucking do without it. The consequences of not doing are far smaller than the consequences of going ahead. I hear it could ruin a man’s life…


2014 in review

Content note: this post discusses sexual violence and police violence

And so we reach the end of the year, and despite promising myself I wouldn’t do this, I am doing one of those icky “look back over the past year” kind of things, I’m doing it anyway (I was also meant to stop smoking this year, and I didn’t).

In truth, it’s been a little difficult to write this because there’s been a huge split between the personal and the political for me in 2014. In my personal life, 2014 has been brilliant. I love, and am loved. I have some financial security for the first time in my life. I managed to get quite a lot of my novel written. Everything’s coming up stavvers. It wasn’t all brilliant, of course. I wounded my fanny and got stalked by trolls.

However, 2014 has been pretty uniformly dire outside of my own personal little bubble, and I’ve had a lot to be pissed off about. Each week since the killing of Michael Brown, US cops have taken another Black life. The situation is also bad in the UK: the same pattern of killing and then lying keeps on and our pigs find ways of murdering without even having to carry guns. I haven’t commented on this much, because it’s not my place as a white woman, but I’ve almost weekly shared some content in my post round-ups which I thoroughly recommend you read. All of it. Take an afternoon.

In the UK, our political situation is looking pretty terrible, and it’s unlikely to change in the near future. With a general election looming in 2015, things are going to become completely insufferable. It’s the media’s fault, of course. The media has a fascination with leaders and white men, so we’ve been presented with two ghastly choices: do want Nigel Farage and fascism, or Russell Brand and the curse of left misogyny, God and some really badly-developed thought? One cannot move without tripping over either of these clowns. Of course, this is a false dichotomy: there’s heaps of possibilities, but a media owned by white men cannot conceptualise something which doesn’t involve dreadful white men flapping their awful mouths off.

The awful people who are already in government are making a right fucking hash of things too. We have Theresa May, determined to murder every single migrant, starting with the most vulnerable, like LGBT women. We have Iain Duncan Smith, who is trying to murder the poor through violently stopping their means of subsistence. They’ve been as nasty as ever this year, but come 2015 we’re unlikely to see any improvement even if the red party get elected.

Meanwhile, men who have been in government are emerging as paedophiles and rapists. A constantly-stalling investigation is ongoing into the child abuse rings at Westminster. Unfortunately, because cops and politicians are in each other’s pockets, corruption keeps cropping up and things grind to a halt again as yet more coverups come to light. I’m also a little concerned about the men who are still in Westminster. Nigel Evans, although cleared, was ruled even by the judge to be a complete fucking creep and were it not for his status, I suspect they may have thrown the book at him.

This has been, overall, a pretty good year for violent misogynists. Rapist Ched Evans waltzed out of prison, and, while Sheffield United chose to do the right thing (eventually) and drop him like the turd he is, it’s still entirely possible he may get to continue his illustrious career at another club, all the while continually proving he has learned nothing about consent. Shia LaBeouf spoke out about his experience of rape… to a near-universal chorus of disbelief from men. These were the sort of men who love to bring up “but men get raped too” when women talk about rape, but nonetheless failed to show any support to a male survivor. We also saw misogynist Elliot Rodger go on a killing spree while men tried to downplay the fact this was directly motivated by misogyny. Meanwhile popular left rag The Morning Star spike an article about violent misogynist Steve Hedley, because the left still hasn’t got its affairs in order there.

2014 has been very bad indeed for those of us with uteruses. In Ireland, many of us heard with horror the story of a dead woman whose body was kept on life support while her family were forced to watch her decompose because she had had the misfortune of dying while pregnant. This ghoulish act of violence was a direct result of Ireland’s absurdly restrictive abortion rights, and the judge only ruled that life support could be turned off because the foetus had no chance of surviving. Meanwhile in the UK, the situation is better, but last month our abortion rights were restricted further as sex-selective abortions were banned.

It was also a pretty bad year for sex workers, with momentum growing for the “Swedish model” which does not do anything to make the lives of sex workers safer, and many sex workers say will make things worse. Transmisogyny, too, continues to run rife, with transmisogynists turning up to picket lesbian pride parades and disrupt feminist conferences.

Alas, feminist movement and resistance is spotty at best. I am hoping, perhaps, that we can get our affairs in order in 2015, because we’re going to need to fight all the harder. For this to happen, we need to drop a lot of the crap we’ve been pulling. We need to inventory ourselves, honestly assessing what we may be doing wrong and where we are complicit in kyriarchical violence. We need to challenge violent thought where we see it, so that we may stand shoulder to shoulder with sisters of all colours, all genders, with our disabled sisters and our queer sisters and our trans sisters. Together, we are many, and we must overcome these divisions in 2015 if we are to stand a chance of winning.


I believe Shia LaBeouf (and Piers Morgan is a rape apologist rat turd)

Content note: This post discusses rape and rape apologism, as well as mental health stigma

Actor Shia LaBeouf said in an interview recently that during a piece of performance art, he had been raped by a woman. I believe him. I believe when people say they have been raped, that they have been raped. I believe survivors.

To tackle rape culture, this is a position from which we must all start. Unfortunately, there are too many with a vested interest in keeping rape culture alive to see an outpouring of support for Shia LaBeouf. Instead, what we see is a gleeful rush of dismissal and disbelief, focusing on how LaBeouf wasn’t acting as they thought a survivor should, that he must be making it up for attention, that je seems kind of crazy, that it’s impossible for a woman to rape a man. Tired old tropes, the lot of them.

What is particularly sickening is the glee with which Shia LaBeouf’s story is dismissed. It’s like rape apologists have finally been presented with a target for the vile thoughts bubbling up within them, knowing that they’re no longer “allowed” to say these things about women because of the evil SJW conspiracy, but not realising that what they believe is truly repulsive, regardless of the gender of its target.

Last night, the rape apologist agenda was given validation in the form of a high-profile backer, as Piers Morgan told his millions of followers not to believe LaBeouf:

Piers Morgan  @piersmorgan    Twitter

You’ll see here that leaking shitcanoe Morgan is focusing on some tiresome and long-discredited tropes: that LaBeouf didn’t report to the police and that he didn’t follow the Good Survivor™ script that we must all follow in order to be believed. While a gratifyingly large number of decent people called him out, there was a worrisomely large proportion of men cheering him on.

It’s absolutely abominable that somebody can dictate to millions the reasons not to believe a survivor. I had thought Piers Morgan to be an unwanted fart in a small room before, but now I see that he is something far more dangerous: he is a man who wants rapists to be able to continue raping.

The whole response to LaBeouf has laid bare the faces of rape culture. Each undue focus on how LaBeouf acts weird and crazy so shouldn’t be believed makes life easier for rapists: people with mental health problems are more likely to be raped precisely because they are less likely to be believed. Each repetition of the myth that someone with a vagina cannot rape someone with a penis is a complete nonsense, and makes it easier for rapists to thrive. Each cry that LaBeouf did not report to the police is a slap in the face of the vast majority of survivors who also did not report.

I’m surprised–and disappointed–that there aren’t more people outraged about all of this. It seems, once again, that it’s only feminists talking about it. Is it really true that we are the only ones who care about dismantling rape culture? I hope not, with all of my heart, but I fear that this may be the case.


On Ched Evans, rehabilitation and my total lack of pity

Content warning: this post discusses rape

Ched Evans has finally been dropped from training with Sheffield United, about a month too late. Current scientific instruments cannot measure my pity for him, but it is estimated that I do not give a single solitary femtofuck about his career prospects.

Defenders of the rapist found themselves turning into bleeding-heart liberals, suddenly caring about the rehabilitation of Ched Evans, a strange sight from some of the most deeply conservative shitbags I have ever had the misfortune of seeing. However, it is obvious that these statements were made in bad faith: all these squawking rape-fans want is for Evans to slip back into his high-profile career unscathed. Rehabilitation–actual rehabilitation–does not even feature on their agendas.

What does rehabilitation look like, then? First things first, let us note that our justice system is not exactly set up for a justice surrounding rehabilitation, it operates at mostly a retributive level. We brand prisons as a place for rehabilitation, but that is merely PR, and any rehabilitation that happens within their walls is purely an accident. Rehabilitation itself begins with something very important: the acceptance that you did something wrong.

The rapist Ched Evans has not done this. He continues to insist that he has done nothing wrong. He continues to throw money at futile appeals while his lawyers laugh all the way to the bank. He leads an army of rape apologist trolls, and remains tight-lipped in challenging them on their harassment of women, and the rape threats they make. Ched Evans hasn’t changed a bit. He’d probably do it again if he had the chance. He has learned precisely nothing.

Because of this, he simply cannot be held up as a role model. Sheffield United made the right decision in dropping him (eventually). I do not pity this rapist for losing a prestigious job; it’s what’s best for the community at large. It shows that unrepentant rapists are unacceptable. We’d probably be having a radically different conversation had Evans just owned what he did, speak out about how disgusting raping women who are too drunk to consent is, apologised and showed some change. Evidence of rehabilitation might, perhaps, mean it could be appropriate for him to continue in a high-profile career.

I don’t pity Ched Evans at all for losing this opportunity. His downfall was entirely of his own making. He chose to shut down and tell a generation of young men that he doesn’t think raping a woman who is too drunk to consent is really rape. He chose to protest his innocence when he is patently guilty as sin. And, most importantly, he made a choice to rape. 

So I wish Ched Evans a lifetime of mediocrity, a footnote whose name is inherently associated with being a rapist. I wish him nothing, humdrum tedium as the world forgets him. I wish him luck at kickabouts in the park with middle-aged dads. I wish him a dull but regular job. I wish him complete unremarkability, with no influence on anyone.

Ched Evans deserves no pity. He was never hard-done-by: if anything, he had it all too easy.


Sheffield United need to listen up: rape is not acceptable

Content note: this post discusses rape and rape apologism

At the time of writing, Sheffield United are still refusing to make a definitive statement on whether they will re-sign the rapist Ched Evans to the club. This decision is looking more bizarre by the day, as a scramble to disassociate from the enterprise begins. It started with patron Charlie Webster, and then two others followed. Shirt sponsors soon joined, and now Jessica Ennis-Hill, who has a stand named after her at Bramall Lane, wants her name removed if the rapist is re-signed. It seems bizarre, therefore, that United haven’t come out and distanced themselves to a different country than Evans.

There is likely a certain level of cynicism, at least among some of those pulling away from Sheffield United: a fear of negative publicity for their brand rather than a genuine commitment to ending rape culture. No business wants to be known as “that rape company” upon their logo being proudly displayed on the shirt of a convicted rapist. However, some seem to be putting across good messages, like Charlie Webster, who explained:

There can be no doubt that Evans is influencing a young generation of men who are still developing their opinions on how to treat women. They develop these opinions and morals based on the role models they see around them, the role models that we give them. I cannot publicly support a club that presents a convicted rapist as a role model.

These young men are standing by their hero, showing him unwavering solidarity and support, without actually understanding or really thinking about what Evans has done. But we are the ones who set Evans up an influencer. We are the ones presenting a convicted rapist a role model to our young people. Is that ok?

This is the crux of the matter. Every second United delay sending a clear message that they have no intention of re-signing Evans allows yet more young men think that they can rape someone, and, on the very unlikely chance they get caught, it will present little more than a small blip in an otherwise glamorous career.

Given that on the current landscape, signing a convicted rapist makes terrible business sense, one can only assume that this is exactly the game Sheffield United are playing. It’s becoming abundantly clear that this is what they want, to nurture the next generation of young rapists into comfortable , well-paid lives.

A common myth among rape apologists is that an accusation of rape can ruin a man’s life. Nowhere is this shown more obviously to be false than when we look to Ched Evans. This man is a convicted rapist, and his club have bent over backwards to accommodate him, against the forces of general business acumen. Evans still enjoys an army of loyal defenders of rape, willing to trumpet that even though he was convicted of rape it wasn’t really rape. I do not think this whole affair has taught Ched Evans nothing. It’s taught him and the men that he influences that yes, you really can get away with it.

Fortunately, there are enough people out there who don’t want this to happen, and can see these ramifications as clear as day. Our voices are growing louder, and it looks as though this time, it might just be winnable. Surely Sheffield United must know by now that if they don’t kick that convicted rapist soon, they’ll go down with him?

If they haven’t realised it by now, I’ll gladly watch them burn.


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