Saturday, 6 September 2014

Women's rights won't keep us safe

      I had an interesting discussion with my daughter recently about a comment a retiring judge made in the UK. The judge said that she wished women would stop getting so drunk, because that would increase the conviction rate for rape.
She said she was sick of juries being unable to convict rapists simply because the victims were unable to give convicting evidence; instead their testimony was filled with 'I can't remember, I'm not sure' etc, because they were too inebriated to give an accurate account of the events.
Miss 17 felt this was a terrible case of victim-shaming. Women should be able to go out and get plastered and be safe from assault, sexual or otherwise. This is true. 
We should also all be able to leave our homes, safe in the knowledge that all of our belongings will be there waiting for us when we get back. If we are burgled and have left all of the doors and windows open, we are blamed for the theft, because we took no precautions to safeguard our property.
How is not taking safeguards to protect our own bodies any different?
As women, we have a right to wear whatever we want, to walk the streets alone at night and to get as drunk as we like and make sex videos.
Unfortunately, those things being our right, doesn't make them without risk and doesn't protect us from people who feel it is their right to rape, rob and share nude images of us. So we can either sit back, feeling outraged when our rights are violated, or we can take responsibility for ourselves and do things to keep ourselves safe.
The comments regarding the nude picture hacking are in a similar vein. 
Yes, everyone should be able to indulge in nude picture taking; at the same time, people also need to be aware that there is a possibility those pictures will be shared without their permission. It's basic cyber safety and something we need to be teaching our kids. 
All of the hand-wringing about the violation of the young women celebrities who have just had their pictures hacked dilutes this message. Be smart on-line, watch out for predators, keep yourself safe.
In the cult of celebrity, the fame brings income and much privilege but also a resulting lack of privacy. 
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If you are a celebrity, chances are more people are going to be interested in nude pictures of you, than they are of my middle-aged, unfamous body. As a celebrity, the cyber safety measures need to be more stringent, just as the physical safety ones are, with many celebrities employing security staff to keep them safe.
It is verging on victimhood to say, I should be able to act as I want, without consequence - even when the potential consequences are very clear.
As women, we need to be smart about the choices we make, all the while teaching our daughters how to keep themselves safe and our sons to respect women.
Just saying it's our right is not a magic bullet to keep us safe while we exercise that right.  


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