What’s so sexist about the Indy’s new big report?

The Independent have published a big new special report today, and are slice-and-dicing it across the week. It’s about how more women are going to prison and how terrible that is. Today’s piece is about women in mother-and-baby units in prisons. It’s also expanded on in an opinion piece, which spells out what we’ll be seeing in the Indy over the next week.

The focus of the investigation is mothers going to prison, and being separated from their children. This is a Very Bad Thing, apparently: according to a vaguely-written headline, either the women or their children are the “hidden victims” this system. All three of the pieces linked smack of benevolent sexism, the societal reverence for this special female magic which in fact doesn’t exist and is massively sexist. Benevolent sexism basically needs to die in a suicide pact with its brother, hostile sexism (for a full overview of benevolent and hostile sexism, read this).

The benevolent sexism in their line of agrument is exemplified in the introductory article:

Britain has the highest rate of female imprisonment in the European Union, with 10,181 women put behind bars last year alone. That statistic has raised fears that the criminal justice system is creating a lost generation of children raised without mothers.

Children need mothers. Mother knows best. MOTHER MOTHER MOTHER. It’s like the article was co-written by Freud and Stephen Moffat. Women have special mum-magic, and the consequences will be Very Bad otherwise.

So what does this mum-magic prevent?

Nearly two-thirds of boys with a parent in jail will go on to commit some kind of crime themselves, research shows, and children with a parent behind bars are three times more likely than their peers to engage in anti-social behaviour. Their chances of suffering mental health problems also increase threefold.

Now, look very carefully at the first sentence there. Notice it says “parent” not “mother”. That’s because it’s referring to parents, not mothers. And that’s because it’s closeness to parents, not mothers, that’s important. Not that this deters the nameless author of the opinion piece, who gives us a sneak preview of the latter instalments of the report with this gem:

Over the coming week, we will lay bare the shocking truth about what happens in the majority of cases where mothers and their children are separated. We will consider the impact on the women themselves, both in and out of custody. We will look at the lives of those who are left holding prisoners’ babies, or bringing up their distressed children and disturbed teenagers – a burden which mainly falls on grandmothers and other female relatives. Indeed, it is a staggering indictment of modern fatherhood that only 9 per cent of such children are looked after by their fathers.

Replace “modern fatherhood” with “patriarchy”, and the author has a point. Otherwise, it’s just yet more benevolent sexism. Women are caring, and waft around farting rainbows.

I can see the future articles laid out before me. It will be a return to the earliest incarnations of the work of John Bowlby, who authored a monograph on “maternal deprivation” and how it led to delinquency, decreased intelligence, aggression and affectionless psychopathy in children. However, later Bowlby clarified his work pertained to general upheaval of a close parental attachment and wasn’t specific to mothers. The Indy don’t seem to have read this bit.

What amplifies the benevolent sexism of the Indy’s new report is what isn’t mentioned at all: that the vast majority of people in prison are men. And that the vast majority of people in prison are men precisely because of the underlying set of attitudes driving the Indy’s report: women are too nice and good to commit crimes, and if they’ve reproduced they’re probably fucking saints. It’s dated, and it’s sexist as hell.

I can think of ulterior motives for publishing this piece. The first is a desire for a return to “traditional family values”, an idea which basically needs to fuck off as it places the mother as caregiver, the father as breadwinner, and keeps everyone neatly in their patriarchal places. The second is to attempt a broader critique of how more people are going to prison. Now, this is a very important point indeed. As an anarchist, you might have guessed I’d not be so keen on the concept of prison, and, indeed, I find the whole notion of retributive justice grotesque and the concept of the state locking people up fairly abhorrent (in fact, the concept of crime is somewhat baffling to me). For those of a more liberal persuasion, you can argue against prison on the grounds of how expensive prison is compared to rehabilitation. Prison’s basically bad. If the Indy are trying to push this line, they’re going entirely the wrong way about it, given they just focus on one very small group of prisoners and drag in a lot of sexism.

Ultimately, what we need is two things: a radical rethink of our justice system with a move to not putting people in prison, and a radical rethink of how families are constructed and how we view women in general. That will be the thing that stops fucking up future generations, and demand nothing less.

 

 

The anchor effect: how to drag a debate your way (also, I hate Liam Fox)

Liam Fox, the worse of the two Dr Foxes, has said something so horrifyingly, cartoonishly evil that it’s hard to know where to start. He thinks the economy should be shocked back to life by doing away with capital gains tax–something that makes the very rich all cross–and make up for the shortfall by slashing benefits–those things that help poor people not die.

The brazen, naked announcement of where his priorities lie–firmly on the side of the most repulsive form of capitalism–is disgusting. It’s flabbergasting that someone can think this way, and feels that it’s appropriate to say something that amounts to “fuck you, ordinary people, we only care about money”.

The thing is, it’s actually a fairly smart thing to say. It’s disgusting, but it’s pretty clever in achieving the things that scum like Fox want.

This is due to a psychological effect called anchoring. A good way of explaining how anchoring works is to look at sales. Now, it’s become a running joke that sofa-floggers DFS have a sale which will last until the heat death of the universe, but what they’re doing is actually some pretty clever marketing using anchoring. The “WAS” price they provide sticks in your head. A smaller price therefore becomes more reasonable, even though that sofa was probably never worth £599 and you’re almost certainly still being ripped off when you pay £399 for it.

In short, you’ll fixate on the first thing you’re told. Your brain will stick to that number even when thinking of another number. It will be “anchored” to it.

Even though Fox probably fervently believes what he is saying about capital gains and slashing benefits, he’ll know that this is a particularly nasty pipe dream. The thing is, he’s thrown down his anchor, and dragged discourse in his direction. Suddenly, smaller benefit cuts and a smaller cut to capital gains tax seems far more reasonable, because we’re fixated on the BIG AWFUL HORRID THING he just proposed.

Anchoring is a powerful tool, and it’s used well by a lot of terrible specimens. Take, for example, the fact it’s now practically impossible to talk about fascists like the EDL without going “well, there are concerns about immigration”. The fascists have successfully dragged people a bit further right. Likewise, look at the state of the Labour Party, who are about as left-wing as a row of jars of bankers’ farts filling a recently-closed library. At least in part, they’ve been dragged right by the dominant right-wing discourse that they’re anchored to.

Generally speaking, while the radicals on the side I’ll broadly call “not evil” are pretty good at not falling victim to the anchors of the right, the liberals are very bad at this. This is why the TUC are marching not for anything interesting, but for more jobs and other such waffle. This is why there’s such a rush to condemn any form of property damage. This is why there’s no imagination any more.

And this is why there’s very little positive change and we’re all drowning in a mountain of neoliberal turds.

We need to use the anchor effect to our advantage, and drag everything back our way. When pleas for “unity” come from the liberals, what they need to do is back the radicals rather than the other way round. Demand FULL COMMUNISM, and maybe then it’ll sound more reasonable to revive the welfare state. Demand KILL ALL MEN, and maybe then it’ll sound more reasonable to give women equal representation in politics.

The anchor effect is a powerful tool. It’s time we used it as well as the bastards of the world do.

ACAB forever: how the police cover up to make us forget

Two stories of police bastardry have come to light in the last few days. First, a police officer who wilfully failed to investigate rape cases properly (who I previously wrote about here) is in court for misconduct for this behaviour. His behaviour went on for three years, and only came to light long after the fact. Secondly–and this is a huge one–the Hillsborough report has revealed the true extent of how badly the police fucked up.

41 of the 96 people who died in the disaster could have lived were it not for the behaviour of the police and emergency services. The police then went on to cover this up, defaming the dead and smearing Liverpool fans as violent drunks who were to blame for the tragedy. It wasn’t true. It was never true, but the police colluded with the media and the coroner and the original inquest to make a concerted effort for people to believe it. It took 23 years for the truth to finally come out.

This pattern–the act, the cover-up, the truth only emerging long after the damage has been done–is seen repeatedly in police behaviour. Jean Charles de Menezes. Ian Tomlinson. Stephen Lawrence. They fuck up. Sometimes they kill. Sometimes they are negligent. Either way, they work as hard as possible to ensure that the truth never sees the light of day. Sometimes it can take decades to find out what really happened.

In a lot of cases, we’ll probably never know. These are the collusions and cover-ups we know about.

It serves a powerful function. It stops us from seeing the true, vicious face of the police, makes us forget that we cannot trust them. Even if the truth eventually emerges, it is long after the fact, and many handwave this away by saying “they’re not like that any more”.

They are still like that, but it will take years to see this, and then people will assume that surely, by now, they must have moved on. But they probably will not. There is too much trust in the police, which is repeatedly betrayed then hidden by spin and lies.

Don’t trust the police. While some of them may be decent human beings, many are not. And even the good ones are complicit in this culture of secrecy.

Google’s ban on bisexuals: What, The and Fuck.

Great news for bisexual people: Google has finally unblocked us from its search algorithm, meaning it will now automatically suggest searches when users are googling terms relating to bisexuality.

Oh wait, not quite. This change only applies in the US, so if you’re using the UK site, it still won’t bother autocompleting these searches.

None of this makes any fucking sense whatsoever. Why was the term “bisexual” ever excluded in the first place? Why has it only been approved in the USA?

I can only speculate that Google’s blocking is down to some sort of bullshit about blocking obscene content, because apparently bisexuality is all about sex and maybe it’s porn and something something OH GOD THINK OF THE CHILDREN (and perhaps non-USian children are more prone to being corrupted by knowing that some people fancy men and women).

It ties in with the larger cultural invisibility of bisexuals: the gay rights movement has successfully raised awareness of some types of same-sex relationship, but bisexuals tend to get left out in the cold. Perhaps it’s partially because when a bi person is in a monogamous relationship, it will be classified as “straight” or “gay”, which, obviously, elides all the polyamorous people, too.

Whatever the reasoning, biphobia is not on. Also, fuck Google.

The legal system and cultural problems: why street harassment won’t be criminalised, and shouldn’t be.

The Guardian rather melodramatically reports “Sexist remarks and wolf whistles could become criminal offences“. From that headline, you might be forgiven for thinking that street harassment could become a crime in the near future. Actually, that isn’t the case, as is outlined in paragraph 8, where a government spokesperson specifically says that wolf-whistling and the kind of unpleasant bog-standard street harassment comments won’t be criminalised. So, let’s pause to give the Guardian some golf-claps for some woefully misleading reporting, then let’s batten down the hatches and wait for the men’s rights types who would never read all the way down to the eighth paragraph of a news story to find out what’s going on to kick up a fuss.

Now, it’s easy to see why the Guardian might have got the wrong end of the stick on how it would be possible to criminalise street harassment. David Cameron will be signing the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women. At the time of writing, actually finding the full text of the Convention led to a jolly bilingual 404, but the pertinent bit as quoted in the Guardian is this:

Among the pledges in the convention… is one to pass legislation or other measures to criminalise or impose other sanctions for “unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”.

This is certainly pertinent to street harassment, which creates an environment which is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive, and props to the Guardian for recognising this. However, criminalising street harassment would change absolutely nothing whatsoever, and possibly make things worse.

The thing is, street harassment is a symptom of a culture wherein women are viewed as somehow less than people, less than human. Women are viewed as objects, and therefore don’t get the basic level of respect that allows us to walk down the street without a creepy “HEEEEY LADY”. In fact, we’re expected to appreciate this, because apparently we exist entirely for men to look at and stamp us with their manly seal of manly approval. There’s a whole set of underlying attitudes that need unlearning at a societal level, and criminalising a behaviour from individuals cannot do this.

Let’s talk about efficacy first. The Guardian article came out more than six months ago (yet is inexplicably trending today), long after David Cameron has signed this pledge. He hasn’t stopped doing things that create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment for women himself. If the legal system were to genuinely sanction people for their role in this culture, Cameron would be a convicted criminal. Admittedly, all he’s done is sign the pledge and hasn’t actually bothered bringing in any changes to the law, which is–and I hate to say this–probably a good thing.

Let us imagine a world in which street harassment is a criminal act, for which the penalty is a fine. I’m basing my assumptions on it being similar to Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which refers to behaviour causing harassment, alarm and distress (which actually covers the worst of street harassment anyway, so there wouldn’t really need to be a new law).

The most famous recent Section 5 case was that of John Terry, who racially abused a fellow footballer on the pitch. Despite the fact he was shown using racist language targeted at this person, John Terry was acquitted. There’s now a frightening number of people who think that it’s unfair to call John Terry a racist because he was never convicted in a court of law, despite the fact that in this incident, he was blatantly racist. The criminal proceedings actually made it harder to point out this ingrained and unacceptable racism, because suddenly apologists can cling desperately on to an inadequate legal system. John Terry got off. That doesn’t make his actions okay in the slightest.

What criminalising actions does is shift the blame on to individuals, ignoring the system which allows this to happen. These individuals are either innocent or guilty, and discussion of the cultural backdrop and whether such actions are acceptable can be effectively shut down with reference to woefully narrow legal definitions and cases.

A further unpleasant effect to criminalising street harassment would be the policing of this law. If the cops bothered enforcing it, they probably wouldn’t do a very good job of it. They kind of suck at policing violence against women anyway. At best, they’d be completely negligent. At worst, they’d use it as an additional stick to harass the groups they tend to harass: young men, black men, poor men.

There is no way that the individual responsibility enshrined in the legal system could possibly lead to the cultural shift that would end the day-to-day harassment that women face. It needs work on a societal level, a full transformation. We all need to work towards building a society wherein oppression is unacceptable, we all need to learn and to unlearn. It’s a Herculean task, and it feels so much easier to ask the legal system to stick a plaster over the gaping wounds. But this is not the way to achieve change.

 

CoupleDumb: dumb advice for couples

Let me introduce you to a website called CoupleDumb. They claim to offer expert relationship advice, with therapeutic credentials and stuff. The credentials probably exist, but, having seen the advice they are providing and the way they provide it, I seriously doubt it’s in the field of relationship advice.

I was introduced to them thanks to @fearlessknits, who sometimes feeds me fury-fodder. CoupleDumb have written something remarkably stupid about polyamory, entitled “Polyamory- too much love?

Amanda Jones has written an amazing line-by-line deconstruction of the article, starting with the title alone:

As you can see, the piece begins with a clear statement of prejudice. The first two words are “Too much”. Tecnically we call this begging the question. Two words in and you’ve already decided polyamory isn’t valid. You’ll now go on to use your premise to support itself. In other words – express a prejudice. As I said onTwitter, ‘opinions without data are prejudices’.

I’d strongly recommend reading both CoupleDumb’s piece and Amanda’s amazing riposte. Ultimately, CoupleDumb argue that poly is “trendy”, poly people can’t possibly “give” enough to our partners, that long-distance relationships can’t work for those same reasons, polyamory is immature, that possessiveness is a healthy part of a relationship and poly folk are too quick to reject it and finally that hierarchies always emerge in poly relationships.

Those familiar with relationships–particularly, but not necessarily poly ones–will notice all of these points have something in common: they’re utter bollocks. There’s even more myths, misconceptions and prejudices throughout, which is why you should really read Amanda’s post for the full rundown.

Now, the thing is, CoupleDumb offer really, really bad relationship advice. I made it ten pages into their archives, and in between the egregious product placement, most of the problems they address could easily be solved by the answer “adopt poly principles”. Let’s have a look at a few of the issues CoupleDumb tackle very poorly.

Too much of an opinion

One of the biggest problems that couples face is having an impartial person support them. What usually occurs is that each person in a couple talks with friends and family who will usually support them in their irresponsibility. It is a rare occasion where you get a friend or family member tell you that you need to take responsibility unless, of course the friend/family member does not think highly of your interpersonal skills.

Poly people tend to do things differently. We’re honest. Like, really honest. We communicate well because we have to. We have the additional benefit of being plugged in to larger groups of people: partners, lovers, metamours and friends who are also poly, and also really, really honest. It’s useful, because along the way, someone will always point out to you when you’re being the dick. It’s not just about being honest with partners. It’s about being honest with everyone.

Get to boinking

When we wrote and said not to give up on sex, we really meant not to give up on passion. Don’t give up on lust because lust is part of love. If you do not have lust in your marriage then you have downgraded your love from consummate to compassionate. Now this is nice but it isn’t going to get a movie written about your undying love. This is the love that really good friends have. BFF. In Harry Met Sally, this is the part of the movie where she calls him crying and they talk a lot. Nice but not the true love that we all want at the end of the movie.

Yeah, poly folk tend not to go after the kind of love that’s at the end of a movie, because it’s kind of almost always portrayed as monogamous. Or, as CoupleDumb put it “true love”. Because any other form of love is untrue, according to them. Particularly if you’re not fucking (or buying jewellery, which makes the male partner in a heterosexual relationship feel “like a big man”, apparently). Unlike CoupleDumb, poly people accept the uniqueness of connections between unique people. Which sometimes involves heaps and heaps of sex, and sometimes it doesn’t, and either and anything in between is cool if everyone’s comfortable with it.

Robert Pattinson, this is why people cheat” (I have literally no idea why this is addressed to the bloke from Twilight. I googled for literally seconds and couldn’t find any evidence of him writing to CoupleDumb soliciting their terrible advice)

Yes, CoupleDumb always says that it takes two to tango but individual responsibility cannot be denied or lost in this conversation. Instead of having an affair, a person can approach their partner and tell them that they are unsatisfied. But, we don’t do that. When we should be talking we tend to hide and assume something will bring you together. If you identified that something is missing in a relationship it is your duty to inform your partner. It is what a responsible person does.

Infidelity has reached epidemic proportions due to our loose understanding of commitment and non-existent understanding of responsibility.  If you really want to affair proof your relationship, begin with understanding that your word is your bond. Anything outside of your commitment is not just an attack on your relationship but an annihilation of your integrity.

Again, poly people are honest. “We don’t do that” doesn’t apply to us. However, anything “outside” the commitment isn’t an “annihilation of our integrity”. It’s something that exists. We have relationships with many people at once. We’re upfront about it. Often, we strive to make sure our partners know each other–not know about each other. Far from annihilating anything, it enhances.

Sexless marriage

Now, there are times when the libido is compromised whether through illness, stress or medications. This does not mean that sex is off the table. The compromised partner can still provide sexual stimulation to their spouse and believing that you cannot perform because you do not want to is tantamount to saying that you do not care about your partner’s needs.

OH SWEET BABY FUCKING gjlkkjfse .kujujksf0krf;oiuijkf;kujso

*composes self*

No. Not wanting to have sex means you don’t have to have sex. It’s not about anyone else. It’s that you don’t want to have sex with that person at that time, and they must respect that.

If polyamory were a religion, chances are our bible would be “The Ethical Slut“, a “Poly 101” text which explains poly principles very well. The Ethical Slut has huge chunks dedicated to consent, communication, and why you shouldn’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. It’s quite big on what we now call enthusiastic consent. This tenet is really important in poly communities. We don’t take kindly to guilt trips as laid out by CoupleDumb. We prefer to have sex riddled with enthusiastic yeses. Enthusiastic consent is the only way to ensure great sex.

Anyway, given quite a lot of their advice regards just gritting your teeth and getting on with sex you don’t want to have because that’s what makes you have Disney Princess true love, you’d be forgiven to thinking that’s all there is to it. Nope. Unfortunately there’s also such a thing as too much sex.

Sexfull marriage. Too much of a good thing?

A sexfull marriage sounds great but you have to wonder what would happen if sex was not possible. What if you had to go on a business trip? What if the kids got sick? What if your partner hurts their back? Can you do something other than sex? Do you talk?

Yeah, so apparently if you’re having a lot of sex, you’re probably not doing much talking. I have absolutely no idea who these people are talking to, but generally it’s possible to do both. Poly people, as I’ve said numerous times in this post alone, manage to do both. Also, there’s that big support network I’ve been banging on about.

Maybe the CoupleDumb writers–a married couple themselves–have a marriage that works for them based on the principles they’ve outlined throughout their relationship advice. The thing is, throughout their project, they’ve been pushing their views on others, sticking to a very narrow, dogmatic view of how a relationship should work. And that doesn’t work for everyone. Hell, it doesn’t really work for many people at all, which is why the model they’re pushing results in high rates of cheating.

While very few will benefit from what CoupleDumb have to say, whether in a poly relationship or not, everyone benefits from the openness, consent and respect for individuality which make up poly principles.

Washed-up nobody continues to perpetuate rape culture

Trigger warning: this post quotes some horrific rape apologism and discusses rape

Remember that rape apologist who was once on the telly who said some awful things about rape, including how he likes to do “stealth raids” on his wife when she’s asleep? Steve Brookstein. Come on, you must remember him. He showed up in the comments on my post about him, remember? He was also on telly once, or something? Yeah, I know, he’s instantly forgettable, but unfortunately hasn’t fucked off yet.

Anyway, Steve’s retained a fridge-buzz of Twitter misogyny in the last week, continuing to say awful things about rape. He blamed men’s hormones for making them rape (but that didn’t make them rapists, somehow). He promised to write a blog clarifying his position (because he’s totally not a rape apologist, somehow). He engaged in survivor-blaming (women too drunk to consent “offer it up”, somehow). He suggested that instead of spiked drinks, maybe women were “easy lays” (which is probably OK on some planet, somewhere, somehow). Then he got all confused about how drunk “too drunk is”, called some people Nazis and reiterated his promise of a blog clarifying why he totally wasn’t a rape apologist, somehow. Then he deleted all his tweets, so big thanks to the eagle-eyed @AGBear who managed to screencap it all.

Today, the much-vaunted blog has arrived. Has Brookstein managed to explain how it was all a big misunderstanding and that he really does understand how sexual consent works, and there was [insert some sort of explanation for his behaviour that I honestly can’t even conceptualise]? By that last bit of the sentence, you’ve probably guessed the answer. Steve Brookstein is a big massive rape apologist.

It opens somewhat promisingly:

Say NO to drunken sex – and I’m talking to the guys!

I was going to call this “This blog could save a young man’s life.” but anyway…

Has Brookstein realised that people shouldn’t be having sex where one or both of you is too drunk to be able to establish consent? No. No he hasn’t. See, poor Steve regrets talking about Julian Assange and Ched Evans (one is wanted for rape, the other convicted and imprisoned for rape) and everyone’s been all mean to him. Also, he thinks poor little St Julian is having problems:

Assange is already getting abuse with his image being tarnished forever and he is only wanted for questioning.

Yeah. Steve had probably best read up on the Assange case from someone who knows what they’re talking about rather than the foil-hatters, too.

The main thrust of Steve’s argument is that the law on rape changed recently, to reflect a new condition that the perpetrator does not reasonably believe that the survivor has not consented. Under this, rapes where the survivor was drunk can be prosecuted more easily. Steve thinks this is pretty unfair, because how can anyone possibly know about these changes to the law? His heart goes out to Ched Evans:

If Ched Evans had sex with this girl just 18 months earlier the judge would have advised the jury to come back with a NOT GUILTY verdict.

See, poor Ched, according to Steve, is a victim of redefining rape:

“Easier to convict men”? That’s not making it easier to catch a rapist, that is redefining the crime. That is a change to the definition of rape.  I expected to see something in this piece on this change in the law of consensual sex.  Considering that it could result in a man going to prison for 5 years. Sorry Ched, you should have read the new CPS guidelines!

Now, if you think this sounds a bit like an argument a weeping syphilitic chode might make, you’re right. Steve Brookstein even quotes that certain weeping syphilitic chode in his blog. O’Neill was wrong, and so’s Steve.

Anyway, Steve continues being an aggressive bulldozer of wrong for several hundred words, with a little diversion to point out that in a high-profile scenario, he’d seen a video and the survivor didn’t look “that drunk”. Also, he keeps suggesting that drunk women have some sort of hold over men who are literally unable to control their penises, and goes on about tedious shit about how active consent would require signing contracts (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). Only at one point does he manage to say anything even approaching right:

When men have had “NO MEANS NO!” drilled into them are you surprised a guy thinks “yes!” is ok?

Unfortunately, Steve thinks this means we shouldn’t be too hard on men who rape women who are too drunk to consent. It’s a half-decent point, though. We do need to re-evaluate our model of consent. And a lot of us have, to enthusiastic consent. Look for an enthusiastic yes, rather than an absence of a no, or a slurred “yeah, whatever”.

And this is what Steve and his ilk–unfortunately, there’s many who think like him–simply cannot wrap their heads around. And it’s this that should be taught to everyone. Seeking enthusiastic consent helps you stop being a rapist and makes you a good fuck. The “no means no” message needs to go.

Of course, this doesn’t absolve anyone who hasn’t done this from wrongdoing. It’s something everyone should be doing anyway. It’s the difference between borrowing and stealing, to use a terrible analogy. It’s not redefining rape to say that this should happen. It’s ensuring rape doesn’t happen at all.

But the Steve Brooksteins of the world don’t get this. Maybe they’re rapists, maybe they’re just shit in bed. Either way, they continue to aggressively push their agenda, lashing out whenever anyone offers an alternative. They cling to tropes and an ambivalent faith in the justice system (rape is only rape when it’s been convicted, except sometimes even then it’s not rape). These ideas need undoing. The myths are not true. What the legal system says is rape, and what rape actually is are two different things. The majority of rape happens without any engagement with the legal system, and conviction and punishment (retributive justice) is not the way to deal with rape and rape culture.

What we need is a revolutionary change in the way we think. Many of us are already there, already talking about and practising techniques that make rape harder to perpetrate. It’s the Steve Brooksteins of the world that are holding us back by continuing to perpetuate the culture that allows rape to happen. They’re complicit, every single one of them.

And we’ll talk louder, make it harder and harder for them to push their archaic ideologies. One day, there will be a world without rape, and they’ll be silent. They’ll either be convinced, or ignored for their vile, minority opinions.