Judges ignore the rules on rape and more

// 3 April 2008

Judges routinely work around the law which is meant to prevent women being cross-examined about their sexual history when giving evidence in rape cases, reports the Guardian.

Interviews with 17 judges in London and Manchester found that some insisted they still had a wide discretion to allow questions on sexual history, although the law was changed in 2000 to impose severe limits on questioning.

One judge described the provision as “pretty pathetic because it’s get-roundable”.

Another said: “I’m not one for being unduly fettered. I’ve been appointed to do a job on the basis that I have a certain amount of judgment, and to be fettered or shackled by statutory constraints I don’t think helps anybody.”

Yet more evidence that the system is absolutely broken.

As Cara at The Curvature says:

I file this under “authority without effective oversight always preferences (white, straight, Christian, cis, able-bodied) men.” And the file is getting pretty fucking full.

UK magazine editors have agreed to draw up a code of practice meant to reduce the insideous use of airbrushing, reports the Times.

Susan Ringwood, the chief executive of eating disorders charity, Beat, said: “I think a message should be placed by an airbrushed picture saying that it has been digitally enhanced. However, it would make a big difference if airbrushing to make supermodels look slimmer was just not allowed at all.”

No details on what this code of practice will involve (blurring out some blemishes is OK, but not removing Madonna’s “bulging biceps”? Erasing a bit, but not so much that the woman in the photograph looks totally unrecognisable? – it’s hard for me to understand how the magazines will draw the line, but at least a prominent notice warning that airbrushing has been used would be a start). Watch this space. (Via BlogHer).

The EU court of justice has ruled that same-sex civil unions convey the same pension rights as marriage, reports The Advocate and EU Observer:

The ruling by the European Court of Justice, announced on Tuesday (1 April), comes in response to a case triggered by a German citizen, Tadao Maruko, in 2005.

After Mr Maruko’s partner died, a German pension fund refused to pay him any survivor’s benefits, claiming that only married couples have a right to a widower’s pension.

But the Luxembourg-based court found that this violated EU law, outlining a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation.

This only applies to those EU member states that already have legalised civil unions, (as in 17 out of 27 countries). Meanwhile Norway (which is not in the EU) is to legalise same-sex marriage:

Anniken Huitfeldt, the Minister of Children and Equality, said: “Letting gay couples marry won’t weaken marriage as an institution; rather, it will strengthen it. Marriage won’t be worth less because more can take part in it.”

The New York Times ran a feature earlier this week about a ‘feminist’ virginity movement at Harvard (personified by one student).

This has been comprehensively taken apart by the feminist blogosphere already, but Twisty brings her own inimitable perspective to the table here:

The Harvard boys were, she observed with a keen eye, “uncouth and socially inept.” Further study led her to conclude that there exists a “double standard which devalues women for their sexual pasts and glorifies men for theirs.”

Accoutered with so useful a piece of intelligence, Fredell might have taken any of several routes. Needless to say, she omitted to turn to radical feminism.

Over at Shakesville, guest blogger SKM wonders why a search for a Judith Butler book on Amazon turns out the result “Why Feminists Are Wrong”.

What can men do to help advance the feminist cause? Hugo Schwyzer suggests that refusing to join the Old Boys’ Club is a damn good place to start.

Invitations to the Old Boys Club come in many forms, some subtle, some crass. Frequently, they involve opportunities to bond with senior men through talking — in sexist, objectifying language — about women. Other times, particularly if the young man (like Derek, or myself at his age) is open about his feminist leanings, an Old Boys Club member will, when no one else is around, ask half-jokingly “So, are you really serious about this feminist shit, or do you just want to get laid?” Or, more obliquely: “Come on, Derek, the women aren’t around, you can drop the touchy-feely stuff.” If you are a young man, low in status in a newsroom or a corporate office or an academic department, the senior men will almost always try and assess your suitability for the OBC early on in one way or another; what is often euphemistically called “collegiality” is just code for “willing to play along and not challenge us.”

Finally, one for readers in the US: blog about sex and raise money for the Rape and Incest National Network.

Photo by Peter John Chen, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Jessica // Posted 3 April 2008 at 4:22 pm

On the subject of airbrushing, did anyone notice this disgusting (and non-sensical) article on the Daily Mail website?


I hope somebody blogs about this…I’d really like this article to be ripped to shreds.


Virago // Posted 3 April 2008 at 9:35 pm

Funny you should say that Jessica, I just did!

The Daily Mail never ceases to amaze me as to how misogynist and sensationalist it is, especially when it comes to women.

Two of the items mentioned above link together; judges presumption that their status as a rich, white male makes them superior to guidelines intended to improve the law; and the misogynist excluding Old Boy’s Club culture. It’s this sort of institutionalised sexism that needs pointing out (as the FWord and the rest of the feminist blogosphere endeavours to) and breaking down.

Very frustrating and enraging.

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