Welcome to the world….
Louise Livesey // 17 July 2008
where crimes against women are fair game for “edgy” comedy. Fast on the heels of Vegas-gate (and I’m really not reopening that discussion) comes Russel Brand’s belief that ringing the Police purporting to have seen a serial sex offender is good stand-up. No really he did, he rang them and wasted the Police Control Officers time by reporting a suspect description and then being put through to the incident room and wasting a second officers time for around three minutes. Don’t believe me? You can go watch here.
Brand has since apologised saying he is “”devastated by the possibility” that he may have “offended vulnerable people”” (BBC News). He’s not worried that he’s wasted police time or that it’s incredibly insulting to believe that serial sexual assault is comedy. ‘Cos, y’know, it’s like inherently funny isn’t it – one man taking the rip out of the Police and victims over another man who believes he has a right to molest women and who is slowly escalating in his attacks. Plus the idea that only “vulnerable people” would be offended is blantantly insulting – it suggests that “rational” or “undamaged” people obviously wouldn’t be. Unless of course he’s talking about vulnerability to sexual assault in which case he’s basically saying he’s sorry he upset women, all of them, ‘cos that’s the main distinguishing trend in victims of sexual assault – they tend to be female and often young. He went on to say “”I maintain that through discourse we can illuminate these dark behaviours but that ought not to be at the expense of people’s feelings.”” (Sky News). Well I agree Mr Brand – how about you start off by talking to some victims of sexual assault and their friends and family and get an understanding of how it impacts on people and how your act was grossly and wholly inappropriate and irresponsible. Drop me an email via the website and I’d be happy to be a good starting point.
Lets restate some basics, a serial sexual attacker means there are a series of victims out there. Women who have been attacked and who want nothing more than the perpetrator to be caught. Because they’ve had their belief in the safety of society and their town challenged. Because someone thought they were nothing more than things to be used for his own sexual pleasure.
Yeah that’s pretty funny isn’t it. I’m laughing my socks off. Thank god the attacker hadn’t escalated to rape – I mean Brand would probably have really got his rocks off over that! Can you imagine the hilarity that would ensue.
No me neither. Lets also think that it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that one of those women might have been in the audience – after all victims of sexual assault aren’t a strange alien race, they are you and me and any woman. Or one of her relatives or friends, ‘cos victims of sexual assault have those too. Now there was comedy potential Brand missed out on, he must be kicking himself.
Meanwhile the victims of the sex attacker, a 24 year old mother assaulted in front of her child, a 50 year old woman on her way to work and a 28 year old woman have the reassurance that at least the crimes against them gave Brand something to talk about for five or so minutes. I’m sure they find that very comforting.
But then, of course, this is the world where australian Bishop Anthony Fisher said that people fighting for justice after sexual abuse by catholic priests were just “dwelling crankily on old wounds,” (The Age). This in response to questions about two sisters, one of whom later committed suicide and the other of whom had a drink problem, who were abused as children. Their mother said “There are no old wounds for victims,” she said. “It is always current…To think this issue is over when the abuse stops is ridiculous. There are people self-harming, committing suicide, drinking, using drugs, because of sexual assaults committed by Catholic priests.” (a href=”http://www.theage.com.au/national/outrage-over-bishops-abuse-remarks-20080716-3gcr.html?page=1″>The Age).
And the world where Virgin Mobile in the US was asking young people to submit videos of themselves stripping to raise money for clothing for homeless people. Yes you read that right – sexually exploiting young people to raise money to clothe a group who face appalling levels of sexual abuse and exploitation themselves (Star Tribune, Minnesota). Fabulous idea I mean the possibilities are endless aren’t they? (They are also rather tasteless and I don’t want to stoop to Brand’s level so I’ll leave you think of some more ridiculous mismatched ideas).