News Round Up – ridiculous ideas of the day
Louise Livesey // 18 November 2008
This might get long….
I have to join the calls for Helen Mirren to stop spouting on rape. It goes against the grain for me to want to silence a woman but sometimes speech can be deadlier than, well, pretty much anything else (I speak from experience as a student of mine did recently use the “But Helen Mirren said so…” line). Mirren’s latest? Women jurors find men not guilty of rape because they are sexually jealous of the victim. No that wasn’t a typo – that was the argument she was making. And apparently this is because we’re “animalistic” or still deeply embedded in “tribalism”. Ms Mirren also decided that the jury which convicted Mike Tyson was wrong and that no rape had taken place. Helen – if you are in the pay of anti-women groups please come clean. Otherwise, as Jess said last time: “her statement that date rape shouldn’t, in effect, be illegal, is dangerous and wrong. In reality, in this country, right now, men can rape with impunity. And in this country, right now, rapists are getting away with it because of woman-blaming attitudes.”
Vera Baird, Solicitor General, has described the comments as “ignorant, absurd and dangerous comments”.
Vera Baird QC pointed out that juries are selected at random and neither defence nor prosecution has the power to handpick a jury based on their suitability for the trial. “This is just such an ignorant thing to say, to suggest that the defence or prosecution have any involvement in the selection of a jury. It’s just absurd. First of all, it’s completely factually incorrect. It shows an absolute lack of knowledge about the way the criminal justice system works. I do not know what she is talking about, women hating women. This is a vast generalisation based on nothing, but unfortunately it is likely to have a deterrent effect. It’s such a shame that a person who has a high profile feels qualified and able to put forward this nonsense. It’s capable of being quite dangerous because someone in that position saying that sort of thing, suggesting that she knows more than she actually does. It’s hard enough for victims who often feel guilt and shame to come forward in the first place. But to put forward this false idea that some covert conspiracy exists in the criminal justice system is very ignorant and totally and utterly wrong.”
Also in absurd assertions is this widely reported archaelogical find of skeletal remains buried in family groups. The evidence shows a shift from communal graves to familial or single graves but really evidence of being “nuclear families”. That’s not really that new but reporters are claiming this is evidence of early “nuclear families”. Say what? The parents and children were buried together where they died in a violent attack is understandable but equating this to be evidence that they lived together with no extended family is absurd. What did reporters think families did in the past – but their kids in 24 hour childcare? Live in single-sex accomodation?
It’s almost as ridiculous as Iain Duncan-Smith’s idea that had the mother of Baby P been married to her boyfriend the child wouldn’t have been murdered. IDS manages to completely misunderstand (or misuse for ideological purposes is more likely) statistics to argue that abuse happens more often in “dysfunctional families”. Becuase obviously abuse isn’t a reason for categorising a family as “dysfunctional” is it? No, wait, doh maybe it is….
IDS then conflates “dysfunctional”/”abusive” with “single parent” completely therefore ignoring the high levels of abuse which occur in dual-partner or married families. Apparently policy should focus on forcing “dysfunctional” (for which read abusive) relationships to stay together. ‘Cos that’ll help prevent child and spousal abuse won’t it?
And I bring all this analysis to you in support of this critique by This is What a Feminist Blog Looks Like debunking the idea that women are better at storytelling than analytical thinking.
Despite the condescending nature of the captions The Guardian is at least foregrounding women war correspondents photographs.
Photographing conflict is a dangerous job, and women are now increasingly at the forefront of this important documentation process, despite the barriers they face.