Daily Mail and Rape

I have been neglecting this site somewhat recently because I am helping build a website for rape victims. The purpose of the website is to try and shatter some of the popular myths or misconceptions about rape, and to empower more women or men to come forward and pursue the prosecution of the perpetrator. Throughout my discussions with rape victims the one point that can never be repeated enough is that no-one, no matter what they were doing, what they were wearing, whether they had been drinking or whatever any other circumstance agrees to be raped. The rape or sexual assault is purely the decision of the attacker, not the victim. No one is ever ‘asking for it’ or ‘encouraging it’.

However, in the time I have been reading the Daily Mail print edition and website I have seen numerous examples of how the Daily Mail tries to link the behaviour and promiscuity of the victim to the assault, as if really, the victim was to blame for causing the rape. It doesn’t help either that when a person is falsely accused that it gets far more publicity than a case that is successfully prosecuted, but it serves a purpose for the Daily Mail, it makes out that most rape victims are probably lying, and that somehow they are either mistaken or they are outright liars.

The trouble is that sometimes famous people – like Katie Price for example – claim to have been raped and it allows all of these misconceptions to be aired with spite because people feel that they know the sort of person Katie Price is, and they can then make a judgement about whether they believe she is the ‘type’ of woman to be a rape victim, or whether in fact her celebrity persona actually deserves rape in some way. The Daily Mail has certainly been responsible for some articles which imply that rape is caused by the behaviour of the victim: ‘I WAS raped,’ claims Katie Price, as she offers to take on allcomers at lover’s tacky cage-fight event.

The message here is clear, the subordinating conjunction ‘as’ nicely links the idea that a rape victim at a tacky event offering to ‘take on allcomers’, implies that she’s some kind of slut and probably asked for it? Forgive me if I’m reading too much into this headline, but I’ve been on the Mail website for long enough to know that very rarely do they accidentally create implications. The first lines of the article are bullet pointed to question the validity of the rape claim: ‘Price strips to underwear in front of 2,000 crowd; Former friend backs rape claims’. Clearly, the kind of person that strips to her underwear in front of thousands isn’t the kind of person who should be making rape claims – even if they are backed up by ‘friend’.

The point is that no matter what your opinion of Jordan that should have no bearing on how you feel about her as an alleged rape victim. You may think that she is a slut, a promiscuous airhead with no morals and many other things, this still has no bearing on any rape that may have taken place. Should we only support rape victims if they are sober, demure and innocent and forsake all those that don’t live like saints because we don’t like the way they behave so they probably deserved or encouraged it?

No matter what a person does in life they still maintain the right to control their own bodies, and what access other people have to that body. No matter what behaviours a person has exhibited in the past they always maintain the fundamental right to say no to anything that they do not want to do. If a sexual assault takes place after the word ‘no’ is uttered, then rape has occured, end of, no discussion – and no, you’re not allowed to question what the victim was wearing, that is all irrelevant.

Sadly, there are a lot of comments on the above article that accuse Jordan of making it up, seeking attention or generally trying to raise her profile:

Thought she said a couple of days ago that she was not going to mention the ‘rape’ again and wanted to get out of the limelight. That’ll be the day! I had to smile when I read that the alleged rapist made her ‘burst into tears’. I don’t think the man has been born yet that can do that.- Hilary, Staffs, 21/9/2009 15:44

Click to rate Rating 81

A woman who has been raped does NOT dress or act like this vile woman.- James, Plymouth, 21/9/2009 16:49

Click to rate Rating 82

Sadly, when rape gets reported by the tabloid media it becomes sensationalised gossip with people trying to guess who did it, or whether a rape really took place. The end result is that the real victims of rape (and I’m not even entering the debate over whether Jordan is a victim or not) are less likely to be believed if they do come forward, and, should they come forward, they have to deal with all the myths and misconceptions that surround tabloid reports of rape. This makes them not only the victim of rape, but also the victim of a society that doesn’t like to deal with the root causes of violent sexual assault and instead prefers to believe that somehow the rape victim has brought it upon them through their actions. The victim is blamed, whilst the perpetrator’s only crime is to have failed to interpret mixed messages correctly.