Norman Tebbit again…

February 24, 2010

..actually, I remembered something I did want to say about Lord Tebbit.

He was on Any Questions last week, discussing the culture of blaming rape victims. He said that if a woman goes to a man’s room, she cannot reasonably expect the law to be able to prosecute if she is raped.

He has a point. The law is completely ineffective in dealing with sex crimes. Beyond reasonable doubt is almost impossible to achieve in prosecutions of sex crimes with no witnesses. More so, in a culture which views women and sex the way ours does.

If you go to a man’s room, and he rapes you, there are no  legal systems in place which will enforce your right to not have your body violated, and it is very easy to create reasonable doubt. Once I am in that room, even if I went to borrow a book, there is reasonable doubt, because I was there.

The principle that I can say no, at any time before, or during penetration, has never been upheld in a British court, because it can’t be.

Essentially, men in this country have the freedom to rape any woman they choose, if she has been drinking, or she has at any point flirted with him, in public. It isn’t that hard to create a ‘reasonable doubt’.

Reasonable men, do not do this. Reasonable men have control over their penises, and can stop at any time. Men who can not do this are not reasonable men, they are rapists. It is an insult to the men in our society, to suggest otherwise. The law offers women no protection from rapists, and it’s limitations give a checklist of factors, which mean these ‘men’ can easily identify women to rape with impunity.

Norman Tebbit wasn’t actually talking about inadequacies in law being a problem.




  1. ooh, this makes me a little bit cross, well, cross enough to contribute my two penneth’ worth.

    On any questions (which is surely just radio crack for people who find BBC Question Time a few hours too brief) I’m pretty sure he said if a woman goes to BED with a man then she cannot reasonably expect the law to be able to prosecute if she is raped.
    The difference is intention.
    You’re right, of course, everybody has the right to say NO or STOP anytime they feel like it and anyone who doesn’t stop is a rapist. Apparently any man who has sex with an inebriated woman is also a rapist, irrespective of how inebriated he is, the woman may not rape him.

    Of course, reasonable people usually don’t go to bed with people they don’t intend to screw, and reasonable people usually don’t consider women capable of raping men. Ask anyone, or check the statute, which defines rape as forced anal or vaginal penetration by a penis.

    As a man I can’t stand being tarred with the rapist brush, to be clear I’m not a rapist, but you might be surprised how many women have told me (to my face) that all men are potential rapists. Nothing could be further from the truth, unless we describe all knife-owners as potential serial-killers.

    I have been sexually assaulted by a woman, cornered in a hotel room and stripped to be molested against my will. I was ashamed and shaken by the experience, but when I confronted my attacker in private, her response was to brag of the event to our colleagues and describe the events in a way I couldn’t identify with. Many women who have been sexually assaulted would describe a similar shift of blame by their attacker. The difference is that whilst being a victim of rape is difficult to prove for a woman it is literally impossible for a man.

    The problem remains, as you say, not with the law but with rapists, and those who act with impunity.
    By defining the problem as men, though, you are making a grave and predictable error.

    Sexism is a problem exacerbated by these unfair generalisations but, much like rape, sexism may apparently not be perpetrated by women. Only by the bogey men.

    • No. He didn’t. He said if a woman goes to a mans room. The discussion about what happened in bed, happened later.
      And actually, reasonable people might go to bed with people that they dont intend to screw- I don’t know about you, but I can stop at any point. As can my boyfriend. As could my husband. As could pretty much any man, I have ever slept with. In fact, I think it is pretty much consistently true, that in every sexual relationship I have had, the person I was sleeping with, was constantly looking out for whether I was having a good time- and in fact, most would stop, not just if I said no, but if there was any indication on my part, through anything- that I was no longer as into it, as I had been when I started. In fact, I think for any man I have ever slept with, the idea of them having sex, or continuing to have sex, if I for whatever reason, didn’t want to, or had stopped wanting to- is fairly disgusting.

      THe fact is though, once two people are away from witnesses, the law, as it stands, is completely unable to protect them, if a sexual offence takes place. THis is not because only REASONABLE people go to someones bed, if they intend to sleep with someone- I retain the right to consent to sex, before and DURING sex.

      The thing that happened to you, where the woman just recounted it differently- yeah- thats basically what happens. In ALL rape cases. So I wonder that you are somehow so offended, at me making the point, that the law offers no protection.

      THere are many many reasons for this, and this is not a question, with an easy problem to fix. BUt the fact that the law offers no protection, yes, primarily to women, but also to men, from rapists, and people willing to commit sexual offences is a problem. A big problem. Sorry if I dared to say that. Once witnesses have gone, or a drink has been consumed, or flirting has taken place, then there is no protection under law. Yet not one of these things constitutes consent to sex.

      Beyond reasonable doubt, in prosecutions, is very easy to create, wnen there are no witnesses, and where the crime is so private, and where attitudes to women- yes-= to women, and to sex, in this country are so misogynistic.

      Where in my post, did I say that only men commit rape? Although I have to say, statistically speaking, while rape does happen to men, this is primarily crime against women. Yes- you were assaulted by a woman, of course it happens- but that does not even begin to describe a problem where 1 in 4 women claim to have been sexually assaulted or raped at some point- (I was going to find you a statistic- but actually you just need to google, and that kind of figure is repeated worldwide, over and over, in research around this issue- so go take your pick). If the law says that something is a heinous crime- yet a quarter of the population of one gender, have been subjected to taht crime, with little to not enforcement of the law- then actually that is as clear an indication as you like, that there is a legal problem. So actually, I respectfully disagree- there is a problem with the law. A big one.

      As for your disgust at all men being described as rapists- I am disgusted at taht, as you. BUt you, not me, are the person making statements like ‘reasonable people dont go to bed with people they don’t intend to screw’- and it is statementns like that, that assume all men are rapists- nothing I have said. THe idea that there is somehow it is unreasonable to want a man to stop having sex with you, or not to have sex with you, when you are not willing=regardless of what has gone before, is ridiculous.

      And quite frankly if about a quarter of the female population have been raped, and the rest of us, are being constantly told that a reasonable person doesn’t do a, b, or c, without intending to screw someone-then it is hardly surprising women are expressing the view that all men are rapists.. Women are told constantly that any failure to treat all men as potential rapists, makes it their fault, if they are raped. And given that the law does not protect women, and between a third and a quarter of women have been raped or sexually assaulted, depending on which figure you believe- I can see why women feel they are supposed to believe that all men are potential rapists. I think you will find, I was saying the opposite.So while I disagree with whoever said this to you, and believe it is as insulting to men, as it is dangerous to women-I can see how that opinion got formed. And I am as insulted by the insinuation as you, in fact more so, as your comments, are the type that perpetuate the idea.

      The sexism wasn’t on my part- although I did expect this response. And it will probably be repeated. It always is, when you dare to point out that law is inadequate to protect people from rape, probably because it is primarily a gender issue.

      Oh, and if a woman is too drunk to consent- yeah, its rape. THere is a difference between being slightly intoxicated, and too drunk to consent- and if you can’t tell the difference, its best to err on the side of caution, and stop.

      • You’re quite right, my comments are conradictory, and I certainly can’t have my cake AND eat it.
        It’s because I at once sympathise with what you assert and also with Tebbit’s comments. The problem with rape is that it is so hard to prove, and in order to assist the ever-appalling low figures for rape prosecution (and probably as a secondary consideration, to protect women) to sleep with a drunk woman is to be a rapist, as I am reminded by the advert over the urinal. Whilst I fully support this totally imbalanced legislation because of the cursory additional protection it offers women who have been raped, I feel once again maligned as a man.
        Boo Hoo, you will probably say, but at some point isn’t it reasonable for me to expect not to be at risk of being named a rapist. However low the chances of an actual rapist being prosecuted are, the fact from my perspective is that rapists are not predominantly men, but predominantly lunatics, or sociopaths, or even better psychopaths because they have no conception of the consequences of their actions. I’m not certain a legal redefinition of rape would help make things any simpler, and i’m not even certain what the penalty for it ought to be. It’s arguably the worst crime imaginable and perhaps the final frontier of our civilisation. There’s a hundred ways to justify a murder, but there’s never been a ‘fair’ rape. The problem is desperately serious and must be addressed, but in the addressing of it should my freedom be subjugated? As a man I must surely be permitted, at some point during the act, to relax and assume that I am not raping anybody. I have a clear conscience but would nonetheless be unwise to allow a woman into my bed (where, in all reasonabilty, the screwing will take place) without some sort of evidence of consent. Every reasonable person, as you quite rightly point out, ought to be concerned with their partner’s well being at all times. Should that be legislated though? Do we need to constantly be positively affirming how happy we are to be having sex in order to satisfy a legal requirement? Do we really want to sign written consent forms? “I, the undersigned, being of sound mind…” I see your point, it isn’t hard to see, but from a male perspective the axe is perpetually looming, so to speak.

        I didn’t mean to accuse you of out-and-out sexism, I was rubbed up quite the wrong way though, by your two highly provocative comments. First your assertion that men are ‘free to rape’, which implies a male attitude that simply doesn’t exist, except in psychopaths. Secondly your open ended comment regarding inadequacies in the law.

        You may not be compelled to, but would you perhaps be kind enough to spell out just where you intended to say the inadequacies lie?

        I’m off for a serious think.

      • I don’t know is the answer. But I don’t think it is unreasonable, given the scale of the problem, to say it is a gender issue. I do agree that the type of men who do this, are not doing it because they are men. I have repeated this, over and over. I think we live in a culture, where comments like the one you made- make it appear that this is just some misunderstanding on the part of the men- an understandable one. It isn’t. There is a very clear difference between someone consenting to have somebody inside her, and someone objecting, and I cannot think of a single situation, where that would not be very clear.I think the idea that men cannot tell the difference, and need some written consent, actually plays to the idea that men are somehow confused, and rape results. It doesn’t. It is an act of violence, and the idea that rape may possibly be someone who just didn’t realise they didn’t have consent- is bollocks. And bollocks that is peddled,a nd bears no relation to any sexual relationship I have ever had.

        You say that it’s not because they are men, it’s because they are sociopaths-then spend several sentences talking about how difficult it is, to check whether the woman you are fucking is willing. This is crap. I do not believe it is possible to have sex with a woman against her will, and not know- and you are right-the men who do this, use the justifications and myths you have set out- to say that it is. This is insulting to men, and dangerous to women.

        Within child protection, we know that the prosecution rate, if we were to meet a burden of proof like ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ would never happen. So findings of fact, which meet ‘the balance of probability’ are used. I don’t think this is appropriate in our criminal justice system- but I do think that the justice system has to look at how legislation is structured, and how the burden of proof is met. I also think we need to stop peddling myths about men misunderstanding, whether consent has been given- because its rubbish.

        And I have been clear on where inadequacies lie. It is impossible to meet that burden of proof, when two people were alone. But what makes it more difficult is the myths that are peddled about what constitutes consent- as does the misogyny shown in courtrooms, and newspapers, in this country, when dealing with rape. Where invariably, unless it is stranger rape-which it rarely is- the victim is blamed and tried.

        It is not a provocative comment to say that men are free to rape- when a quarter of the female population has declared that they have been raped or sexually asssaulted, and there have been next to no prosecutions. That is, by definition, a situation where rapists ARE free to rape, with near impunity. WHat else woudl you describe it as?

      • I agree, it must be a gender issue. As a man I can wholly concieve finding myself an unaware rapist, and that must be to do with my understanding of relationships from a male perspective, not that I could define precisely what that is.

        Consent to sex is expressed in a variety of ways and whilst it ought to be unmistakeable, and quite right too, it is not always spoken. Even when it is, the consent given is always unreliable due to circumstances and various pressures exerted on the individual. Intoxication is a factor as well. One cannot attribute responsibility for drunken sex with a stranger to any one gender, but a man who does so is at risk of being a rapist entirely unintentionally. Whether prosecuted or not.

        I’m not saying we should pay any attention to the ‘She told me she was over sixteen’ routine or any of the daft, old fashioned justifications of statutory rape in any of it’s forms, ‘she didn’t seem to mind it at the time’ is another one that i’ve read following cases, but I’m trying to illustrate that, in my position as a man I feel damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

        The nonsense of this sort of scenario as you pointed out is that the vast majority of rapes don’t take place in circumstances that are questionable in any way, but since they are inseparable from such entirely conceivable situations in terms of reasonable doubt, consent becomes quite beyond the capability of legislation because some forms of consent are assumed, and entirely assumable.

        I suppose I’m just retreading your points. I don’t know the answer either, I would assume there is none. I’m not a fan of the balance of probability, though, because according to some people who are experts in dealing with the aftermath of rape, If you are a man, then you are probably a rapist.


      • Am sorry, but if you think you could accidentally rape a woman, then you need to stop having sex with women, till you can remedy this.

  2. I agree that there is no problem about the definition of rape, nor is there any serious dispute about what constitutes consent. There may be many men who claim that they don’t understand what consent is, but they are either kidding themselves or trying to justify themselves. Consent to be effective must be active, and lack of denial of consent is not the same thing as consent. So you are right to identify the problem as one of legal enforcement.

    But what can practically be done to correct this? Where there are two possible versions of events – that the woman was raped, or that the man had consensual intercourse but the woman has withdrawn consent after the event – and there is no independent evidence to prove one version against the other, what do you think should happen? All the traditional methods are fatally, and often disgracefully, flawed. That is why so many women are subjected to outrageous investigations into their previous sex lives in a fatuous attempt to suggest that “loose living” in the past somehow disqualifies the withholding of consent in the present. It cannot be justice to assume that women would never lie about such a thing, and that therefore the man is guilty if the woman says he is (and I’m not saying that you suggested this.) It seems to me that the problems are insuperable. I understand what you are saying about juries being so submerged in the hegemony of sexism that they are much more likely to believe a man’s introduction of “reasonable doubt” than a woman’s denial that she gave consent. But even if that weren’t the case, it would still surely be impossible to choose between disputed claims when there can be no independent evidence. The problem then is perhaps not the law, but the attitudes of jurors, and I can see no legal remedy for that.

    • Billy, I completely agree, and that is the question. What can be done. Legally, I don’t see how much can be done. I do think that socially, we could work to tackle the bollocks spouted by the other commenter- that rape can happpen acccidentally, and we can rectify our attitudes to sex and women. THis might tackle the problem. I think that issues like the corroborative evidence rule, are quite important, as is the anonymity of rape allegations(I believe that is anonymity that should go both ways). BUt this is a really difficult question- not helped by phallacies that men can accidentally rape someone, cos it aint that important is it.

      • You aren’t really representing the bollocks I spouted very fairly. The implication of reports on statutory/intoxicated rape imply that rape is statistically likely, and that men may not even be aware of the rape they are perpetrating, since having sex with someone who is drunk cannot be counted as consensual.

        Thank you for your advice, by the way, but I think I will take it on advisement and tentatively continue to have sex with women. I’ll just be careful not to offer them any drinks to avoid accidentally raping them.

      • You say that you think its unfair that all men are treated as rapists, yet you say you could not guarantee that the sex you are having, is consensual. As a woman, that is terrifying. Sorry, but it is. If I was a man, I would be deeply offended. If you cannot tell whether you have consent, then you need to not have sex, until you are damn sure. Because your ‘accident’- is something that would deeply scar a woman, for life.
        I don’t believe for a second that you can’t tell teh difference between consensual sex, and rape, and the idea that there is room for misunderstanding is bollocks. Sorry, but it is.

        It isn’t me saying all men are rapists here.

      • Of course you can tell the difference between consensual sex and rape. Of course I can. Any sensible person can.

        I apologise for being flippant, but I’m trying to balance the discussion by making equally extreme proclamations.

        Legally, as I pointed out, buying a girl a drink could (should?) prove lack of consent at trial. Surely this is obscene?

        The difference between rape and consensual sex is plain and obvious between two people, but the problem remains that the circumstances surrounding the two will usually appear identical under legal scrutiny. Victim’s word against the attacker’s.

        At present we tend in law to believe the ‘attacker’, since we presume people to be innocent until they can be proven guilty.

        Public opinion leans the other way, and once someone is accused of rape they are usually presumed to be guilty. When they are found legally innocent due to lack of proof, the public pours scorn on a sexist and biased legal system which is unwilling to punish violent men. It seems a change is needed.

        The way rape trials are handled has changed dramatically in recent times. Prosecuting victims of rape are entitled to total anonymity to protect them and to make it easier for them begin the painfully slow, humiliating process of seeking justice. The defendants in rape trials are perversely not granted this right to anonymity, often ruining the social lives and careers of men who neither you nor I could prove deserved such treatment at the hands of society.

        The protection of women and of women’s rights are paramount to our societal values, but ought we futher compromise habeus corpus to ensure justice for a greater number of rape victims?

        Is the simple fact of the matter, given the statistics quoted, that something like a quarter of men are rapists?

      • ”Is the simple fact of the matter, given the statistics quoted, that something like a quarter of men are rapists?”- Er. No because most men are not rapists.But those who do, I assume do not do this once. We know from working with rapists, that it is a progression. So no, saying that a quarter of women have experienced rape, so therefore a quarter of men are rapists is illogical. Luckily, they live in a country where the attitudes of the general population, and inadequate legislation, allow practice, with little chance of anything happening.

        I am to guess from the fact that you ask this question taht I am supposed to disbelieve results that have been repeated, worldwide, in research on this issue. All those women who identify themselves as being raped, anonymously, to a survey, are doing so for what reason?

        I don’t understand why it should offend you, that I choose to believe that as research carried out worldwide, has shown this to be the case, and similar, if not higher numbers, over and over are demonstrated, that this may possibly be true. Hardly provocative.-

        As for the legal point. Yes. That was kind of the whole point of the original article. That the law does not work with sex crimes.

        THe closing point, if you read back, was that Norman Tebbit, while raising this point, did not make this point to say there is a problem that needs to be discussed. He used it in a similar way to you. He contextualed it with myths like the ones you offered- reasonable people not going into someones room, if they didn’t intend to screw them, or it being quite difficult to tell whether someone has consented.in the as you to you. He appeared offended that this is considered by some people to be a very serious problem. A problem which subjects a significant percentage of the population to a crime which has very serious long term effects on their lives.

        As for the rape trials changing dramatically, in the way they are carried out. This is very true- but having witnessed first hand, many rape prosecutions, I can tell you that they still try the victim. WIth little chance of success, unless it is stranger rape, and it is still a deeply deeply unpleasant process.

        I agree about the right to anonymity, certainly to the press.

        Woefully low prosecution rates, and the comments of judges, in recent cases-show that courts do favour the defendant. They also show that it is myths about accidental rape, misconceptions about what the implications are, of a woman having spoken about her sexuality- that allow them to do this.

        Rape IS a crime that happens with impunity, the law does not, by your own admission, have any way of functioning in this area, with this crime-that is not a provocative statement. That is a statement of fact, which is borne out by the evidence.

        There may be few ways to amend the law, on that we can agree.

        ‘RApe can happen accidentally’, is not a provocative statement, it is myth, and part of this countries attitude to rape- and even if the laws governing rape can’t be altered- attitudes like that- can. And when attitudes like that have dissapeared, maybe women will be protected.

  3. There is clearly an issue of the law being unable to convict in rape cases and part of this is of course to do with one persons word against another, however, the main issue for women is the blame culture.

    If my house got robbed, the police might say, “you should get an alarm”, “you should invest in window locks”, “you should keep your valuables out of view of the window”. But they wouldn’t say, “we can’t convict because you didn’t do those things”, “you just brought it on yourself”, “of course he was going to rob you, you left your window open a bit”.

    When a woman is raped, everything possible is done to ensure that the blame lies directly at her door. She wasn’t careful enough, she wore the wrong clothes, she went into the guys room, she has (the most shocking of all!) had sex with a stranger before. There are these and a hundred other ways to blame the victim for a crime being perpetrated on her. All of them clearly stating she brought it on herself, as if the man couldn’t possibly control himself.

    This is an insult to decent men. However, we are also all assuming that rapists are nuts in one way or another, but if 1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted, that’s an awful lot of men. Clearly the culture of blame tells men that it’s the woman’s fault if it happens. I am not for any minute suggesting that all men are possible rapist, but there is a get out clause for those men on the edge.

    For men, part of the problem is that there seems to be an idea that men are falsely accused of rape all the time and that it is something they need to be very scared of, that a woman will cry rape just cos she didn’t fancy a guy in the cold light of day. I am not saying that it will never ever happen but the perpetration of this idea is just part of the whole cultural idea that women are the problem in the first place – their word is not to be trusted.

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