Tomorrow I will have been writing at this blog for a year. I think the hardest thing has been the search for something to write about - it means you have to listen. I used to kind of shut it all out, and I think it's been a bad year to be listening, particularly as a New Zealand feminist blogger (maybe any year is a bad year). I wrote this, when I was waiting for a verdict when Clint Rickards, Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton were standing trial for raping Louise Nicholas: police rape trial:
The pattern last two days for me has been dominated by making sure I was listening to the radio every hour, on the hour. National radio marks the hour with their six pips, and I listen to the news, I'm waiting for a verdict. I'm not alone; there are other women listening as intently as me. During a meeting today I popped into someone else's office to listen to the one o'clock news - another woman came in "is there a verdict?"I'd been keeping half an ear on the trial of a New Plymouth doctor charged with multiple counts of sexual assault on many different women. I hadn't been listening to the news every hour on the hour, but I had been waiting since the jury went out on Tuesday. I'd been anticipating that he'd be acquitted. He wasn't; he was found guilty on most of the charges. Presumably there were so many complainants that the weight of their evidence gave the jury conviction beyond reasonable doubt.*
We're reading entrails. I got a text message saying "Jury came out to ask judge as question - good sign i reckon'. I agree and the question they asked was a good one. Each hour the jury's deliberations stretch on (they've spent 8 hours yesterday, and 12 hours today) I wonder if it's a good sign. "At least someone believes Louise Nicholas" I say, "I hope they stay staunch" whoever I happen to be talking to at the moment replies.
We listen and wait and worry because we believe Louise Nicholas.
It's not that I particularly want him to go to jail. I'm a big Jessica Mitford fan - Cruel and Usual Punishment will turn anyone off jail. The only person I want to go to jail is Clint Rickards. I don't think jail helps the situation, indeed the believe the only protection we have is speaking the name of rapists loud and clear.
What I want for women who are raped, is that people say to them 'we believe you and what happened to you was not ok'. In our society the only way to do that is to get a guilty verdict. While I'm sure those not guilty verdicts are hard for the jurors to come to, while I know that some people on those juries believed Louise Nicholas, and the other women, whose names are suppressed. I know that others didn't believe them. I want to live in a where everyone agrees that getting drunk isn't consent and sharing a bed isn't consent, and you don't automatically consent to boyfriends, police officers, and doctors.
Every conviction is a relief - not just for me but all the women I know and love, and the many more I don't know. It's a little bit of hope that our bodies belong to us.
*It's lucky for certain police officers that any trials that they stand seem to be treated as individual incidents, and the fact that there was a pattern of behaviour is kept from the jury.