Friday, June 12, 2009

Victim-blaming round 4,506

It’s depressing, being a feminist blogger, for the same reason that it’s depressing being a feminist. The world is quite predictable. None of the media’s coverage of the Richard Worth’s treatment of women is surprising (neither is his behaviour).

What is the message in all this for women who are being sexually assaulted or harassed?

Stay quiet, particularly if a famous man is involved.

The woman who complained to the police about Worth has been attacked in the media as someone who has made false complaints before.

The woman who took her complaint of sexual harassment to the leader of the opposition has been dismissed, outted, psychoanalysed and attacked in disgusting ways.

There couldn’t be a clearer message to women that if we complain about the way men with power treat us then we will be put on trial. In particular, if there’s anything in our past that is messy or complicated, or just capable of being construed as messy or complicated, it will be attacked. We have no right to complain of male behaviour unless we fit neatly into the ‘virgin’ side of societies virgin/whore complex.

This is so familiar, so expected, there are only so many times that I can go into great detail about the victim-blaming and impossible situations women are put into, until I have nothing left to say.

What has surprised and disappointed me this time, is the other message that has been getting louder, particularly from left-wing men. That message that Richard Worth is irrelevant, and the discussion around what he did is unimportant (Against the Current and Fatal Paradox are both left-wing bloggers who have said exactly. Dennis Welsh gave a liberal-left example of the same argument on nine to noon on Tuesday)

I understand, and share, a disgust at the party political analysis and response that has gone on – the endless discussion of political management and Goff vs. Key. I have no more interest in that than anyone else. But I would hope that left-wing men could see that there is a political issue here, both in the way Worth treated women, and in the way those women have been treated by the media. I’m not asking any of those men to write about Richard Worth. But I would like them to acknowledge that there is an important political issue involved.

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