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The R-Word


 

 

 

According to the BBC, one in ten women in the UK claim to have had sex against their will. As the 'believe the complainant' laws currently stand, that statistic roughly extrapolates to between two and three million men being considered rapists in Britain. The description of the present state of affairs seems so counter-intuitive as to justify new terminology, new laws, or both.

 

Rape until the 21st century was largely seen as a violent, surprise attack by a stranger, centring around physically and emotionally painful penetrative sex. It can now include sex in which the complainant willingly partook after getting drunk, and later regretted. It can include sex where the complainant is visibly and audibly enjoying herself to her partners and neighbours, and returning to bed multiple times. It can also include sex that is reported as rape by aggrieved partners or family members, with the added incitement of up to £22,000 compensation, or 'victim surcharge', paid by the taxpayer.

 

Rape is still seen as a heinous word, second only to paedophilia in terms of seriousness. In prison, inmates are relatively proud of their murderous, violent or drug dealing pasts compared to being seen as either or these two. That said, whenever the majority of rape cases currently are explained to them, the response is 'Well that's not rape. That's not what it means.' This reaction isn't limited to prisons either – the general public is chilled by the word, but when they hear the details of the vast majority of people currently convicted of it, their reaction is invariably that of conflicted confusion.

 

In 2018, the BBC's Stephen Sackur interviewed pop radio journalist Paul Gambaccini about having false historical sex allegations made against him. He asked if it was worth sacrificing the reputations of a few innocent men if 'real' perpetrators would be caught in the 'coming forward' process – or rather the 'can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs' defence. A visibly distraught Gambaccini replied in the negative, stressing that cases should be investigated fairly and individually, by police who are well-funded and not preoccupied by conviction targets or a media who do very well out of clickbait stories like his.

 

It is of course very much a male problem, and increasingly a white male problem – surely the most under-represented demographic on the progressive social spectrum. While the crimes of Empire and historical patriarchy are dissected, analysed, apologised and repaired for, these new alleged rape cases are not them. The population of the UK is generally not starving right now, and about which the numbers accused still minority enough for angry citizens not to be out on the streets demanding change. With a mainstream media so full of #MeToo, #TimesUp and Cause DuJour, they sideline these new victim's rights calls as a quirky sideshow.

 

Affirmative action is usually understood in terms of all-women Member of Parliament shortlists or reparations-for-historical-abuses-of-women-by-the-patriarchy to have been a temporary measure. The later twentieth, early twenty-first century reading of this is a loaded system, the dial set permanently to redressing an imbalance, for which few living can be seen as responsible.

 

But British justice prides itself on being 'the best in the world'. That means thinking ahead of a biased media and obsequious parliamentarians to applying just laws fairly, beyond sex or gender bias. For real rapes, punish and incarcerate accordingly. For what is fundamentally sexual misadventure (more often than you'd think) misunderstandings, hold Truth and Reconciliation committees to respectfully debate what actually happened, beyond the glare of the media or the intensity of the court system. Either do this, or face the fact that you live in a country with between two and three million 'rapists'.

 

Combined with the aforementioned cultural considerations and steady cuts to the apparent luxury of Legal Aid, these elements culminate in a cookie-cutter version of law, carried out in mini arenas which can be in practice little more than arbitrary, biased kangaroo courts. With the ongoing attacks on the English language that constitute the political correctness project, the R-word for rape can join the N-word. Inasmuch as those words become pejorative insults in the mouths and pens of the bigoted, so does the word rape in the usage of those who wish to decimate and ultimately destroy the rights and lives of men.

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