Emma Cowing: Goodnight to George and his rape advice
I DON’T know about you, but I wasn’t aware that George Galloway was a woman. I mean, he looks like he might dab on a spot of eyeliner occasionally and I was suspicious about how well he filled out that catsuit on Big Brother, but to all intents and purposes I’ve always thought he was, you know, a man.
How strange, then, that he has taken it upon himself to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.
In his podcast, the nightmarishly titled Goodnight With George Galloway (surely Goodnight To George Galloway would have been more appropriate?) Scotland’s second-most embarrassing politician* delivered a rant about the Julian Assange extradition case that included an extraordinary definition rape.
Over to you, George: “I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion. Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them. It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said, ‘do you mind if I do it again?’ It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.”
Well, isn’t that hunky-dory. What a sage piece of wisdom. One presumes then, following that logic, that an Endemol executive could pop round to Galloway’s gaffe right now and install a load of Big Brother TV cameras – as they had asked him once before. One presumes, too, that the United States Senate could haul him up to answer questions without asking “do you mind if I do it again?” And, of course, one imagines – although one desperately tries not to – that if George ever fancied “being the cat” again, he wouldn’t feel the need to ask poor old Rula Lenska first.
Oh, George. I’m sure I speak on behalf of the vast majority of womankind when I say, please, shut up – go away, lock yourself in a room somewhere and educate yourself about what constitutes rape, why it isn’t OK and why it is important. Once you have done that, please never open your trap on the subject again. In fact, you could do worse than listen to the spokeswoman for Rape Crisis – and I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and suggest that she might just know more about what constitutes rape than you do – who yesterday pointed out in no uncertain terms all the things that were wrong with Galloway’s ludicrous assertions.
“Having had consensual sex with a woman once does not give a man licence to then have sex with her again at any time and in any way he pleases and assume consent is given,” she said. “Sex without consent is rape.”
Galloway’s remarks come in the same week that Todd Akin who, unbelievably, is standing for election in the US Senate, remarked that women’s bodies could prevent pregnancy in the event of “legitimate rape”. It adds up to nothing less than a disturbing trend in which male politicians feel they have the right to speak out about women’s bodies.
In the same way that Akin is the sort of hardline Republican who will rewrite human biology to find an argument that makes abortion unacceptable in every instance, even rape cases, so Galloway appears to be the sort of Assange apologist who will go to any length to make him look innocent.
This is not about Assange, or the extradition case that surrounds him, or the veracity or otherwise of the sexual assault charges he faces in Sweden. It is, however, about men redefining serious crimes against women to suit a political agenda.
Rape victims have a history of being ignored and accused of lying. They have a history of feeling terrified of speaking out in case they are not believed, or are ridiculed, or have to face their attacker and relive the crime. This is why so many rape victims never report their crimes and why so many find it difficult to speak out in court. The rape conviction in this country remains shockingly low because of this.
Comments by the likes of Galloway and Akin do nothing but push an outdated, male and patently untrue agenda that ridicules rape victims and belittles the horror of their experience. Galloway’s party is called Respect. Perhaps it’s time he looked up what the word means.
*The top spot still goes to Tommy Sheridan. The man once ice-skated with LaToya Jackson while dressed as a pepper grinder. No, really.
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