Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil

I read this article today.

I really need to stop reading articles. It isn’t good for my blood pressure.

In it, one of the men who has been convicted of the gang rape and murder of woman on a bus in Delhi in 2012,  has said in an interview that it was the woman’s fault that she was raped and murdered.

Firstly he says she should never been out on her own at night. No ‘good’ girl would do that is what he says.  He goes on to say that only about 20% of women are ‘good girls’, and that is why women are more responsible for rape than men.

I like the fact that he’s used percentages there. It shows he’s really thought about this, and he’s putting up a good, strong, logical argument. After all, the numbers don’t lie, do they? I’m also impressed by the fact that he uses the word ‘girl’ as a way of diminishing womanhood. Top marks for really putting the boot in verbally on top of the rape and murder. If you’re going down, you might as well do it in a blaze of glory.

Secondly, he says she should not have resisted when he and his friends tried to rape her. If she had let them do it, they would have dropped her home after they had finished with her, apparently.

Which of course would have made everything fine. I am fascinated by the implication that the door to door service somehow offsets the whole gang rape issue. He has also said that it will now be her fault when other girls get raped and murdered because she’s set everyone a bad example by resisting rape and having the absolute nerve to live long enough to give evidence that brought him to justice. He says that other rapists will now be forced to murder their victims so they don’t get caught the way he did.

I’m so glad he’s got an utterly clean conscience about the entire thing. He’s got it all worked out.

This is a man who has been sentenced to death for his crimes, so let us not talk of tougher penalties under the law being a good way of bringing down crime numbers in cases like this.

It is the thought processes that allow crimes like this to happen, that give men justification for their behaviour in the first place that I think are the issue here.

What struck me here, and in the article I quoted from a few days ago when I blogged about the man who escaped jail after being found in possession of thousands of images of child pornography, is the sense from both these men that it is somehow they who are the victims in these circumstances.

From what they say it seems like they expect us to feel sorry for them. We are supposed to understand how a series of circumstances which they infer they had no control over, pushed them into such abhorrent behaviour that one of them is now under sentence of death.

The reasons they cite for being driven to those extremes all firmly point the finger of blame at women. The man in the child porn case was quite clear in laying the blame on his wife’s success.  You see, if she hadn’t left him on his own for so long, he would never have been bored enough to watch child porn for five years. If that girl in Delhi hadn’t been travelling at night, if she hadn’t put up a fight, if she hadn’t survived long enough to give evidence, things could have been different.

If only women would be quieter, less conspicuous, more passive, more obedient, less wilful.  If only women would be less desirable, stay at home, keep quiet, these men would be fine is the message I am hearing in their language.

Women are just too tempting, and once a man has been tempted, he is of course, totally unable to exercise any form of self restraint whatsoever. If women do not know their place, men cannot be expected to regulate their own behaviour and nor can they be blamed if they are forced to show women the error of their ways. Women are asking for it.

Men are, as we so often see, helpless victims of circumstance, and women are manipulative and have powers which they wield to terrible effect…

Until they go too far.

When that happens it is entirely their own fault if they reap the whirlwind whether it be through being beaten to death, or because their husband turns to child pornography for solace instead of trying to talk to his wife and sort out the problems in his marriage.

From this you would think that women were so terribly frightening and so power crazed that it might come as a surprise when you realise how few women actually get to exercise that power in any public sphere. You think they’d be running the world by now.  It’s a good job they’ve got men like these lovely individuals around to keep them in line one way or another or goodness knows where we’d be.

This all smacks of the Victorian dichotomy of the angel in the house versus the scarlet woman: the polar archetypes that women have been forced to ricochet between for decades, being punished for failing to be either, or both or neither. You would have thought that we wouldn’t be drawing these parallels in the modern age, but it seems that there is still an underlying belief that these are the only roles women can play, and both of them are subject to approval from or punishment by men.

It is not just rape, murder, and paedophilia I’m talking about here. I’m also thinking of issues like Gamergate, where women dare to comment on what some men consider to be ‘their’ territory, or the debacle over Jane Austen’s face being on the £5 note, and the vicious, hate filled trolling of Caroline Criado-Perez.

Even if a woman knows her place and stays indoors, it seems she also has to shut her mouth, her mind and her legs in order to be allowed to even exist without some kind of brutality being meted out to her.

What then though? What if she operates within these confines? Would she be too much of a door mat, not have enough spine, be too frigid? Would she be asking for it in a different way? What about the women who do suffer in silence and then get asked when it’s too late: ‘Why didn’t you say anything?’ , ‘Why didn’t anyone do anything?’

It seems to me that women in these circumstances are never going to win. You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.

That’s what is so frightening to me about these cases.

What these men are really saying is that a woman can only be truly ‘good’ if she is utterly absent from herself in any way, an empty vessel for a man to fill with the idea of what he wants a woman to be.

Basically, you might as well be dead if you’re a woman and you run into a man like this.

Dead women are no bother at all you see. They don’t answer back. They don’t have an opinion. They don’t get in the way. They don’t do better than men at work, or take the place of your favourite male actors in films. They don’t want to do sports that only men should be capable of. They don’t want to compete in any way with men or their fragile sense of self worth.  They won’t question men when they want women to look after their children,  behave like a mute, keep house like an unpaid skivvy, fuck like a whore and dress like a school girl. They don’t get too fat, or too wrinkly, or too disgusting to please.  They don’t grow up.  They never let men down.

And if they won’t lie down and accept the living death they’ve been so kindly alloted like the ‘good girls’ they are supposed to be, then who can blame these men, and men like them if they take matters into their own hands and kill them for real?

11 responses to “Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil

  1. You are justifiably incensed. Well written.

  2. There are two possible responses to this post …
    1. Calm down dear
    2. Ah, she must be on her period


  3. On a more serious note …

    I agree with much of what you say but I think it’s important that we distance ourselves from the ‘all men are barstards’ attitude of some of the earlier feminist thinkers.
    We can all, rightly, condemn the violence meted out to innocent women in the name of male sexual gratification that is actually a statement of power and subjugation. One of my concerns is the women and girls who, connive at their own powerlessness by either remaining with or going back to abusive partners or, more topically, setting off to go to Syria.
    We have always been told that education is the key, educate a girl and you educate an entire village etc. These girls may not be highly educated by our standards but they are hardly ignorant peasants. What does it say about our society that any girl’s highest aspiration is to go and be married to a man she has never met, a man who believes that beheading innocent men who have travelled to the area to help the dispossessed is an honourable and glorious act, to bear him children and to raise them in a war zone?
    Despite the protestations of the columnists of the Daily Mail it is worth reflecting on what our society is doing to prevent these types of cases other than wailing and wringing our hands.
    Sorry, this is not overly coherent but you raise some complex and troubling issues.


    • I agree with you about not tarring all men with the same ‘all men are bastards’ brush. I hope I was clear in the article that I am talking about these men in particular, and men who think like them.

      I see what you’re saying about women and girls who connive at their own powerlessness, but I think we need to explore how and why they do that. Who teaches them that marriages like these are aspirational? Where are these messages coming from?

      I also agree that we need to look at what society is doing to teach both men and women what men and women’s roles are, if they’re doing anything at all.

  4. I concur with the comment above. I dare say no more.

  5. I totally don’t think all men are evil, and I chose these particular cases to comment on and hopefully tried to link what I was saying to specific issues raised in the language used either by the men themselves or the reporting of the cases.

    I do think things are getting better for women on the whole. I also think that there are many, many men out there who abhor what is happening as much as everyone else. I am not saying that this is an affliction of ALL men just like I’m not saying that all women are brilliant because they’ve got vaginas.

    It was just that these two articles spoke to me so powerfully and reminded me so much of those Victorian archetypes I wanted to explore and articulate it.

    • Oh, let’s be clear here, I’m not suggesting for a moment that that is your sentiment, it is however an attitude that appears to me to be growing in ‘popularity’ for want of a better word. I think that it’s important that we acknowledge how far we have come occasionally, a journey that would not be possible without some amazing people of both sexes. The journey is not over however and will never be truly complete if we get there by alienating half of the population.

      Smack goes the nail, we do indeed need to explore why SOME women, and indeed, some men continue to put themselves in harms way. I’m no social scientist so feel ill qualified to comment but it is surely essential that we have the debate, face up to some uncomfortable truths about ourselves and our society and then try to move on constructively.

      It seems to me that fear of the ‘political correctness police’ on the one hand and the frankly lunatic trolling fringe on the other is serving to stifle such debate – see previous comment!!

      Not getting at you lovey – honest xx

      • I totally didn’t think you were getting at me. Honestly and promisedly. I was interested in the points you made.

        I think you’re right. Debating this stuff is crucial

  6. I also think we need to remember that the reason that these cases are ‘newsworthy’ is because we are collectively horrified by their lack of remorse, which is a good thing. This is not to say that the wider debate about how women are regarded in society is not wholly relevant.

  7. Yes. It’s easy to generalise from a specific case that the issues are happening everywhere when they may not be. I don’t know if I’m more sensitive now than I used to be, or things get reported more widely than they used to, I just seem to see more of this kind of article at the moment. Our horror though, that’s a good thing, and not hiding it away. That’s good too.

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