Following the exposure of Todd Akin’s idiotic views on rape, a UK politician has this week caused controversy for stating that the accounts of the two women Assange is alleged to have attacked are, even if 100% true, ‘not rape.’
In a YouTube video published on Monday, George Galloway, MP for Bradford West, argued that the act of having sex with someone who is asleep after previous consensual sex cannot be called rape. As he put it so charmingly, “not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.”
Galloway’s claims have subsequently caused a storm of controversy and debate. Commentators, women’s organizations and politicians have lined up to denounce him. Rape Crisis, a UK rape center, called his views “offensive and deeply concerning“ and Galloways’ own party leader, Salma Yaqoob, followed by condemning his opinions, powerfully stating “let me be clear, as a politician and as a woman. Rape occurs when a woman has not consented to sex. George Galloway’s comments on what constitutes rape are deeply disappointing and wrong.”
What Mr Galloway fails to understand is that, regardless of the political complexities of the Assange case, his comments feed into the dangerous and sexist concept that the only rape victims entitled to protection and due diligence from the state are those who, under this ideology, have done “nothing wrong.” They are the women who have been attacked by strangers with brutal force. Not those who go on dates, drink or wear suggestive clothing. Somehow, these women are “asking for it.” And those who actually have sex immediately lose the right of self-determination completely. As Mr Galloway would understand it, one “insertion” somehow entitles free access to all future insertions.
Yet, as women’s organizations have been shouting for years, over 80% of rapes are committed by perpetrators known to the victim. The idea that rapists are all out in the bushes waiting to attack unsuspecting women is simply a myth. Slowly but surely, this myth is being debunked and it is heartening to see the outcry Galloway and Akin’s comments have caused. But more than heartening, the condemnation of their words and assumptions is essential if society is to truly understand that: “whatever we wear, wherever we go; yes means yes and no means NO!”
Photo Credit: Sophie Scott