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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

Trigger warnings.
When I was a kid I heard a joke. It was racist, sexist, generally demeaning but it went like this:

Confucius say no such thing as rape. Woman with skirt up run faster than man with pants down.

Because I have a very visual imagination I remember (to my shame) getting the giggles at some kind of Flinstones scene with a man falling over and a woman running away.

But of course the minute you think about it, it’s terrible. Rape does happen, and to insinuate the respective clothing of victim and perpetrator have *anything* to do with it, much less that they *prove* rape didn’t happen, is ridiculous. To my mind the joke acknowledged the ridiculousness of it, though it was still racist, sexist, stupid and open to a much more sinister form of humour, one that *did* blame women for rape, that *did* assume women lie, one that believes that women’s clothing *does* have any relevance to the occurence of rape.

Sadly, this logic seemed to come into play. In 2010. In a courtroom. In Sydney. From the jury.

During the trial the jury sent a note to the judge asking for more information about ”how exactly Nick took off her jeans”.

”I doubt those kind of jeans can be removed without any sort of collaboration,” the note read.

Oh you doubt it do you? Are you some kind of clothing physicist then? Do you have a scientific theory as regards the difficulty of producing downwards motion of fitted denim by the use of external force? I doubt it!!

[“Those kind of jeans” comes perilously close to those kinds of women in my mind, but let’s just stick to the facts and not conjecture (we are after all not the jury)].

Let’s turn to the defence counsel Paul Hogan. Not the Paul Hogan, however I doubt that even the Paul Hogan, completely untrained legally (so far as I know) would, if placed in the position of acting as Counsel for the Defence, have come up with an opinion to proffer quite so messed up as this:

“I’m suggesting it’s difficult for skinny jeans to be taken off by someone else unless the wearer’s assisting, collaborating, consenting,” Mr Hogan said.

Let’s discuss what they have articulated doubt over. Skinny jeans. They doubt they could be removed without any sort of collaboration.

I’d like to proffer an counter-opinion here (and I’d really like to make clear that in discussing this in relation to rape the following paragraphs might be triggering or distressing): when I have tight pants on I sometimes find them difficult to get off without assistance. Bending down, twisting, manouvering, it’s all quite complicated. They do tend to cling a little here and there, so that for me (NOT a 42 kilogram woman) I kinda need to take them partway off, then sit and tug them all the way off. But the issue is I’m trying to tug DOWN, from arms affixed ABOVE the pants.

What I need is someone there, someone who can just grab them and yank them – and miraculously (given they don’t have glue, chains, hooks, bolts or screws) they come straight OFF. One yank and they’re to my knees. A second from the feet and they’re off. Now I’m trying to imagine someone bigger and stronger than me trying to remove those pants while I put up a fight, while I struggle. So, I’ve got nothing right. I can try to stop them unbottoning. But if I weigh less/am weaker, not really effective. They WILL manage to undo my jeans. What then? I can flip around, thrash, lash out, try to grip on to the jeans with my knees, but there’s nothing to resist with til my knees, because I foolishly forgot to install my stock standard automated grapple hooks to shoot out of my hips at the first sign of fear and grab onto my teflon, non-tearing jeans.

So I resist with my knees, but even there. One big yank and I reckon it’s over. I probably now have sore, bruisy and denim chaffed calves, but there is no way for me to hang on against external force. So probably they will come all the way off. But even if they stayed around my knees, do we REALLY think that rape can’t happen while my pants are around my knees? Because I’m here to tell you that sex can. And if sex can, I’m not quite sure why rape can’t. And I’ll tell you something else (that is distressing) were a woman’s knees then bound by her own pants that HADN’T been pulled off, and the rapist put his body weight on top of her? She’s now lost her ability to fight effectively with her legs.

Well. Clearly then. No rape HAPPENED because she was wearing skinny jeans. Those impossible to remove articles of clothing. A big strong man exerting external force simply doesn’t have a chance against fitted denim on a woman’s body. But the jury and the defence counsel seem to think that while he had no chance without her consent, if she chose to help, or remove them herself, they’d just slip right off?

So, to counter the very convincing legal/scientific argument that ‘they doubt’ the pants could come off without the wearer’s “assisting, collaborating, consenting”. Well let’s look at this shall we. A grown man, so the theory goes, has NO CHANCE of removing fitted denim. UNTIL the 42 kilogram woman wearing them assists: assists how? Um…by…wriggling in a helpful way? By shifting ever so slightly where the denim sticks a little? (But shh…if we admit it’s just sticking a little, then we might HAVE to admit that the man could still easily get the pants off) Collaborates? How? Turning off those automated grapple-hook-hips? Removing bolts/screws/glue? Oh yeah, none of that stuff is real, so HOW would she ‘collaborate’? I guess…by wriggling in a helpful way? Not much in the way of ‘UH-HUH!! Collaboration!’ is it? ‘Consenting’? Again, short of turning off the non-existent grapple hooks I really can’t see how consent plays in, but let’s give them the maximum benefit of the doubt and really expose how ludicrous this is shall we? I mean consent? ‘Yes, you may remove my jeans’. Well even that doesn’t mean rape couldn’t have happened does it? But let’s look at this consent-re-jeans-issue. She says she did not consent and that he pulled her jeans off. They say he could not without her consent. So we’re expected to believe that if a Navy guy tries to pull the pants of a size 6, 42 kilo woman and she struggles he WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REMOVE THOSE JEANS. But, if she ‘consents’ he could…because she is just THAT MUCH STRONGER? Because she turns off all the ‘resist jeans removal devices’? Or because she wriggles in a helpful, not unhelpful way? So the major difference between his ability to take off the jeans is the way in which she wriggles: if she resists, no can do, if she assists, done deal? I would REALLY LIKE TO SEE the fucking science on this: a big man exerts all his external force on a pair of jeans and yet a pair of legs with no special devices is meant to simply RESIST by a winning combination of flailing and ‘lack of consent’. I call bullshit you arseholes, I call bullshit and I say you KNOW it is bullshit.

I am (and I should be used to it by now but I am not) SIMPLY FUCKING ASTONISHED, disappointed, and disgusted that in this day and age ANYONE can think like this, much LESS that it could gain any traction whatsoever in a court of law. It has all the traction of a pair of legs trying to resist skinny jeans being yanked off, ie NOT MUCH AT ALL!

Do I sound angry? Sorry. I am FURIOUS actually, I hope I didn’t mislead you. What a woman wears has jack shit to do with whether she was raped, and a pair of skinny jeans can be removed by another person much more easily than they can be removed by the wearer. This sudden resurgence of a variation on the ‘look what she was wearing’ argument is simply astonishing and frankly has no place in a court of law whatsoever.

Courts in Italy and Korea have also grappled with the skinny jeans issue. [ISSUE???]

In 2008 a Seoul court overturned the seven-year sentence of a man convicted of raping a woman wearing skinny jeans.

In the same year an Italian court upheld a rape conviction, ruling that “jeans cannot be compared to any type of chastity belt”. [DAMN STRAIGHT]

_____________________________________________________________________________

The chairwoman of the National Association of Services Against Sexual Assault, Veronica Wensing, said a woman’s outfit should not be an issue in alleged rapes. ”Any piece of clothing can be removed with force.”

Well thank you Veronica Wensing for making some actual sense. I am outraged that this bullshit was given any leeway in a court of law in Sydney. The next time someone talks to me about ‘backwards’/’sexist’ countries and cultures while maintaining that everything’s dandy over here I am going to go apeshit. This is not a joke, this is not trivial, this is not just an exception: this is about how we talk about women, about how we talk about rape, in a court of law. This is appalling, and we all know it, and I’m astonished that Counsel for the Prosecution didn’t object, or that the objections were overruled, I’m astonished that there wasn’t movement on the trial when the jury sent that note. He is ‘Nick’ and she is ‘her’? They doubt? They want the judges advice on the removal of skinny jeans? What the FUCK is going on here, this is a circus, not a valid legal proceeding. It’s times like this I’m oh-so-glad to be studying law. I feel torn between saying ‘Fuck you law’ and going off to be a busker or join the circus, and saying ‘That’s it, I’m telling you I’m going to be a criminal prosecutor so I can decimate your arguments in court’. But you know…imagine how very depressing when you throw everything you have at it, when you know you’re right to object, and in the end they still acquit on this bullshit grounds. It’s just disgusting.

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