A woman in a hot air balloon realised she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man below. “Excuse me,” she called, “can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The man consulted his portable GPS. “You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 10m above a ground elevation of 782m above sea level,” he said. “You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.” She rolled her eyes and said: “You must be a typical man!”
“I am,” replied the man. “How did you know?” “Well,” answered the balloonist,” everything you told me is technically correct, but you have no idea what I am feeling, and I’m still lost. Frankly, you are a MCP.”
The man grunted, thereby proving her point. “You must be a typical woman.””I am,” replied the balloonist. “How did you know?”
“Well,” said the man, “You ought to be enjoying yourself, and you don’t know how lucky you are that you met me. You’ve risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you cannot keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You’re in a worse position than you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it’s my fault.”
This joke, when taken seriously, outlines the basic differences between how women and men view rape.
By now, most of us know that Kenneth Clarke, the British Justice Secretary, intimated that there was “rape” and then there was “serious rape”, in order to justify the risible prison sentences being proposed for rapists.
He illustrated his statements offensively by suggesting that “rape” was only to be penalised heavily when it was committed by a man upon a woman whom he did not know, and through the use of violence. He neatly pigeonholed rape into categories such as ‘serious’, ‘proper’, ‘forcible’, as well as sex with consenting underage girls.
For the record, he also said that “date rapes vary extraordinarily from one to another”. I suppose that yes, it does make a difference whether the woman was drugged and/or drunk beforehand, and whether the rape happened in her house or in a hotel room, or in the back seat of a car. But the basis of it all is that a man does not want to know, or believe, or care that “no” is “no”.
He even had the nerve to suggest that critics of his plans were “focusing on rapists [when it came to the plea-bargaining issue] to add some ‘sexual excitement’ to the debate.” This effectively turned date rape and rape within marriage, and incest, into crimes that were not serious enough to warrant long prison terms (and my saying this, I know will heap coals upon my head for several reasons, not least that “no one deserves to go to prison anyway”).
It took an outcry to make him admit, grudgingly, that he will “choose his words more carefully in future” and he has also “accepted that rape is rape”.
But of course, he will not resign, since what he said, according to him, was simply an off-the-cuff remark. Perhaps, I say, he was so jaunty because he has never seen the haunted eyes of a victim, who has to live with the memories long after her rapist is a free man, having “paid his debt to society”.
Rape is about power. You cannot differentiate between violating someone’s body on the basis of whether she is your wife, your partner of less than one year, or someone whom you’ve only just met. Unfortunately, even in these supposedly enlightened days, a woman who sleeps around is a slut who is simply asking to be raped, but a man who does the same thing is merely “naughty” and “highly-sexed” and a “Jack Rabbit”.
And let’s not forget that there are some people in high places who think you can cure lesbians by raping them.
I will be the first person to admit that some women cry rape when they discover birth control has not worked. Others put themselves in a precarious position. Look at the reporter who agreed to interview Dominique Strauss-Kahn “in an empty apartment” and is only now coming out with accusations, possibly because at the time she’d feared it would be her word against his. It could be that she thought that as a journalist, she had the hubris to think he would never “dare” touch her. And he did.
The Accused was an object lesson about how the victim is always tarred and feathered when she decides to press charges – which is why some women never bother to do so. There is also the underlying fear that they will be labelled ‘loose’ if they go public. Sometimes, alas, it is ‘family honour’ that holds them back.
Nick Eriksen, the ex-BNP candidate was even more despicable than usual when he spoke about rape. In August 2005, he went on record as saying I’ve never understood why so many men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the feminazi myth machine into believing that rape is such a serious crime…Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal. A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched.
This man was known for saying vile things such as some women are like gongs; they need to be struck regularly, which he attributed to Noël Coward, and that that mothers should never go out to work [because] career women are unnatural and vile.
In order to illustrate my point, I have selected three of the most obnoxious specimens of the male gender, thus intimating that I’m a misandrist.
Of course I’m not – I’m merely biased. I am a woman.
Stories of an American couple's adventures in Italy
'Ghandi x' Nghid' (I have something to say) is a blog that focuses on current affairs and personal reflections - Andrew Azzopardi