I dropped C. off at a meeting this morning and on my return sat staring at bits of paper on the kitchen table. A compliments slip from the British Transport Police which accompanied the attack alarm they sent me. A letter from the same institution which confirmed I had 'reported an offence of SEXUAL ASSAULT on a FEMALE'. Three articles torn from Thursday's Independent referring to the low conviction rates for rape and sexual assault. I was also replaying a scene from the Hills Have Eyes, a terrible film which I saw last night, in which two grotesque mutant men assault and attempt to rape two young, blond and attractive women.
My feelings alternated between depression, anger and a sense of being chilled to the bone.
Depressed in that I feel powerless in the face of the statistics quoted by the journalists:
only 5.6% of reported rape cases (I wasn't actually raped) end in a conviction when it is estimated that perhaps just a quarter of women in that position have the courage to report the rape to the police.
Angry that this is where we are at as a society when 'almost half of all adult women in England and Wlaes have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking' (Robert Verkaik, Independent). It seems accepted that women are going to be attacked and that, still, the prejudices prevail. They'd been drinking/wearing revealing clothing/going home late on their own. The letter sent from the police was standard. It was sorry for any inconvenience I have been caused. Inconvenience? I felt dirty, ashamed, intimidated, confused, angry, upset. Not inconvenienced.
Other people have always thought me perhaps a little too naive, a bit too optimistic about human nature. I've been brought down to earth with a bump. I was on a full tube when I was assaulted. No-one did anything to help me. Not even an 'Oi, mate! Leave her alone'. That has possibly affected more than the attack itself. (I have been stalked and sexually harrassed before).
Chilled to the bone in the sense that everywhere we are surrounded by images of women as sexual objects. The scene in the Hills Have Eyes (a film I had no inclination to see in the first place) crystallised for me what women are up against. Films are full of scenes of women at the mercy of men. Magazines are full of naked women in sexual poses. Lap dancing and pole dancing have increasingly become accepted by young women as otherwise they are seen as prudish – they are sold the lie that they are liberated and free when they are in fact gratifying men's most basic, and sometimes degenerate, desires. The men who are highlighted as being deviant in some way are ugly, outsiders. Another lie. Women, if they are not stunners, are not taken seriously. Believe me: ordinary men commit crimes against ordinary women.
I am intelligent enough to realise that a lot of men can view the pictures, watch the films and still treat women with respect. Unfortunately, I am increasingly of the opinion that the mags and flicks reinforce a low opinion of women in society as a whole and that they have to go.
And just in case you wanted to ask, yes, it was late, yes, I was wearing a skirt and no, I hadn't had too much to drink.