Monday, 6 June 2011

Strange attitudes

 I was reading KLo’s post ‘Why is There an Inherent Disbelief of Rape Victims?’ and it reminded me of something my husband told me a little while ago.
Many years ago, before we were married, he was at a party in the 60s and talking to an attractive  young woman who was training to be a doctor. After a while she asked if he could give her some advice. What she told him shocked and astounded him.
She had been having a dental procedure when the dentist began making sexual advances to her which she had not invited and did not welcome. She reported the assault to the police whose response was, ‘We won’t do anything until we’ve received further complaints.’
The young woman was extremely distressed and asked Barry what she should do. He advised her to go back to the police and complain vociferously. Naturally, she was reluctant to do so and so he offered to go with her and voice her grievances but she backed off, not wanting to face the unsympathetic police again. Maybe talking to a young man who believed her story helped her to overcome her confusion and regain some confidence.
If such a stance had been applied by police to every criminal act, there would have been multiple robberies of houses, repeated muggings, several shoplifting offences, maybe even manifold murders before they would believe there was just cause to bring perpetrators to book.
Attitudes to sexual crimes have changed and continue to change, but far too slowly. There is too much acceptance that ‘professional people’  and people from ‘impeccable’ backgrounds are incapable of immorality and too much condemnation of young women’s dress, behaviour and attitudes added to a sense that victims ‘have asked for it.’  Those who speak out are brave to do so.


  1. I very much agree with you ! lots of men are still machos and a rape is just a little not important thing. It's a shame !
    You will see the French guy DSK the trial starts today, will probably be the poor innocent victim and the roommate had provoked him or maybe even raped ! Money does it all !

  2. Sad that sex crimes are still not taken as seriously as other forms of assault. It's good to see that changes in attitude are taking place, if too slowly.

  3. All too true, Janice. And there is more.
    I don't know about Britain, but I do know that in Canada, marital rape was legal until late in the 20th century. A woman whose husband forced her to have sex with him was told, even by her own mother, to "relax and enjoy it"!
    I can imagine that young woman's helplessness and outrage when, helpless in a dental chair, she faced unwanted advances. Your Barry must be a very kind man, to listen to her without disbelief, and to offer to help her speak to the police.
    This is one of those "Women of the world, unite!" causes, but instead of suffragettes we have sufferers.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  4. Hi Janice,

    Thank you for bringing up this important issue. I just noticed your blog on my sidebar, and your title grabbed my attention. Back when this story happened, child abuse was allowed too. I'm glad that things have changed as much as they have, even if they are not all the way perfect.

    Hope your week goes well,

    Kathy M.

  5. What you say is so TRUE! I'm afraid all too many men still do not understand how deeply women are affected by sexual crimes and that's why they do not take it seriously.

  6. I agree with you, Janice. How sad that there would have to be multiple complaints before police would be interested in pursuing the situation. Is not ONE enough?an

  7. Things have gotten a little better, but there is still an attitude of "blame the victim." It's shameful.

  8. Yes, I agree. I hope she was able to get closure on the horrible ordeal. Something like that can follow you for life...

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this story. Sexual crimes are unspeakable ... but more people are getting the courage to start to speak out. I wish that it hadn't taken me ten years to get to where I can do that, but the more the message gets out, the more (hopefully) victims will be able to at the very least get help.

  10. Unless the woman can prove what the dentist did, then it would be her word against his. I think this must be behind what the police were saying.

  11. Tolerance is essential. It frees our mind in so many ways, and opens it too. People should try it more often. They'd be pleasantly pleased with the result.

  12. Sad to see that women are being blamed for rapes when the blame should be squarely on the person doing it.

  13. It is such a difficult topic. Looking at it from the other side, as the mother of a young man, he tells me he is almost afraid to have sex with a girl in case she decides afterwards 'it was rape'.

    Please do not think that I believe women should dress to protect against rape, or that victims should not be heard and complaints acted upon, or that it is 'the woman's fault'; only that sometimes life is not black and white.

    The story you tell is appalling.

  14. One would think that things would have drastically change since the 60s but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case. Until the 'system' takes sexual crimes more seriously the victim will never feel free to speak out.

  15. I agree with you Janice, people who do speak out are very, very brave, especially knowing that some defense attorney is going to do their very best to malign the poor victim's character.

  16. Sigh, I've been a card carrying feminist since my teens... and sadly, I don't think we've come a long way, baby! Don't get me started...


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