Around ten years ago, my closest female friend – let’s, for the sake of this piece, call her Violet – went for a drink with a mutual female friend (who we’ll call Pauline) on a Saturday night; after the pair had got into conversation with two unattached guys (as often happens), Pauline abruptly exited the pub, leaving a ‘tipsy’ Violet in the company of two men about whom she knew absolutely nothing, an action which struck me as remarkably irresponsible. It turned out Violet’s newly-single status had caused Pauline to enter that weird feminine phase of competitive bitchiness that makes a mockery of ‘the sisterhood’; suddenly seeing Violet as an unattached rival in the pulling game and perhaps perceiving Violet was receiving the kind of attention ordinarily reserved for her, Pauline abandoned Violet when she was in an extremely vulnerable position.
Thankfully, nothing horrible happened, though it could have done as Violet walked half-a-mile home alone in an intoxicated state in the wee small hours of Sunday morning; she only told me of this a few days later. Not only was I angry with Pauline’s petty conduct, but I was annoyed that Violet hadn’t rung me to accompany her on the journey home; I only lived a short distance from the pub in question and would have gladly joined her simply to ensure she had a safe trip back to base. This wasn’t me acting as Sir Galahad; it was me offering to come to a friend’s assistance as well as expressing a streetwise awareness of how some men can exploit a young woman when her wits are diluted by alcohol.
I’m pretty certain mothers issue warnings to their teenage daughters about such scenarios; they wouldn’t amount to much as mothers if they didn’t. It is nothing more than basic common sense. After all, drink can alter behaviour in ways that no other ‘legal high’ is capable of; it can make us violent and aggressive; it can make us extrovert and hilarious; and it can make us uninhibited to the point whereby situations we’d reject when sober are stripped of their cautionary warning signs.
Back when women wouldn’t surrender their virtue without a ring on their finger, some men resorted to plying them with booze in the hope it would loosen more than just their suspender belts; it was a risky business prior to the widespread availability of birth control, but it happened – something that those of us whose parents were rushed into a shotgun wedding are conscious of, even if we ourselves weren’t ‘courting’ at a time when the rules of the game were far more formal than they are now.
The summing-up of Judge Lindsey Kushner when preparing to sentence a convicted rapist in Manchester last week seemed to speak of the changing climate where sexual morals are concerned; she strongly stressed the victim of the convicted man wasn’t ‘asking for it’, but she did emphasise the perils inherent in young women drinking themselves into a stupor when there are men around who seize on the vulnerability drink can engender. She said: ‘Girls are perfectly entitled to drink themselves into the ground, but should be aware people who are potential defendants to rape gravitate towards girls who have been drinking. It shouldn’t be like that, but it does happen and we see it time and time again.’
Who could possibly dispute the reasonable logic in the words of a judge making her final summary in her final case before retiring? Well, who else but that fanatical and unhinged Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria (lucky Northumbria) – the North East’s answer to Valerie Solanas, Vera bloody Baird. A bitter and twisted real-life ‘Millie Tant’ with enough chips on her shoulder to keep an ailing fish shop in business for a good couple of years, Baird’s whole shtick is a form of psychological entrapment that is intent on exposing all men as the rapists-in-waiting she believes them to be. A female judge urging her fellow females to not put themselves in a position where actual rapists-in-waiting could capitalise on their vulnerability is apparently part of the problem.
Judge Kushner’s warnings were (according to Baird) ‘victim-blaming’; she accused the judge of implying ‘it’s your fault for having attracted him in the first place’. One could say Baird had reacted in characteristic knee-jerk fashion without having read the judge’s full statement, but Baird probably had her reaction prepared long before, merely waiting for any judge to utter similar sentiments before being able to use it. Her response was utterly predictable if one examines her record.
Thanks to Baird’s insistence that virtually every intimate exchange between the sexes constitutes male aggression, the reporting of incidents of sexual assault has risen, though it’s worth bearing in mind context. The mentally disturbed resident of a care home can call the police to claim she’s been raped, and even though the police are accustomed to receiving such calls on a regular basis and are well aware the caller in question is a deluded fantasist, the call is still registered as a report of a sexual assault. Baird also instigated the committees comprising the usual do-gooders with too much time on their hands that sit-in on rape cases in the North East, issuing severe admonishments to the judiciary should a jury find an accused man innocent. To hand someone with such an extreme and biased agenda the kind of power Baird can call upon is a dangerous state of affairs indeed.
I doubt few parents of young women or anyone with any semblance of common sense could find fault with Judge Kushner’s summary; she never hinted girls who drink too much are inviting sexual assault; she simply cautioned them against putting themselves in a place where the kind of men who do exploit a drunken woman have free rein to act upon their worst instincts. For the likes of Vera Baird to hijack the summary to slot into her own tunnel-vision viewpoint and present it to the media as an outrage says everything you need to know about that disgraceful individual.
© The Editor