A couple of days ago, the campaign organisation Everyday Victim Blaming started a Change petition. This was a response to Keith Vaz and the Home Affairs Select Committees consideration of allowing men suspected of rape to have anonymity.
This is a terrible idea for many, many reasons, most of which EVB have covered brilliantly in their petition. When rape suspects are named, it gives other victims the chance to come forward. Many rape victims won’t report to the police for fear of not being believed or of being blamed for what happened to them. Naming a suspect leaves a space for women to speak up alongside others.
EVB are a hugely successful and influential campaigning group. In two years, they have made significant changes to the way the media report on domestic abuse and sexual violence. They have provided journalists with specific guidance on this type of crime, and have worked in partnership with a number of other women’s organisations to change the culture and language around victims.
The women behind EVB are intelligent, passionate and committed. Between them they have decades of campaigning experience, personal experiences of domestic and sexual violence and backgrounds in academia, women’s services, journalism and activism. The EVB member who wrote the petition has a two MSc in Holocaust Studies both on women’s testimonies of sexual violence. She is a journalist, writer and blogger. She has been published, speaks at conferences and is currently writing a book on mothering. In short, these women are clever.
It is, then, remarkable to find out that certain high profile feminists are refusing to support the petition because they believe it’s not written well enough for them. This smells of, “I don’t like you so I’m not going to support you.” In fact, it doesn’t just smell of it, it stinks. Especially given the subject of the petition.
How on earth can you claim to be a feminist but only support the women you like?
How can you claim to be a feminist and then refuse to support a petition that is actively campaigning to keep women safe?
The only reason you would do this, is because your focus is only on yourself and what feminism can do for you. I would suggest that you reflect on your patronising and dismissive attitude towards other women’s campaigning, and remember this; your profile came off the back of other womens support and campaigning. And their money.