Germaine Greer – ‘Rape Should Get You Community Service’ – Is She Right?

I was messing around on Twitter on Thursday before I started work. I would like to say it was to find good content, but in all honesty I was checking to see whether Nabil Fekir had signed for Liverpool yet. However, when I saw Germaine Greer trending I realised something controversial was happening, and like a car crash on the other side of the road, I couldn’t look away.

Woman sitting on the ground head in hands

It seem that Greer has stated that most rapes aren’t violent, so a fitting sentence would be 200 hours of community service.

A Controversial Speech

Speaking at the Hay literary festival, the feminist academic argued that rape is rampant in society. Sadly, the legal system can’t cope with it because it always comes down to the issue of consent, with the victims relegated to mere “bits of evidence”.

She said the system was not working and radical change was needed. “I want to turn the discourse about rape upside down. We are not getting anywhere approaching it down the tunnel of history,” she said.

“Most rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever,” Greer said. “We are told that it is a sexually violent crime, an expert like Quentin Tarantino will tell us that when you use the word rape you’re talking about violence, a throwing them down… it is one of the most violent crimes in the world. Bullshit Tarantino.

“Most rape is just lazy, just careless, insensitive. Every time a man rolls over on his exhausted wife and insists on enjoying his conjugal rights he is raping her. It will never end up in a court of law.

“Instead of thinking of rape as a spectacularly violent crime, and some rapes are, think about it as non consensual … that is bad sex. Sex where there is no communication, no tenderness, no mention of love.”

She stated that she believes that rape cases are failing because of lack of evidence. She believes that if you believe the woman as a matter of course, you can lower the penalty.

“If we are going to say trust us, believe us, if we do say that our accusation should stand as evidence, then we do have to reduce the tariff for rape.”

Greer acknowledged her thesis would be controversial. “It is moments like these, I can hear the feminists screaming at me, ‘you’re trivialising rape!’

“Well I’ll tell you what … You might want to believe that the penis is a lethal weapon and that all women live in fear of that lethal weapon, well that’s bullshit. It’s not true. We don’t live in terror of the penis … A man can’t kill you with his penis.”

She said that, in cases of obviously violent rape, the courts should concentrate on the violence which should attract bigger sentences, rather than having long trials in which women are humiliated for long periods.

It has to be stated, that at the age of 18, Greer said she was raped herself so will likely have more knowledge of the effects than me.

She did question a statistic which said that 70% of rape victims had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, as opposed with 20% of conflict veterans.

“What the hell are you saying? Something that leaves no sign, no injury, no nothing is more damaging to a woman than seeing your best friend blown up by an IED is to a veteran?”

Society wanted women to believe that rape destroyed them, she said. “We haven’t been destroyed, we’ve been bloody annoyed is what we’ve been.”

Like a Lead Balloon

Needless to say, this has gone down terribly on social media. It isn’t the first time Greer has been controversial, and I have to be clear, usually I find feminist on feminist arguments rather dull, their fight to sound more sanctimonious than a rival putting me to sleep. However, as rape affects every one of us of us, this is remarkably more interesting.

I am not going to start tearing her apart. She is seemingly the victim of rape, so as I said, will know more about it than me. But what I will say is that it is HER experience. That doesn’t mean it is everyone’s.

We already have different sentence severity. Violent rape where you jump out in a mask will get you a longer stretch then reckless behaviour. Yet no matter how violent the attack was, when someone is penetrated against their consent it is a violation. Some may act with anger like Greer, but others may feel much worse, and completely vulnerable. It is wrong, in my opinion, for Greer to photocopy her experience on to everyone else.

I understand where she is coming from, in a way. Rape is often a case of one person’s word against someone else’s. Therefore, unless we want to just go back to pitchforks and lanterns, then the accuser will need to be put on the stand and their account tested. I am not sure that a case of ‘just believe them, but then give the accused less time accordingly’ makes too much sense.

One of the problems is, as soon as you give something a really low sentence, you basically say ‘it is no big deal’. I would love those who have been attacked to have the same mindset as Greer, that they haven’t been destroyed for life, and they are more pissed off and believe the accused is a dickhead. But, as soon as the sentence says it is no big deal, you create a culture where potential offenders think it is no big thing, and they are more likely to do it.

Changes Needed

We do need to work out how we can make things easier for complainants, yet keep it fair for the accused. So, if Greer has started that conversation off then that is a good thing. I just, as an individual, feel she has gone too far and has over-simplified the issue.

My thought are with all those who have been at any time victims of sexual assaults. Everyone deals with things differently. My hope is that you come out fighting.

Martin Ward
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Martin Ward

Martin Ward is a well respected editor and writer with over five years experience in the adult industry. After stints in the Escort Advertising call centre and on the escort forum, he moved into the site editor position around three years ago.

Since then, he has specialised in articles on the battle for equal rights for sex workers, sexual health, as well as bringing the readers fun news from around the world. He also has a major interest in LGBT rights, and is an active campaigner in this field.

When he isn't fighting the good fight, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, and young daughter. He also enjoys reading and taking long walks.
Martin Ward
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