On totally respectable women

Catherine Bennett notes that judges and cops and politicians are still saying that some women deserve to be murdered:

[Sarah] Everard was, Lord Justice Fulford said, “a wholly blameless victim”. Ah. The other sort – the woman who contributes to her own death at the hands of a pitiless stranger – evidently lives on in the mind of the senior judiciary. Forty years after the police and prosecution virtue-rated victims of the mass murderer Peter Sutcliffe, the criminal justice system applauds a female victim who lives up to the highest patriarchal standards. Sir Michael Havers said at Sutcliffe’s trial that “perhaps the saddest part of the case” was that “the last six attacks were on totally respectable women”.

As opposed to whores, he means. Of course, if Sutcliffe had murdered any johns Sir Michael Havers wouldn’t have ruminated on their failure to be respectable – it’s only women who become suitable murder victims via transactional sex.

Turning to the mitigating arguments, Fulford acknowledged of Couzens that “some of his colleagues have spoken supportively of him”…But only thanks to the judge did we discover that even after he was known to have kidnapped and killed, the depraved Couzens – with his prostitutes and violent pornography – enjoyed support from colleagues. Are they among the officers now being investigated?

Is the Mayor of London reinstating Joan Smith as co-chair of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) board? No. I expect the same No applies to Bennett’s question. Are any male-dominated institutions doing anything about misogyny and violence against women besides uttering brief platitudes about it? No.

David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary, was among the prominent men tweeting their abhorrence: “Enough is enough. We need to treat violence against women and girls as seriously as terrorism.”

Sometimes, you gather, it’s acceptable to discuss endemic male violence against women and girls and sometimes it’s not. Just before the Everard verdict, Lammy had angrily dismissed women exercised by this very subject as “dinosaurs”. Women who value women-only spaces – where they feel safe from male violence – he characterised as “hoarding rights”.

Hoarding rights at the expense of men who want to invade those spaces. We need to take violence against women and girls seriously, and we need to welcome men into women’s spaces and punish any women who object.

Lammy, along with some Labour colleagues, simultaneously denounces male violence, then, taking victim-blaming to as yet unprecedented levels, is furious with any women concerned about losing the few places that individuals he depicts as terrorists can’t access.

So which bit of it can we conclude they really mean?

Not the first bit.

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