When Jill Saward was raped in 1986, the judge presiding over the case handed her attackers longer sentences for the burglary they’d been committing at the time. His justification for this was that Saward’s trauma “had not been so great”.
The outcry this provoked led to changes in UK law, providing greater anonymity for rape victims and allowing prosecutors to appeal for longer sentences. Fast forward thirty years and you’d hope we were way beyond a time when anyone might dare to suggest that being raped by a stranger can’t be all that bad.
Alas, it appears we’re not. What’s even worse is, we don’t just have judges making these calls – they’re coming from feminists themselves.
Right now, there’s one feminist in particular who’s been responsible for this: Germaine Greer. In an interview for Australia’s public broadcaster to mark the publication of her essay On Rape, Greer said that while she was not suggesting rape was not damaging, “trauma is something that is dictated by the sufferer”: “I can’t bear huntsman spiders. It’s not their fault. It’s interesting to me that women are encouraged all the time to be terribly, terribly frightened, and nearly always of the wrong thing.”