Second Chances

I love this post by Amy, the genius behind Field & Fallow.  I  love its eloquent anger.  Anger at how it’s become acceptable that  violence against women just happens, and how it’s become at worst celebrated, at best ignored, in popular culture.  And it’s not just the Daily Mail in on the act.  It’s women, as well as men, educated women who write and who have a public voice.  How did this become acceptable?  When did we stop being shocked that someone who has raped, or has beaten, or has been a  perpetrator of domestic abuse can continue life as was before?    

Over to you, Amy:

The news that Channel 5 have just offered Justin Lee Collins £100k to be in the next series of Big Brother should have shocked me. JLC as he was affectionately known in days gone by was found guilty of serious domestic abuse (although I think his official conviction was actually termed ‘harrassment’) only a couple of months ago. He was given a paltry community service sentence and told to think about what he’d done. I used think he seemed like a nice guy, he was funny, and was great in Rock Of Ages, but personally I can only think of him now as someone who thinks it’s OK to ban your partner from speaking to people, call them awful things, leave them stranded in a place they don’t know and threaten to kill them. The media, however, obviously still sees him as a ‘personality’. And of course he’s not the only one.

If there is anyone left in the universe who doesn’t know my feelings about Chris Brown I’d be astounded. Sadly I’m not astounded that he is still feted by the music industry, given prestigious awards, has a dedicated following of young girls, gets number one single generating amounts of radio airtime, or even that Rihanna has gone back to him. The media treat this like it’s entertainment, nothing more real than an episode of Eastenders. It’s not even a new story. It’s just this generation’s Whitney & Bobby, Tina & Ike, a real life soap opera keeping the viewers in suspense about what happens next.

Then there’s Mike Tyson. There are many ways he could be described – sporting champion, actor, businessman, that guy who bit that other guys ear off, or rapist. Somehow the last one of those always gets overlooked though.

I feel as though this is starting to become more and more common. In a sense that’s a positive thing. In years gone by these kind of issues were hidden away and hushed up and victims suffered in silence. But while we all know that these issues are horrifically prevalent the openness which we now have about it hasn’t helped to get victims’ voices heard. Our ‘innocent until proven guilty’ culture still seeks to blame the victims in so many of these cases. How often have you heard or read that a man was ‘provoked’ or that a rape victim was somehow asking to be attacked? Just look at the reaction when Ched Evans was sentenced and the awful vitriol that his victim was subjected to.

And the thing that worries me is that it’s not just the media that behaves this way. There’s a ‘banter’ culture seeping into the mainstream in which supposedly normal people think it’s perfectly OK to make sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and racist ‘jokes’ under the cover of ‘harmless banter’. The prevalence of rape jokes at this year’s Edinburgh festival was appalling. And there are numerous websites which have taken up the ‘rape is funny’ mantra and run with it – Unilad is perhaps the most well known.

Even women are getting in on the act. Earlier this year a certain wedding blog ran a post about “50 Shades Of Grey” which boldly stated that asserting that rape fantasies could be potentially damaging was ‘utter tosh’. When I publicly voiced my concerns about this I was ignored and when other members of this community added their views they were deleted. With blogs, twitter, and online commenting (shockingly the Guardian’s Comment is Free pages remain one of the most women-hating arenas I’ve witnessed) everyone can air their views and influence their readers.

Sometimes I wonder if the idea of a ‘thought police’ is really such a bad one.

Categories: Politics and Feminism
30 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Chirsty
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Very well argued, thought provoking, intelligent writing. This is why I come to AOW every day. Thank you Anna.

  2. Posted December 11, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I am afraid of the world our children will grow up. Is there any innocence left? With violence and sex normalized by the news, videogames, media, etc. and toys like the Bratz, I really wonder. Forbidding stuff is counterproductive too, and you don’t want to isolate your kids from the world. Hard hard.
    And I am definitely worried / shocked by the message spread by 50 shades (and all the buzz around saying “finally, a book that details what women want !!!!! )

    • Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      I found 50 shades really shocking, if I was an impressionable teenager it would lead me to believe that it’s ok if my boyfriend/ husband is controlling and stops me going out or speaking to other people because he is doing it because he loves me!!! Eurgh! xox

  3. Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I worry that CIF is representative of people’s subconscious that dare not be spoken. It scares me.


    • Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      It scares me too. It’s weird because the Mail publishes horrid articles but has fairly normal comments and the Graun is the opposite.

    • Gemma C-S
      Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      And reading the comments on CIF too… at least the authors of the articles are transparent, as in, we know who they are, it’s the thought for me that the person at the computer next to me at work might be making those comments… it fills me with dread and makes me not want to have daughters.

      • Posted December 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Gems, that’s exactly what bothers me too.

  4. Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Oh Amy, thanks for writing this. Thinking about it, I feel horribly angry, deeply sad and frighteningly impotent. I wish that wishing for something hard enough could make it true. Sometimes reading comments on articles or other sites online makes me genuinely fear for the world. It makes me feel sick with grief for humankind that anonymity grants a coward’s kind of bravery, allowing people to feel safe in spewing vitriol and abuse at others. At least the BCD series uses this power for good to encourage strength and understanding.

  5. Sarah Rose Moore
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The thing that annoys me most is when people claim that girls/women who wear short skirts and walk home alone from a night out are asking for trouble. How about parents teach their sons to respect women rather than badgering their daughters to dress sensibly and stay with a group?!

  6. Lauren
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Great article. I recently had an argument with a very close friend who paid to go to a private dinner with mike Tyson. Her and her brother are intelligent 20 something’s and I was shocked to hear them defending this man and stating things like the woman who was raped was lying to cash in.
    I find it terrifying the number if young girls that publicly defend chris brown. I’m a legal aid solicitor and do a lot of work with woman’s aid the stories I hear are horrific and I dread to think of the situations these girls could end up in when they say things like, everyone deserves a second chance and Rihanna forgave him!

  7. Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I’ve come back to this post several times over the past few hours trying to think of a comment which does it justice. So far all I’m come up with is:

    HELL. YES.

    • Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I wish I could think of a comment which does my sentiments justice, but instead I shall repeat:


      I was quite upset to be blocked and removed by said wedding blog actually. What kind of blog which encourages a ‘community’ and discussion posts removes thought provoking comments?!

      Not AOW that’s what! :)


      • Becca
        Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Which blog is this? I’m blocked from a blog too. We can get T-Shirts…

        T-Shirts…where have I heard that before?

        • Katielase
          Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          I’m blocked too. I don’t mind though, it makes me feel like a rebel for perhaps the only time in my life ever.

          K x

  8. Katielase
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    This is a timely post for me. My twitter stream over the last few days has been full of the death of Patrick Moore, both people lauding him and his achievements, and people pointing out that while was a great man in some ways, he was also a raging misogynist. What has made me really angry (I threw my phone at a pillow) is how many people I have seen dismissing his misogyny (and his homophobia and xenophobia) as minor character flaws that should be ignored in light of his other achievements. A belief that women are inferior humand is a character flaw now. A minor one, apparenlyy. So, stop whining, ladies, and remember this great man as he should be remembered, as clearly better and more valid than you. His achievements are more valid than your concerns.

    This whole thing makes me so angry, and when you try to open up a dialogue on it, people shout you down, you’re making a fuss, you hysterical woman, it’s not really a problem, you just think it is because you’re a girl and you don’t understand. Either that or you’re clearly a man-hating feminazi. I’m honestly neither a naive hysterical girl or a man-hating bitch, I’m a woman who would like to be considered genuinely equal. Currently, we’re not. The record needs to change. Amy, I love this. Please never stop getting angry, your anger is inspiring. It’s makes me want to fight.

    K x

    • Katielase
      Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Apparently it makes me so angry I can no longer type accurately! Typo-tastic, sorry!

      K x

    • Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Love the anger – who needs spelling when there’s fury to be typed?! Brilliant.

      I wonder if these ‘journalists’ and writers would feel the same if it has been their daughter who was attacked by someone like Chris Brown or Mike Tyson, or if their female friend had been the subject of vitriol in the press? These is something to be said for treating others as you would like to be treated yourself (or as you would like your nearest and dearest to be treated).

    • Peridot
      Posted December 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      And hurrah for you too Katie. Even though you appear to be a women, you are also able to construct a clear, cogent and persuasive argument – who’d have thought? ;-)

  9. Becca
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I agree and feel unbelievable pity for anyone that suffers domestic or sexual abuse. However, two points:

    1. Its not always women that are badly treated
    Its important to remember that some women are the worst? I assume we’re not saying that they’re being like this because they were provoked by men? I had a friend (note the had) who treated her boyfriend appaulingly. She tried to cut him off from his friends and family and made him feel worthless. I cared about him as much as her and, in the end, we had a massive falling out about the way she treated him. Sometimes its not always women that are victims.

    2. People can change
    Our justice system is based on punishment and reform. Sometimes people change. Are you suggesting that these people should be social outcasts forever? Even if they have undergone therapy and even been to prison?

    Aside from this…I couldn’t agree more with Katielase “This whole thing makes me so angry, and when you try to open up a dialogue on it, people shout you down, you’re making a fuss, you hysterical woman, it’s not really a problem, you just think it is because you’re a girl and you don’t understand. Either that or you’re clearly a man-hating feminazi. I’m honestly neither a naive hysterical girl or a man-hating bitch, I’m a woman who would like to be considered genuinely equal”

    To do a Nicole…MaaaHOOOOOsive clicks for Katielase *****

    • Becca
      Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      I realise that the examples above aren’t people that have been convicted or reformed in any way….was just making the point that some people can.

    • Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I agree with you Becca. But I think women who do that are (rightly) vilified in a way that men often aren’t.

  10. Crysta
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I’d love to know why it is that society does this for certain crimes. No one asks to be murdered, yet a person can provoke another to abuse or rape them? If you’re a woman you asked for it, were doing the wrong thing, wearing the wrong thing, drinking the wrong thing. Oh, and if you’re a man being abused etc, you must be weak and pathetic.

    As for the way the abusers are forgiven so quickly, it makes me sick to the stomach. I’m all for innocent until proven guilty. I’m all for second chances, but you have to EARN a second chance. You have to be repentant and acknowledge the fact you’ve done wrong. As for Chris Brown…that tattoo…ugh

    Over the past year I’ve been trying to explain to my boyfriend and male friend what it feels like to be a woman. To walk around, feeling exposed, getting cat calls, whistles and stares all because you’re in a pretty dress. To try and join a predominantly male conversation online and get shut out because you “don’t understand what’s being talked about”. To be told not to dress a certain way, to act a certain way, because if you don’t you might get hurt and after all, you should have realised you might be attacked. To see the reaction the media, jury and others have towards cases when they very, very rarely make it to court. Oh, and if the man in your life is “kind” enough to “advise” you on what you can and cannot do, you should just realise it’s because he “loves” you.

    As for blocking people from blogs because their reasonable and inoffensive comments aren’t what they agree with? Pathetic. That’s all I can say.

    There is so much more I could say, but I’d probably write something twice the length of this post!

  11. Posted December 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    When I read this post this morning I wanted to sit down, re-read it, digest it and work out exactly what I was trying to say. Now I’ve got the chance to and I feel a bit stumped, I feel like I’ll be repeating pretty much as that has already been said. Some things really bother me, the JLC going on Big Brother for one. Would he have been asked to go on if he had been out of the public eye for the past year or so? Probably not, he wasn’t exactly up to much. Now he’s been in the tabloids again, his name is recognisable once more and he’s getting media coverage allowing him to resurrect his career and effectively a manly pat on the back and congratulations for doing something wrong. It’s scary that people aren’t saying “hang on, we can’t have him he’s an abusive man, he’s committed a crime” I don’t understand why not. It really, really annoys me that there’s a distinct possibility he’ll appear on the show, come across as an alright guy, hey he can crack a joke, he’s entertaining in the and all that kind of thing and instantly he’s deemed ok again and whatever has happened in the past is forgotten.
    I agree that people can change and can have remorse for their actions but I have a stronger opinion that they thought it was acceptable to carry these actions out in the first place, their remorse is secondary to their action. He, or any abusive partner of either sex may have regret for their past actions but ultimately they still did those things. I know we can get even deeper into debate and say things like what about if they weren’t of sound mind and the likes at the time but here I’m talking about people who are considered to have full understanding of their actions. Right rant over, i’m not even sure where this rant has gone or is going now and I’ve repeated myself far too many times for this to make sense. Time to go and do some meditative breathing or something & chill my boots

  12. Posted December 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Just one more thing…
    What’s the point in deleting comments when blogs are places for opinion and discussion? As adults we all understand that we may not agree with everyone’s point of view, life would be dull if we did and some people’s points of view may really get our backs up BUT it makes no sense to me to invite debate and delete the parts you don’t agree with. I don’t know the story about deleting comments or where it all was, that is none of my business but the deleting and effectively removing somebody’s voice just bothers me.

  13. Posted December 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Great post. I completely agree. My husband follows Joey Barton on twitter and I can comprehend the hero worship of a guy who has been charged and convicted with a serious assault.
    I repeatedly fume to myself and to him when he tries to tell me the “amusing” things that Joey Barton has tweeted.
    Re JLC I agree with the principal in the post but I was very confused about the coverage of what he was accused of saying or doing to the victim in question. It may have been the way the red tops and the DM had covered the story…but I assumed he would be found not guilty.
    Of course he hasn’t been seen to appeal against his conviction therefore it is likely to be true but I guess this is just another example of manipulation by the media.

    • Posted December 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      And what I mean by confused is that it seemed to be JLC who seemed to be the victim and his lady was unstable and lying. That the tone that most of the articles took.

  14. Kate G
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    I think what bothers me most is the way banter about rape has entered society at large – it does my head in.I am origially from South Africa where a woman or child is raped EVERY 3 MINUTES. I canot comprehend how people can joke about it. for anyone who can bear it I recommend watching an excellent Dispatches documentary called the Lost Girls of South Africa, it is heartbreaking.

    Strangely enough rape banter does not happen there the same way it does in th UK, depite being a country of shocking violence.

    Anyway aside form that I also wanted to say his great post has reminded me to keep standing up for what I belive in and to keep saying no, this should not be joked about, even if im still seen as a hysterical femail. Sometimes it gets easy to just leave the conversation as rape banter had become so common.

  15. Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    Brilliant post Amy.

  16. Zan
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Didn’t get a chance to comment on this yday but GO AMY! You know I share your views on the detestible Chris Brown (still turning over the radio whenever his songs are played….) but this article is great. I get so unbelievably angry when violence against women is just swept away like it’s ‘no big deal’. And this post puts my feelings so much more eloquently than I could.

  17. ClaireH
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Just to also say thanks for this post Amy and for saying very eloquently what I’ve been thinking for ages. This whole thing makes me so cross that I mostly just become slightly incoherent when trying to explain to (otherwise sensible) people why the attitude (mostly) towards women that’s so prevalent at the moment is appalling, especially when passed off as ‘just a bit of a joke’. Every time I read the posts on I get so frustrated that people think it’s acceptable to behave in this way and make the comments that they do.

    Amy’s post and everyone’s comments have reminded me that there are other people out there who think as I do, and as Kate G said, made me determined to keep standing up for what I believe in and saying ‘no, this isn’t acceptable’.

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