Monday, April 24, 2006

No surprises there...

Apparently, the case against the Cambridge don who touched up his ex-student has been thrown out, and it's unsure whether the prosecution service will move for the case to be reconsidered. Given the feeling I had when I first read about the case, this came as no huge shock.

Anyway, reading the article in the guardian makes me wonder what on earth is going on. The man in question has admitted to slapping the arses of a select few of his ex-students, who are presumably extremely grateful at being singled out for such noble attention. To go further, he was 'flabbergasted' when he was accused of sexual assualt, because he'd done it before and she hadn't seemed to mind. This blew my mind. What kind of excuse was that? Even if the woman had seemingly been happy to put up with this behaviour once doesn't mean this is something she is happy with all of the time. After all, everyone is quite agreed that having had sex with someone once with their consent does not mean that you can then do it whenever you choose.

It got me to thinking whether these women are really as happy with his behaviour as he thinks. If one of *my* tutors behaved like this, ex-student or not, I would be appalled. But would I say anything? Maybe not. Maybe I'd be too embarassed. Maybe I wouldn't want people to think I was making a fuss. Maybe I would be worried that he would turn around and say it was my fault. As many of us know, when people are in uncomfortable situations it can be harder to speak out than we'd like.

The only way to solve this is to make sure this kind of behaviour is not seen as socially acceptable. No, it is not okay to greet me with a friendly slap on the backside etc. It seems obvious, and you'd like to think in most places that it would be unthinkable to attempt any such thing. So why is it okay in Cambridge? Or Oxford? Or any other institution/place of work/social gathering?

At least if that was the case, there'd be very few court cases where a woman is brave enough to stand up to the man who has been harassing her and has to hear that not only did she invite it, she really really liked it. Because what woman doesn't enjoy being assaulted by a pervy old man?

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