Is Megan Stammers a victim of rape culture?
Not everyone is au fait with the law. Amanda Bancroft tweets:
Just seen some old dear suggest “Megan Stammers should write the book ‘How I ruined my maths teacher‘s career‘.” What amindset!
Megan Stammers victimised in press. Though at 15 I suspect sheknew what she was doing. Should also be in custody. Forrest‘s life ruined.
You can bone up on the sexual offences act.
This level of victim blaming is not, sadly, unusual in crimes relating to women and girls. Victim blaming is even more so prevalent when scenarios would appear to involve sex, as this one, prima facie, does.
This is rape culture. Rape culture is a ‘concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence.
Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape’ (Wikipedia).
The problem with rape culture is it allows certain people, and indeed institutions, to turn a blind eye. It is rape culture which lead social services in Rochdale to write off girls who were being raped, sold and sexually exploited, as ‘prostitutes’.
I recently reviewed an edition of the Gender and Educaiton journal which does just that. In their discussions of the ‘sexualisation’ debates in our culture, including the 2011 Bailey Report, the journal authors also invoke the image of Lolita. But rather than only presenting teen girls as ‘victims’ of predatory men, they counteract that position by identifying a ‘sexual knowingness’ that many girls and young women possess. And by exploring the contexts in which girls explore and experiment with their sexuality. The journal edition also asks the question relevant to this case: where are young people’s voices in these ‘debates’?
The problem with the law is it is black and white, when reality is often fifty shades of grey. If Megan’s maths teacher has committed a crime, and remember, that has not yet been decided by those who have the power to do so, then it still may not be helpful to call her a ‘victim’.
Victims don’t get to choose their own destinies, and it seems very limiting to label someone with their whole adult life ahead of them in that way.
Daniel Lalanne, Mr Forrest’s French lawyer, offers:
“This is a story of love and passion. It is as old as the world and I believe that that can never be stopped. In his head he did nothing wrong except fall in love with a 15-year-old.”
The Sun reports his words thus:
“Jeremy Forrest is in no way a pervert. This is a story only about love and passion. I believe it will never end. His only crime is to have fallen in love with a 15-year-old without any recourse to violence or manipulation. He is calm but dejected that his love story has been brought to such a brutal end. At the same time I find him very philosophical and attentive to what’s going on.”
If Stammers marries Forrest when she turns 16, will our view change?