Hell is for Rapists

So, the other day, Hell Pizza decided to reward a rape confession with pizza.  Despite the fact that the storyteller described his victim as a “wanker” and explained that he wore a mask to hide his identity, Hell defended themselves saying that they read it as a Jackass-like prank between mates.  Needless to say that a lot of people were horrified by this (slightly depressing to say that a lot of people weren’t horrified by it and defended Hell and the rapist) and expressed this on Facebook and Twitter.  Amongst this, I sent a tweet simply saying, “$55,000 is small-change to a large company facing a PR disaster, @hellpizza666. It’s also the shortfall Wgn Rape Crisis needs to make up.”

Soon it was off on a retweet bonanza.  Keywords in the tweet were trending, Toby Manhire wrote a bit on the Listener website about it, TVNZ linked to it.  At least two people who don’t know that they know me in real life retweeted it.  Some guy from London tweeted me, seeming to think that my tweet qualified as extortion.  From my perspective, as someone who avoids the spotlight as much as possible, it was fascinating and a little frightening to watch.

The next day, there was an exciting moment where the New Zealand Herald announced that Hell would be making up Wellington Rape Crisis’ shortfall.  And then some people were enormously pissed off, saying that Hell was promoting rape culture in one breath and then turning around and acting all heroic helping out poor struggling Rape Crisis in the other.  And I could see their points and I felt a bit rubbish because these were things that I hadn’t considered in the slightest when I composed my tweet the night before.

Hell soon clarified that they were in fact going to donate 10 grand to Rape Crisis and then match dollar-for-dollar the donations people made until the end of the month.  I felt all the more rubbish that it was such a pathetic token figure.  If they had made up the whole $55,000 shortfall, in my mind, it would have seemed like an act of contrition.  To chuck a few grand to Rape Crisis seemed like the price of business, the price of all that publicity they got.

But after some thought, I now figure…

In a better world, the Hell storyteller would have never thought that sticking his genitals in someone’s unwilling mouth while hiding his face to protect his identity was a good thing to do.  In a slightly less terrible world, Hell would not have rewarded the story and would not have published it on social media for all to read.

In a better world, Wellington Rape Crisis would receive proper government funding for the vital work it does.  In a slightly less terrible world, donations would pour in from the community to cover the shortfall.

But given that we live in a world where the assault DID occur and Hell DID reward it and publish the story for all to read; given that we live in a world where Rape Crisis IS criminally underfunded and IS unlikely to make up the shortfall through community donations, I think Hell donating money and prompting others to donate money is a better outcome than Wellington Rape Crisis not receiving any money from the douche-bags at Hell.

That’s not to say that I think Hell is absolved and that we should pat them on the back and say, “Aww, you done good after all, Hell.”  Not by a long shot.  I think they’ve proved once and for all that they’re a company without ethics, one that will seek shock-publicity at any costs, and I won’t be rewarding their behaviour by ever buying their products again.  I just think that if there’s a way for Wellington Rape Crisis to make up a chunk of their funding shortfall, then this is good for Wellington Rape Crisis and good for the clients who need their services.

I know I – and a whole bunch of others, if the tweets are to be believed – took a lot of satisfaction in donating to Wellington Rape Crisis, knowing that every dollar I gave was costing Hell Pizza a dollar.


I Like to Walk Alone at Night

I like to walk alone at night.  The city is so peaceful and beautiful.  Walking alone at night calms me.  The quietness of the streets gives me time to think or to turn my iPod up to max and not think at all.  Being someone who works variable shifts, sometimes I walk at night to get to or from work.  Sometimes I just do it for the sheer pleasure of the walk.  These times I can walk for miles and find myself in unexpected places, seeing the city from unexpected angles.  When things have been roughest in my life, I have been known just to walk all night, wending my path back towards home just as the birds start singing.  In the meditative state of walking at night, I have made some of my most serious decisions and realisations.

It’s not something I even think about.  I don’t think that I ought to be scared or maybe I shouldn’t do it.  I just go ahead and do so.  Back when I was a young teenager and things were really bad at home and in my head, I would climb out my window after the rest of the household was asleep and just walk.  I’ve walked in small towns and big cities.  I’ve walked through places I know well and places I’ve never been before.  I’ve walked to the wrong side of the tracks.  I’ve walked at night in strange foreign cities.  I’ve walked staggered home drunk, carrying my high heels.  I’ve walked home after a shift at a massage parlour in full hooker regalia (Yes, indeed – dressed exactly like a whore).

But I am never scared.  I refuse to be scared.  Allowing myself to get scared, modifying my behaviour and staying home after dark – that would be letting the rapists win.

And maybe one day I will get attacked.  I’m not naive.  I don’t think myself bulletproof or impervious.  But should that happen, I won’t tolerate anyone telling me I’m even slightly responsible for the actions of another.  Being female, alone and out after dark all at once does not form any level of consent or “asking for it”.

Dangerous Clothes

A columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald despairs, like so many before her stretching back into the mists of time, about the dress sense of the younger generation of women:

They were dressed (and I use that term loosely) identically in outfits that went something like this:

(From the top) Overly curled, overly sprayed, overly long hair with extensions that fell below the bra line, push-up bras, false eyelashes, black smudgy eyeliner, fake nails painted white, bandage dresses so tight that they walked like their feet had been bound since birth and so short that you could see the brand of their underwear; orange fake tan, glitter body spray, clumpy, chunky high heels (the kind you see wrapped around poles) and lots of jangly, shiny things on their ears, fingers, wrists and ankles.

Me, I don’t much care for the look, and I’d certainly never try to pull it off (too old, too full of curves and rolls and peaks and valleys).  But I’m not about to dictate to others what they should and shouldn’t wear.  This woman, though, is an Authority.  Yep, she can say without a doubt that these women have taken it too far because… um, because… because she remembers that age, and she experimented at that age, which made her feel empowered but not necessarily sexy.  And therefore she can tell that these women don’t feel empowered, through magic.

So far, so typical.  “In my day we didn’t wear anything like that!  Sure we experimented with fashion, but this is just… just trashy.” I remember way back in the ’90s when my friends and I were “pushing the boundaries of our wardrobe”, my best friend was berated by her mother for going out in a ripped T-shirt because it was “a bit come-hither”.  No doubt the ripped T-shirt was just as shocking to my friend’s mother as these “bandage dresses” are to this columnist, and her great-great grandmother’s ankle-bearing dress was to her great-great-great grandmother.

Things quickly take a turn for the (even more) judgemental:

From a distance they looked like a low-budget video shoot and up close it looked like they were open for business – business of the wrong kind.

I can’t help but hear this line as a private eye’s innner-monologue in some cheesy film noir knock-off movie: “Business of the wrong kind”.  Presumably the right kind of business happens in office buildings where everyone wears nice modest grey suits.   The “wrong” kind of business, obviously, is sex – sex work, the business of sex, which is wrong because It Just Is.  There’s no suggestion that the women in question were in fact sex workers – just that they look like sex workers, and looking like a prostitute is bad, mmkay?

But then there’s this…

When did it stop being a pair of high heels and red lipstick and become Soft Porn Barbie? It’s not just boring – it’s dangerous.

Dangerous?  Well, yeah, some of those heels are a broken ankle waiting to happen, but I’ve a suspicion that that’s not what the author is getting at.  Just like the ripped T-shirt, she thinks that the women’s outfits are “come-hither”.  And she suspects some men may just do that.  Because of the clothes.  The clothes made the men do it, mind.  What’s dangerous, in my mind, is a columnist in a major international newspaper suggesting that clothes cause rape.  Are we not beyond this yet?  Are we ever going to be beyond it?