The British teenager (centre) convicted of falsely claiming she was raped by 12 Israeli tourists covers her face as she leaves Famagusta District Court in Cyprus
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Rape: how the left betrayed women

A toxic mix of porn and “woke” feminism has produced a dangerous new misogyny

There was once a time when parents would not greet their sons as heroes on their return from a trip where they had taken part in group sex with a teenage woman and had inflicted — whether consensually or not — internal and external injuries and littered the room with used condoms. Then, parents would not proudly welcome their sons home with champagne if they knew they had filmed a young woman during sex and posted the film on a commercial porn website. Parents then would have been horrified by their sons celebrating and singing “The Brit is a whore”, instead of themselves joining in the chant. 

These, after all, were young men who, even if their actions fell short of rape, had collaborated in a squalid, hateful act. Nobody disputes that four lots of DNA were found on the young woman’s body, along with internal injuries and scratches on her thighs. Nobody disputes that outside the hotel these little princes bragged they were going to “do orgies” with the “English girl”. Or that they filmed her having sex with their friend without her consent, which is not even a crime in Cyprus.

But while the parents were celebrating, the horrifying ordeal of the British 19-year-old convicted last month of fabricating a claim of being gang-raped by their sons in the holiday resort of Ayia Napa tells a terrifying story about modern-day misogyny. 

Before you console yourself that a similar thing could not happen here, and that surely we in Britain don’t live in a rape-friendly culture, consider this: I began campaigning to end rape in the 1980s. Despite decades of effort from feminists such as myself, only 1.4 per cent of reported rapes in 2019 will result in a conviction — a significant decrease from a decade ago. 

A recent report shows that cases being put forward for trial by the CPS have fallen dramatically. Countless women who are raped will never see justice while the perpetrators are operating with near-impunity. 

Over the years, meanwhile, there has been an increase in cases of women being accused of making false allegations of rape. Yet media coverage of this is disproportionate compared to reports about rape convictions. The result is that despite Home Office research showing that false allegations of sexual assault are extremely rare, the misconception of women “crying rape” is common. 

Furthermore, young women, especially if they enjoy booze, sex and partying, are increasingly being blamed for “getting themselves raped”, as one senior Scotland Yard officer told me recently. When young British women go on holiday, rape culture follows them. 

Supporters protest outside the Cypriot embassy in London

When I visited the young British woman at the centre of the Ayia Napa case at her rented accommodation in Cyprus in December, she was still awaiting trial — she was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for three years. She is now back in Britain and plans to appeal. The story she told me was terrifying.

 In July 2019 she claimed she had been raped in her hotel room by up to 12 Israeli boys and men who were also on holiday. She went to the police, but was “encouraged” to retract her statement by island detectives ten days later. She was then charged with making a false rape accusation and spent a month locked up in prison. Five months of hell followed, with the teenager unable to leave the Mediterranean island while awaiting trial. If it were not for her mother, who flew out from the West Midlands to support her, she would have had nobody. 

She seemed relieved when I told her there would be a crowd of supportive protesters at her next court appearance, people who believed her. The protesters were feminists, who, when it comes to the feminist project of ending male violence towards women and girls, have long assumed the political left is our natural ally.

But in recent years the left has grotesquely betrayed women. When it comes to sexual violence, so-called progressive men are often more blatantly sexist and misogynistic than even the conservative right. And it’s not just men. Their female handmaidens refer to those who criticise the buying and selling of women’s bodies in prostitution as “whorephobic”, and they accuse feminists of “slut-shaming” if we suggest that the consumption of hard-core pornography harms women. And now they appear to equate being sexually exploited by men with “liberation”.

While I can’t imagine being anywhere but on the left, it is time to wash our dirty linen in public. Andrea Dworkin once said, “The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the left has gone to die. The left cannot have its whores and its politics, too.”

Pornography has become a cesspit of violence meted out in the name of “kink” or “sex positivity”

The left and its support for Julian Assange’s claim that the rape charges against him must be politically motivated is indicative of the way that women are cannon fodder for so-called progressive men. This attitude has long been prevalent. Back in 2002, when boxing legend Mike Tyson was convicted of raping a young woman in his hotel room, filmmaker Spike Lee said that Tyson was innocent and his conviction was all about a “white man’s conspiracy”. 

The women he had raped became invisible. The rape denial and apologism within the Socialist Workers Party — which, let’s face it, morphed into Momentum in 2014 — was exposed by the handful of women in the organisation who dared to defy the accusations from male party members that feminism is a “bourgeois deviation” from the revolution. 

The British teenager (centre) convicted of falsely claiming she was raped by 12 Israeli tourists covers her face as she leaves Famagusta District Court in Cyprus

By the time the issue exploded, four women alleged rape, with one saying it was “a systemic thing” and that “the Socialist Workers Party is a group that is sexist, full of bullies, and above all will cover up rape to protect its male members and reputation”.  The impression given to the woman that made the original allegation was that the party committee thought she was a “slut who asked for it”.

Today we have pornography and the rise of “woke” feminism that isn’t feminism at all. The journalist Owen Jones is an ardent supporter of “feminism for men”. Writing in the Guardian in 2015, he poured scorn on the fate of three judges dismissed from their positions because they watched pornography at work. “None of it was illegal,” wrote Jones, “but they were still publicly embarrassed and dismissed.” The explosion of hard-core pornography and the availability of porn on demand has been used as propaganda in the misogynistic war against women. 

Footage of the young woman having consensual sex in Ayia Napa was found on the phones of some of the men she accused of rape. The judge concluded that she must have made a false report after being embarrassed at realising she was being filmed, despite her not knowing that she was being filmed until the police showed her the footage. According to the woman, the video shows her having consensual sex with a young man she was dating, before a large group of boys and men burst into the room. The woman shouted at them to “get out” and then the film cuts out.

“Gang-bang” is a much-searched porn category, and images resembling her ordeal are watched by boys and men who are led to believe this is a normal sexual rite of passage — and that girls love it.there is plenty of credible research that shows the link between pornography use and sexual assault, and the increase in likelihood that men are more likely to act in a verbally or physically aggressive manner if they are regular consumers. 

Michalis Papathanasiou, the judge in the Cyprus case, has quite a track record. He was the judge who aquitted a number of police officers over the 2001 death of Oxana Rancheva, a case that ended up in a European Court of Human Rights ruling that found the Republic of Cyprus guilty for failing to protect a victim of trafficking and ultimately found it responsible for her death.

The same judge also acquitted a man charged with repeatedly raping his partner in 2018, calling the victim’s testimony “illogical” and “unreliable”. He said “she did not make a good impression on the court,” which is almost exactly the same as he said about the young British woman. 

Fiona Mackenzie of the campaign group “We Can’t Consent to This”, which works to end “rough sex” defences and the normalisation of violence against women in sex, says she has noticed that a number of middle-aged (as opposed to younger) men have been particularly appalled by the Cyprus case, in particular at the suggestion that the woman could have consented to sex with so many men at the same time. 

“They may be of a generation that would not recognise this new porn of women being subjected to ‘forced sex’, strangled to unconsciousness, spat on, punched, slapped or gagged until they vomit,” says Mackenzie. 

Being forceful and aggressive towards a woman during sex is fast becoming normalised

Recent research shows that just under 40 per cent of women under 40 have been assaulted in this way:  choked, slapped, spat on or gagged as part of consensual sex. I would wager a guess that porn is teaching men that women want this. Yet porn has not just coached men to change their behaviour, it has also taught women what they should be up for. “One woman in her early twenties told us she’d watched a lot of porn as a teen as she saw herself as ‘one of the lads’ and wanted to try and be a bit edgy, but also because it was the way everyone else seemed to be exploring their sexuality,” says Mackenzie. 

The vast majority of women experiencing such violence during sex do not report it to the police. All too often men will claim that violent sex is consensual, and their claim will be successful in court. Meanwhile, women are often judged and blamed, especially if they have been drinking.

The Cyprus rape case is a stark reminder that misogyny is alive and well. I have no doubt the attitudes of the men involved were shaped by pornography and porn culture. Pornography is no longer a dirty magazine under the bed, but a cesspit of explicit violence and physical abuse meted out against young women, all in the name of “kink” or “sex positivity”. 

Being forceful and aggressive towards a woman during sex is fast becoming normalised. The most viewed videos often depict women being tied down, shackled and physically abused.

Not only does this play out in the most fundamentally awful ways but it contributes to the misogynist attitudes of the men in question. The behaviour of the 12 Israeli men is clearly a result of a culture that treats women as nothing more than objects to be used, abused and disposed of, which of course also happens to be the modus operandi of the porn industry. 

Tom Farr, a legal scholar and member of CEASE UK (Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation), believes that a key problem is that with hard-core pornography becoming increasingly normalised, the go-to defence is “the women want to do it”. 

He says: “Aside from this attitude being somewhat contentious even within some sections of the porn industry, this view of what is ‘good sex’ is affecting men’s attitudes to women outside of pornography.” These male consumers increasingly want to act out the violence and coercion they see on screen, whether the woman they’re having sex with wants to or not. It seems that in certain circles, a culture of sexual liberalism is translated as “anything goes”. But only for men. 

Liberals tend to think that physical abuse of a woman is abhorrent if it occurs in a sweatshop or at home at the hands of a violent partner, but somehow such abuse is acceptable in a hotel room if the woman has been drinking or taken part in any other consensual sex. Real feminists are fighting a world that has gone numb, a world that has banished empathy, a world where solidarity with abused women is a foreign concept.

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