When I was younger I was looked after by my Grandma (or ‘nanny’ to anyone reading from Northern Ireland) often, I was given a bright pink plate with a cheese sandwich, some grapes and a Freddo bar on it, plopped in front of the TV and left to it. Now, I’m not in any way complaining about being sat in front of the TV, it’s not like I spent all day every day there, we did lots of other things too, let me establish that, but I also did do a lot of TV watching. After the kids shows would end around 10am, it was day time TV such as This Morning, Loose Women, Dickinson’s Real Deals and Escape to the Country that would absorb my youthful brain. This was pretty much a regular fixture in my summer/Christmas/Easter holidays daily routine up until I was about 12. I don’t want to say I learned a lot from daytime TV, as obviously I didn’t, but I did pay a lot of attention to it, and I remember watching a lot of Loose Women.
Today, I pulled my St Patrick’s Day hungover self out of bed, took my duvet to the living room and decided to indulge in days gone by. I managed about 20mins of This Morning before having to turn it over (during those 20mins I saw a female business owner be ‘made over’ because she just ‘didn’t make enough effort’ – probably too busy, you know, running that business, but that’s another matter) to the channel that plays Radio 4, which was great, because I was just in time for Women’s Hour. Then, I thought I’d flick back onto the TV once Women’s Hour ended and take a trip down memory lane once again, this time with Loose Women. It shares a pretty similar title to Women’s Hour, so how bad could it be?!
It’s no secret that I’m a big massive dirty stinking Feminist. Now, I’m not one of those feminists with hairy arm pits and an inability to see the point of men, any men, ever, and I’m not one of those feminists that thinks it’s okay to call people sluts for wearing low cut tops or tell Beyonce she can’t be a feminist, even when she’s declaring to the world that she is. But I am one of those feminist that will notice how truly abhorrent it is that two women, out of a panel of five, who are meant to be representing the views of women, on a show about women, are women that have became famous through getting drunk and having sex on TV, posing for Page 3, using social media to body shame other women and doing a stint in Big Brother. Now, if Katie Price and Vicky Pattinson want to forge careers for themselves doing these things, that’s absolutely fine, women should be allowed to chose to get their baps out for cash if they wish, and I absolutely support that choice, however one must question why two out of five members on a daytime TV show, watched by thousands and thousands of people are there purely because of their manipulation of their own bodies for monetary gain, and yet are being offered a platform in which they are being painted as very far removed from that starting point. You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the ‘cast’ of Loose Women should all hold Philosophy degrees, with the amount of opinions-presented-as-fact that they spurt.
I am also a feminist that uses Tinder, a well known match based dating app. Now I don’t have on my profile ‘Gemma McSherry, 5’10”, Liberal, Merlot drinker and feminist.’ It’s not that I’m a ‘feminist on Tinder’ I’m just on Tinder and happen to be a feminist. I’ve had a few dates from Tinder, some good, some bad, some weird and some wonderful, but one thing I haven’t came across, thankfully, is a (date) rapist. Let me remind you what a (date) rapist is, just in case you needed clarification. It’s someone that uses drugs (usually placed in a drink without the victim noticing) to drug someone into a state of unawareness, then, they rape them. I’ve put the word ‘date’ in brackets here because I want to make sure we aren’t detracting from that fact that this is rape, just because the victim is drugged or unaware doesn’t make it any less of a rape. On today’s edition of Loose Women they were discussing Rebel Wilson’s recent tweets in which she warned fans of the dangers of date rape drugs, during this discussion Katie Price, the former Page 3 model, who I’m sure has came across her fair share of lechy and uncomfortable men suggested that all those silly, desperate, date rapers out there head to Tinder if they’re “that desperate for a bit of nookie-no.”
Now as I’ve said, I’ve used Tinder before, and I would like to clear something up here, I’m not using Tinder in the hope of getting a good raping. I’m not using Tinder to help all those potential rapists out there find an outlet for all their raping needs and I’m definitely not using Tinder to raise awareness of the plight of the unfulfilled rapist. I use Tinder for a bit of a laugh, in the hope that occasionally I’ll find someone intelligent and a bit good looking that I can share a conversation and a drink with, NOT A RAPE, REMEMBER.
Before Katie Price made her less than helpful suggestions to all those rapists in crisis, I was already alarmed at the general rhetoric of the conversation. It’s no secret that the focus of conversations on rape are often heavily laden with victim shaming. “What was she wearing?” and “she shouldn’t have been walking alone” are statements people make often upon hearing about a rape. Women are urged to travel in groups, to cover up, to avoid dark alley ways, to look out for themselves, but never are men told, you know, DON’T BE A RAPIST. Geordie Shore ‘star’ Vicky Pattinson mentioned that she had had her drink spiked before, when accepting drinks off strangers. Once she mentioned this, she reiterated the fact that she was being irresponsible, accepting drinks from strangers, and that she shouldn’t have been so grateful. The general message of the discussion was, if you’re drunk, or accepting drinks from strangers, then what can you expect? Never once was the shame placed on the rapist. Never once did Vicky Pattinson ‘star’ of Geordie Shore look at the audience and say “remember ladies – tell your sons not to rape” but she did tell the audience to cover their drinks. It’s as if Vicky Pattinson ‘star’ of Geordie Shore wanted us, the audience, to know that being drunk with your friends, accepting drinks of strangers and getting your drink spiked, is your fault, ultimately.
I apologise if this has came across as an attack on Vicky Pattinson or Katie Price, I don’t blame them for their comments, nor do I blame Loose Women, or ITV for broadcasting them. I blame the culture of victim shaming and blaming that is so inherent in our culture today, that even a glamour model, who has no doubt been in many chilling situations with men before, is suggesting that rapists should head to Tinder for a good raping. How can we possibly expect women to come forward, relive the trauma, the shame and the emotional agony of a rape in the hope of persecuting their attacker, if we’re telling each other that you should expect to have your drink spiked if you’re not keeping an eye on it, and you should expect to meet a rapist if you want to online date. I would like to remind anyone reading this, that no one deserves being raped. No one wants to be raped. Rape is, by definition, an unwanted sexual assault. Whether you’re a girl scantly dressed in a nightclub with friends, or an elderly women in a night dress in a care home, the definition of rape still applies. Rape isn’t a malleable term that is dependent on a number of factors, rape isn’t more or less severe because you were raped as a result of meeting someone on Tinder, or having your drink spiked. Rape is rape and it’s about time that everyone remembers that.