To Elizabeth O’Connell and the jury.

“You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”

Dear Elizabeth O’Connell,

It’s clear that the moment you said this, you forgot your own gender, your whole sisterhood behind you, and you perhaps thought of the money that winning this trial would get you. The pure ‘satisfaction’ of this alleged rapist not being sent to prison, because you defended him.

Perhaps it’s not wholly your fault – you’ve probably been taught that it’s the woman’s fault for getting raped, for what she was wearing, for what she drank or how she acted or how she danced – we’ve all been taught that way though, so that’s no damn excuse anymore.

I want you to imagine something. I want you to stand at the edge of your bed, close your eyes and imagine being a man. Imagine looking down and seeing a girl in front of you, a girl who’s screaming ‘no, please stop!’ or ‘stop!’ or a girl who’s so out of it she can’t even open her eyes, let alone speak. Now I want you to think of penetrating her, while she’s resisting, pushing her arms against yours, clawing at your back – not out of passion, but out of pain and fear and pure desperation. 

Imagine feeling any sort of satisfaction from such a putrid and disgusting act. THAT is what you defended in court. That is precisely it. You were the embodiment, the female embodiment mind you, of the typical victim-blamer.

Perhaps that wasn’t enough to convince you. Fine.

Then I want you to lay on your bed with your eyes closed, while being completely naked with the heating off. Remember the cold you feel everywhere. Think of how vulnerable you feel in your own bed right now. Imagine being forcefully thrown, or pushed onto the bed by a friend, someone you trust. Imagine their hands on your thighs and legs as they pulled your trousers, the way they yanked the thong you wore that day to the side of your labia because they just wanted to penetrate you roughly and without your permission. Your permission didn’t matter. It was irrelevant. Now I want you to imagine having a stranger’s genitalia inside of you while you scream no. The way that friend would push your arms down to your sides when you try to resist, because maybe they happened to be stronger than you. Imagine groping the bed covers so hard out of desperation that your nails bled.

Or perhaps having him enter you that one time you got so drunk because well, you wanted to and you’re a grown adult who can do that. Imagine being so disorientated all you want to do is sleep, but every now and again you open your eyes and see a man over you, entering you but you’ve got absolutely no strength to get him off, and that wouldn’t matter anyways. But he keeps going, and going, and going.

Now, I want you to try and defend that man again. If you can still do that, perhaps you shouldn’t call yourself human ever again.

It’s funny that when these scenes appear in shows or movies, they add a ‘warning’ to sensitive viewers’ beforehand, yet we let it happen in real life, on so many occasions, without even a warning to the rapist.

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