Hall, Saatchi and male violence against women

Stuart Hall has been sentenced to a paltry 15 months imprisonment for abusing thirteen girls. His defence felt it appropriate to point out that these were “crimes of a different time” and that Hall had 13 victims, while Jimmy Savile had 1300. This – combined with his age – should have apparently been enough to spare him from prison.

Meanwhile, The Standard has decided to publish an interview with Charles Saatchi in which he claims:

About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point. There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt.

In a year when male violence against women and girls has rarely been out of the headlines, the sheer contempt for victims of abuse among sections of our society and much of our media – coupled with an apparently desperate desire to protect and excuse men who abuse – has been impossible to ignore.

We have seen the gang rape of children portrayed as the victims’ “lifestyle choice” by the very people who were supposed to protect them.

Middle-aged men have taken to our TV screens to wistfully reminisce about the days when sexually harassing teenage girls was as much a fixture of their day as their morning cup of coffee.

Countless people have felt the need to repeat the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” in the face of testimony from hundreds of victims abused by the same man.

A child rapist has been honoured with a two-month retrospective of his work at the BFI.

And just yesterday, a woman who is a Branch Chair for the NSPCC felt the need to provide a character reference to try and help lessen the sentence of a man who pleaded guilty to abusing children.

All this is sickening and painful and overwhelming. That many men continue to feel entitled to abuse women and girls is bad enough – without the latter then having to deal with blame and disbelief seemingly wherever they turn.

The one thing we can hold on to is the knowledge that there are plenty of us out there devoting our time and energy to ending male violence and victim blaming. And though it often seems like we’re fighting a losing battle, the fact that men who abuse are facing justice at all, where years ago their behaviour was ignored, has to be a sign of progress.

Let’s keep smashing.

Iconic comic-strip image of a woman holding a hammer with the word “feminism” on it, saying “If I had a hammer I’d smash patriarchy – I found it!” Shared by thefuturistics under a Creative Commons licence.