Rape, a whole new quagmire coming your way.
Let me tell you a true story.
The night of St Patrick's night, I and a number of friends went out and had a rare old time. We were in a large group and we are, despite out fondness for the drink, able to pace ourselves, we all had food too, which makes a difference.
At one stage in the night we were in a packed bar near Drury Street, where the music was hopping and the crowd loud and boisterous.
Needing to pee, I went downstairs to the loo and got into the ten deep line for the three cubicles. After a slow move of the line I and the girl I went downstairs with noticed the toilet at the end never opened and that a girl near the front had knocked on it more than once.
As we are ladies, we sneaked a glance underneath. A pair of feet pointed out, but slumped to one side.
'You all right in there?" We took turns in calling. Nowt.
Eventually we looked over the cubicle from the one next door and lo and behold there was a young wan, passed clean out, her underwear around her ankles and her face resting on the wall beside her.
We knocked and called some more, absolute nada.
WE took a toss up, and because I was wearing trousers-albeit satin and very tight-It was deemed reasonable that I should go over the wall.
Allright, so after much effort, I managed to get onto the cistern and over the wall onto the other toilet, I slid down and edged along side the girl.
'Hey, hey there, you okay? Come on now, wake up?'
I pushed her hair back off her face and managed to get her eyes open, she had no idea who I was or where she was. Neither could she speak.
'Are your friends here?' I asked her.
'Are you friends here?'
'I don't know where they are.' She said eventually.
'Is she all right?' My friend said from outside the door.
I opened the door and between us we managed to A) get her underwear up and B) get her outside to the taps. That's where she vomited.
The long and the short of it was she reeled off upstairs looking for her friends, shoeless, and leaving her hand bag-in my friend's hand.
Wasted. Beyond wasted, totally without an ounce of sense and utterly vulnerable,
We looked for her and couldn't find her, so we left her bag in behind the bar in case one of her friends noticed she was missing it, or she came to look for it the next day, her shoes-we supposed-were a right off.
Why am I telling you this and what has it got to do with rape?
Well nothing really, except this girl, could very easily have agreed that she was a pilot that night, or a sailor, or clown, she could also probably agree to have sex, even if-by my reckoning- she couldn't possibly know what she was agreeng too.
Which bring me to my case today.
People say a rape is a rape. But I beg to differ. Is it still rape if BOTH parties are drinking heavily and neither party is too clear on who said what and to whom? I've said this before, rape is not always as cear cut as we would like to imagine it to be. It should be, but it is not.
But then people like to use that against women too. The Mary Shannon case that Swearing Lady highighted yesterday has spawned a few questioners. It was interesting to note that an annoymous comment on Sweary's site cast doubt on the veracity of her story, saying that she was " completely drunk (and probably drugged) as was Adam Keane. Minutes before she invited Adam Keane back to her house, she had approached the bouncer at the pub with the same offer. That never went to court because the bouncer didn't even know there was a rape case occurring until it was in the papers."
Now as far as I'm concerned a jury tried Adam Keane and he was found guilty, therefore he should have served a sentence. It doesn't matter one whit if Mary Shannon was three feet high and rising or sitting at home knitting. The fact remains that she was in her own home, this man entered her home and raped her and-although found guilty- he walked free.
I have said before on this site that I am not comfortable with a man being accused of rape when both parties are drunk. The considered idea at the moment is if a girl is too drunk to consent then it is automatically rape. But that is very blurry thinking, what if the girl and the guy are both blind drunk? Why is she absolved of any responsibility but not he.
I don't have any answers, and my usual bleat of personal responsibility seems very muted this morning. But I can see a change, whether we like it or not. If the current drinking culture continues, where men and women alike, drink themselves into such a sorry state that they cannot remember where they are, who they are, or if they agreed to sex or not, then how the hell are we supposed to work out if they did or didn't comit a crime/agree to sex?
I'm not excusing rapists either, but neither am I going to jump on my gender's right to always be the victim.
Like I said, the ruling given in an English court, our nighbours, is going to have a ripple effect, we can only wait and see who drowns in the backwash.