The Terrible Truth about Sarah Everard | Cassandra Voices

The Terrible Truth about Sarah Everard

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Even after six days listening to the outpourings of grief, shock, and rage, about the kidnap and horrific murder of Sarah Everard in London; of how her life was scrubbed out, a beautiful young woman reduced to ‘human remains’ in a builder’s bag identifiable only by her dental records; even after story upon story hit the media of how women are attacked, abused, raped and battered, in every country, every week, every day; the words of Mairin de Burca, founder and creator of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement in 1970’s Dublin, stopped me in my tracks:

‘Sarah Everard wasn’t wiped off the face of the earth because someone wanted her jewellery, her mobile phone, the keys to a car or home. She was murdered because she was a woman and a man got pleasure from killing her.’
Mairin de Burca

The words were a gut punch. They also felt (horribly) true.

Since forever in our Western culture women have been attacked but murders such as Sarah Everard’s surely mark new levels of depravity.

Where is this depravity coming from? What is driving it?

In one way the answers are so glaringly obvious it’s a measure of the robustness of the Patriarchal system that all of the drivers remain firmly in place: the Patriarchal system itself, the law as it stands, encompassing both police and judiciary, and pornography.

Let’s take pornography. Instead of being closed down long ago for systematic civil rights abuses, called out for abusing children, trafficking women, cheer-leading sexual brutality against women 24/7, it is protected. It’s legal. It is also a massive money spinner.

When I was researching Feminism Backwards I went back and had a look, where is porn at today. For those of you, like me, who haven’t kept up, you’re in for a shock. Where once porn meant large naked ladies with pneumatic breasts in Playboy mags, porn today involves the vicious sexual exploitation of women, is expensively shot, and is everywhere.

  

‘Before the internet’ as Michael Sheath, child sex abuse expert says ‘there was a ceiling on how much porn you could consume, maybe your dad had some; you had to go to a sex cinema to watch a film. It was limited in scope and there was a stigma on its consumption.’

In 2021 porn dominates the sexual landscape like a horrible cancer. ‘Thanks’ to the internet it can be viewed anywhere, anytime. As Gail Dines professor, author and long time anti-porn activist says, in today’s porn ‘you will not see two people having sex, you will see images depicting a level of physical cruelty that would not be out of place in an Amnesty International campaign’.

Porn has become truly vile.

Young men, some starting as young as eight, will have watched thousands of hours of porn, many before they ever have a sexual relationship and porn is now the way most kids, particularly boys, get their sex ed., with every type of porn freely downloadable onto iPhones, tablets, laptops.

So what, you might say. Porn has always been around. It’s just a bit of popcorn on the side.

Wrong.

Porn is no longer about eroticising sex, it is about eroticising extreme male violence against women. Porn sites such as ‘Gag me then fuck me’, ‘Anally Raped Whores’, ‘18 and Aroused’ indicate what’s on offer.

As Dines writes ‘with mind numbing repetition you will see gagging, slapping, verbal abuse, hair pulling, pounding anal sex, women smeared in semen, sore anuses and vaginas, distended mouths and more exhausted, depleted and shell shocked women that you can count’. Young women routinely wrecked by being simultaneously anally, vaginally and orally penetrated, shouted at, whipped, spat at, splattered with male cum, are left with prolapsed anuses, ravaged vaginas and shattered self esteem.

As Dr Fiona Vera-Gray of Durham University wrote in The Guardian last week, ‘This is not a problem of niche sites or the dark web, something only found by “bad men” actively searching for this content. This is mainstream pornography on mainstream sites with the mainstream message that sexual violence is sexy.’ With porn’s ever growing audience the brutality has to be endlessly upped.

Porn, like a lot of other nasties, flourished during the neoliberal ‘boom’. As Feminism was reduced to consumable ‘Pink Power’, porn was pushed ever further into the mainstream. Modern ‘laddettes’ were deemed ‘up for it’, encouraged to watch it, even ‘normal’ women were seduced with films such as ‘50 Shades of Grey’, dubbed by the porn industry as ‘A Romantic Tale for the Porn Age’. Sugaring porn’s brutal edges with sensational clothes, stunning interiors, and A List actors, 50 Shades was basically a film that depicted in unbearable detail how to lure a lonely isolated child into ‘consenting’ to sexual abuse’ (Gail Dines). It grossed $570 million.

As Gail Dines writes in her book The Pornification of Culture, porn’s favourite gags – the objectification of women, the sexualisation of women as girls, of girls themselves, the younger the better, has leaked into films, advertising shoots, video games, glossy fashion and fashion mags. As actress Kathy Burke’s character remarks acidly on Fashion’s love affair with ‘pre-nubiles’  in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, ‘They’ll be chucking foetuses down the catwalk next.’

Second Wave Feminist had few illusions about what porn was. It was ‘the scene of a crime’.  ‘Porn is the theory. Rape is the practice.’ (Robin Morgan, 1975).  Or as Andrea Dworkin wrote, ‘I live in a country (America) where women are tortured as a form of public entertainment and for profit, and that torture is held up as a state protected right.’

Pretty unbearable right?

Try flipping the picture and imagine an industry, estimated to be worth $97 billion, where adult women kidnap and traffic young boys, young men, even children, many of them damaged, survivors of incest or child abuse. The women then film the guys day after day being violently sexually assaulted by other adult women, whipped, beaten, gagged, penetrated with everything the ladies can lay their hands on, physically wrecking the guys physically and psychologically, all for the pleasure and gratification of other women worldwide and making the women at the top of this ‘business’ obscenely rich.

Not so nice, huh?

Would the male judges, male barristers, male politicians, male academics, male policemen still turn a blind eye?  Would they still argue that porn and it’s ‘consumption’ are an inevitable part of life and cannot be regulated, never mind stopped? That it is protected under Free Speech?  And that anyway it doesn’t affect real people’s everyday behaviour?

Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kylie Bax wearing a Playboy shirt, with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Melania Trump.

In a week where in London a Metropolitan policeman savagely murdered a young woman walking home through lit streets, almost certainly tricking her into getting into his car by using his police ID, where another policeman guarding the site where her poor body was found sent obscene images ‘as a joke’ around his police mates, where another London policeman was released (today) without sentence after brutally attacking a woman, wrestling her to the ground in a headlock while screaming she was ‘a fucking slut’, where yet another policeman who had viciously killed the Mum of two he was having an affair with had his ‘manslaughter’ sentence reviewed because of the levels of injury to her, where a whole bunch of policemen brutalised women attending a peaceful vigil for the woman one of their mates had slaughtered, and that on the way home from that vigil yet another woman who ran to a policeman for help as a man exposed himself to her, was told to get lost, he wouldn’t deal with people attending the vigil, where in America this week six Asian women were shot down in two separate spas and the US sherrif said the shooter was ‘having a bad day.’ That he had a sex addiction and was ‘removing temptation’.

I mean come on.

If, as the porn industry is forever saying, porn doesn’t affect normal living why is it that violence against women is now a worldwide pandemic with two women killed every three days in the UK? Why is it that the police are not only ignoring women’s pleas for help, but appear to be actively involved in their brutalisation? Why is it that rape convictions are at an all time low? With only 1.5% going to trial? Why is it that in a rape case the victim is the only person in the court without legal representation? How in the name of god has it been deemed legal to force her to hand over, to the rapist and his legal team, all of her notes from counselling or therapy, if she’s been lucky enough to get counselling or therapy?

It’s bullshit.

With visits to Netflix, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter combined outnumbered by visits to porn sites, maintaining the nonsense that the porn industry doesn’t affect everyday would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. Does the fashion business not affect normal life? Or the food business? Or the drinks business?

Even as we become more ‘civilised’, more caring, more vegan, women are to accept porn’s violence against women, its endless, ferocious violation, without question, while the Justice System and the police stand by?

With Sarah Everard’s terrible death at the hands of a policeman, who had, incidentally, four days previously exposed himself in a fast food restaurant, and shockingly was not demobbed, his badge, gun and car immediately removed, thereby saving Sarah Everard’s life, but was allowed to carry on, women’s anger has reached boiling point.

This is women’s George Floyd moment. See what they are doing to us? Enough. Enough.

The Patriarchy, and its porn addiction, are costing women their lives. Their latest victim is Sarah Everard. In her name. In the name of all women – Black, Asian, White – murdered and destroyed by men fuelled on porn’s poisonous meth, shut it down.

In the name of us all, shut it down.

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About Author

Rosita Sweetman

Rosita Sweetman is a member of the well-known Sweetman family, a brewing, legal and political Irish dynasty dating back to Norman times. She is a founding member of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement, (the IWLM) which flamed brilliantly into life in a horribly restrictive and repressive 1970’s Ireland; restrictions that impacted mostly on women. When the architecture of Patriarchy gave all the advantages to men – no matter how useless they were. The IWLM existence was short lived, but it’s impact continues to this day. It gave birth to the first organisations in the country that helped ‘battered wives’, women in crisis pregnancies, women in need of support at work. Most of all it opened women’s eyes to a different way of life, a life not dictated to them by the Church. Rosita has worked in writing and journalism since her teens. First at the BBC in London, then RTE, the (ex) Irish Press, the Sunday Independent, the Irish Times. She has published three books. ‘On Our Knees’, 1972, a look at contemporary Ireland via a smorgasbord of interviews with interesting people. ‘Fathers Come First’, 1974, a coming of age novel, re-issued as a modern classic by the Lilliput Press in 2015. And ‘On Our Backs’, 1979, a startling look at ‘sexual attitudes in a changing Ireland’. All sold out their print run of 60,000. Rosita believes passionately in equality, and that Feminism really can save the world from the planet wide disaster we are currently plunged into. She is mother to wonderful jeweller Chupi, and to wonderful filmmaker Luke, and very, very recently, grandmother to Chupi and Brian’s beautiful little daughter Aya.

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