People can be kind to you and horrific to somebody else – it's crazy I know
Boys will defend boys. And frankly, I'm exhausted
Content warning: The following paragraphs contain a discussion of sexual abuse allegations. If that’s a potential trigger for you, please protect yourself and scroll on to the pop culture pleasures section.
This year feels like groundhog day and not just because of the big C. It feels like every week we have the same old conversation about male violence against women – we are just swapping out the protagonists and changing the angle slightly. In Germany, we are currently debating whether survivors of abuse actually deserve our solidarity. I’m so tired.
Let’s take it from the top: The case of the week centers Luke Mockridge, a commercially very successful comedian, who has been accused of some pretty awful stuff by his ex-girlfriend Ines Anioli, who is also a comedian and podcaster. She has never said his name – I presume for legal reasons – when talking about something that can only be described as a highly toxic and physically abusive relationship, but it’s been very obvious who she’s been referring to. Mockridge refuses to comment on the accusations. (For the German speakers, here’s the gist and here’s the long form)
So far, this sounds like one of many #MeToo stories, but since Germany hasn’t had its own #MeToo movement yet, it’s turning into an intense precedent. So far, it’s looking very, very bleak. For women.
The TV station, where Mockridge hosts various shows, put out a statement that defended their most important cash cow in a way which would have made Harvey Weinstein proud. It was only a couple of lines long and all you need to know is that it included the term “lynch law”.
Mockridge’s fan boys and their supporting women have also rushed to defend their idol. Their vile Twitter comments have been as predictable as sickening. You know, the usual: This is a witch hunt, this is about ending his career, she just wants attention, if it had been that bad there would be an official police report, yada yada yada. And because this is set in Germany, the blatant misogyny is topped off by cries for a due process, demands to present evidence, and the term “Unschuldsvermutung” (presumption of innocence) has been trending. What these people mean when they scream “he’s innocent until proven guilty!” is: that bitch is lying.
Now, the presumption of innocence is an important staple of the legal system and I am in no way saying that there should be legal consequences for anyone simply based on allegations. I also don’t want to go much further into the intricacies of this particular case. I don’t think it should be debated on Twitter in the way that it is. But if an accusation like this hits the social networks, we need to base every conversation around it on solidarity with the survivor. It’s the only humane thing to do. Why does the presumption of innocence not protect them from being accused of lying?
Oh yeah, that’s right. Because the system is designed to uphold the status quo, cue patriarchy. Which makes it hard for a certain type of man to empathize with anyone who is being failed by the system. By the system, which makes it incredibly difficult for survivors to get their cases to court. By the system which only prosecutes a fraction of rape reports. By the system, which is ill-equipped to deal with any form of sexual violence that is not a textbook rape in a dark alley, or abuse that hasn’t lead to serious physical injuries (or worse). By the system, which protects perpetrators.
The abusive patterns that have been described by Anioli are very relatable to many women. It’s scarily common to get sexually abused by your partner, or the person you’re seeing. As Laura Bates put it:
“Statistically, you're safer in a dark alley, drunk with your knickers around your head than you are in your own bed. 80% of rape victims already know the perpetrator – as a friend, colleague, boyfriend, husband.”
I’m going out on a limb now, and please feel free to challenge me, but: I believe that every man who quickly jumps to defend another man accused of sexual violence without taking the time to actively listen to the survivor, is a man who has probably been violent towards sexual partners in the past. Or, mildly put, who has had “unclear” sexual situations and is aware of them. I don’t know if those men are scared to be labeled a rapist themselves or whether they just passionately hate women, or both, but it’s undeniable that an abhorrent number of them will fight tooth and nail to protect perpetrators.
What I’m finding most upsetting about Anioli’s example is that it once again cements the fear of speaking out against sexual violence in women’s minds. Because unless you can offer waterproof evidence (which you most probably can’t) you’ll be called an attention-seeking liar, who will then be dragged by the hair through the mud.
A month ago, I begged men to not stay silent any longer. Now I’m not even asking you to speak up (although that’d be nice). I’m just asking you to listen. If what you hear is making you defensive, I implore you to reflect on your past behaviour towards women and learn from it. I’m asking you to believe survivors of sexual assault. I’m asking you to not defend the guy. I’m asking you to realize that people can be kind to you and horrific to somebody else. Most of all, I BEG YOU to stop demanding women bring you indisputable evidence for their trauma. In most cases, there’s no other evidence than the scars on our heart and the constant replays in our mind.
And to women who are defending alleged perpetrators – please hear Clementine Ford when she says: “Men will never, ever go to battle for women with the same fever and heart as women will for them.”
Lastly, if this is a topic of discussion in your life this coming week, here are some helpful facts:
Men’s careers don’t get ruined. Example: One year after #MeToo gained traction, 12 million women had shared their stories about abuse and harassment in the workplace. It had consequences for a total of 200 men. I’m not great at math, but this looks like a very tiny percentage.
Women don’t get a career boost out of sharing their trauma. Example:
Most importantly: false accusations are incredibly rare. Example: They are so rare, that men are 230 times more likely to be raped themselves than being falsely accused.
pop culture pleasures
Ok now, I will try to get out us out of this piece on a lighter note.
First of all, have y’all watched Ginny & Georgia yet? I certainly did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did! Loved all the shameless Gilmore Girls copy, the super woke Gen Z kids, the resourceful mum with her dark secrets, and most of all, I loved watching Jennifer Robertson return to the comedy scene after Schitt’s Creek.
I also finally watched Cheer on Netflix and was by no means prepared to become so emotionally invested in a six part documentary about cheerleading. Incredible athleticism, dedication and such a joyful, warm-hearted team.
It makes me really happy when I discover a new podcast which already has plenty of episodes to binge through. Recent example: The Independent’s Millennial Love podcast. Very relatable, very entertaining chats about the highs and lows (mostly lows tbh) of dating as a millennial. And if you’ll only listen to one episode, it obviously should be the one with Dolly.
Olivia Petter, host of aforementioned podcast, also writes a dating column. I loved this one about a spectacular online dating fail, which ends on such a lovely note:
“I turned to Emily who’d been sitting next to me at the kitchen table, book in one hand, freshly made coffee in the other. “Shall I laugh or cry?” I asked. “Laugh” she responded. “Always laugh.” Female friendships really are, I was reminded, the greatest romances of our lives.”
Brittney Cooper wrote a lovely essay on appreciating the middle. In life, in a project, and most importantly, in chocolate chip cookies.
This is very niche – but if you like surfing, the North Atlantic and/or people who are very humble about their extraordinary achievements, then I would highly recommend this Sea Sessions interview with Irish surfer Conor Maguire. It also includes footage of Maguire riding Ireland’s biggest wave, in Mullaghmore at the end of last year. Which was 60 feet high. For scale: I get scared in anything above 3 feet.
🇩🇪 Jan Stremmel hat sich für die SZ das braune Querdenker-Problem in der Yoga-Szene ganz genau angesehen. Es geht um die “Shantifa” (love it), den Zusammenhang zwischen Achtsamkeit und Narzissmus und um die ewige Sinnsuche, die vielen Yogis aktuell zum Verhängnis wird. Ganz großer Lesetipp.
animal video of the week
Once I’m vaccinated (so maybe next year?), I am hoping to sneak my way into cuddles as smoothly as this bunny.
That’s all for today. Thank you for taking the time to read this, it honestly means so much.
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Until next time,
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