Society likes to package female sexuality in a conservative and sanitized way. Women are portrayed as demure creatures incapable of sexual sin and men are portrayed as desirous pussy-starved beasts.
The Australian media likes to push The Good Girl Lie. A fantasyland where every woman is a reincarnation of Doris Day or Sandra Dee.
It often plays out when Aussie journos and TV hosts report on national and international sexual assault cases.
The common narratives one will see peddled are:
That a woman would never choose to have sex with a sports team.
That a woman would never choose to go into a dark alley and screw a few guys that she just met in a pub.
That a woman would never choose to watch her boss masturbate in front of her.
That a woman would never choose to have sex with a bunch of guys and be filmed.
The four narratives above are blatant lies. Some women do CHOOSE to participate in these sexual acts and failing to acknowledge this truth is dangerous and does three things.
It shames, denies, judges and silences women who make these sexual choices unapologetically and without regret.
It falsely suggests that men are always the ringleaders.
It portrays women as these innocent butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-their-mouth victims devoid of sexuality or fierceness.
I’m not suggesting that we should place blame on any victim in any sexual assault case or disbelieve their allegations. As a rape survivor myself, I understand the totality of sexual assault and the courage it takes to speak up in the first place. What I am suggesting is that we stop propagating the good girl lie.
On May 23 in Brisbane, Jack Scott Turner Winship and Ryan David George were charged and sentenced for raping a 20-year-old medical student in April 2011. No-one is happier than me that the law is responding for the traumatised rape victim.
But examine the language used by the Crown Prosecutor Dzenita Bali and widely quoted throughout the Australian media:
It beggars belief that any jury would’ve ever accepted that a young intelligent woman would suddenly and voluntarily go into an alleyway to lose her virginity.
I beg your pardon?
Young and intelligent women don’t voluntarily go into alleyways to lose their virginity? That’s the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard.
Take a walk along the laneways of Melbourne on a weekend after midnight and you’ll be able to witness plenty of ‘drunken alleyway action’ of those who have just met. Christ, I’ve been a participant in ‘alleyway action’ myself throughout the years.
And I haven’t got enough fingers or toes to count the number of women I personally know who have voluntarily lost their virginity in a dark and dingy alleyway.
Also, is the Crown implying that women who voluntarily go into alleyways to lose their virginity are dumb?
In 2009, a work colleague of the woman who had sex with Matthew Johns and numerous Cronulla Shark players told the Nine Network that the woman at the centre of the scandal was ‘bragging’ to the staff about having sex with the players and took five days to report the incident. “There was no trauma whatsoever. I’m disgusted that a woman can all of a sudden change her story from having a great time to then turning it into a terrible crime.”
Men definitely lose in the ‘Good Girl Lie’ narrative.
But women lose more. This untruthful narrative deems us as unsexual creatures and pathetically weak.
I’m NOT a good girl.
Vanessa de Largie is a freelance journalist and sex columnist who divides her time between London and Melbourne.
Illustration: Paramount Pictures.
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