“Too steep a price to pay for 20 minutes of action” said Dan Turner of the 6 month prison sentence for his 20 year old son, Brock Turner, for the sexual assault of an unconscious girl on Stanford campus. “Action” is probably a tad optimistic, as is the implied acceptance on our behalf that Dan Turner is chief justice on the correlation between how long something takes and how “important” it is. Time being the key issue, presumably Dan Turner agrees an HIV-carrying premature ejaculator forcing anal sex to completion on 3 abducted children within 14 minutes ‘deserves’ a lesser sentence, as 14 minutes of “action” is unarguably less than 20?
Before discovering perpetrator Brock Turner’s name, I’d several times been subjected to hearing he was “an extremely promising swimmer, who could’ve competed at the Olympics”. Articles listed his ‘personal best’ times beside details of his crime, and the adjective “swimmer” became irremovable from his name in the headlines like he was some kind of giant blond sperm. It was endlessly repeated, as though one’s sporting ability warrants parity with whether or not one has committed sexual assault.
So, if swimming sexual assaulter Brock turner were to win the 100m Freestyle at the Olympics, presumably his Dad would suggest refusing the gold medal, because it’s simply “too high a prize for 47 seconds of action”. How long does it take to fire a bullet, win the lottery, propose marriage or conceive a child? How many minutes will England’s inevitable penalty shoot out exit take, and how many painted-faced 7 year olds will cry themselves to sleep that night?
“Well…drinking that much, what did she expect?”…A hangover I think.
“If you go out dressed like that, you deserve to be raped.”
I entirely relate to this, as one night last week I walked past a Pizza Express, and the aroma wafting out the door tempted and compelled me to smash all their windows, sprint through the restaurant to the friendly semi-open cooking area, punch and knock unconscious one of the robotically brilliant pizza preparers, eat 4 satisfying little prep bowls full of cold mozzarella cubes, before stripping the stirring, bruising chef of his coincidentally ideal Burglar Bill style uniform, throwing it on, then skulking irresponsibly, romantically home down the back streets, nervously through dark, silent gardens, executing a hazy, self-important fantasy whilst for realism, at least, attempting to ignore how full I feel.
“Do NOT tick this box if you wish to never be contacted regarding things we may send you in future.”
I visit amazon to buy a magnifying glass, which I’ll use to find the ‘unsubscribe’ link when the emails inevitably come through. Cure over prevention. The magnifying glass will help me to minimise my suffering and find my genitals in one afternoon. Noble aims, but ultimately just emotional weak points facing exploitation. This continues into the afternoon. I’m on Oxford Street, and (obviously) I want to immediately go home. But I’m cursed with a £40 Topman voucher. Entering Topman may feel like the worst possible next step, but it isn’t. It’s second worst, to leaving and thus having to return again to this heaving tunnel of tosspots.
Into Topman, somehow activating the security alarms on my way IN (perhaps with my dark heart). Up the escalator, the first thing I see is a wall displaying a repeating cycle of 3 products, 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3. I pause for a 10 second involuntary mind spasm: Through Scooby Doo’s clock-plant-door-clock-plant-door corridor, into my 4 year old self’s bedroom, where the repeating Manchester United wallpaper-border was a first attempt at life for my anxious, frustrated post-toddlerhood self, lying awake in the almost-darkness.
The 3 repeating products are plain white jumpers, each in turn inscribed with one of the following philosophies:
3) U OK HUN
Momentarily part of the problem, I have these 3 instinctive thought responses:
1) So 2002, man.
2) Inane shite for blank personalities
3) Something boys might say to seem nicer than they are so girls might have sex with them
About turn, attempting to go straight back down the escalator. It’s the one that brought me up and it doesn’t work like that. I stumble, contemplate trying to run down it, playing it cool, or pretending to receive a call, before abandoning these ideas, finding the down escalator, and leaving the store. (Not activating the alarm, having vomited my dark heart onto the “GOALS” jumper, thus leaving it behind). I walk up Great Portland Street, across Marylebone Road and into Regent’s Park. There are 2 men in front of me and 2 women behind. 2 heterosexual couples I think, having split into genders so as not to have their minds blown wide apart. Both sets are discussing Kim Kardashian. The women: Her Instagram, and the men: Her “breasts”. At this point, Mark Corrigan from Peep Show reverberates inside my head – “You’re never alone with a phone”. My phone is only really displaying that Cristiano Ronaldo’s PR team has paid all major Social Media platforms to trend / feature his being photographed on a yacht in Ibiza with a “sexy brunette”.
Would you describe Germaine Greer as an Unsexy Grey? And if not, why not?
No description was afforded to the 3 strapping, handsome, topless, tight-trunked men, on the yacht’s steps, temporarily bored and uninterested just a metre away from Cristiano.
The BBC news app doesn’t rescue me – both sides of the EU Referendum are freely lying. It’s a minuscule minority of the public who actually know what they’re talking about in full, what exactly they’re voting for and why, and it certainly doesn’t include me. Although if one side is Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green, and the other side is UKIP and Britain First, it’s fairly obvious what to do.
Yes, I wear the short skirt of having a Facebook account, and yes I suffer the alcohol blackout of knowing who’s who in popular culture. Should that opt me in to fake boobs and fake girlfriends? Or must I leave Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? Can’t I use them even slightly on my own terms? No. Rather like the EU – I can remain, or leave, engage, or not, but I can’t affect what happens next. That’s where it ends. Kim’s “boobs” and Ronaldo’s “beard” will simply find an alternative route to me.
Not that leaving Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would suffice – I’d also have to avoid or escape all conversation, television, newspapers and magazines. Evidently clothes shops too and clearly I shouldn’t go for a walk in the park, or even out into my own garden, where Britain’s Got Talent blares loudly out of nextdoor’s kitchen window. For a moment, my world becomes David Walliams and Amanda Holden arguing disingenuously over which of two Lancashire children performs the best card tricks, as simultaneously my neighbour’s arid, uninvited cannabis smoke drifts lazily over my head towards the relentlessly undiscriminating sunset.
Our Consent has been devalued in favour of personal agenda. From rape to PR relationships there is only the disrespectful illusion of choice. We get what we’re given. Our consent is not required.
One final confession: Without consent I’ve taken too much of your time with this ramble, when Albert Camus said as much, in only 25 words, and moreover, in 1956:
“I sometimes think of what future historians will say of us. A single sentence will suffice for modern man: He fornicated and read the papers.”