Good(ish) Friday

It’s July, which means we’re officially half-way this treat of a year! Also, this week has not been absolutely terrible for women.

Arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell.
Rather self-explanatory, but definitely the most important development in the Epstein –drama since his suicide last August. Will hopefully nudge the court-case forward, as the lawyers are expecting her to bring forward “big names” in order to possibly get away with a more modest sentencing herself. All eyes are on the Duke of York, Andrew, especially following his spectacularly, idiotically tone-deaf interview on BBC in January this year.

Hopefully Maxwell will cooperate to bring the horrible saga to its end that bring some justice to the dozens of victims.

The US Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion law.
There’s no rest for Justice Bader Ginsburg. The Supreme Court earlier this week gave a ruling over state law that required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. At the moment only two of the five doctors who provide abortions in Louisiana have obtained admitting privileges, and one of them testified that he could not handle the clinic’s work alone. If the law went into effect, there would be a single doctor in a single clinic, in New Orleans, available to provide abortions in the whole of Louisiana.
The ruling means in effect that women’s access to have abortions will be made easier, as there will be more clinics operating them.

The case is significant also for the future: When Trump was running for the presidency, he promised to appoint judges that would overturn the landmark case Roe vs. Wade, which constitutionalised abortion in the US. Trump has made two (conservative) appointments to the Court during his presidency. The Louisiana-case is an important reminder (mainly to Trump and other anti-abortion activists) that despite the Court being conservative-dominated, it does not automatically mean that they will reverse abortion rights.

UK amendments to Domestic Abuse Bill: “Rough Sex”- defense will be banned.
British backpacker Grace Millane was brutally murdered in New Zealand in December 2018, following a Tinder-date with a local man. Her murderer attempted to use the “rough sex” -defense during the trial, but was unanimously sentenced to life imprisonment for Millane’s murder.

The UK decision to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill is significant. “Rough sex gone wrong” has traditionally been used by perpetrators to highlight the consensual nature of sexual violence that in worst cases ended in the other party’s (woman) death. The excuse carries both an element of double-shaming the victim (“is she really a victim if she wanted to be gagged so much?”) and questioning women’s sexuality more generally (the defense suggests that a woman who enjoys rough sex agrees to be treated so brutally that she dies – which is absolutely absurd).
In addition, it carried the (Victorian) hope that women who have been enthusiastic about sex in the past should not be taken seriously when they claim to have said no. This is, of course, unfortunate especially in the cases where the woman ends up dead and cannot reply to the question whether she might have, in fact, “been asking for it”.

The UK campaign behind the amendment had counted 59 cases of deaths in the UK since 1972, where the partner had claimed “rough (consensual) sex that went too far” to have been the cause of the women’s “accidental” deaths. Add to that countless number of rape cases where the victims survived, having their sexual preferences and -history being discussed in detail in court proceedings. Importantly, in 45 per cent of the cases where “rough sex” -defense was used, the perpetrator was given a lesser sentence.

The changes will enter into force in England and Wales later this year.

Tori Amos’ memoir/call to action Resistance is out and it’s an interesting snapshot into personal/political, her career as an artist, art more generally, sexual politics, patriarchy and such. Helpful if you’re a fan (I am).

So yes, things are looking up, sort of.

Photo credit: “Bijoux de Famille” / Collection d’images trouvées. Editée dans le cadre de la Museum Night Fever en collaboration avec le musée de la Porte de Hal.

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