Anyone who has stuck with me for an extended period of time will know that I’ve expressed nothing but sincere admiration for Germaine Greer.
As a writer, I have found her work to be thought-provoking, intelligent and, frankly, ahead of its time. Away from the writing circle, I have long admired Professor Greer’s ability to position herself in such a way that she was slightly distant from the academic environment, being seen to enjoy a firm grounding in the ‘every day’ world.
But, if what I read in today’s print media is correct (and that, in itself is a significant point!), it appears that Germaine Greer has lost the plot.
Speaking at last night’s Cheltenham Literary Festival, Professor Greer allegedly put forward the notion that a ‘name and shame’ website should be created, to enable women to list men who, they allege, have raped them.
*pause for breath*
The first problem I have with naming and shaming, is that we have a legal culture of being innocent until proven guilty.
I have no issue with naming and shaming those who are found guilty – whether it is men found guilty of rape, or women found guilty of making false allegations of rape – but I do have a significant problem of anyone making unfounded allegations outside of the legal process.
Let me put this in to perspective for a moment.
It’s like me, as the father of a 13-year old girl, putting a post on this blog that makes a clear statement that Fred Flinstone of 32 Burnt Offering Crescent, Burbletown, is a paedophile who has sexually molested my daughter.
Because, frankly, where is the difference?
What Professor Greer seems to be advocating is a website that stands outside of the legal process; the creation of a website where people are able to make unfounded, unsubstantiated allegations about – and let’s get this perspective straight – crimes of a sexual nature.
The website Professor Greer is advocating isn’t about naming and shaming some thug from across the road who throws stones, swears a lot and shouts at his (or her!) neighbours.
We are, in Professor Greer’s model, accusing a named person of being a rapist, and we are accusing that person of being a rapist without the least shred of evidence, and without getting anywhere near due legal process.
The big issue here is that being accused of a sex crime makes the accused person guilty by implication.
Do you remember the very sad situation a few years ago where Yvette Cloete was hounded out of her house by a mob because someone daubed the allegation that she was ‘a paedo’ on the walls of her home?
The reality is that that Dr Cloete’s only crime was to be a paediatrician.
But that kind of mud sticks.
Just as I cannot be allowed to pull up a website and state to all of Google that Fred Flinstone of 32 Burnt Offering Crescent, Burbletown is a paedophile who has raped my 13-year old daughter, without going before the law and having that allegation subjected to scientific evidential scrutiny, no woman can be allowed to pull up a website and allege that she was raped by Barney Rubble of 34 Burnt Offering Crescent, Burbletown.
Because allegations are not always the truth.
I make this statement as someone who was identified – as a schoolboy – of being a rape assailant.
Fortunately I had an unshakeable alibi. While I was supposed to be carrying out this terrible crime I was actually at a family dinner party at a remote farmhouse 15 miles away. The dinner guests included my uncle. The Chief Constable of Gwent Police.
I’ve said enough on this for now, but I do hope that I have gone some way towards demolishing Professor Greer’s flawed thinking.
But just in case I haven’t done enough, here are just a few links, each one goes back to a high profile case where a woman has lied in the making of *at least one* (and sometimes more) false allegation of rape: