David Griffin, aka Dave Lee Travis has been convicted of sexual assault. Another man, another offence against women; same shit, different day.
Yet still, after millennia of male-on-female violence, there are those who believe it just can’t be that simple. These people are imbued with insight, experience and common sense that many of us don’t have. Luckily for us though, they are commissioned by The Mail and The Independent so we can read their words, and give ourselves a good slap round the face before our womanly hysteria overcomes us.
Here’s a ten point guide on how to knock out such a piece.
- Begin by stating that you disapprove in the strongest terms to the crime. It’s important that your readers don’t think you’re a pervert.
- Summarise the crime, but in the most reductive terms. DO NOT stray into the emotional impact for the victim, because that would eventually take you back to hysteria, and you’re not that kind of woman. In fact don’t talk about the victim at all. Use the fact that she has legal anonymity to turn her into a cardboard cut-out, with no feelings, career, family or health issues. Instead, comment brusquely that the attack was short, and a long time ago. Spend a line on this at most.
- Write several descriptive paragraphs on the impact on the perpetrator instead. Here, dwell on his emotional state, because that isn’t hysterics, that’s human compassion for your fellow man. Focus especially on his loss of ‘reputation’, the financial devastation, the impact on his relationships. Actually, you may have enough here to go for the, ‘Ruined Life’ line. (Make sure you have at least three big losses though – the bloody Feminists are watching.) Find anything in his or his family’s background that builds pathos- maybe his wife had breast cancer? Bingo. Bang it in.
- Although your byline photo and actual name betray you to belonging to the hysterical classes, put clear blue water between them and your far-sighted, dispassionate self. A line such as, ‘But let’s just look at the facts’ works well here. Don’t let it bother you that most people believe they look at facts too. They forgot to state it, the morons.
- Insert some ‘worse’ crimes. This is a genius technique as it shows not only your sense of proportionality and relevance but also firmly plants you back on the right side. You’ve spent so long empathising with the perpetrator that you do need to remind readers of your opening line – you REALLY hate ‘actual’ abuse. Done that? Ok – we’re ready for the guts of the piece.
- Prepare your main point, the point that has been building up in your gullet for months, but which you couldn’t voice because the trial was taking place and the public mood after Yewtree had not yet caught up with your advantaged position, up there, higher than the moral ground, at the very top where the air is thin and your senses thrill with Proportion and Common Sense and World Weary Experience. The ground of Rational Perspective.
- Go for it, as Rosie Millard expertly did yesterday– ‘Women get their breasts squeezed. They get their bottoms pinched. Without asking for it. It is not particularly exciting, but it is part of life. Get over it’.
- SHIT! DON’T LOSE THE READER NOW – do not change gear, do not change direction. Insert your own experience, double quick. It happened to you. You got over it. You’re so level-headed (great phrase, write it down) that you brushed it off, told your girlfriends briskly over supper that it was a bit of stuff and nonsense and went back to work with a good anecdote to impress your male colleagues with your sang-froid professionalism.
- Finally, stick the boot in the victim. Put anything relating to her in italics. She’s apparently a ‘Household Name’. Let that image of a potential ex-member of the Loose Women panel or a co-presenter on Cash in the Attic sink in. It’s a far better moniker than, ‘Professional, well known woman’ as you well know. Remind everyone that she was allowed to keep her anonymity, whereas he wasn’t. Name the cost of the trial. We’re all in it together, and that hysterical, secretive, C list sleb has blown your taxes, the bitch.
- End with a sad reflection on society.
Violence against women is everywhere. It is in the stomach-sinking dread a young girl feels when she realises that her body is changing into something men will claim as theirs, through the images they play back to her when she pops out for a magazine to Smiths, from the casual yet piercingly accurate comments from the boys at school as they rate her female form. She hugs herself closer to shrink her very being, squashing silently screaming senses into boxes to lock and forget. She projects a force-field around herself, to repel the threats to penetrate her private self, to lay the contents bare for the whole world to see, see that she’s not a real woman; she’ll be found wanting – unfeminine, under-formed, over-formed, hysterical. But her force-field is as much use as a cotton dress in a monsoon. She is permeable and her precious identity is of no interest to the guys running the show, ‘The Show’ she has stumbled into when that second chromosome stubbornly stayed an X. Two Xs; they should be like kisses. They’re not. They’re X rated – she is sexed and she will know it, every single day of her life.
One day, a man will just put his hand straight through that force-field. It won’t crackle, he won’t leap backwards, shocked by the electricity she wishes she could project, like Carrie. His expression won’t even change. He’ll just take what he wants, and when he’s finished barely register what he’s done. And she’ll be left, stunned, as wide open as a wall-less room, for men to look at, take from and pass through.