WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND…

How Odd!

mmcewans Icon Posted by melissa mcewan

November 2nd, 2007

Part Seven.*

Reuters’ Oddly Enough has really outdone themselves today: Not one, but two hilariously odd stories about rape! At least they get credit for actually using the word “rape” (an omission so common it has necessitated a multiple part series of its own), but that’s not much consolation when the act is treated as zany fodder for the Odd News section—and this pair of “Odd Tales” is particularly grim.

Court considers “Lotto rapist” damages case: “Iorworth Hoare, dubbed the ‘Lotto rapist’ by the press, had no money when he was jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court in 1989 for the attempted rape of Mrs A. But in 2004 he won 7 million pounds after buying a ticket during day release from prison shortly before being freed on parole. Mrs A, who [was 59 when Hoare attacked her as she walked in a Leeds park in broad daylight in 1988 and did not sue for damages at the time of Hoare’s imprisonment because she had been told his lack of funds would have made it worthless], argued that Hoare should be made to pay for his ‘violent and disgusting sexual assault’ that had left her mentally scarred. … But the High Court said in 2005 that she could not make a compensation claim because she was outside the legal six-year limit to sue for damages.”

Ha ha ha! How splendidly odd!

Spider bite no excuse for rape, court says: “An Australian man who kidnapped and raped a woman blamed his actions on a spider, local media reported on Thursday. Philip Spiers pleaded guilty to the kidnap and rape, but told a court that the poison from a funnel-web spider bite had left him with a viral illness which led to his actions. But a toxicologist told the New South Wales state District Court there was no medical evidence to suggest a spider bite could be responsible for anger and hatred. Spiers, who kidnapped and raped the woman in 1997, was sentenced on Wednesday to eight years in jail.”

Ha ha ha! What a kook!

This duo of wacky oddities comes, by the two, just two days after Reuters framed as Odd News a story about women-only subway cars being introduced in Seoul because sexual assault is so frequent on subways: “Nearly half the crimes reported on the city’s eight subway lines are sexual in nature, with many taking place on two lines that serve university and office districts. … Several Tokyo train lines have tried women-only carriages to prevent groping.”

Again, as I was when subway groping was used as part of a joke in a Playtex bra ad, I’m completely mystified by the idea that entire raison d’être for HollaBack NYC, HollaBack Chicago, HollaBack Boston, HollaBack San Francisco, HollaBack Seattle, HollaBack D.C., HollaBack Texas, HollaBack Pennsylvania, HollaBack Colorado, HollaBack Canada, and probably some I’m missing is treated like No Big Deal.

Women’s bodies being treated as public property isn’t funny–and it’s not “odd” by any definition of the word. And women forced to separate themselves from men in public places to maintain their sense of safety is neither funny nor odd, either.

It’s tragic.

[*Part Seven in an ongoing series about the media’s insistence on trivializing women’s lives, actions, experiences, and issues by categorizing as “Odd News” stories about the mistreatment of women, or stories about women that aren’t “odd” in any way aside from the fact that there’s a women at their centers. Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six.]

(Crossposted from Shakesville.)

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