Women tweet photos of their underwear after teenager's thong was cited in rape trial
In Ireland, a 27-year-old man was acquitted of raping a 17-year-old girl. The Irish Examiner reports that a jury of eight men and four women reached a unanimous verdict after 90 minutes. During the trial, the defendant insisted that the sex was consensual, and his lawyer, Elizabeth O’Connell, presented a shocking argument in her closing address: "You have to look at the way she was dressed," said O'Connell. "She was wearing a thong with a lace front."
Blaming rape victims for causing their own rape by wearing sexy clothing is an archaic argument; in fact, it's practically a cliché. When the news broke about a lawyer making that idiotic statement in court, and winning the case, people were rightfully outraged. "These kind of mythologies and stereotypes around rape come up again and again in court cases, because the defence to rape is that the sex was consensual," Dublin Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Noeline Blackwell told the Irish Independent. “So anything the defendant can do to suggest there was consent will be used."
On Wednesday, protestors took to the streets throughout Ireland to voice their fury over how the case was handled. They marched down the road, chanting "Clothes are not consent" and "Yes means yes, no means no!" And of course, they carried colorfulsigns, with images of thongs and scrawled messages. "End Victim Blaming," read one, while another asked, "Can we get a list of what we can wear?"
The campaign group I Believe Her picked up the protest, and created the online movement #ThisIsNotConsent. Women tweeted photos of their underwear, and criticized the defense lawyer for "victim-blaming" a 17-year-old. "I’m sitting in the library now wearing a thong. Does that mean I’m “open to meeting someone” or feeling “promiscuous”?" asked one women. "Thongs DO NOT cause rape. Short skirts DO NOT cause rape. RAPISTS cause rape!" wrote another. And a third posted two pairs of of underwearing, asking for "someone to tell me which is less rapey."
Politician Ruth Coppinger joined the protestors in the streets, and even brought their message the Dáil, which is like the Irish version of America's House of Representatives. While speaking in the chamber, she held up a pair of blue lacy underwear. "It might seem embarrassing to show a pair of thongs here," stated Coppinger. "How do you think a rape victim or a woman feels at the incongruous setting of her underwear being shown in a court?"
On Twitter, Coppinger said that she heard cameras cut away from her when she brandished the underwear. Funny how the sight of lacy panties can make people feel so uncomfortable, but they're totally comfortable with a teenager's thong cited as evidence of sexual consent in a rape trial - especially a rape trial, in which the defendant was acquitted.