Girls – it’s all their fault!
Posted on May 16, 2011
Loath though I am to expend any more of my energy on Nadine Dorries and the ridiculous things she says and does, I can’t let today’s atrocity from the MP for Mid-Narnia pass without comment.
Here’s what she had to say on The Vanessa Show this afternoon about her proposal to have abstinence sex education for girls introduced into schools:
“I want the emphasis on girls, because it’s girls who lose their education, girls that go on benefits, girls who usually throw in the towel and spend a lifetime on benefits, girls who enter old age in poverty, girls who usually end up with a row of guesting (?) fathers and more babies because they can’t get back into education, and can never get the opportunities that would have been theirs if, maybe, when they were 13 or 14 years old or whatever age they got pregnant, somebody had given them some counselling on the fact that they could say no, and on what might be the options if they don’t.”
And it gets worse.
Because it was at this point in the conversation that Vanessa Feltz suggested that very young children are in fact being taught to say no, that they are being taught these things very sensitively and carefully.
Dorries’ response to this was simply astonishing:
“Well do you know that’s really interesting because one of the reasons for this is that some of the evidence that I’ve heard is that if a stronger just say no message was given to children in school that there might be an impact on sex abuse. Because a lot of girls, when sex abuse takes place, don’t realise until later that that was a wrong thing to do. Because we are getting into a situation now where sex is so common in society, you know we’ve got high street stores selling padded bikinis to 7 year olds, we’ve got Sheffield NHS Trust giving out leaflets to 11 year olds in schools which are entitled “an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away”, we have situations taking place in schools now in terms of… a teenage magazine last year ran an item on the sexual position of the week, for a magazine which is read predominantly by 13 year old girls. Society is so over-sexualised that I don’t think people realise that if we did empower this message into girls, imbued this message in schools, we’d probably have less sex abuse.”
Here’s a link to the programme, which should be available online for about a week – The Vanessa Show. Mon 16th May. The Dorries bit starts at 12.50, and the bit I’m quoting is from 17.00 onwards.
To be honest, I didn’t actually think Dorries could sink any lower in my estimation until today. I mean, I genuinely thought she’d already scraped the bottom of the barrel with all her nonsense about magical foetuses reaching out from the womb, and the stuff about how her blog is 70% fiction and only 30% fact. But this, today, this “if we teach girls abstinence there’ll be less sex abuse” really takes the fucking biscuit.
Because it’s poisonous victim blaming shite.
Girls are abused because some men choose to abuse them. Girls are neither responsible for the sexual abuses perpetrated against them, nor are they responsible for ending the sexual abuses perpetrated against them. The only ones responsible for either of those things are the men who choose to rape and abuse girls.
And yes, of course empowering girls to say no is important, but to imply that simply by saying no girls, and yes boys as well, could prevent sexual abuse, is not only naive and simplistic nonsense, but it’s also incredibly offensive to victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Understandably Twitter and other social networking sites are in uproar about Dorries’ latest comments. Let’s hope the message gets through to her this time, and she either apologises or retracts.
The Rape Crisis National Freephone Helpline is open from 12-2.30pm & 7-9.30pm every day of the year: you can call them on 0808 802 9999
This is my first time reading your blog and I get the impression you’re in the U.K.? If that is the case, this is truly disheartening. As an American I’m, unfortunately, used to hearing and reading the kind of backward, heartless, and dangerous things that Dorries is saying. I’ve always admired the U.K. and thought of it as a more mature country and where intellectual values were still high. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with that there too.
Hi Franklin, Yes, I’m in the UK. Believe it or not Nadine Dorries is an elected member of Parliament over here – I suspect she’s getting a lot of her ideas from what’s been going on in the States.
God, yes, Cath. You are so right. Dorries is just… (how the fuck can she be an MP and why can’t she think rationally?!)
Aaaaaaah – this woman is – words fail me. Have asked Women’s Views on News (http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/wvon/) to do a post about this tomorrow – do come and look at us – i do think you will like the blog immensely.
Jane O – co-editor
She is truly poisonous, and she should be absolutely hounded into making an apology/retraction – or rather, as she is clearly incapable of any kind of deep thought, at least her horrendous views should lead to some kind of punishment – and Cameron should be forced to do/say something about her as she represents his party and she is getting a lot of publicity and he should be challenged to repudiate her views -what she is saying is so loathsome and wrong – and he should be made accountable for her evil (strong word I know, but I do think that her views are exactly that – blaming children for the horrors they experience). I actually find it hard to write rationally about it as her views are so deeply wrong and cruel and hateful and the fact that she gets space to promulgate her loathsome views sends me into a kind of despair. Thank you for doing something to spread the word about it.
This is a great response to Dorries’ dangerous nonsense. Thanks for writing and for including her quotes. I work for a child abuse prevention outreach programme, teaching kids in primary school about the different types of abuse and empowering them with a rights-based message that they have the right to say no and to tell a trusted adult if anyone ever makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. I can say with confidence that Dorries completely misses the point in trying to connect this kind of work with her bullshit about girls being taught abstinence.
Fantastic response to Dorries’ dangerous bullshit and bollocks.
We combat sexual abuse by empowering kids to know that sex is not dirty and it is not secret; it is fine to be gay, it is fine to be bi, it is fine to be straight. It is something everyone is open about. Therefore the men who try and make it “their little secret” will stand out like a sore thumb because kids will know that it isn’t secret and they will tell people what’s going on. By knowing about sex they will be empowered to talk about it, shining a bright light on the shadowy corners that sex abusers like to lurk in.
Dorries is right in that empowerment will help reduce sex abuse, but that’s the only thing she’s right about. It is NEVER the victim’s fault for “not saying no”. Reducing sex education, under the guise of abstinence, will only make things worse. Knowledge is power.
For the sake of context when ITV have removed the video, someone has given a portion of the show a permanent home on dailymotion:
Also, have found out from http://twitter.com/#!/politicalhackuk that the leaflet is intended for PROFESSIONALS and is not meant to be given out to children…There’s a whole article about it here (links to a PDF).
It’s a relief to read your piece Cath, and the comments. I’m not sure my feelings – a mixture of explosive disgust and expletives – would be all that useful. I’d be interested to hear what the folks that elected Dorries think on this issue. She is poisonous.
“The only ones responsible for either of those things are the men who choose to rape and abuse girls.”
Women can also be responsible for sexual abuse as well – I think laying the blame at the feet of male abusers solely is a little bit harsh.
Also, Dorries doesn’t explain how teaching girls how to say no will stop boys being abused, the silly, poisonous spitequeen.
Thanks for quoting the section in full. While I think that some of the earlier discussion around including relationship advice was a useful and important debate, I’m horrified by her later comments. The suggestion that sexual abuse is linked to the victims not saying “no” is truly ridiculous.
When I was at school in the 1990s, sex education did mention relationships. Indeed, I specifically remember my younger sister being told that sex was something “mummy and daddy did because they love each other very much” and being shown a cartoon which was as much about the emotional side of relationships as the physical. I’m sure that sex education in some schools is poor, and I’m sure that it can improve in almost every school. However, the approach taken by Nadine Dorries MP is firstly insulting and secondly likely to backfire.
I’ve blogged about it myself at http://feminismfortories.wordpress.com/
Far be it from me to offer Dorries any crumb of comfort, since I disagree with her on almost every issue, but I think it needs to be pointed out that there are politicians in both the major political parties whose attitudes to sexual issues are just as priggish.
This lot are reminiscent of Hydra, the monster in Greek mythology that had nine serpent-like heads…..if you chopped one off , two more would appear in its place! Its job (what else) was to guard the entrance to the underworld, like a mythological Home Secretary.
Fortunately it was eventually slain by Heracles (latin Hercules), suggesting that there’s still hope but that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance!
‘a teenage magazine last year ran an item on the sexual position of the week, for a magazine which is read predominantly by 13 year old girls.’
HAAA! that is hilarious – More magazine have been doing that since i was 11 at least, when we used to read my best friend’s older sister’s mag in secret. that was 15 years ago.
Seriously though, what is so tricky about Dorries is the way she couches what she says in quasi feminist terms. Speak to a rape crisis centre and i am sure they will tell you about teen girls who are being raped but who don’t have the language or words to call it that, they are being coerced into sex and calling it love, or who think that is ‘just what you have to do’ to be ‘loved’ or popular. But the answer is categorically not in abstinence education, it is in educating about respect and consent and meaingingful consent. And also, the onus should never be on the girl to say no (or the victim to say no) but on the perpetrator to not be abusing or raping in the first place. Does she seroiusly think that abstinence education will allow a child who is being abused to say no, or won’t it in fact cause that child to feel shame maybe? i don’t know. It’s such victim blaming bullshit. It lets the abusers off the hook and has no respect for girls, women and female sexuality.
Really interesting choice of words from Dorries in that radio interview: “If we did empower this message into girls…”. Very much a “you are empowered…to do what we tell you” kind of sentiment.
Jesus, Dorries is foul.
She is actually saying that if we don’t teach girls to ‘say no’, that when sexual abuse (passive voice) ‘takes place’, it will be their fault. As though sexual abuse, like rain, is just going to happen to girls and it’s a girl’s responsibility to carry an anti-rape umbrella. She is totally disappearing the perpetrators of sexual abuse and telling the most powerless demographic that they are going to ‘be sexually abused’ unless they prevent it themselves! Boys and men don’t rape girls because girls fail to use the right magical combination of words, they rape girls because they can get away with it in a culture that holds girls accountable for sexual activity and encourages them to fulfil male sexual desires while ignoring their own.
David at 9.50 is totally right: the only way for us to teach an egalitarian, respect- and consent-based attitude to sex in young people is by better educating them about it, decreasing the emphasis on PIV sex in sex ed. and removing the fear, shame, stigma and ‘girls v. boys’ aspect from the discourse. A wee bit less sexual fetishisation of schoolgirls might help too.
Words fail me. What a monstrous bag of putrid shit this woman is.
How very telling that she views empowerment of girls as a means of control.
Typical rightwing propaganda. Take one bit of truth and dress it up with tons of rubbish, hoping that people will take the rubbish just to get to the truth.
Yes, society is “over-sexualised” (whatever that means). And no, it’s not remotely ok. However, the reasons for this “over-sexualisation” have to do with corporations wanting to make more money and the sex industry booming out of control.
If Dorries was truly concerned about those “padded bikinis” or “magazines for girls”, she would be campaigning to stop their production. But she doesn’t, because that would be “regulating industry”, which is not allowed. And would decrease revenue, wich is not allowed either.
Much easier to blame girls for whatever crap the grown ups are doing. And allowing other grown ups to do.
Yeah, even from Nadine Dorries, this was a WTF. Victim blaming, gold medal I think. Bah. It’s impossible to think of any depth to which she would not sink.
What a fucking evil witch.
Dorries has responded to the criticisms now. Apparently it’s not her that’s at fault, it’s all us sick lefties….
“The abused are never to blame, but those who would use their tragedies to score political points are.”’
Pots, kettles? Surely Dorries was doing exactly that.
I can say that it is worth the cause! Empowering women through education!