Serena Williams and Rape: Does She Really Know What’s Inappropriate?

| June 20, 2013

936full-serena-williamsThis article titled “Serena Williams and rape: does she really know what’s inappropriate?” was written by Hadley Freeman, for The Guardian on Thursday 20th June 2013 17.00 UTC


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Serena Williams and rape: does she really know what’s inappropriate?” was written by Hadley Freeman, for The Guardian on Thursday 20th June 2013 17.00 UTC

Poor Serena Williams has been served up a powerful forehand of heavily lobbed criticism (are those tennis terms? Lost in Showbiz doesn’t involve itself in anything that might make it perspire) after making some, to LiS’s mind, absolutely sensible comments in Rolling Stone magazine.

While watching a news report about the Steubenville rape case, in which two high-schoolers were found guilty of raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl while their friends watched and recorded it on their mobile phones, Serena offered up that classic opening statement that has tripped up many before her: “I’m not blaming the girl but …” Then – as surely as rape follows a drunk girl in Serena’s mind – proceeded to do just that: “She’s 16. Why was she that drunk? … It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin.” Lucky indeed! That stupid drunk slut might have been raped by 22 boys instead of just the two, right?

Williams has since made a brave non-apology, essentially moving from blaming the girl to blaming the magazine (“What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful”), but really, why should she? Serena is absolutely right: if a woman gets raped, well, it is entirely her fault for not behaving appropriately – after all, we can’t expect men to control their naturally rapey instincts, right? But what constitutes appropriate behaviour? Well, as Serena may or may not have said, but nonetheless is on tape as saying, being drunk is inappropriate. So is having had sex before at some point in your life. Clothes, surely, can also be divided into appropriate and inappropriate, and running around in a tiny miniskirt and skintight dresses is definitely inappropriate. As for any woman who does that for a living, well! LiS thinks we must know what kind of woman they are. Posing for fashion shoots in semi-sheer bathing suits and bikinis is hugely inappropriate and any woman who does that and is then in some way harmed by a man, well, she really did bring it on herself.

Talking to journalists about what kind of men you like to date is essentially code for “please attack me, all men out there, I’m well up for it”, right, Serena? Obviously, LiS doesn’t know. Maybe you’re just lucky.

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