Nadine Dorries is a loose cannon when it comes to sexual politics. But while it’s easy to be offended by her outbursts, it isn’t as obvious as it should be how much harm they can do. This terrific open letter by Milena Popova proves shows just how thoughtless Nadine Dorries is on the subject of sexual abuse.
Yesterday Ms Dorries was on The Vanessa Show on Channel 5 displaying among other things her near total ignorance of sex and relationships education. But it’s worse than her Ten Minute Rule bill on teaching girls more about abstinence (she thinks they aren’t already): she quite seriously seems to believe that more focus on abstinence in sex education would reduce the amount of sexual abuse.
Ms Dorries claims that too many girls (she doesn’t mention boys as victims of abuse) don’t know that what an adult has done to them is wrong, supposedly because society is “over-sexualised”. In practice, she is shifting part of the blame for sexual abuse onto victims for not knowing how to say No. This absurd position is best demolished by someone who knows what it is like to be sexually abused:
Nearly a third of children are sexually abused. My heart aches for every single one of them – boy or girl – and for every woman or man who has been through this horror, and who had to read or hear your comments.
“If young girls were taught abstinence, there would be less sex abuse.”
Ultimately, even if we’ve been fortunate enough to have epiphanies, most of us still walk around with a tiny bit of our brain constantly telling us that it was all our fault. We have good days and bad days. Some of the worst are the days when our elected representatives stand up, point the finger and say, in as many words, “It was all your fault”; or, for the boys and men who have survived abuse, when said elected representatives refuse to even acknowledge your experience.
It took Milena fifteen years to drive out the insidious voice in her head that told her that it was somehow her fault that she had been abused by her uncle. Many victims of sexual abuse and rape are still struggling against feelings of guilt. Reinforcing this guilt further reduces the number of people willing to report abuse, so leaves more criminals unpunished. That leads to more sexual abuse, not less.
If Ms Dorries tried to imagine what the victims who suffer in silence are going through she would never have announced on television that what happened to them wouldn’t have happened had they “just said No”. So either she is too stupid to put herself in someone else’s shoes, or she has but couldn’t care less.
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