Nick Ross, you are dangerous and misguided

Rape is rape. There are no mitigating circumstances or shades of grey


Of women I have known who have been raped or sexually assaulted – and it’s chilling to write “women” in the plural – not a single one has reported the attack to the police. The reasons are complex. Fear of a protracted legal process in a  country with a shockingly low rape conviction rate. Not wanting to re-live the  experience, or face the attacker ever again. But there is also something else – perhaps the most disturbing reason of all: a sense of shame, of guilt, of somehow inviting the violence  perpetrated against them, and that they were not therefore raped at all.

And that’s why former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross’s reappearance from obscurity to reveal himself as an ill-informed victim-blaming buffoon is so unwelcome. In extracts from his book published by the Mail on Sunday today, Ross compares some rape survivors to “foolish” people who have laptops stolen after leaving them on the back seat of their cars. “We would laugh at a bank that stored sacks of cash by the front door,” he writes. “Half of all women who have penetrative sex unwillingly do not think they were raped,” and that was particularly true when they were drunk or on drugs.

When this sort of dangerous nonsense gets sprayed into the mainstream, it’s important that we hear from women above all else, and particularly those who feel able to talk about their own experiences of rape. But other men have to speak out, too: not only to show that not all men think like Ross, but also to help  undermine the culture that makes rape as  horribly pervasive as it still is.


Let’s be clear about this. Rape is rape. There are no mitigating circumstances or shades of grey. Either someone has sex with another person’s consent, or they have sex without their consent. It does not matter how many or few clothes a woman chooses to wear, or if she has downed eight cocktails, or smoked a few joints, or snorted lines of coke. It is irrelevant whether a woman is apparently flirtatious, or has gone on a date with a man, or has snogged them. Being married is no excuse either, something the law only recognised in 1991. “No means no,” and that really is that.

I don’t use the word flippantly when I describe interventions like Ross’s as dangerous. They help discourage women who have been raped from coming forward, allowing perpetrators to escape justice. They stop women who do report rape from being taken seriously. They help promote feelings of guilt and shame among rape survivors. And they help normalise rape among men: to give a rationale to the idea that women are somehow fair game in certain circumstances.

This poison gets aired too often. Last year, West Mercia Police published a poster in support of its “Safe Night Out” campaign that suggested that rape survivors were responsible if they drunk too much. It showed a woman smiling in a nightclub, and then lying, dishevelled on the floor, with the warning “Don’t leave yourself more vulnerable to regretful sex or even rape. Drink sensibly and get home safely.” The problem isn’t, apparently, men who rape. Instead, women have to change their behaviour to stop tempting them. Even some who regard themselves as progressive-minded fatally compromise themselves on rape. Last year, I met with cries of betrayal after suggesting Julian Assange should face accusations of rape. A few of his supporters suggested I was an MI5 agent; but many of them indulged in attempts to smear the accusers and belittle the allegations.

Blurring stereotypes

All of these attitudes are the legacy of thousands of years of male domination. It’s only in the last century that this domination has faced a systematic assault and dismantling: after all, a century ago women were still battling for just the right to vote. “Trying to level the genders is purely idiotic,” director Roman Polanksi – a man who raped a 13-year-old child – said at the Cannes Film Festival at the weekend. It is happening, however “idiotic” he thinks it is. It’s not just women who have been changed by feminism: men have been transformed too.

What it is to be a man isn’t static: it changes through the ages. Men in Britain are now less likely to treat women as subordinates, let alone as their chattel. Many have close female friends. They spend more time with their children. They do more housework. They talk about their feelings more. They tend to their appearance more, blurring old gender stereotypes.

There’s still a long way to go, of course. Statistics about rape and domestic violence are evidence of an often brutal male domination that continues. It is estimated that a million women face domestic violence a year; 400,000 women are sexually assaulted, and 80,000 women are raped. The objectification of women – from the Sun’s Page 3 to sexist jokes – help promote the idea that women exist for men’s sexual gratification.

When the likes of Ross make these idiotic pronouncements, it’s tempting to dismiss them as just that and move on. But the possible consequences are genuinely damaging. I hope men will join women in condemning them, too. We have to challenge a culture that allows some men to think they can get away with rape. That means standing with women – and speaking out as loudly as we can.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Thousands of Russian troops marched on Red Square in the annual Victory Day parade in a proud display of the nation's military might amid escalating tensions over Ukraine  

Once again, the West fails to understand Russia

Mary Dejevsky
Jamie Oliver joins children as they celebrate Food Revolution Day 2014 by cooking bread, making smoothies and creating salads at St Paul's Whitechapel CE Primary School in London  

Teaching children to cook at school is a recipe for self-respect

Grace Dent
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before