There have been several of our recurring themes around the news this week.
As a few of you were discussing in the last open thread, Rhiannon Brooker has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years for making false rape allegations against her ex-boyfriend. Most people’s attention was captured by the frankly outrageous comments from Women Against Rape (WAR) who campaign vociferously against any prosecutions for making false allegations of rape. It’s a bizarre position to hold, seems to serve no purpose other than making feminism look entirely unreasonable, and I really don’t understand why the Guardian, in particular, give them so much airspace on this issue.
One thing that struck me about the coverage of the case, though, was the focus on why she had done it, what her motivations might have been. Was she trying to create a cover story because she was about to fail her Bar exams (as alleged by the prosecution) or was it an inexplicable act committed in the midst of an emotional breakdown and immense stress and pressure, as her defense counsel maintained, or was there some other more mysterious explanation?
My point is that we very rarely ask these questions about other criminals. If someone commits an assault or a rape we don’t agonise over why (usually) he might have done it. I think our desperate search to find an explanatory framework comes down to our collective difficulty in conceptualising the fact that sometimes women can do really bloody nasty things out of spite.
Which leads me on to the next topic on my radar – the study by Elizabeth Bates and Nicola Graham-Kevan which was reported at the Forensic section conference of the British Psychological Society yesterday. I’m not entirely sure what is new in it, all of it seems reasonably familliar to me, but the interesting thing in the light of recent debates on this site is that they found evidence to suggest women are more prone to show aggression to their partners than to non-partners of their own sex, whereas men are less likely (than women) to be aggressive towards their partners but more likely to be aggressive to other people of their own gender.
So they are the main things I haven’t found time to write about this week.
What else have we missed?