No excuse for culture of sexual entitlement

Prince Charming is nowhere to be found in our toxic sexual landscape, writes Barbara Ellen.

Well done to Judge Jim Tindal for sentencing Australian-born former Worcestershire cricketer, Alex Hepburn (23) to five years for rape, summing up the case in the strongest condemnatory terms. While Hepburn's girlfriend has been criticised for supporting him, she didn't rape anyone, so let's stay focused on what he did.

After the victim had consensual sex with Hepburn's team-mate, Joe Clarke (who then left and passed out elsewhere), she woke up to find Hepburn assaulting her. That poor young woman - how sickening.

That was rape, but let's use this space to deal with Hepburn's repellent but otherwise perfectly legal behaviour elsewhere.

In the same week that saw outrage over rape victims being forced to hand over mobile phones for evidence, there emerged Hepburn's WhatsApp messages to Clarke about their sexual conquest scoring game.

''Always been me dragging the birds back. You raping them.'' ''Oi, last night was my 60th.'' ''Get them blind and then back to mine.''

Some might be inclined to shrug this off: just loutish locker-room posturing, from a young braggart - fairly standard, especially these days? But that's the problem. Youthful bravado is one thing, an entrenched culture of sexual dehumanisation and entitlement is quite another. As the mother of two daughters, I'm not only disgusted, I'm terrified.

Look at Hepburn and you see an attractive young guy, doing well, playing the sport he loved. So, what was his excuse for keeping that boorish sexual scoreboard, for thinking he had any right to treat women in such a cold, ruthless, degrading way? The answer is that there's no excuse.

Perhaps, as some argue, the proliferation and escalation of pornography has had a disastrous coarsening, desensitising effect on the youthful male psyche.

However, these young men still have a choice - they don't have to allow porn culture to define them.

Just in terms of appalling sexual etiquette, do the likes of Hepburn even care what young women think of them, what a major turn-off it must be? You hear about angry male ''incels'' (involuntary celibates) complaining about women ignoring them/denying them sex, blah blah, but who could blame the women when this kind of behaviour passes for ''normal''?

It seems modern women have been more than patient about a certain toxic male attitude - arguably, it's a wonder there hasn't been a full-on casual-sex strike.

While such antics dehumanise women, eventually men become dehumanised too. Such behaviour also renders the modern romantic and sexual playing field all but unnavigable.

If some men persist in playing grotty sex games to impress and amuse only each other, then how could they expect women to want to ''play'' back - trust them, flirt with them, enjoy their company, do anything with them, never mind the most intimate thing you could do with anyone?

While Hepburn is a rapist, his other, perfectly legal, conduct also tells a tale - one where any woman's idea of Prince Charming is nowhere to be seen.

-Barbara Ellen is an Observer columnist

 

Comments

Charmant, P is the most dodgy of all. Rapists are snowflakes and may be upset to learn The Truth.

Rape is not consensual.

Rape is therefore a solo act.

Rapists are wankers.

Yes don't forget the false complaints //////// you cant say there is not any /

Agreed.

 

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