by Louise Perry
Thursday, 6
April 2023

Why is Scotland no longer jailing all rapists?

Young offenders are being let off the hook

In January 2022, new sentencing guidelines came into force in Scotland that required judges to make rehabilitation, rather than punishment, their primary consideration when sentencing under-25s — thereby introducing a formal presumption against prison for younger suspects.

At the High Court in Glasgow on Monday, 21-year-old Sean Hogg became a beneficiary of these new guidelines, when he was spared jail for raping a 13-year-old girl in Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian. “This offence, if committed by an adult over 25, [would] attract a sentence of four or five years,” the judge said during sentencing. He instead ordered Hogg to carry out 270 hours of unpaid work and placed him on the sex offenders register for three years.  ...  Continue reading

by Louise Perry
Friday, 24
March 2023

Why feminists should fear a declining birth rate

The example of South Korea is a warning shot

In an article for the Atlantic, Anna Louie Sussman examines why South Korea’s total fertility rate has fallen so precipitously. In what the Koreans call a “gender war”, Sussman suggests that the cause is the “deterioration in relations between women and men”. “I think the most fundamental issue at hand is that a lot of girls realize that they don’t really have to do this anymore,” one South Korean women tells the author. “They can just opt out.”

The fertility issue is hardly unique to South Korea. Look at the comments on any piece in the UK media about our own falling birth rates, and at least half will say something along the lines of “good thing too.” “All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people” is the view taken by David Attenborough, along with many other environmentalists and feminists. You don’t have to look far to find people cheering on the dwindling of our species. ...  Continue reading

by Louise Perry
Wednesday, 8
March 2023

The Bill Cosby story shows the problem with ‘consent’

A new BBC documentary gets caught in a sex-positive muddle

A four-part series, We Need to Talk about Cosby, was released on Sunday on BBC Two after premiering in the US last year. The series was made by the black American comedian, author and TV presenter W. Kamau Bell, and it is intended — he says — as an attempt to come to terms with Bill Cosby’s legacy as both a beloved household name and a serial sexual predator. 

The series is, in general, rather good. Cosby’s story provides an interesting lens through which to view post-1960s American history, and race relations in particular. As is typical of most of the political commentary on Cosby’s crimes, the talking heads place a lot of emphasis on the contrast between Cosby’s image as a wholesome family man and the reality of what he got up to in private — that is, drugging and raping dozens of young women over a 60-year period.  ...  Continue reading

by Louise Perry
Tuesday, 21
February 2023

The war over children’s literature has only just begun

The posthumous edits to Roald Dahl's works mark a new escalation

We can’t yet rule out the possibility that Puffin has pulled off a fabulous marketing wheeze. When news broke over the weekend that future editions of their Roald Dahl books would contain hundreds of edits relating to “weight, mental health, violence, gender and race” — the word “fat” removed, for instance, the “Cloud-Men” of James and the Giant Peach swapped for “Cloud-People”, and the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” replaced by “folks” — I immediately marched down to our local children’s bookshop to order a box-set of the original editions that I so enjoyed as a child.  ...  Continue reading

by Louise Perry
Tuesday, 7
February 2023

Prevent should not treat terrorism as a ‘mental illness’

The agency is too focused on extremists' 'personal vulnerabilities', a report finds

The government’s much delayed independent review of Prevent, led by William Shawcross, will be published tomorrow, and is expected to find that officials have been too focused on addressing the “personal vulnerabilities” of extremists, treating terrorism as if it were akin to a mental illness. As the draft review details:

Prevent is a crucial pillar of the UK’s counter-terrorism architecture, yet it has increasingly come to be seen as synonymous with safeguarding (i.e. an emphasis on protecting those referred into Prevent from harm and addressing their personal vulnerabilities) […] Prevent too often bestows a status of victimhood on all who come into contact with it.
- Prevent review

This attempt to explain crime as a consequence of “personal vulnerabilities” is by no means confined to terrorism. Just one recent example of this in practice was the Independent Serious Further Offence (ISFO) review of Jordan McSweeney, the man who sexually assaulted and murdered Zara Aleena as she walked home after a night out in London on 22 June 2022.  ...  Continue reading

by Louise Perry
Tuesday, 24
January 2023

Is Ghislaine Maxwell gearing up for more revelations?

Her TV appearance shows she will only protect Epstein's friends for so long

If nothing else, Ghislaine Behind Bars — Ghislaine Maxwell’s exclusive interview for TalkTV, aired last night — gave an interesting insight into the realities of life in a low-security American prison. We learnt, for instance, that inmates are expected to make their beds “military style” and that the meat-free meal options usually feature either beans or tofu, although the latter is so bereft of seasoning that it is almost unpalatable. Not quite The Shawshank Redemption, then, but not much fun for a woman who has probably never before been tasked with making her own bed. 

All in all, this was an odd spectacle, with no more than 20 minutes of grainy interview footage spun out into an hour-long special, complete with TV psychologists and legal commentary. Maxwell speaks in an English drawl with occasional Americanisms, rearranges her hair frequently, and refuses to apologise to her victims. Her manner has widely been branded as “narcissistic”, which is hardly surprising in a convicted sex offender.   ...  Continue reading

by Louise Perry
Wednesday, 11
January 2023

Happy Valley: the crime drama that eschewed porn and won

The BBC show includes real women and shuns gratuitous sexual violence

On Sunday night, Prince Harry went head-to-head with a middle-aged police officer from Yorkshire, albeit one who is also burdened with a fractious family life. Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood, protagonist of the hit BBC series Happy Valley, gave Tom Bradby’s Harry — The Interview a good thrashing in the TV ratings battle, proving that viewers are still in love with the crime drama that remains the most feminist thing on British TV. 

Across its three seasons, Happy Valley has dealt with the usual nasties found in a crime drama — murder, drugs, rape, and the rest — but manages to stand apart from its competitors, not only because of the unusually high quality of the script and acting, but also because the key characters are so unconventional. This is a show that passes the Bechdel test with flying colours and then goes much further, paying close and sympathetic attention to the lives of women in a way that we rarely see in primetime drama.  ...  Continue reading

by Louise Perry
Wednesday, 4
January 2023

Why has there been no reckoning over Rotherham?

A new investigation shows disgraced councillors still hold influential positions

GB News broke a remarkable story this week as part of their ongoing investigation into UK grooming gangs — an issue that may not be occupying the headlines as much as it once did, but which has certainly not gone away. 

Mahroof Hussain is a former Labour Party politician who was forced to resign from his cabinet position at Rotherham Council in 2015 after the Casey Report named him as one of the figures who had “suppressed discussion” of grooming gangs operating in the town. 

And yet, despite his disgrace, it is reported that Hussein has succeeded in reinventing himself as an anti-Islamophobia activist, working with groups including Tell MAMA and Faith Matters. And, in an extraordinary example of failing upwards, in October 2020 Hussain was appointed as the NHS Health Education England Regional Diversity & Inclusion Manager for the Midlands. In September 2022, he was promoted to become the national lead. ...  Continue reading

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