Anyone who spends any time with her will know that Sue B is a remarkable individual. Strong, tough, resilient, hardworking.
Last week, Parliament was revisiting rape laws. Sue argued that rape shouldn’t discriminate on gender: both men and women can rape and be raped, and the law should reflect this. It doesn’t. Under current law, only a man can be the rapist and only a woman can be the person raped. Sue also wanted the legal definition of rape to include oral and anal rape and to include the use of objects.
What very few people realised was that Sue has had some personal experiences of these distinctions. Yesterday, she spoke in the media for the first time about being raped when she was sixteen – a man locked her in a room and made her perform oral sex on him.
This was by force, by a man in a locked room where he locked the door and I couldn’t get away. There was no question about any consent issues being involved here.
I was totally sexually inexperienced at the time. I was really innocent.
When you are young and innocent and something like that happens to you, that was just as devastating as the other kind of rape.
These are experiences I know will affect me till the day I die but it seems as though I have only reached the point in my life when I can talk about it in a political way.
Rape is rape and you shouldn’t be euphemistic about it any more. It is not just an abstract crime.
There has to come a time when we have Members of Parliament who actually can talk about these experiences and speak for all the other people we know who have had these kind of experiences, male or female, gay or straight, that have been through these things and actually turn our laws into something that reflects the reality of life for all people in this country.
Our sex lives, our sexual identities and our sexual beings are so personal. And when it happens to you when you are young for the first time, for the rest of your life your sexual being and identity is affected by it.
Even now, I still feel like I am in recovery. I don’t think I will ever not be in recovery. It has been a long journey of recovery from that and other things …
In those times, like 1970 and ’71, for a young woman or ‘girl’, as they called us then, the sense was that it was all our fault.
The first time I opened up to other women I was condemned … just wrecked by it, and when it happened again, I knew not to talk about it.
Many people quibble with Sue about her politics. None of them should be in any doubt as to her personal bravery.
UPDATE: David Farrar has a comments thread with charitable comments about Sue here.
UPDATE 2: NZPA has a harrowing news feature on Sue’s experiences here.