Bravery

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.

She tells the Herald:

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.

2 Comments Posted

  1. Sue is indeed a brave and wise soul and both her personal and political stance on this issue should be applauded.

    As much as the issue of rape definition is important, political energy must also be directed to the issues of consent. Consent issues are often blurred in the legal process especially for the adult to adult sexual assault.

    There is still some people (sadly including in the judiciary) who do not understand that No means No, or that if a person is intoxicated or drugged and unable to clearly consent that means No, or that ‘not tonight’ means No or that ‘I’m not sure’ means No.

    It is sad that other MP’s in the house were unwilling to listern to the knowing of those in the community and accept Sue Bradford’s suggested amendments to the Bill. One really has to wonder why?

  2. Well, I already had fond refgards for Mrs Bradford after her civil and well-informed questioning in select committee when I presented the Young Nats submission on the ERA.

    I also have to tip my hat to her for not only her courage, but her measured and unsensational tone. Sometimes you speak loudest when you whisper – and the gender inequality when it comes to rape laws needed to be condemned.

1 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. kiwiblog

Comments are closed.