I write a blog. People contact me with all sorts of weird and wonderful stories. Some I publish and some I don't. Some I dont. A few months ago, I received an email entitled "Desperate plea for help". Such emails are ones that I always prioritise. Generally such emails are the last resort. Please excuse some of the content and content as it is not pretty, but I couldn't really convey the message properly without it. I have edited it to some degree and changed a few words.
"Please help me. I am being persecuted by the police and my neighbours. I live in a road which has council houses at one end and rich people at the other. I live in the council flats. One of my rich neighbours is always flaunting his wealth. He bombs around in flash cars at high speed up and down the road. He has no regards for animals or children. He does nothing to deserve such a car. I love cars and I've always wanted a flash car, but I don't want to drive like a maniac. About four years ago he left the keys in one of his cars. I couldn't help myself. I thought I'd take it for a spin. I drove up to the local woods. I noticed that there was a porn mag in the glove compartment. Normally I don't look at such stuff, but I had a look. I got all excited and ended up relieving myself all over the car. I then saw some people walking over and ran off an left the car in the woods. The bloke got it back a couple of weeks later. I thought nothing more of it, until three months ago. I got arrested for something else and the police took DNA. I'd forgotten about the car. They have charged me with theft and now all my neighbours know and are calling me a pervert. Its not my fault, he was the one always flaunting his wealth. He deserved it. He likes porn but I'm the one being called a thief and a perv. I am going to court and I've been told that him being flash and having porn in the car is no defence. It's so unfair. Maybe you could help me. Why should I be treated like this when people do far worse and get away with it? After all he was really asking for it driving up and down and acting all flash like that"
So if you received that, what would you do? I simply ignored it.
A week later I got a follow up. When I opened it up, I got a shock. The email was not what I was expecting. It said
Dear Barnet Eye,
"Last week, I sent you an email entitled desperate plea for help. I note that you did not respond. I am currently conducting some research into attitudes towards crimes with a sexual element. Please fill out the attached question as this will assist my research. I am researching why we, as a society, accept that women wearing attractive attire is in some way a mitigating factor for sexual assault, whilst the flaunting of wealth is not. In the scenario outlined in my previous communication, there was no long term damage that a wet wipe couldn't resolve. My research is based on ascertaining whether your reaction to the perpetrator would be more or less positive than if he was a rapist, trapped after four years by DNA evidence, who claimed that the woman was asking for it by her clothes and demeanour."
The questions included such questions as
"Who do you think is more likely suffer long term psychological damage as a victim of crime, a rape victim or the victim of a car theft"
"What do you consider to be more anti social behaviour, wearing attractive clothing or driving unsafely in residential streets"
"Would you consider the ostentatious flaunting of wealth to be more or less provocative than wearing of sexual provocative clothing"
"Do you think that men are less sympathetic to men who are convicted of crimes against other men than to men who are convicted against crimes against women"
"Would you think it appropriate for the Police to advise the victim of car theft to drive a less attractive car"
There was also an opportunity to leave comments.
I filled out the questionairre and asked if I could be kept informed of what the results are.
I recently got an update. I was quite surprised. I got some more information. The email I received was sent to ten male and ten female bloggers around the country who blog on social issues. Not a single response was received. On receipt of the follow up, three women and two male bloggers responded. All stated that the court system should not treat women as responsible for assault and there responses indicated that attempting to blame women was totally unfair. Two of the women rather interestingly felt that the case of the man with the flash car, driving fast was to some degree provocative, wheras neither of the men did ( that's me as one of them).
Another email was sent to a different group of ten male and ten female bloggers was sent. This was written from the point of view of a perpetrator caught for a rape by DNA, telling a similar story to the above story but from the perspective of a male rapist who had been caught by DNA, claiming that it was the female in questions fault. Unsurprisingly none of the female bloggers replied. What was interesting was that three of the male bloggers did respond. None of them offered to help, but all suggested that a lawyer should be engaged to ensure that the circumstances were fully understood and also suggestions as to seeking police advice on neighbours or to move away.
On receipt of a follow up email, four of the female bloggers responded, a couple were a bit miffed to be contacted in such a way and didn't respond further. The other two completed the questionairre. There responses were quite interesting in as much one felt that it was ridiculous to ask such questions and the other had a rant about how badly women are treated as victims of rape. One man simply filled in the questionairre and left a comment wishing the correspondent good luck with the survey. That was that
As I was fascinated by the study, I corresponded at length about it. It seems bloggers were selected as it was felt they were most likely to respond. As it was a very small survey, it can't be expected to produce reliable results, but it does appear that men and women have a different response generally. It is also pretty clear that some women do not like being used as samples in this way, wheras men seem less bothered. I was intrigued that I was the only blogger out of 20 who found it fascinating and continued the correspondence. To maintain the "in confidence" nature of this study, I've no idea of the identity of any and the author has asked me not to divulge their details. They have approved this blog though. None of the other bloggers has chosen to cover the story. It appears that both stories are based on cases reported in local papers.