Category Archives: Rape

Multiple rape and desperation in Kenya and an appeal from critic Kate Copstick

Following on from my previous blog – more extracts from comedy critic Kate Copstick’s diary, slightly edited. Full versions on her Facebook page. She is in Kenya where her Mama Biashara charity is based.

Mama Biashara (‘Business Mother’) gives small sums to impoverished individuals and small groups to help them start self-supporting small businesses.

Their slogan is that it is a hand up not a hand out.


Doris, one of Mama Bishara’s main workers

Saturday 4th November

I get a call from Doris who has had a call from Vicky to say that the farmers who own the land in Kisii, where the refugees are huddled, have let it be known that, if anyone brings any form of help to the refugee community, all hell will break loose (I loosely translate from the angry Kisii).

So we are holding off on our mercy mission. David and I cancel our trip to the Indian Blanket Supremo and the medical supplies wholesaler. I head straight to the market.

Doris also tells me that, overnight, the government has pulled a U-turn on the NHIF restriction (mentioned in the previous blog). It will now continue unrestricted. I am saying nothing. But am impressed with the swiftness of the reaction. It is the right decision.

Doris has gone out to Limuru to see a group of people she is desperate to help. They are currently working for £1 per day on a big tea farm. They are wholly uneducated, helpless, hopeless people. Too frightened even to try starting a business in case they are thrown out and lose their £1 per day. They want us “to empower them” says Doris.

The Mama Biashara method of a brisk talking-to, a decent business plan, a good chain of supply and a useful choice of business location, topped off with start up grant and a hearty hug is obviously not going to work here. Doris says she will update me.

I get round the market in about four hours. I am knackered and sore and my tiny ears are ringing to the cries of “Mama Biashara! You are my Mother! Promote me!” I can only disappoint so many people in a day without breaking.


Felista needs money for a non-underwater kitchen in Nairobi

Sunday 5th November

I am going to DECIP (the home for children that Mama Biashara built) to make some little videos to put up on Facebook in the hope of getting some money for Felista. She is a woman with a heart the size of Kenya and has been rescuing kids from abandonment, abuse, rape and destitution for a decade.

Mama Biashara sends her about £170 per month. She gets nothing from the government, although the Children’s Department are very supportive. She is the reason I am in Kenya and I often feel bad, as I hare off all over the country setting up businesses for the desperate poor, that I do not do more for her.

So we are going to put out some pleas for help for her and I will set up a MyDonate page for her. She is someone who infuriates me but whom I am so very proud to know.

I have brought her some shoes, a bag, a skirt and two tops. Felista almost never gets anything for herself. Even the one room in the home that should be hers is always full of the youngest children playing and looking for a cuddle.

DECIP has had improvements. A marvellous lady paid for the dormitories to be re-floored so the water doesn’t flood them any more, the passageway from dorm to dorm is now covered over and the water from the roof harvested, many places have new roofing, and a nice rich Chinese man is going to build a big hall for them to use for exams and recreation.

At this time it is proving really difficult to help people – because of the numbers of weapon-wielding other people in the way. So I am going to concentrate more on DECIP this trip. And see what we can do there.


Some of the needy children at DECIP in Nairobi

Monday 6th November

I suddenly start to feel decidedly not OK. Just the usual crap, but that tends to mean getting horizontal and trying to sleep it out.

That not being possible, I turn to the small packet of gifts from our newest volunteer Chris.

There are few things that can go wrong with the human body that have not gone wrong with Chris.

There is absolutely no upside for her. But for me, it means that any painkiller is available. And I have with me a selection of the finest. I curl up till all is made chemically well.

Now I have a meeting with Joan. Through her we have worked quite extensively with the albino community and with groups of women with badly disabled kids. The businesses we started with the mothers are doing really well in Kibera, apparently. I will go and visit. Joan’s main work is with child victims of sexual violence.

When we last met she was in a little house in Kabira with six small girls who had been raped and one older girl, mentally and physically challenged, and also a victim of rape. I wrote about them on my last trip.

During the endless, tit for tat, post and para election violences here, a group of militant kikkuyu took it upon themselves to attack the compound where Joan was sheltering the girls. All of them were beaten – from the two-and-a-half year old rape victim to Joan herself. Everyone ran. But Susan, the big girl, was too frightened and she hid. And was discovered. And was beaten and raped again. Everything was stolen from inside Joan’s house.

The men from the compound caught the rapist. They took him to the local police station (well, the one that had not been burned down). Where he was released because the police did not want the militants to come and burn down their police station too.

The girls are now with Joan’s aunt but that cannot continue. She is looking at places in Ngando and has been offered a four bedroom, stone built, self-contained house beside the Catholic church. Great security.

What I am thinking is that Mama Biashara can help pay the rent here, we will help set it up as soon as we can and we will support it as a Mama Biashara project for victims of child rape and sexual abuse.

All of the current group of victims are the children of women who do low-rent commercial sex work. The girls are locked in the house while the mothers go out at night. Which is why they are so vulnerable to passing rapists. Mama Biashara would – as part of this project – work with the mums and set them up in a decent small business so they can give their daughters a proper secure home.

I am hugely enthused about this and we are going to see the house tomorrow.

Anyone fancy taking money out of their offshore tax haven and using it to help these kids?

You can now uncross your fingers about the money from the lovely trust who helped us before. We did not get anything. They are concentrating on more formal, UK-based charities. Pretty devastating for Mama Biashara. And it means, short of a miracle, I will be cutting my trip here a bit short.

Going to my tent now.


Mama Biashara subsists solely on donations and from sales at its London shop. Copstick covers 100% of her own costs, including flights and accommodation and takes zero. 100% of all donations go to the charity’s work. You can donate HERE

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Edinburgh Fringe: Networking with the media + a comic is threatened with rape

At The Grouchy Club yesterday: a bad selfie of Coptick and me

Seen and heard at the increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club

Yesterday afternoon at the increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club, I said:

“Performers at the Edinburgh Fringe get worried about the number of bums on seats and I don’t think performers should come to the Fringe thinking about audiences; they should come thinking about the media. If you get a full house, the word-of-mouth from that is not going to let you fill the O2 Arena. But, if you get a review in the Guardian or spotted by a TV producer that might get you part of the way. It’s all about self-promotion, not bums-on-seats.”

Comedian Matt Price had a question about ‘networking’ at the Fringe.

“How,” he asked, “do you do it without looking like a dick?”

“Oh, you can’t do it without looking like a dick,” said doyenne of comedy critics Kate Copstick. “one of the things you need to know about most of the people who are doing most of the networking – I would say 85% of the media people who are up here can do nothing for you. They are Muppets and low-grade grist to the media mill.

“They could go back and say: Oh! I saw this amAZing guy. He should have a TV series! and, even if they say that, it can only go so high and someone will say Who’s he with? or Is he a black lesbian? – They have quota as for everything and they are in thrall to a lot of the big managements.

“Everybody is terrified to fail in television, because you don’t get that many chances. There are a very small number of people who make the decisions and there’s a awful lot of people who are pretending they make the decisions. They generally – I say maybe 85% – have no imagination or creativity whatsoever. And, unless you are like something that is already out there…”

Matt Price & Martha McBrier

Matt Price with his ‘missus’ Martha McBrier

“But,” said Matt, “we’re not inspired, as comedians and performers, by following convention. There must be a way of doing it by being progressively better. I am basically just a fat bloke from Cornwall whose missus is probably more talented than he is.”

“The important thing,” said Copstick, “is that you are a fat bloke from Cornwall who did a brilliant show last year and so, in people’s minds, you’re a terrific comic and I’m interested to see what you’re doing this year.

“If you really wanted to whore yourself around to the media circus, you could style yourself as ‘The new Johnny Vegas’. You’re big, you could be all over the place, you could drink too much…

“The networking that is important at the Fringe is networking with other comics, with people who book live gigs and with other creative people. The leap between performing live in a tiny room on the Fringe and your own series on the telly is exactly the same size as it ever has been. But there are now thousands of pointless people with media badges swanning around getting freebies and pretending they’re important.”

Matt Price, though, had another reason for coming to The Grouchy Club yesterday.

“I didn’t really want to come here and speak to you,” he said, “but I thought Oh, it’s raining and it’s been on my mind and I figured Well, if I can talk about this to anyone, it’s the fearsome Kate Copstick.

“Something happened yesterday: an incident that really shook me. I wrote a blog about it but then I thought I’m not going to put it online because, if I do, people might say Oh, Matt Price is just playing the PR game.

Cowgate_Edinburgh

Cowgate, near where it happened, last night

“I was walking along Cowgate yesterday. It was about 11.30 at night near (a particular nightclub). There were two bouncers in the doorway and this big guy and I know when people are coked-up. When you’re a comedian, you know about that. And this guy said something to me and I said: Sorry mate?

“He said: I want your phone number. Kiss me.

“He looked quite aggressive and then he said: Shake my hand.

I thought: OK, he’s made some kind of sexual advance, but I can still shake his hand because I have no problem with my sexuality and I’ll just walk on my way. But he grabbed my hand and nearly ripped my arm off and then said: I’ll fuckin’ rape you, you cunt! I bet you’d like my cock up your arse, you bastard!

“I said: No, mate, I really wouldn’t. But thankyou. And I walked away.

“The bouncers obviously heard all this. The guy was in the doorway. I thought: Are you a thug? Are you a criminal?

“I phoned my missus and she was upset and I went back to my Edinburgh flat and Claire (Smith, the Scotsman journalist who rents him a room during the Fringe) gave me a whisky and I went to bed.

“I didn’t have any adrenaline in me until today and what really got me was not the incident but when Claire said: Welcome to the sisterhood. This is what women have had to put up with over the years.

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Rape performer Adrienne Truscott on a gimmick & the tawdry Wau Wau Sisters

Adrienne Truscott and her Soho poster

Adrienne Truscott kisses her Soho Theatre poster yesterday

New York-based Adrienne Truscott is performing her show at London’s Soho Theatre until the end of the month. She performs naked from the waist down. The title is:

ADRIENNE TRUSCOTT’S ASKING FOR IT – A ONE-LADY RAPE ABOUT COMEDY STARRING HER PUSSY AND LITTLE ELSE!

“I understand,” she told me at Soho Theatre yesterday, “some people could see the title and think Who is this gimmicky, cheeky woman trying to make light of rape?

“Is it a gimmick?” I asked.

“It’s a gimmick,” said Adrienne, “but one which has some weight to it because, in theory, if I’m on stage with my pants off and my make-up on and I’m two or three gin & tonics in in a roomful of people then – on a certain level by the logic that it’s discussed in our culture – I am ‘asking for it’… And it HAS happened that someone’s got raped in a room full of people and no-one did anything to stop it.

The Wau Wau Sisters’ image for their new show

Wau Wau Sisters’ image for their new show Death Threats

I saw the show’s first night at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

This year, Adrienne is taking it back to Edinburgh for a limited 8-day run at Bob & Miss Behave’s Bookshop as well as performing as half of the Wau Wau Sisters in a 17-day run of their new show Death Threats (and Other Forms of Flattery).

“Your mother came to see your opening night at the Soho Theatre last week,” I said. “Had she seen Asking For It in New York?”

“I’ve barely done it in the States.”

“How did she react last week?”

“The best part was I could hear her laughing during the show. Afterwards, she said: I thought it was brilliant, love.

“She’s American?”

“She’s from Exeter.”

“So you’re half English?”

More than half English

More than half English, part wild West Country girl Adrienne

“I’m more than half English. My father’s American, but his father is from Cornwall. My mother moved to the States when she was 20.

“I lived over here for a little bit when I was seven, after my parents got divorced – St Austell in Cornwall, but I spent most of my time around Exeter and Devon.

“My grandfather is from Fowey and his father was a ship’s captain. My sister is a writer. She’s currently working on a historical novel. She’s written a lot of poetry in her time.”

Adrienne’s father is an academic specialist on the writings of the Italian poet Dante.

“My family,” Adrienne said, “are not showbiz. They’re not chomping at the bit to get on the stage.”

“Your mother has seen the Wau Wau Sisters presumably?” I asked.

“Yes.”

There is a video on YouTube of the Wau Wau Sisters performing their show The Last Supper in Australia.

“So your mother is used to nudity and dodginess and sexuality?” I said.

“I wouldn’t say she’s used to any of that. She’s seen the shows and she sort of gets I’m doing it from a different place than that other tawdry version.”

“The Wau Wau Sisters are tawdry?” I asked.

“I feel that we’re insistently tawdry. It’s not that we’re called tawdry. We announce that we’re tawdry, though we have a lot of slyly political fun with being tawdry and being naked. My mother sort-of gets that this Asking For It show is smart-tawdry but that doesn’t mean it makes her any more comfortable. My mum is not entirely comfortable with me running around taking my clothes off, but she sort of understands the reasons.”

“Had you decided you’d had enough of the Wau Waus?” I asked.

“Not at all. We’re still Wau Wauing.”

The Wau Wau Sisters - a bit of Vow; a lot of Wow

The Wau Wau Sisters – both Vow & Wow

“You pronounced that with a V,” I said. Vau Vau not Wau Wau.”

“Yes,” said Adrienne, “Vow-Vow Sisters.”

“It’s German?” I asked.

“It comes from a Brecht character named Mr Wau. We were given the name because someone watching us found us to be somewhat Brechtian and because this character Mr Wau is a strongman in a circus and is followed around by a band of freaks. So we, with the help of this friend, sort-of imagined us like the bastard daughters of Mr Wau.”

“So what’s the point of writing a one-woman show on rape?” I asked. Because it’s going to have an effect?”

“First and foremost,” said Adrienne, “I thought it was interesting material. I’m not saying, Right! That’s my show! We can put rape to bed. That won’t be happening any more. I just wanted to contribute to a conversation that I felt was lacking.

Adrienne in the Soho Theatre bar yesterday

Adrienne Truscott in Soho Theatre bar in London yesterday

“It started writing itself in my head and then I realised it was quite topical. I was writing it before all the rape show shenanigans started last year. I had been thinking about How can you use comedy to talk about rape in a smart way? and then, as I was working on it, it became as much about What are the rules and pitfalls and structures of comedy? and then, while I was working on it, all this Rape Joke controversy blew up last year.

“In the States, it turned into an election year, so there was a lot of crazy politics going on. It was getting kinda zeitgeisty and that’s when I thought Fuck! I’m going to take it to Edinburgh NOW – Now is the time to comment on this!

“Because?” I asked.

“I’ve never been satisfied with the way rape is discussed. Even organisations and ad campaigns I still felt took the wrong approach and still talked about it in an annoying way.”

“Annoying in what way?” I asked.

“Talking about victims. One origin of the show – but not the only one – was I was in a very small class at university: it was sort of a race gender class.”

“How very American,” I said.

“My professor was a man and he was trying to get us a bit riled-up by shocking us with statistics. Amongst many statistics about race and pain inequity, he said 2 in 5 women are sexually assaulted or raped. There were about 13 or 14 people in the class – about 10 women. He said: Doesn’t that get you riled-up? It means in this class at least 4 women have been raped? How does that make you feel? and he asked why we weren’t responding. I told him: Partly, we’re not responding because we’re shellshocked and feel weird and uncomfortable. I would like to know – because there are two male students and you in this class – which one of you is a rapist? Let’s talk about you guys. Literally if, statistically speaking, you’re talking about a closed group and you’ve announced some of us got raped, then one of you three had to partake in it. So you’re fucking guilty. Let’s talk about that instead of the ‘victims’… And I think that’s a really potent conversation to have.”

“How did he react?”

“He found himself at a loss for words, just like we had been.”

Adrienne Truscott's one-woman bottomless show

Adrienne Truscott’s one-woman bottomless show

“The interesting thing in Edinburgh last year,” I said, “was that the word got round very, very quickly that it was a serious piece of work.”

“I had never done solo stuff before,” said Adrienne, “and had never had an interest in it. I found it really challenging and thrilling – doing solo work as well as stand-up. Both were new to me.”

“It was a big leap,” I said. “First solo show. Small room. Nudity.”

“Yeah,” said Adrienne. “And make it about rape. What could go wrong? I knew I’d made a show that basically had a shape and an arc and was basically what I wanted to say. But I had only done that exact version of the show in front of an audience once – about four days before I left for Edinburgh.

“I was hoping to make a little bit of a splash with Hey, maybe you can talk about rape this way, I also just wanted to perform 30 nights in a row because I knew, by the end of it, I would have something better than what I arrived with. I would get all that feedback from an audience and sort it out.”

Adrienne Truscott at the Malcolm Hardee Awards

Adrienne, winner of Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award 2013 (Photograph by Keir O’Donnell)

As it turned out, Adrienne won the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality and the Panel Prize for whatever the Perrier Awards were called last year.

“I have,” Adrienne told me, “never yet got a review saying: This is an outrage! Why did she do it?

“Would you say you were a feminist?”

“I’m absolutely feminist. But I want this show to be understood as a comedy show. It’s really fun for me to watch the audiences’ eyes when I do my show. “

“So, are you going to do a Rape 2 show next year?”

“No. But I was talking to (promoter) Bob Slayer over one too many bourbons last night about doing maybe a one-off in Edinburgh this year about some material that’s come up from doing the show.”

“A show about the show?”

“A night about the show.”

“I’ll be there,” I said.

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Why performer Juliette Burton will dress as a Muslim woman, go naked and become a man with a very ‘big package’

Juliette Burton

Juliette Burton will cover up and strip off

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, Juliette Burton is performing her 2013 Edinburgh Fringe show When I Grow Up show at the Leicester Square Theatre in London and then she is immediately going off to tour Australia with it.

This morning she told me: “I just found out yesterday that I’m getting funding from the Arts Council towards the cost of research and development on my next show Look at Me.”

“Because?” I asked.

“Because it’s all about body diversity, body confidence and the celebration of difference. It questions whether who we appear to be is who we are and whether we can change who we are on the inside by changing who we seem to be on the outside.”

“For When I Grow Up,” I said, “you pre-shot lots of video inserts and interviews with various people.”

“Yes,” said Juliette. “And that’s what the funding is going towards on the new show this year: things like prosthetics.”

“So this year, for Look at Me…?” I asked.

“I will be dressing more and more provocatively,” explained Juliette, “to see – if a woman does dress provocatively – if she is going to get unwanted attention from men.”

“You read what Kate Copstick said in that controversial chat show I had at the Edinburgh Fringe last August?” I said.

“I think some interesting points were made,” Juliette said carefully.

“Some people,” I said, “thought Copstick said women were ‘asking for it’ if they dress provocatively…”

Juliette stalked Prince Harry this week

For her When I Grow Up show, Juliette tried to marry Prince Harry by stalking him: she failed

“That’s what I’m finding out,” said Juliette. “But, to counteract that – to see if there is any substance to that – for another part of the show, I’m going to be wearing the hijab.

“I’ve been working with the Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh to make sure I do that in a sensitive and informed way, rather than in an Islamophobic way.”

“What are you going to do?” I asked. “Just wander around the streets?”

“With all of these appearances,” said Juliette, “I’m going to be spending some time in context – somewhere you might expect to see someone dressing in that way – and then somewhere it might appear to be a bit strange. So you might find it strange to see a woman wearing a hijab in an Ann Summers shop.”

I laughed.

“But why is that strange?” Juliette shot back. “Women wearing the hijab have every right to be in an Ann Summers shop.”

“My eternally-un-named friend has a burka,” I said, trying to be helpful.

“I’ve already got one,” replied Juliette.

“But, as well as the hijab in your show…” I prompted.

“There are prosthetics,” said Juliette. “I will become a man. Not only dress as a man. The prosthetics will turn me into a man with facial hair and, I hope, a big ‘package’.”

“A big package???” I asked.

Can this woman be turned into a man?

Can this woman be turned into a man?

“Well,” said Juliette, “I don’t quite know how, but I’ve got a very talented prosthetics make-up artist called Sarah Jane.

“I would like to find out what it’s like to be a man and whether men really are more empowered or maybe actually it’s really scary being a man. I have no idea. I need a mentor, John. You can teach me how to be a man.”

“More like a grandfather,” I said ruefully.

“That’s the next thing in the show,” said Juliette. “Age. I’m going to age into a much older version of myself using prosthetics. A lot of women of 60+ who I’ve spoken to in interviews for the show have told me they felt when they hit 40 they suddenly became invisible and that only increased as they got older. I’m a bit scared I might end up looking like my mum but, then, why would I be scared by that? My mum’s gorgeous. It’s just that thing of you never expect to turn into your mother.”

“It would be more frightening if I turned into my mother,” I suggested.

“Then, after the ageing process,” continued Juliette, “I will be revisiting my obese self. All the rest are interesting and fun and different, but I am quite nervous about this one. When I became obese, it was because of Compulsive Overeating Disorder – having been anorexic and then also experiencing bulimia. I was a size 4 from anorexia and then a size 20 from compulsive overeating.”

“Maybe it will be cathartic and give you closure,” I suggested.

“Maybe,” said Juliette. “I would love to be able to find some comfort in it. I will have an obese costume to wear. The whole point of the show is If I’m changing my appearance this dramatically, can I really still remain myself?

Starkers starters with a prophetic message

Members of the London Naked Bike Ride

“And then, finally, I will be going nude in two different ways, because I’m not sure which one will make it into the show. I’ve had a couple of meetings with the organiser of the London Naked Bike Ride…”

“Was he naked?” I asked.

“Interestingly,” said Juliette, “he wasn’t. He wore a bowler hat, a waistcoat, shirt, tie, jacket, trousers and overcoat. He was very very clothed.”

“It sounds,” I said, “like you may have dropped through a rip in the fabric of time into 1958.”

“And then,” said Juliette, ignoring me, “the other way I’ll be having a nude experience to see whether it makes a difference will be working with Mat Fraser. He has said I can perform at his Sleaze club night and he’s suggested I try to put together a performance routine where it’s maybe something about stripping away layers: a burlesque performance that’s less about sex and more about body confidence.”

“You could use prosthetics and take your face off, like in Mission Impossible,” I suggested.

“I’m thinking of maybe using the obese costume,” explained Juliette, “but, instead of stripping it away, I will maybe put it on and be sexy within it. Or maybe changing from a man into a woman by taking off the prosthetics. I’m hoping to get a couple of burlesque tutors and Mat says he’ll teach me ‘nudity comfort’.

“Everyone I’ve talked to for the show has these incredibly beautiful stories and experiences within them that you just cannot tell from first appearances.

Juliette filming with Adam Pearson

Juliette Burton filming with Adam Pearson for Look At Me

“There’s a guy called Adam Pearson who has neurofibromatosis, a condition where his nerve-endings continue to grow, so he is facially – for want of a better word – deformed. But he is an incredible guy. He is passionate, very funny. He’s actually starring in a film with Scarlett Johansson soon. Everyone is incredible.

“I interviewed Leo Gormley, who has horrific burns he received when he was 14 and in an awful petrol fire. But he escaped and it’s amazing his body recovered from that. We need to honour our bodies more for what they CAN do and not for their imperfections.

“I’ve also interviewed people who look completely ‘regulation’ – I don’t like the word ‘normal’ any more – but they may have a hidden illness.

“So I’ve spoken to two men currently battling cancer. To look at them, you can’t tell at all. One has a body which, because of the treatment, is being overwhelmed with oestrogen hormones which is changing his body in ways he never expected. Another girl looks beautiful, gorgeous, healthy and well but she has cystic fibrosis and is terminally ill and coughs up blood.

Juliette photographed looking in a mirror - What is real?

A photograph of Juliette photographed looking into a mirror – Which is real?

“She and I both, for different reasons, hate it when people say Oh, you look well. It’s hard when people project something onto you – not vomit but an idea – an idea of something they want you to be. Oh, you look like you’re having fun!… Well, don’t assume anything about anybody. Maybe ask them how they are feeling, rather than project onto them – again, not vomit. Unless you’re very drunk.”

“And all this filming, highly-edited,” I said, “will be in the show.”

“And I’ll be posting videos on YouTube in the run-up to the Edinburgh Fringe.”

“And,” I said, “like last year there will be a song and a music video?”

“Yes,” said Juliette. “We’ve written the song already, It’s very catchy.”

“I don’t doubt it,” I said.

… CONTINUED HERE … AND JULIETTE EXPLAINS MORE ABOUT HER NEW SHOW ON YOUTUBE

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US comedian Lynn Ruth Miller replies to critics of that controversial ‘rape’ blog

Lynn Ruth Miller (left) and  Kate Copstick

Lynn Ruth Miller (left) & Kate Copstick at Fringe chat show

Two Mondays ago, I posted a blog which transcribed part of one of my chat shows at the recent Edinburgh Fringe.

It was a conversation between Scots comedy critic Kate Copstick and American comedians Lynn Ruth Miller & Laura Levites. The section quoted in my blog referred to specific situations in which rape might occur.

Laura and Lynn had been booked by me for the chat show because I thought it would be interesting to hear a conversation between two female Jewish American comedians of different generations.

Laura arrived late (as pre-arranged) because her own show overlapped the start of my chat show.

So, by the time she arrived, a more general conversation had started about feminism, prompted by the critical and box office success at the Fringe of American performer Adrienne Truscott’s show Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else!

My blog quoting an extract from the chat show was headlined Feminist female comedians agree there are different types of rape in Edinburgh – entirely my choice of headline and responsibility – and it caused a lot of comment online in the UK, including various blogs like this one headed Rape Is Rape, even in Edinburgh.

They attacked the perceived opinions expressed in my original blog – as did a piece written for The Skinny culture magazine by their comedy editor Vonny Moyes headlined It’s an Unfair Copstick, Guv.

I had followed up my original blog with one expressing the opinion of my eternally-un-named friend and one quoting three of the interesting online reactions including a Facebook comment from Adrienne Truscott who had, by this time, won the 2013 Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality and the 2013 Fosters Comedy Awards panel award  for her Asking for It show.

I also posted an open response to Kate Copstick’s quoted comments sent to me by comedy critic Corry Shaw.

Until now, the three people quoted in the original blog have not reacted.

But this is American performer Lynn Ruth Miller’s reaction today to what has been said about that original blog extracted from the hour long conversation at my Edinburgh Fringe chat show:

_______________________________________________________

Lynn Ruth Miller - Grade A show; dodgy C venue

Lynn Ruth Miller replies to critics of the discussion

I really cannot believe how these people misconstrued what Kate Copstick and I actually meant… but the real problem was THEY WERE NOT THERE AT THE PANEL DISCUSSION.  Not one of us demeaned or criticized the innocent victims of rape who were doing nothing but being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We were talking about women who deliberately set out to provoke men and, when it works, are surprised at the consequences… and I for one think rape is violence not sex and has nothing to do with how you dress or swivel your hips. We didn’t even get into that aspect.

I certainly stand by my comment that more and more women are using their bodies to ‘get the job’, to ‘get the promotion’ even to ‘get the attention’ and I personally think that is a shame…There are better, more effective ways. I find flaunting your sexuality both immature and not very intelligent. However, we all have our own means of making life work for us and I for one will not criticize anyone else’s methods or motives.

I do not want to go on and on about this but I do believe that had one of those people been at the discussion they would have gotten the spirit of what we were saying. Not one of us condoned rape or hinted that men are uncontrollable animals…

Ah well… the beauty of the world is that we all have different opinions… and I think that is a very good thing.

I also wish they would take what we actually SAID in context and not extrapolate from a word or a phrase an opinion or an implication that was in their minds, not ours.

However I think this is one of the interesting downsides of web blogging.

All these people vented their outrage at something that was neither meant nor implied by any of us and it was to no real purpose other than making themselves heard. The writing was not particularly studied; the prose was more stream of consciousness than an edited piece with proof to substantiate their accusations… and I find that very shallow and meaningless.

What did they accomplish?  What kind of consensus did they achieve?

Perhaps their universal conclusion was that the three of us are shallow shits… and I for one can live with that. That is, after all, their opinion; not a fact. Anyone’s opinion is a direct reflection of who THEY  are, not the person they are criticizing.  All of them were forming a judgement about what our core philosophies were from a single phrase that was objectionable to them. This is their problem and their lack of perception, not ours.

And one more point.

It is very easy to vilify someone when you are writing an impersonal blog. I would truly love any one of these angry people to come to me directly, look at me and  discuss the basis of their accusations and the logic of the hysteria they want to fuel over a very innocent, lighthearted, casual discussion about women, who we are and want to be.

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An open response by a comedy critic to ‘that’ blog about ‘different types of rape’

The original blog that caused the reaction

The original blog that caused the reaction

Five days ago, I posted a blog headed Feminist female comedians agree there are different types of rape in Edinburgh

There has been quite a lot of reaction to some of what comedy critic Kate Copstick said in that blog.

Yesterday, comedy critic Corry Shaw sent this reaction, which she headed as:

An open letter to Kate Copstick from a smaller female voice in comedy

Corry prefaced it with the words:

“This was incredibly hard to write and share but I think it is hugely important that it is expressed.”

______________________________________________________

Hi Copstick,

I felt obliged to write directly to you as I have complained myself over the years about industry friends and colleagues sniping behind my back about reviews I’ve written and things I’ve done that they’ve never raised directly with me. And as I have drawn attention to John Fleming’s piece about rape I felt it only right to raise my concerns with you.

Firstly a bit of background. I was raped when I was 14 by an 17 year old boy that I really liked. We’d been out in a big group and he offered to walk me to the bus stop. We took a detour through the Meadows and he kissed me. I kissed him back feeling like the luckiest girl in the world that a boy I liked wanted to kiss me. Now, I was done up like only a 14 year old wanting to be an 18 year old could be, short skirt, too much make up. And I really, really liked him.

It wasn’t until he started to remove my tights that I realised he wanted more than I was willing to give. I pushed his hands away and told him no. I was laughing and trying to make light of it firstly because I didn’t want to scare him off and secondly because I was terrified. He stopped and we continued kissing. Then he started again and I said no again, firmer this time and he ignored me. I tried to pull away from him and he dragged me to a parked car (down the alley as you enter the Meadows) and bent me backwards over the bonnet. I was 14 as I say, and a hell of a lot smaller than I am now. He held my two wrists behind my head pushed down onto the car bonnet and ripped my tights off. At this point I had stopped saying no. I was crying. He never hit me or pulled a knife on me. When he was finished he stood up and pulled his trousers up and asked if I could lend him £10 to get a taxi home. Which I gave to him.

That was my rape.

It took me 2 years to confide in anyone that it had happened because I felt very much like it was my fault. I fancied this guy, had dressed up nicely to get his attention and had happily taken a detour to snog him. I even gave him money after the event. I absolutely knew that something wrong had happened but I was convinced it was my fault.

You may think that your brash, unlikeable, ball breaker persona means that the comments that you make will always be taken with a pinch of salt, or you may not even have that humanity left in you, you may just not care how they are taken. But I know about your work in Africa and it terrifies me that the vulnerable women that you work with over there could be subjected to the opinions that you have stated in that interview.

You are for better or for worse a very influential voice in comedy and there are a multitude of new open spots who are embracing the ‘rape joke’ again. It is absolutely abhorrent and irresponsible of you to spread these dangerous and damaging opinions. And, speaking personally, incredibly hurtful.

I am a strong woman now, I have buried my demons and am comfortable talking about my experience as I’ve found it helps other people dealing with sexual assault, especially when there is guilt attached.

My rapist was never charged, it was never reported to the police. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind he would have gone on to do it again and that is the guilt I live with now. Your statements are exactly the type of thinking that will prevent others reporting their rapes, leaving rapists free to continue ruining people’s lives.

If you have not already done so I would really like to ask you to consider issuing an apology to anyone you may have offended and I would also like you to seriously rethink your position on what is one of the most demeaning and hateful crimes.

Corry Shaw

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“Fourteen year old girls in these places are total sluts mate,” said the financier

The extract I posted a couple of days ago from my Edinburgh Fringe chat show – about attitudes to rape – provoked quite a few comments. Three in particular struck me as particularly illuminating, The first was a Facebook comment from Adrienne Truscott who won the 2013 Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality and the 2013 Fosters Comedy Awards panel award  for performing her show Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! She wrote:

Adrienne Truscott and her one-woman bottomless show

Adrienne Truscott’s show was Edinburgh sell-out

Even statistics about rape focus on women or the victims of the rape, when it would be much more productive to lessening rape by accruing statistics on rapists, and addressing that behavior, as that could actually be preventative.

There is rarely any other area of society, its ills or its triumphs, wherein men are not given full responsibility and credit for their behavior and its effects – the tradition of making women responsible for men’s sexuality is deeply historical.

I’m not saying only men rape. But, on the other hand, male victims are rarely accused of ‘asking for it’. The emphasis on this ‘asking for it’ discussion of how and why rape occurs belies a predisposition, as far as I can tell.

If women change their behavior accordingly – you know, started wearing ill-cut suits or figure-obscuring caftans, dowdy hairdos, no make up and tee-totalling – should we expect and rejoice in the sudden, brilliant absence of rape?

You know, like in India….

Another reaction to my blog, which had quoted three women taking part in my Edinburgh chat show, was this Facebook response:

Having had a daughter attacked by a moron when she was doing nothing more than walking home on a late December afternoon dressed appropriately (because apparently, according to my sisters above, a woman is responsible for being attacked if she wears anything less than full body armour) I am totally dismayed by both the garbage that has come out of their mouths and the fact that they are holding women accountable for the bad things that happen to them – I really hope that they never experience that stomach churning, leg collapsing, brain disintegrating moment when you are told your child has been seriously assaulted by some man!

I don’t think it is something that you ever ‘get over’ as it hits your inner core of belief in other human beings and in particular that we are innately good to each other. Worse things happen on a daily basis all over the world to women and children and of course men. But that doesn’t actually help, in the sense that this violence is an everyday occurrence everywhere.

The third response which interested me was this from comedian Leo Kearse:

Jimmy Savile - the truth revealed in the edit

Role model for financier

I used to be a criminal intelligence analyst and we generally approached crimes looking at the victim, offender and location to see what could be done to each to reduce crime. Fine for most crimes but rape doesn’t work like that; you can’t analogise it to a laptop being left next to an open window.

In my opinion, it’s mainly caused by men’s attitudes.

I shared a car with two ‘lads’ a fortnight ago.

One of them was a total fanny: a city financier who kept banging on about all the deals he’d done and who gave me all this unsolicited advice about ‘branding’ myself as a comedian.

He then bragged about his sexual exploits and told us that, up until his early 20s, he and his mates would go to care homes (kids who are taken off their parents by the state end up in these homes) because “14 year old girls in these places are total sluts mate”.

What shocked me wasn’t just that he did all this; it’s that he felt that this was ‘cheeky lad’ behaviour and he could brag about it to a stranger even though he was bragging about being a member of a predatory nomadic paedophile gang.

I’m pretty sure this used to be something men would not brag about.

I told him he was a predatory paedophile like Jimmy Savile and then we didn’t speak to each other much.

I think it does reflect a common attitude otherwise he wouldn’t have felt like he could brag about it in front of me.

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