Imran Khan and the Problem of Victim Blaming

I had to delete the words I typed first of all, because when you are an angry woman, men don’t like it and don’t listen. Those words were my honest reaction to the Prime Minister of Pakistan’s comments on the rape crisis the women and children of his country are facing. Here is my more measured one: Mr. Khan you are better educated than that – I know, I checked. A fabulous school in Lahore, followed by the Royal Grammar in Worcester, UK, and finally Keble College, Oxford, where he trained for his upcoming political career by taking the rigorous Politics, philosophy and economics. It is not ignorance which has led Mr Khan to voice his opinion, as a head of state, that rape is, and I quote faithfully:

 “consequences in any society where vulgarity is on the rise”.

He went on to accept rape is now a crisis – and it is – by conceeding:

“The incidents of rape of women … [have] actually very rapidly increased in society,”

He then blamed women’s behavior for the rise in rape cases, advising women to cover themselves more efficiently, in order for men not to be tempted. Before we start crowing in the west, lets remember the popular question of defenders in rape cases in the western world is: “what were you wearing on the night of the alleged assault?” You are not getting off the hook that easy, boys. Back to Imran for now, what he actually said was:

“This entire concept of purdah is to avoid temptation, not everyone has the willpower to avoid it,” Purdah, meaning either covering up or segregation of the sexes – notice SEX not Gender Feels – the Patriarchy knows what to call a penis owner when it suits them.

Me and Khan agree on one thing – men are drooling sexually incontinent animals, it appears for the most part. (Yeah yeah handmaidens and guys, not all of you are like that – take it as a given, from here on in, I do not mean all men. I don’t have the energy to pat you on the head and give all of you cookies). Where we disagree is placing of blame and the onus in fixing this problem for women and children. I add children to the list – many of the victims of men’s sexual violence are children. I know I can take a head count of my female friends, and the majority of them have experienced some form of sexual abuse by males, while they were underage. We have all experienced the ferocity of the male gaze, which incidentally we can’t even now avoid in our bathrooms, women’s groups and dyke bars – not allowed. Men must be allowed everywhere. They insist, and they do so in some of the most entitled male behavior I have ever witnessed.

I will lay my moral beliefs here – I believe women have the right to dress as they wish – and that includes covering up in whichever way they feel they want or need to. Personally I quite fancy armor in the style of Fallout – give me a metal exoskeleton and some NBC capability, with the ability to withstand the bows, arrows and bullets of modern life!

I fully support women whose sartorial or religious beliefs lead them to dress. In fact I imagine my Muslima hijaab wearing sisters are feeling quite amused as they watch us all mask up – solidarity, sisters! Wear what you want to wear. I might even err on the side of caution – “You are not going out wearing that!” is the evening call of many a mother hen as she waves off her teenage daughter, who is ill advisedly wearing not much at all. I admit to going out in not more than a tee shirt, a pair of ripped fishnets and a rather nice bold wide belt, I was, however wearing Dr. Martens in order to kick any boys in the balls if they got any unwanted ideas…not that that would have stopped them. See, that is the truth – if a man wants to rape a woman, the victim has basically no chance at all of escaping. Women are smaller, we are vulnerable due to our biology, we are not capable of withstanding male assault.

So why then is the rape conviction rate, right across the world so low? Why are my Indian and Pakistani sisters suffering such huge rates of attack, which show no respect for age, but appear to be more dangerous for women of lower castes? Power. Men in the patriarchy have power over women, and the higher the men are in that system of privilege and power, the more untouchable they are. I use that word with caution – Untouchable is what the lower castes are called. The real untouchable ones, the real ones who can never be affected by those around them, who aren’t touched or hurt by violence proportionately, are MALE, and within that group, the higher up the food-chain, the more untouchable you become. This is exactly how the untouchables in western society operate – the Princes and the movie moguls, the actors and the musicians. They cannot be touched, they are not censured, they are not brought to task.

To fix the issue of rape, we need to fix the issue of the patriarchy. See Mr. Khan is untouchable – you can’t touch him – he is a man in charge of a country who comes from a rich and privileged background. He can say what he wants. Defending his position and that of those in the Boys Club he inhabits, even the position of men in lower positions in society, he puts the blame for rape firmly upon women. It is almost as he thinks it is a compliment – so gorgeous we all are, so pickable, so luscious, that men get tempted, so cover up that beauty to protect ourselves. Ok. I have been polite long enough. Fuck OFF, Imran. Fuck off. Seriously, get lost! You think that shitty reasoning would have survived PPE at Keble? I know you would have been laughed out of the seminar and sent down. Except you wouldn’t….the male lecturer would have made noises, and patted you on the back. Told you to write a ten thousand word dissertation on it, and excused you…Because they benefit too. In fact I see your alma mater has been silent.

We have male politicians in the UK advocating tutting at any male who behaves poorly when they are using the women’s bathroom. Tut loudly, that will sort the offenders out from the pee-ers. Sure thing. Does it protect from rape too? Can it cure cancer? How should we tut? Not so viciously as to offend or hurt feelings, just enough to gingerly suggest you don’t have a wank in the women’s public bathroom (’s a thing…men who claim to be women, wanking off in the girl’s room and taping it…and putting it up on twitter as a trophy…Nice, huh). We have only 54 convictions per 1000 rapes reported in the USA. Anyone of you actually think that is the number of guilty men? I had a look for the stats on rape conviction by gender – ie how many male on male rapes ended in conviction after reporting, vs how many male raping females. Twenty minutes later I am still looking. If I find them, I will update. Anyone want to bet that the conviction rate for man on man rape is higher than the conviction rate for raping women?

Let me bring the case to the blamers of women for their own rapes, of the case in Pakistan of a 16 year old girl, who is mute and deaf. She was raped by 5 men, over a period of three months, her father then extorted by the rapists for money, otherwise they would leak the videos. Do not dare blame her mother. Don’t even try it. You can do that elsewhere. Her mother has no power in society. He mother is not to blame, her poor loving mother is also a victim. Can you imagine the pain of this child and the mother?

The only shame is on the rapist. There are awful stories coming out of India of women being paraded and shamed for their rapes – this is the natural conclusion of Khan’s assertions. If we are to blame for our own rapes, then why wouldn’t men shame as us sluts and whores. This old ex whore is about ready to form a group of kick ass women and walk the streets armed with (legal) pepper spray, so our girls can go out dressed in tee-shirts and ripped fishnets if they want to. Why should we have to! Why should women have to worry about defending themselves from men?

Lets be clear here, covering up never saved any women, and did not encourage any man to rape. Men rape because of power, because they can. They rape just about anything they can stick their dicks into…and anyone. Some men would have you believe they cannot control themselves, they are helpless. Then I say, fucking well help yourselves better. Get medical help, take matters into your own hands, not someone else’s body. Women don’t owe men sex. Men are not due a female to have sex with them. The boy’s know this, but they rarely admit it.

We shouldn’t. We should be able to live and dress and breathe as we want, cover up or not, and be safe from the predations and violence of men. Make no mistake, these are men. To call them monsters, or subhuman is to take away the seriousness, to deny the problem. Men rape. Women do not rape – we can’t we don’t have the apparatus. Women who abuse sexually are an aberration, not the norm. There are no roving gangs of women sexually assaulting anyone. Enough fuzzing over of the issues, enough defense of men by good men. These good men who do nothing, who say nothing, who do not pin their colors to the mast of decency are just perpetuating and profiting from the patriarchy themselves.

So boys…what are you gonna do about the huge problem of rapists in your midst?

Lastly…solidarity and love to my sisters back in Asia. For what little it is worth, I have your back and I am on your side. We women will win, I just don’t know how. Sending you love and strength and safe vibes from San Francisco.


  1. Michelmoreorless

    Brilliant essay. In terms of men in power being untouchable look no further than our own politicians: the worst example being the infamous sexual predator and rapist Bill Clinton who continues to “get away with it.” His victims are still ignored to this day. And his wife, who claims to be a champion for women’s rights and urges all female victims of rape and abuse to speak out, lied through her rotten teeth to cover up his sexual crimes. And now, and I’m sure for the rest of their sleazy lives, this most hypocritical and despicable couple will remain “untouchable.”

    1. The Paltry Sum

      I am a filthy happily bleeding heart liberal and a Democrat to the bone…Hilary lost me somewhat when she defended Bill – like you said. Bill is indefensible. Right now Trump is looking pretty untouchable too…

  2. Wyrd Smythe

    It’s an ancient and deeply systemic problem. I’ve come to realize that we’ll probably solve racism before we solve sexism and misogyny. (And we’re not anywhere close to solving racism.) Fixing it will require massive cultural change (and a much better education system). We have to learn to be better, and tragically, at the moment, we seem headed in the opposite direction.

    Part of the problem is a culture that places feelings and experiences above rational thought and critical thinking. It’s also a culture that has, throughout history, positioned women as objects of beauty and sexuality. Changing that is like trying to change the course of an ocean liner by throwing ping pong balls at it.

    Given enough ping pong balls, over time, we can affect that course, but it’s going to take a lot of commitment and participation.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Dismantling the patriarchy is going to take more than ping pong balls, I fear, my friend! Men are not going to agree to give up their position or power willingly, and will continue to transmit the blueprints for the system to their sons. I don’t think there is an answer – I think that the only small way for women to be safe is to form communities of women who segregate themselves by sex, and defend their small communities from onslaught of all kinds. Female separatism.

      1. The Paltry Sum

        I am saying that purdah should not be enforced, but I feel that since men will not stop their bullshit, and we need to be safe from the hands and words of people like Mr. Khan, that the only way to be safe, considering the patriarchy cannot be dismantled – is separatism for those who want it. I don’t agree it should be enforced, nor do I agree women should have to cover up, but I see it as a valid option for those of us who want to opt out. Full on lesbian separatism might well be the only way I can live a life that I feel comfortable and safe in.

      2. Wyrd Smythe

        As a libertarian I absolutely support anyone’s right to fashion the life they want to live! (Subject, of course, to allowing the same right in all others.)

      3. The Paltry Sum

        There you go…as long as that right doesn’t infringe on the ability to set up all XX woman communities – no being forced to accept XY people into the community under the guise of ‘rights”.

      4. Wyrd Smythe

        Absolutely! Hell, I even support the right of racists to form racially pure communities if they want. That said, I do not support the idea that the rest of us have to help support those efforts. Anyone should be free to leave society and live exactly how they choose, but then they’re on their own.

  3. Ruth

    Superb polemic Paltry… Patriarchy is so embedded that many people are not even aware of its all-pervasive power. Many others, like Khan, pretend not to be aware – an easy ‘not all men’ way to dodge responsibility for the systems and structures that keep women in their place. 10 years ago I thought we were making progress, legally, socially and culturally. Since then the backlash from left and right, from secular and religious societies, from poor countries and rich countries has left me breathless. But still we rise sister.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      The only problem, dearest darling sister of my heart…is that we might have to persuade some of the lesbian sisters that political lesbianism – that is for those of us not versed in such terms, lesbian because men are dangerous, not in the first instance because that is their sexuality – is a valid option which we should embrace and encourage. By the way, Ruth…Ruthie….I managed to not swear like a trooper. I figure this is either progress or a very sad crushing of spirit.

  4. Ruth

    Ah no sweetheart. You are manifestly uncrushable. And not swearing actually intensified the anger – focused it like the sun through a magnifying glass.

Leave a Reply