The recent charges against former First Minister Alex Salmond, including sexual assault and attempted rape, have illuminated yet again the entrenched culture of victim blaming within our society.
This is a live police investigation and with that in mind, both Salmond and the women involved deserve equal respect.
Whilst speculation does no good for either side, speculation is exactly how many public and media commentators reacted.
SOCIAL MEDIA REACTIONS
As a strong supporter of Scottish independence, I was deeply disappointed to see that many of my fellow Scots were unable to separate the independence cause from Salmond the person.
I was shocked by the sheer amount of people who automatically reacted with calls of a Westminster, Tory plot to bring down the SNP – some even claimed that MI5 were involved.
This only serves to make some Scottish nationalists look incredibly paranoid and delegitimises the potential experience of the women involved
Others jumped straight to victim blaming – WHY DID THEY TAKE SO LONG TO REPORT IT?
There are numerous reasons why survivors of abuse don’t report it immediately, the delay in reporting it is even longer when the accused is in a position of power
Shame, fear of no one believing them, reliving trauma and being blamed for their experience are all reasons that come to mind
I even seen one woman refer to Salmond’s gorgeous aftershave as a reason why the allegations had to be completely made up.
Judging by the reaction of people all over social media, it is no surprise women are scared to report abuse – whether past or present.
Women’s experience of sexual assault is almost ALWAYS trivialised in the media and by public commentators.
You constantly see people DEFENDING MEN based on ‘he was nice when I met him’, ‘he doesn’t look capable’ or ‘she probably led him on’.
Very rarely do the majority of people jump so quickly to the defence of women.
Even Trump who’s on tape literally saying GRAB THEM BY THE PUSSY has been defended by men and women alike.
Is it really any surprise why women are still reluctant to report sexual harassment, especially when it is against men in power?
Likewise, the media played an equally discrediting role in their reporting of the charges against Salmond.
Journalists were quick to call out civil war within the SNP.
The Economist went with a Titanic analogy describing the recent allegations against Salmond as an iceberg in the way of the Scottish governments ‘smooth progress’.
The Independent opted for ‘Alex Salmond’s arrest has exposed the war raging within the SNP’ – highlighting how opposition parties have envied the parties unity and now cracks have begun to surface.
Mainstream media have made the allegations into yet another game of party politics.
How will they affect the independence movement?
Will Sturgeon postpone a referendum as a result?
Are the SNP breaking apart from within?
In the case of the allegations against Salmond, they ARE NOT about POLITICS.
They ARE about another POWERFUL MAN potentially abusing his position of POWER.
To conflate the allegations with party politics or Scottish independence delegitimises the experience of the women involved and only serves to further entrench a system of victim blaming.