If this is how men feel about rape, feminism has a way to go

Comment

Opinion Digest: male politicians' rape failure and why we have no right to condemn Russian justice

LAST UPDATED AT 10:37 ON Wed 22 Aug 2012

EVERY weekday morning from The Week online - a daily wrap-up of the best comment and opinion articles from the morning papers and the top political bloggers. If you think we've missed a good one, please let us know. Contact us via Twitter @TheWeekUK

 MALE POLITICIANS GET IT WRONG ON RAPE
LOUISE MENSCH ON GALLOWAY AND AKIN
Rape is having a moment, but not in a good way, says Louise Mensch in The Daily Telegraph. On both sides of the Atlantic, from the Left and the Right, male politicians and two-bit "public figures" have lined up, not to condemn rape, "but to minimise and dismiss it as a crime". It started with the Assange apologists and left-wing commentators dismissing the charges against him as "not rape". George Galloway waded in, saying that once in the "sex game", women didn't need to be asked permission "prior to each insertion". Yes they do George. "Sexual consent is not football: you can't buy a season ticket." Then there's US congressman Todd Akin's cracker that women can't get pregnant from "legitimate rape". These male politicians represent "the tip of an iceberg of resentment and base sexism" in society. Feminism still has "a long way to go".

THE US WANTS TO GET JULIAN ASSANGE
SEUMAS MILNE ON THE OBVIOUS WAY OUT
The Julian Assange dispute would never have gone global if it was just about a man wanted for questioning over sex crime allegations in Stockholm, says Seumas Milne in The Guardian. This is really about WikiLeaks opening up US global power to democratic scrutiny. Confronted with this "threat" to its interests, the US is preparing a case against Assange for espionage. The solution to the current standoff with Ecuador is obvious. The Swedish government could pledge to block the extradition of Assange to the US for any WikiLeaks-related offence and Britain could agree not to sanction extradition to a third country once Swedish proceedings are over – then justice for Assange's Swedish accusers could be served, while offering protection to whistleblowers. "But with loyalty to the US on the line, Assange shouldn't expect to leave the embassy any time soon."

WEST HYPOCRITICAL OVER PUSSY RIOT
SIMON JENKINS ON POLITICISED JUSTICE
The West's hypocrisy over Pussy Riot is breathtaking, given that British courts jail "at the drop of a headline", writes Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. Commenting on the social mores of other countries may offer an outlet for righteous indignation, but a look back at Britain's judicial record reveals that we are no strangers to politicised justice. Sentences for dangerous dogs, Twitter abuse and London rioters are justified by the need "to send a message". This is certainly comparable to Russia's treatment of Pussy Riot. Of course, there is a difference, but it is not so great as to merit our barrage of criticism. Pussy Riot may have attacked no one physically, but no society legislates on the basis that "words can never hurt". Perhaps we should imagine reactions to a taste of our own medicine: "How would we feel if Moscow or Tehran had condemned the treatment of Cenotaph protesters?" · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.