This woman was 14 years old when her own daughter was born. She is 27 years old now.
Her daughter is 13 years old and has been sexually assaulted by her grandfather. (It is quite possible that the grandfather is also this woman’s father – you can’t tell from the limited information available).
It is a pretty safe bet that this woman has been through a lot recently.
In addition to the pain of learning that her child has survived sexual abuse, this woman has also likely supported her daughter through the harrowing experiences of confronting the grandfather, reporting the sexual abuse to the police, undergoing a medical examination, giving a statement to the police, clarifying her statement with the Crown prosecutor, giving evidence during a subsequent trial, and being cross-examined by the grandfather’s lawyer (with the cross-examination possibly occurring in front of the grandfather).
Fortunately the grandfather was convicted of the crime and is now in jail. But basically, this woman has watched her daughter re-live the sexual abuse over and over again.
Now, this morning that woman walks into a 7-Eleven service station and sees pornographic magazines on display at a child’s eye level and is deeply offended by the idea that her daughter is being exposed to them. I guess she figures her daughter has been through enough and doesn’t need reminders. (Pornography is often used as part of the sexual abuse of children by paedophiles so these magazines may well be an extremely strong emotional trigger for this woman’s daughter).
This woman gets very angry.
She argues with the attendant. The attendant refuses to move them. (Of course, because the right to display pornography in public space is well established).
It is alleged that this woman took her daughter home and then returned with a knife and threatened the attendant. (The attendant undoubtedly knows that petrol stations are targeted for armed robberies and was probably quite alarmed). Police were called.
It seems that the matter was not resolved particularly quickly or easily. But no-one was injured during the incident.
Knowing, as you do, that we live in a patriarchy what do you think might have happened next?
This is what happened. That woman was arrested and charged with “serious assault and going armed to cause fear”. She has been bailed to attend the hospital for an involuntary treatment order. Her lawyer said the sexual abuse of this woman’s daughter “has triggered some over-protectiveness in my client.”
Funny how this woman is seen to be being over-protective of her daughter (in fact it is described in the article as her “ranting and raving”): not wanting your child to be triggered by the sight of pornography could be over-protective; not wanting your daughter to be subjected to any further involuntary experiences of adult sexuality could be over-protective; not wanting your daughter to see what she might perceive to be women being objectified and demeaned after such an early introduction to that experience herself could be over-protective.
And isn’t it a strange world where police can be called in to protect your right to display pornography? So unquestioning are we about it that the newspaper article actually describes what unfolded as a “bizarre incident”. It is the same strange world where it is estimated that up to one in four girls will be sexually abused during their childhood.
Now, pornography – its impact on us as users, its effect on those who work in its production – is a complex debate and I am not trying to claim any kind of ready conclusion to that here. But you have to admit, you’re not exactly feeling ‘the irrational’ here with this woman, are you?