21 Mar 2013


Not content with having one small business Keith & I bought another one. The second one operates from a room in the house and is supported by a couple of part time staff who work from home and a bunch of freelancers that join us on events. All the resources to make the company function are held on our server, in an array of orange ring binders and in our heads. Anything which is not in any of these aforementioned places can be purchased or googled. It's neat and compact and has boundaries which are easily seen and defined.

The first business however is not neat or compact and after several years, I'm still not sure where the edges of it are. It has enough associated stuff to fill a warehouse near where we live. The road into the industrial estate on which our building is located is shut and padlocked every night. Only tenants in the estate are issued with the combination. We lock the premises when we are not there and have a burglar alarm which if activated, causes K's mobile to ring. Spiders can wake us up at 3am if they want to.

We often ebay off redundant stock to generate income and clear some floor space so the area remains a relatively functional one. When an item is sold to a local buyer and they choose to collect in person, we take the old speaker/ mixer/ laptop/ whatever home and have them collect it from there- rather than expose them to racks and racks of new speakers/ mixers/ laptops and maybe implant the (mistaken) idea that we wish to be relieved of those also.

It's a stewardship thing- we've been entrusted with material stuff and look after it as best as we know how. If our unit is ever broken into, the alarm disabled and the burden of ownership of the stock removed from us (thank you very much), we know we have done everything in our power to protect what we have. This isn't being pessimistic and suspicious. We live in a defective world full of greedy people who will take what isn't theirs so we put procedures in place to minimise the risk. Society actually encourages us all to behave in this way- insurance policies often don't pay out in the absence of a functioning alarm system.

If we are ever burgled, the thief will be to blame. 

However if we DIDN'T lock the door or set the burglar alarm, the thief would still be 100% guilty. We would still be a victim of crime. Stealing someone else's stuff is just wrong. People don't need the presence of a padlock to spell it out to them (although the police and insurance people may be a little less sympathetic to our situation).

Stuff ultimately is just that- stuff. Some of it might be expensive, but if it was ever lost or damaged it could be replaced. Why then does the principle of protecting what is valuable not transfer onto personal safety? Because if anything, the lines between what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is confusing people more than ever. 

According to a recent article in the Telegraph, one in 12 people consider rape victims to blame if they are drunk. A similar proportion claim victims are also responsible if they are attacked by someone they have been flirting heavily with beforehand. The telegraph article which cites these findings from the Office of National Statistics, also described the reaction to this finding from victim/crime support groups as 'shocked' and said victims of sex attacks should never be blamed no matter what the circumstances.

Joanna Lumley recently challenged the current binge drinking culture, and was met with a rather hostile response from some areas. Her advice?

I promise you it is better to look after yourself properly, which means behave properly, be polite, be on time, dress properly – I don’t mean dully – but don’t be sick in the gutter at midnight in a silly dress with no money to get a taxi home, because somebody will take advantage of you, either they’ll rape you, or they’ll knock you on the head or they’ll rob you.

This statement was taken by some to mean that victims of sexual assault can be to blame for their situation. I disagree
Thief/rapist = 100% guilty.
Thief/rapist = 100% wrong. 
Victim = exactly that, a victim. 
But aren't there certain things we can do to minimise the risk of becoming one?

The average bloke is bigger and stronger than the average woman, so if a woman is unfortunate enough to have attracted unwanted attention from a big hairy stranger, the statistic above illustrates that there's a 1 in 12 chance that the one they've found could have a malfunctioning moral compass and may not want to understand that no means no. 

Another blogger I follow posted along these lines a few weeks ago, responding to the aftermath of the Steubenville football gang rape of an unconscious 16 year (full post here): Somehow most of us seem to be able to teach our children that opening a cupboard at someone's house and helping yourself to whatever is in there without asking first is inappropriate. How is it that we manage to do that, but the message that sexual consent is important just doesn't sink in?

I don't know. If 1 in 12 people are really are so messed up that they honestly don't know what belongs to them and what doesn't, or choose to interpret a lack of resistance from an unconscious partner as consent, then maybe that's more reason to listen to Joanna Lumley and set the burglar alarm. And maybe carry a stick with a big rusty nail in.