I really shouldn’t have the radio on while I sleep. But if it was good enough for Marilyn Monroe …

I woke this morning from rather an interesting dream involving David Boreanez and Melody, a beautiful but foul-tempered black hunter I used to ride in Scotland, to hear news of Baroness Stern’s pronouncements on the workings of the rape laws.

The sisterhood will be dancing in the streets (but don’t even think about asking for the last waltz, guys, she might say yes, and that way a rape trial lies).

Her Ladyship thinks women are being let down by the law.

Aaaah. well, I suppose they only get guaranteed anonymity and the right to tattoo ‘fuck me now’ across their breasts, get pissed, get naked, get laid and then take a anything up to years before deciding they have been raped and still get in with a chance of destroying a man’s name, reputation, career and relationships. Did I mention that the man in question has NO right to anonymity ?

And there is generally very little comeback for the accusors even if their stories fall down like nymphomaniac’s knickers.

Now Baroness Stern (but only where men are concerned, it would appear) thinks women deserve more. …

Interestingly, for someone taking a dispassionate overview of the subject, Her Ladyship accords all women who report a rape the status of ‘victim’. I can’t help but feel that shows us – to use the vernacular of our friends across the Atlantic – ‘where she is coming from’. Slap my face and call me a pedant, but I rather thought that the ‘presumption of innocence’ (which I don’t THINK women have yet managed to withdraw from a defendant on the basis that it has a penis) meant that a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. And, therefore, no woman is a ‘victim’ until proven so to be in the aforementioned court of law. Perhaps the Baroness regards all that as a mere formality.

But she advises that all ‘alleged’ or perhaps ‘wannabe’ rape victims should no longer have to be examined by anyone with any forensic expertise, or even training. No, they’ll see an NHS doctor. A lady doctor if they want one. Then they will get a special lawyer friend to help steer them through the horror of nasty people asking them questions just because they have accused a man of one of the worst crimes on the statute book, a crime for which he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Just because every fake accusation, every lie, every exaggeration and every omission hurts the women who really have been raped.

Just because if men are to accept that no means no, then shouldn’t they be allowed to assume that yes means yes ?

The law (at least that of Scotland) says that that which has been abandoned cannot be stolen. That is a good principle.

Rape was originally about taking another man’s property. It once ruined a woman in the eyes of society. We are past that. But we hang onto the outdated term, with all its emotional charge and baggage. We need to drop it.

So why not treat rape as what it really is … an assault. A specific kind of aggravated assault. With specific aspects that have to be proved.

And when you accuse another person of a criminal offence you lose your right to anonymity. No other crime allows the accusor to remain a mystery. Women are so sure they’ve been raped, then stand up and say so. Don’t whisper it from the shadows.

And, as with other kinds of assault, not only defences are allowed, but pleas in mitigation.

Like provocation for example. Not a defence. But a mitigation. Surely that would be only fair ?

Now that the Baroness has thought about how the law and women, perhaps she might like to turn her ennobled thoughts to men and justice.

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