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Tuesday, June 30, 1998 Published at 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK


Fay Weldon: Rape isn't the worst thing that can happen

Fay Weldon: perceptions of rape may be "counter-productive"

Her novels have been described as "like a stiff drink" - now Fay Weldon's views on sexual assault are giving a jolt to many women.

In an interview with the Radio Times, the prolific novelist claims society "glamorises" rape by categorising the crime as especially repugnant.

Fay Weldon discusses her comments with James Naughtie on Radio 4's Today programme
Weldon told the magazine rape "isn't the worst thing that can happen to a woman" and insisted she was speaking from experience.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she said: "Rape is nasty - death is worse."

"What I am trying to say is not that rape is okay - it is the opposite of okay. I am just saying that if you are alive and umarked then there are worse things that can happen to you."

The 66-year-old author of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil also attacked the notion that rape was more about power than sex.

Weldon said she had been a victim of attempted rape when a friend had attacked her as a girl in a taxi.

"It was nasty, but didn't shatter my view of men," she said. "The man in the taxi simply wanted sex.

"Now it's very unfashionable to say this, but rape actually isn't the worst thing that can happen to a woman if you're safe, alive and unmarked after the event."

[ image:
"Ahead of my time"
She added: "Defining it as some peculiarly awful crime may even be counter-productive. I'd like to see it defused for women and deglamorised for men by returning it to the category of aggravated assault."

Weldon's comments were quickly attacked by women's groups working with rape victims. A spokeswoman for Women Against Rape called them "outrageous".

Julie Donovan from the Campaign Against Domestic Violence added: "Fay Weldon is talking rubbish."

But the best-selling author of more than 20 novels pre-empted her critics. She said she had already arrived in the "next stage of feminism" while others lagged behind.

"Some people are born one drink ahead," she said.

"I've always been several years ahead of my time. That's been my problem throughout life. People don't know it yet, but they'll catch up."

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