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Lucy Mangan on why women are most definitely not ‘asking for it’ when they become victims of crime


Right, sit up and pay attention at the back there. Get your List Of Things Women Are ‘Asking For’ out of your desks – yes, volume 806, that’s the one – and open it up. The Patriarchy has had a busy week and we’ve some updating to do!

So – first thing: judging from snarky-toned media reports and social media commentary after Kim Kardashian was tied up in her hotel bathroom (and robbed) by masked men with guns of an estimated £8million-worth of jewellery, it appears that a woman can be ‘asking for’ this. Or maybe just that woman. As ever, the details are unclear and like the psychological archeologists we are we must delve a little deeper to try and disinter the facts from the loamy soil of people’s general disapprobation.

Second thing! Witness how journalist Claudio Gatti spent months tracking down financial and other details to uncover the identity of author Elena Ferrante and published it in a high-profile magazine piece last week. She had explicitly said many times she writes pseudonymously so that her books could be read for themselves and her time and creative energy isn’t depleted by doing publicity. He claims “her books’ sensational success made the search for her identity virtually inevitable”. She was, in writing so well, just begging for months-long acts of intrusion, you might say.

Class, write the following down – “Wuh. Tuh. Fuh?” Then some essay questions for the group. “Why did Claudio feel Ferrante owed him more than her books? Is unmasking someone (non-criminal) any kind of public good? Or a violation of privacy or consent? Why might a man feel able to go against a female author’s wishes on the very weakest of pretexts? Who did he feel she was hurting? Was it perhaps only his perceived right to know everything? When’s he going to dox Thomas Pynchon or A.N. Other reclusive male author? Discuss, animatedly, with reference to female agency, male entitlement and self-serving boll*cks.”

Read more: Kim Kardashian held at gunpoint in Paris robbery

Third thing! Model Gigi Hadid has been described as “lashing out” when she elbowed ‘prankster’ Vitalii Sediuk as he grabbed and lifted her up on the street. “Not model behaviour” said one headline. On the one hand – she didn’t know him from Adam. And he has tried to crawl underneath America Ferrara’s dress on the red carpet at Cannes and grabbed twice at Kim K (yes, she’s been asking for all sorts recently!) as a protest “to popularise natural beauty among teenage girls”. They, presumably, are asking for his help on that. But on the other, she is a well-known woman who has helped sell clothes and she was out on the street, thus asking to be recognised surely and – seamlessly logically – set upon.

So, go away, debate, crunch the numbers and let me know – how many things are women really asking for? And until we know, remember – stay small. Stay quiet. Stay safe. Class dismissed.



Readers respond furiously to ‘unmasking’ of author Elena Ferrante

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