July 1, 2022•378 words
The allegations against Chris pincher are not that he drunkenly groped two men. They are that he sexually assaulted two men.
It's not groping or fondling – it is sexual assault
Using euphemistic language downplays the severity of an offence and enforces a dangerous message: it isn’t a big deal, and victims won’t be taken seriously
Numerous high-profile cases of sexual violence and abuse have have been exposed in recent years, with the same words cropping up again and again: "groping", "fondling", "inappropriate touching". What each of these terms usually means is sexual assault. But both in casual conversation and in the press, we will go to almost any lengths to avoid saying it.
According to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the elements of the offence of sexual assault are:
- person (A) intentionally touches another person (B)
- the touching is sexual
- (B) does not consent to the touching, and (A) does not reasonably believe that (B) consents.
Groping people is something that many people have done: the traditional place for it in the UK is 'behind the bike sheds', and it can be extremely consensual. If Chris Pincher merely groped people, consensually, then while that might be embarrassing for him and them (and I suppose might involve public indecency or something), that's probably the most it involves.
But that's not what he is alleged to have done: the allegations against Chris Pincher are not that he 'groped' two men, they are that he sexually assaulted two men. 'Groping' in this case is a deliberately ambiguous euphemism used by people who want to make sexual assault seem less serious than it is.
By the way: he was one of the tory whips, and thus in a position of considerable power over many people.
They are only allegations, and he is innocent until proven guilty. But the johnsonite husk of the tory pary has not suspended an MP with a credible allegation of sexual assault against him1. That tells you all you need to know about the johnsonites, I think.