I read the origin article at the time, but chose not to blog about it, precisely because of all the comments underneath saying that the abuse the woman suffered couldn’t be true.
Women who talk about the violence men commit against them are routinely disbelieved. Men (and women, whether anti-feminist, or liberal feminists who are invested in magical choosy-choice pro-sex industry arguments) would rather believe what they see in porn, or the glamourised accounts of already-privileged individuals like Brooke Magnanti (aka ‘Belle du Jour’) than actually listen to women who have been abused.
Women who talk about men’s violence face an extraordinary burden of proof, every minute detail of their account will be dissected and scrutinised and found lacking regardless, while all a man has to do is say ‘she wanted it’ or ‘she enjoyed it’ and he is automatically coated in Teflon.
The author of the piece said she was given no reason to doubt Megan’s story, which had been independently verified by the publisher HarperCollins, a charity and their lawyers. “The most contentious part of the piece would seem to be her claim that she had sex with 110 men in one night which, while shocking, was verified by the research I did into the operating tactics of Greek brothels as being entirely possible.”
The magazine’s editor added: “This was not a case offered by a charity alone – where we would have been more sceptical – but instead the subject of a book. The combination of reputable publisher, ghostwriter, charity and the opportunity to speak to Megan face to face meant we felt confident in reporting the story. Our first response here wouldn’t be to say ‘prove it’, but instead to listen until we were satisfied.”
HarperCollins told me it sought reassurances from several sources and was “very confident and satisfied” that that the book was a truthful account of Megan’s experiences.
It strikes me that had the publisher’s confidence been spelt out in the piece it might have gone a long way to quell readers’ scepticism and prevented their subsequent offence at having their comments removed.
John Redmond of Standards Against Female Exploitation wrote this under the story: “Wake up those of you who have posted cynical comments in this thread. Why can you not accept that there has been much effort and activity by countless professionals underpinning this girl’s story. Those of us that work in this field can assure you that [this] is not an altogether uncommon experience for those from the most vulnerable sectors of our society.”