Today I feel sick because I went back through the transcript of my interview with Russell Brand and Helen Mirren, when they made a film together in 2011, and it was full of lovely quotes from Helen about how nice Russell was, how caring, and also lovely quotes from Russell about how nice Russell was, how caring, and I had written it all down and lapped it all up and published it in a women’s magazine.
Of course you’re not their rapist of course of course. But yes we’ve all been a bit lax haven’t we at upholding our own values around this subject. My rapist is now the father of a young kid and had a themed wedding and splashed it all over instagram and I followed him at the time... Lord only knows why. Still in denial, I guess. I hadn’t told anyone and then ‘Promising Young Woman’ made me realise that this is what had happened to me, that what I had classed as ‘my fault’ was - in fact - rape. So I told my husband. Who was mad...at me. For ‘lying’/not telling the truth earlier. So it’s - if anything - made it worse. Not a chance I’d report it now. Couldn’t have conceived of even CALLING it rape or sexual assault at the time. Not a chance this person would get their just desserts. I just hope they watched that film and / or the documentary about Brand and did some soul searching. But to what end? Such a very dark and murky area. I hope this exposure means it happens less.
I admire you for writing so bravely about this. We all have dark corners in our past where we ask ourselves "Should I have acted differently?" Your writing is eloquent and honest, your anguish is clear. Be kind to yourself Sophie
Christ, that's some piece of writing.
The vast majority of us have completely forgotten something we did that is trauma to another. The best you can hope for is that either age, wisdom or guilt make you choose a different path.
Are you their rapist? No. They don't wake up in a sweat calling your name, it's unlikely that then or now they were worried you might kill them. Doesn't make it right obviously, but unlike RB, you will spend the rest of your life wishing you had not done it.
As for yours, have you considered reporting him?
This is incredibly powerful and brave. Thank you for writing ❤️❤️
I feel sick too. I liked him.
Thank you for this brave piece of writing Sophie. I, too, have been feeling sick this weekend and trying to work out why. Sick how, as an 18 year old, I was drawn into a short affair with someone in my social circle who was 28, and had known me since I was 16 - the schoolgirl I still was. Like Brand, he was tall, charismatic, alternative, a ‘ladies man’, a bit of a dandy and had a unique way with language. I was beyond flattered he wanted me. Everything we did, including him taking my virginity, was consensual. On reflection, he asked me to do things that made me feel icky, like wearing his favourite football shirt to have sex. I broke it off shortly after starting university as I had an instinct that going deeper down the rabbit hole - as thrilling as I found it - would lead to Bad Things. My sympathies and thanks are with all these brave women we know about, and those we don’t. God it’s f*cking hard being a woman sometimes.
I've been reading your work for as long as you have been writing it. It has been a constant source of comfort, of insight, of bold and brave enquiry as well as laughter and delight. And here it is again. Bold, honest, hitting the nail right on it's fucking head, THANK YOU. So many of us had this happen and didn't report. I tried, and the desk officer let my rapist into the waiting room with me. He attacked me again there and it took three officers to hold him down while I walked to the taxi which would take me somewhere safe that wasn't a police station. I feel sick too and I send all strength and love. x
This really made me think, so often we interview these people and shine a lot on them and need to believe they are good and all circumstances are geared towards us doing that. Don’t beat yourself up, I’m sure I have done the same and you also give a voice and a spotlight to many lovely people too. ❤️
I never liked him during his Big Hair era and found him an unbearable gobshite. I must admit I warmed to him more in recent years because he said some things that were actually sensible and tinged with philosophy which I'm a sucker for, but now of course I see his game plan all along. Get out there and pedal scepticism about the mainstream media before your 'victims' call them up.
Oh wow. This was so powerful. Thank you for this piece and sending you a lot of love.
There were a lot of dark night for me too.
I interviewed Brand back in 2004 and was thoroughly charmed. I found his enjoyment of crossing boundaries / getting in your personal space exciting. It feels different now.
Oh Sophie. Thank you for writing this. I’d love to see the convo btw Katherine and Sara - where can I read that?
It is good you feel sick.
Are you guilty of rape? Yes.
Are you guilty of murder? Yes.
Isn’t almost all of us guilty of rape, murder and other crimes against and of humanity? Yes.
To paraphrase the misquotation of Eldridge Cleaver, if we are not part of the solution we are part of the problem.
Being part of the problem makes us guilty.
It is good you feel sick. The feeling sick is a sign of an increased awareness into another consciousness much like Sartre’s protagonist in “NAUSEA”.
Your article is a step into being part of the solution.