Simon Jenkins: To jail Lavinia Woodward would have ruined her prospects for no purpose

Simon Jenkins is an author and newspaper columnist who often writes for the Guardian.

Two days ago we published a piece about Lavinia Woodward, a 24-year-old drug-addict and Oxford University student who will probably not serve a prison sentence for stabbing her boyfriend, because… well, because vagina, basically.

So what does Simon Jenkins have to make of this case, in his piece in today’s Guardian? No sympathy for the stabbed boyfriend, needless to say. On the one hand he makes some valid points about prison sentences blighting promising young lives, but then compares the Woodward case with that of a male Durham University student:

Meanwhile, four months ago, a judge in less exalted Durham jailed a student with equally “glowing testimonials” for what was also accepted as a “single blemish”. He sexually assaulted a sleeping girl who admitted she was “seven out of 10 drunk” when she invited him back to her flat “to watch movies”.

The judge ordered the young man instantly to prison, and put him “indefinitely” on a sex offender register. This would render him unemployable in a normal graduate job.

Does Jenkins conclude, reasonably, that there’s an appalling justice gender gap here? No. Bizarrely – and, I suggest, maliciously – he concludes the difference can be attributed to the students being at different universities. The next paragraph:

I do not suggest that these crimes are comparable or that either is remotely defensible. Students can be as cruel to each other as any mortal. But the punishments are starkly different, the one temporary and lenient, the other permanent and catastrophic. The implication is blatant: that the effect of jail on an Oxford graduate’s glittering career is so much worse than for anyone else as to make such punishment unthinkable.

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About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • Dan

    I am very surprised that Simon Jenkins, a normally superb writer has arrived at this conclusion.
    Though he would risk being sacked from an increasingly feminist paper

    • Mike Buchanan

      Thanks Dan, but ‘increasingly feminist paper’? Not possible. The Guardian has been solidly feminist for DECADES.

  • Lawrence Newman

    He’s such a dishonest mental gymnast. Notice the implication that the ‘sexual assault’ (translation: consensual sex between 2 drunk people) is worse than this frenzied physical assault?

    • Mike Buchanan

      Agreed. The original newspaper piece stated the boyfriend had been a victim of violence at the hands of a previous partner. Very few papers repeated that fact, whereas with a gender switch they all would have, of course.

  • Craig Martin

    Jeez, you can tell he wrote that to garner the approval of his Feminist paymasters.

    What a wet.

    • wisemanner

      I stopped reading Jenkins when he claimed the British Royal Family had no power. I decided he was either a liar or an idiot and therefore not worth reading.

  • Marat

    According to a story in the latest Private Eye, the operating losses at the Guardian last financial year were £37.8m.

    Not even the mass purchases of the Guardian by its chums in the state-funded BBC can support it indefinitely.

    • Lawrence Newman

      I heard they get EU funding. Can anyone verify that? Wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Slowcoach

    I am very grateful to the Grauniad and – in this case – Simon Jenkins also.

    Down through the years they have given us much entertainment and laughter.
    Something to ridicule and goad, to cheer us up and provide a target for cathartic parody.

    Long may they continue…

    ..to make risible fools of themselves.

    It’s a priceles social service.