Thursday, December 10, 2015

Rape Culture and Concern for the Accused

[TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE, MISOGYNY, RAPE APOLOGIA, GENDERED SLURS]

With the recent revelation that James Deen is a serial rapist and other similar high-profile cases of men using their power to prey on men, it's becoming evident that the tide is beginning to turn in favor of the victims. We're beginning to see networks of support online respond to cases like these, sticking up for the victim and knocking back the usual rape culture narratives and character attacks that victims always have to deal with. Even the average person is beginning to understand how victims are always assumed to be lying and how harmful that is. Companies are actually dropping celebrities like Deen and Bill Cosby after multiple women come forward to accuse them of sexual assault.

This is all great, but with progress comes the inevitable backlash. I've already seen some of it and I feel like I can see into the future. Rape apologists are already accusing victims (female victims specifically) of lying in order to get revenge on the accused. This has been going on for as long as rape culture has existed (a damn long time). But it's beginning to morph into an argument that may actually make sense to the uneducated.

They're pointing to other high profile cases of rape in which the online feminist community rallied around the victim and news outlets have featured said victim in op-eds about rape culture and the struggle to find justice of any kind. Most of these women don't even bother trying to go through the so called "justice system" because getting any kind of conviction is nearly impossible. Even if there's a fucking confession. Or video. Or many witnesses. Anyway.

The point rape apologists are trying to make is that there's some kind of payoff to accusing a man of rape. Feminists have long argued that the payoff is nothing compared to the risks and the inevitable harassment, smearing of character, and general re-traumatization that happens to women who do so. Now that there is maybe some incentive to come forward besides wanting to protect other women, now that people are beginning to realize that there is a group of people who will support victims and believe them and that they might find people who can empathize with them, people who have had the same experiences who they can talk to and at least find some real sympathy and understanding - that all must mean that women are making false accusations just to get that payoff.

Because news outlets are starting to actually have some sympathy for victims, because they're actually listening to them. Because companies involved with men who have been accused of rape by multiple women are starting to drop these men. Now that life isn't completely and utterly horrible for victims who come forward, we have to assume that they're lying for these meager payoffs.

According to rape apologists, women are becoming famous and making careers off of accusing men of rape. They like to bring up Emma Sulkowicz, the woman who was raped on a college campus and began carrying her mattress everywhere to bring attention to the issue of how poorly college administrations handle cases like hers. She got to talk to politicians and news outlets and stuff! Clearly this makes up for the massive campaign to smear her and call her a liar. She's making a career off of the accusation!

Okay, well, she's an art major, so maybe this would give her some name recognition, I guess? But let me tell you something. I want my career to be feminism. I want to make a career of fighting rape culture. It's all I want to do and I need money to live so if I can be paid for it at least enough to live, awesome. But I only want this because I'm extremely passionate about these issues. There are personal things and intense emotions that drive me toward it like a freight train.

But it's no fucking picnic. The men I have to deal with, damn. And I've barely started. Yet the threats, the trolling, the insults, the ones who make long rambling arguments based on bad information mixed with mental gymnastics who expect me to pay attention to them or else they automatically "win" the "argument," the men I know personally who I would have hoped give a shit about me calling me a man hater behind my back, and so on.

The point is, I can't imagine doing this if I didn't feel like I have no choice. I can't tell you how many times I'd wished I were passionate about something simpler and more lucrative. Even if I became a super famous feminist, I don't thing I'd be rich. There are much easier ways to get rich and famous. Hell, I could pose as a Republican and say things like "Republicans totally respect me as a woman" and "liberals treat women like fragile little flowers, they're the real sexists!" BOOM, job at Fox News and a book deal. I can think of a lot of less complicated and more effective ways to get revenge on men I don't like, too.

If you really think about it for a bit, you'll see that these rape apologist arguments don't make sense. But they'll keep at them. Just you watch. For every woman who comes forward to accuse a man, especially a famous man, of rape, because of the brave women before her who did so and actually got some support from people, the rape apologists will be there in even greater force, demanding that we all consider the possibility that she's just a lying cunt who's doing it to get revenge and fame.

They'll lament the ruined reputation of the accused men, even though famous men like Deen and Cosby have enough fucking money to live off of forever, god damn, they're fine. Even though plenty of famous rapists, even ones who have been convicted, have maintained good reputations and continue to make money by appearing on extremely popular TV shows (Mike Tyson). You forgot that he was convicted of rape, didn't you? And that probably only happened because he's a black man.

But what if there are men whose reputations are ruined by a false accusation? Or even lands them in jail? How terrible would that be? The injustice! How can we risk this by automatically believing and supporting the victim?

Well, look at it this way. For years, for decades, we've let rape culture run rampant. Instead of supporting victims, we've taken the side of the accused, automatically assuming that she's probably a lying slut who regretted consensual sex or wanted revenge on some dude. And where has this gotten us? Thousands upon thousands of untested rape kits. A grand total of 3 percent of men accused of rape seeing any prison time. The bizarre assumption that rape is just a he said/she said thing (what do you think rape kits are for, and also isn't that the same with a lot of crimes?). Women and girls who are attacked for reporting their assaults, ostracized by their communities, have their fucking homes set on fire, and who kill themselves because the cops treat them like lying whores, their neighbors, friends, and even families treat them like lying whores, because the whole world pontificates on what lying whores they must be.

So what exactly do you fucking want, huh? You want things to stay the same? You want women to keep going to the cops, who are untrained in matters of sexual trauma, who overwhelmingly believe that women lie about rape when statistics show that very few accusations are false? You want to maintain the culture where we can't get men convicted of rape even when there's overwhelming evidence that they did it? Where women are arrested for filing a false report because she didn't explicitly say no even though the law does not require an explicit "no" for it to be rape? Where the court of public opinion is constantly against the victim despite the fact that you constantly whine that we can't assume a man did it until he's proven guilty by a court of law because somehow court law applies to each individual person in the world at any given time? Even though you'll accuse women of the CRIME of filing a false report at the drop of a fucking hat? You'll assume she's guilty of that even though courts are supposed to presume innocence?? Do you see the problem yet????

What these people are saying - these people who demand we presume men accused of rape as innocent and victims as liars and who fret endlessly about the reputations of the accused without a care in the world for the reputation of the accuser or the massive damage that rape does - is that we should maintain the culture that does horrible damage to rape victims, overwhelmingly women, and protects the accused, overwhelmingly men, despite evidence or the slightest shred of logic. Because how could we possibly consider hurting innocent men when we could instead leave the millions of victims out in the cold with no justice and no support and hurt them more with accusations of lying and also hurt other people by letting rapists run free to rape more without fear of justice?

Yes, some men will inevitably be falsely accused and punished even though they didn't do anything. It's the same as with any crime. I'm wondering where is there concern for the men on death row (overwhelmingly men of color) when DNA evidence has exonerated so many, including those who have already been executed, whoops? There will be women who take advantage of the situation to get revenge on men and even maybe to get attention. As rape culture is brought down, some men will do the same to women, since part of rape culture is assuming men can't be raped and treating male victims way differently, so if that goes away, men will have the same opportunities for false accusations.

There will always be casualties. This is another thing that rape apologists like to say. You can't stop bad things from happening. My counter is that you can always try to minimize said bad things as much as possible. This is what supporting victims does. Some men will unfairly get hurt, but in the process, millions of women will be supported and protected. Not to reduce this all to a number game, but I mean...

The overwhelming evidence, whether it's statistics or just simple observance of reality, is that mass amounts of women are being harmed by society's current refusal to support those who come forward to report rape. I'm gonna go ahead and support changing that, even if it means a few innocent men lose a job or a sponsor or have to find some new friends. I'm sure rape apologists will be happy to support those men. And if rape apologists can think of a way to end rape culture with zero casualties, I'm all ears.

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