Rape-apology and fame privilege

You know what I’m sick of?

Rape apology.

Rape apology is everywhere, whether it’s judges deciding that sex workers cannot be raped (they’re just being robbed from, you know? ‘Cause they’re whores!), rape victims being blamed for their own assaults because they didn’t regulate their own behavior, to people just not caring enough about other human beings to give a shit about whether or not they’ve been violated in one of the worst ways possible.

That last one is something that I recently encountered at my job. I was on break with the other ladies (I’m the youngest person where I work; all the other women are from their mid-30s to mid-60s) and the conversation got around to football, not my favorite subject since I don’t follow sports. Two of the women are Steelers fans, and one of them remarked that their quarterback was ‘getting into some trouble’. This sparked something in my brain that I remembered hearing about so I said, “Didn’t he rape someone?” The response: a disheartening helping of rape-apology bullshit.

Both of the women, who are fine, lovely ladies that I enjoy working with, starting making excuses not only for his alleged behavior but for the behavior of all men anywhere who may possibly rape a woman. One immediately brushed it off by saying, quite dismissively that it was only alleged. To quote my other co-worker:

These women get around rich men for their money and you have to know that the one thing about a man is his sex drive. He’s only a human being.

So…if you’re a gold digging woman who is around a man for his money you HAVE to expect to get raped. Because that’s what men are: sex drives. So much so that they WILL rape you. I’m sorry, but aren’t men fucking tired of this shit just as much as women? Doesn’t it upset them that they’re basically equated to uncontrollable sex drives that will completely and totally violate another human being just for sex? Saying that it’s just normal human behavior to expect from a man is so insulting and places all of the blame squarely on the victim; it furthers the notion that it’s women who need to change their behavior and not that we need to teach people not to fucking rape other people.

But this reveals another kind of bullshit that we ALL see everywhere: fame privilege. Would these women be defending this man if he weren’t the quarterback of their favorite football team? We saw something similar back when Chris Brown beat the shit out of Rihanna. People (a huge number of them women, sadly) dismissing his behavior on the basis that he’s hot and singer that they love. We saw it when Roman Polanski, a man who after being accused of rape (the subsequent amount of bullshit that followed the accusation is all discussed a little more in depth here) fled the country and evaded prosecution (or indeed punishment of any kind) FOR THIRTY YEARS, was arrested; dozens of people and filmmakers cried out against it. I get so sick of hearing people defend heinous behavior just because someone is famous or talented. It’s difficult to accept that your favorite singer or sports player or what have you has done something that is so fucked up (as I’ve had to learn being a fan of Polanski’s films and also recently while coming to terms with the ableism in Evelyn Evelyn) but the victims of these crimes deserve to be acknowledged not judged. We as a society need to STOP placing blame on these people and further marginalizing them. Excusing famous people an a large scale makes it all the more acceptable to excuse it on a small, personal scale.

It makes it more acceptable to tell a girl she was asking for it by wearing a skirt and drinking a beer. It makes it more acceptable to judge a woman who hasn’t found the strength to leave a man who has systematically abused her to the point that her self-esteem is so low that she doesn’t believe that she deserves better and continues to stay with him. It makes it more acceptable to make light of and normalize rape, with horrible jokes like the one on Family Guy where Quagmire rapes Marge Simpson (who afterward claims to have enjoyed it; women love rape) and subsequently kills her (and her whole family). And all of it fosters a rape culture that glorifies and even fetishizes violence against women. A culture wherein high-end fashion uses gang rape imagery in their advertisement:

This is just one example of all the many, many, many, many examples of how normalized rape and violence against women is in our society.

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of rape-apology. I’m sick of being told that women need to regulate their behavior to avoid being raped. As if watching what you wear, how much you drink, this or that truly has any real factor in whether or not you are raped.

Let’s create a scenario. Let’s pretend that I’m in a room, a party maybe, with a rapist. How about instead of me watching what I drink or making sure my tits and legs are covered and I’m wearing appropriate clothing that will not incite this rapist’s desire for me, instead of me going to all these lengths to ensure that I’m not responsible for my own rape how about THAT FUCKING RAPIST JUST NOT FUCKING RAPE ME. How about having enough fucking respect for another human being to not sexually violate them? How about we start holding these fucking rapists accountable, completely fucking accountable, for their actions. No more of this roundabout language that misplaces the blame. No more victim blaming. To quote Melissa at Shakesville:

Quite literally, the only thing a person can do to avoid being raped is never be in the same room as a rapist. Since they don’t announce themselves or wear signs or glow purple, that’s not a very reasonable expectation, is it?

Enough victim blaming. Enough.

People get raped because rapists rape them. It is as simple as that. World, I have this to say to you: stop. Stop using rape as a way to control and regulate the way women live. As an excuse to try and force us back into traditional ideas about how women are “supposed to behave”.

I hate living in a world where I am always a potential rape victim simply because I have a vagina. I hate living in a world where rape has become expected and even, it would seem, acceptable male behavior. I hate that I know women who are afraid of speaking out for fear of being blamed for something that was done to them. I hate that there is a complete validity to that fear because we live in a victim-blaming society.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and I wanted to contribute to the fight against rape and rape culture. I have never been raped but I have experienced different forms of sexual assault, much of it a result of simply being a woman who talks openly about sex. I’ve been harassed to get on cam and flash my tits and, after repeatedly declining and giving my personal reasons why I’m declining, was told that I can retain my dignity ‘because no one else will know about it’. When I told him to go find porn to watch, of which there is a VAST amount of online, he said it’s different when it’s a girl you know. It’s more real. Apparently it’s better when you coerce a ‘real’ girl into doing something she doesn’t want to do. I’ve had people try to engage in cyber sex that I in no way invited (other than, again being a woman who talks openly about sexuality). I’ve been called a whore and a slut for my sexuality. I experience these things and so do countless other women. It is reality.

I won’t tolerate rape apology bullshit anymore. I’m sick of hearing it. I’ve made a decision that from now on, when I hear rape apology I will speak up against it. I hope that I can stick to this. In a world where women are routinely oppressed and shouted down when they try to counter fucked up shit, I know that it’ll be hard and I’m gonna be dismissed A LOT. But I can’t fucking handle hearing the shit anymore. The day my two co-workers started excusing the alleged rape by the Steeler’s quarterback I went on a tangent about rape and violence against women and the different ways women are conditioned to behave by our society. And while I know that neither of them really listened or believed what I said I still felt better than I would have if I had just sat there and said nothing. It’s hard. But speak up if you can. Fight the bullshit. And if you have a story, please tell it.

7 Comments

Filed under Body, Health, Personal

7 responses to “Rape-apology and fame privilege

  1. Yep yep yep and YEP.

    I’m fed up with it too. Really fed up with it. You bring up a good point about “fame privilege,” and I think it’s definitely true. Famous people are always given the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile, womens’ stories of assault and rape are being ignored and not believed. It’s terrible.

  2. Hi, I just wanted to say hey and that I’m glad you saw my post and linked to it. I agree with your points. It’s really sad, but I see it everywhere too.

  3. This is a great post. It’s frustrating, because we sit here and write these posts over and over and over, and there’s still the inevitable comment that tells us we’re overreacting or wrong, or whatever it is. I’m sick of it, too.

  4. CB

    I just found this entry so I realize this comment is very late, but I just wanted to say that yes, as a guy I am VERY tired of my gender being characterized as a bunch of uncontrolled, sex-crazed man-children who are consumed by the twin obsessions of raping women and assaulting gay men. Not only do I find it personally insulting, but it reinforces the negative attitudes of the stupider members of my gender; being constantly told that they’re “normal” for seeing women as nothing but lust objects and homosexuals as target practice allows them to keep being the knuckle-dragging neanderthals that they are. It drives me nuts!

    I sometimes wonder if this whole blame the victim thing is partially fueled (in addition to the creepy desire to control women) by the lack of empathy in our society. You know, that thing that makes us have such a huge prison population, and that gets angry over the idea that someone somewhere might get unemployment benefits, or that gets all gung-ho about the idea of executing people? Because I have heard people blame the victim for other crimes, like getting mugged in a “bad” part of town late at night, and I wonder if there isn’t more to this than good old-fashioned misogyny.

    • Ashley

      Thank you so much for reading and leaving such an awesome, thought-provoking comment! We need more men out there who are calling this kind of behavior out as bullshit and NOT something that is inherent to men and is NOT acceptable behavior. It is an insult to men, and it’s hurtful to all genders because it contributes to and perpetrates the rape-culture.

      I think you’ve really got something there when you say that our misogynistic society mixed with the lack of empathy is a huge part of all this. And then it’s also mixed in with the Just-World Fallacy (this is a great article about it), which is basically summed up by ‘we want the world to be just and believe that good people have good things happen to them while bad things only happen to bad people’. And I definitely believe that it has a lot to do with fear and believing that if you control your behavior in some way you CAN control the things that happen to you (like rape, murder, etc.) which is just not true. Countless women have been raped while at home, minding their own business, while other women have NOT gotten raped after a night of partying and drinking. Thinking about it with that kind of logic just makes victim-blaming mentality crumble to pieces but people still refuse to believe it.

      Anyway, thank you so much for reading and for your input. Please keep reading and commenting!

  5. sara

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are amazing! Know that there are others who feel the same way you do!

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