Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dear Rape Apologists

Discussion of rape, rape culture.

Dear Rape Apologists,

At Feministe and Shakesville lately I've seen discussion of a site called the Good Men Project, where rape apologists and friends of rapists and actual rapists are having a lively conversation about how rape is such an abstract thing, and consent is such a tricky thing, that it's easy for good, well-meaning, decent guys to be rapists.

(More on Feministe: one two three.)

Jill and Liss and tons of feminists all over since forever have been discussing and explaining why all of that is bullshit.  As you can see from the linked posts, studies and stats and everyday experience demonstrate that's not how it works.  But here's my question: what about the men?

Yeah, I went there.

You see, arguing on a site called the Good Men Project that "Nice Guys Commit Rape Too" (actual title!) is a really nasty insult to all of the actual good, nice, decent men out there.  Talking about how it's so easy for nice guys to be rapists and how good men slip up, too, lumps good men who've never raped anyone into the same category with actual rapists.

This guy is a rapist:
When I sit down and think about it, it seems like I’ve accepted a certain amount of rape as the cost of doing business, and so have most of the people I know.
Compare to:
Last summer, I was at a party and had two drinks, which is a lot for me because I drink very occasionally (2-3 times a year) and am also on medications that amplify alcohol’s effects. I was half passed out on the couch, and a dear friend of mine, a man who I know has in the past been sexually attracted to me, came in and found me on the couch. What did he do? Did he stick his hand up his shirt? Did he get on top of me? He’d been drinking, after all! No, he fucking got me a glass of water and talked to me until I was awake enough to rejoin the goddamn party.
My brother hung out with a really wild crowd a few years back, and after partying with them one of the roommates told me I was welcome to go crash in the bed downstairs. What he didn’t tell me was that that bed had an owner who showed up a couple of hours later very, very drunk. I woke up to the guy saying “alright!” and crawling in next to me; he threw an arm around my waste, cuddled up to my back and promptly fell asleep. The next morning he brought up the idea of having sex over a glass of water. Turns out the creep who’d told me where I could sleep undisturbed told him he had a girl waiting in his room for him. He wanted to get laid, was informed that he had an invitation for sex, but because he wasn’t a rapist he put the matter on hold till I was fit to respond. He missed out getting his dick wet, but he was also spared the guilt and moral confusion that these accidental rapists claim to be so tortured by.
I drank myself blind when I was young. I drank until I had multi-day hangovers, and I was drinking in bars with other people who were–wait for it–also drinking. Some of these people, in retrospect, almost certainly had drinking problems. They were drunk, I was drunk, here’s what happened: we made stupid jokes, fell off barstools, flirted outrageously. On one occasion, I threw up and passed out in the bathroom (I know, I know: I’m very sophisticated). And yet–I know this is amazing, it’s going to blow your minds–not one of my drinking companions raped me. Not once. Not the bartender who found me in the ladies’ room and drove me home. Not the guy I had a crush on, whom I had to call once to find out how I’d gotten home from CBGB. Not the 6’2″ amateur boxer who was the bouncer. Not any of them.
Your narrative of "rape is a terrible thing that good guys accidentally fall into" and "drinking makes consent too blurry for anyone to negotiate ever" and "mixed signals" and all of the rest of it is disgusting, contemptible bullshit.  The difference between the tales of "I had a wild night of drinking and dancing and good times" and "I had a wild night of drinking and dancing and then someone raped me" doesn't hinge on the number of drinks, it hinges on the number of rapists.

Good guys aren't rapists.  Nice guys aren't rapists.  Rapists are rapists.

As EG explains:
And I’m not saying that all of these guys were good guys. Some of them were real assholes. But you know what they weren’t, at least with respect to me? Rapists. It’s a pretty low bar to clear.
With love,
Frank Lee

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