6 Common Arguments from Rape Apologists that We Are Completely Done With

Rape Culture

By Erin Lynn O’Connor

We all know the drill. Someone gets accused of rape, and the asinine opinions and justifications flow like the wine on Game of Thrones. I’d try to cover all of them here, but I’m pretty sure that’s not medically advisable. How about just six? I like the number six. It’s even, and five feels played out.

Okay, here we go...

1. “Look, rape is terrible, but—”

That “but” is about to undo everything that came before it. To whomever finds themselves saying this, do yourself a favor: stop after the first part of that sentence and ask yourself if you actually think rape is worthy of all the same consequences that other serious crimes entail. If the answer is “nah” or “maybe” or (heaven forbid) “yeah, but…,” it’s time to see a therapist about that empathy problem.

2.) “Well, she didn’t say no.”

Please, sweet baby Jesus, never sit on a jury because if you think someone needs to verbally object to a crime being committed against them in order for it to count as one, we are all fucked. No one has ever asked a person who has been stabbed if they said “no” because everybody knows that no one wants to get stabbed. And guess what? Consent doesn’t have to be verbal. Anyone who’s ever had sex knows what it looks like when the other person isn’t into it, is uncomfortable, or wants to stop. A good person stops and asks if everything is alright. A bad person doesn’t care. It’s simple math, really.

3.) “You can’t just change your mind.”

Like hell you can’t. Humans change their mind about shit all the time. I changed my mind about the analogy I was going to use in this section, like, four times before I just decided on admitting it to you instead. We are fluid creatures with complex brains and there’s nothing to apologize for. Is it frustrating? Sure, but so is riding the subway and dealing with your dumb boss. Do the same thing you always do: go home and jerk off.

This is also where we start to get into the infuriating merry-go-round of excuses that uses centrifugal force to push the blame onto the victims every time. If she didn’t say no, it’s not rape. If you change your mind and say no, you can’t do that, and it’s not rape. How about this: just write down the rules for how to be the “perfect victim” so we can wipe our asses with them.

Ugh, three more to go….

4.) “If they were really raped, why didn’t they report it?”

I have personally reported my sexual assault (which I talk about here) and can tell you that it’s a humiliating, grueling process that often leads to no justice being served. Don’t even get me started on how few men feel like they can’t report their rape for fear of being laughed out of the room. How many stories need to come out about rape reports being swept under the rug or victims being intimidated and harassed into silence before folks stop adding to the pile of reasons for us to feel like shit? And that brings me to my next point…

5.) “She’s just doing it for attention.”

See what I’m talking about with the merry-go-round rubbish message we’re sending to future victims and survivors? If you think about it for more than 30 seconds, you go insane. Trust me, I’ve had to stop and do some quick Sun Salutations several times in the course of writing this article.

Anyway, let’s examine the type of attention rape victims have gotten.  There’s online harassment, public ridicule, teenage girls getting run out of town for being raped by an athlete, and (on the off chance that there is a trial) having to recount their assault to a courtroom and having your character obliterated by the defense. Who would want that kind of attention? Either an insane person or a person seeking justice for the worst thing that’s ever happened to them. With only 2% of rape accusations being false, I’d say we can chalk it up to the latter.

6.) “Rape Culture is just hysteria.”

Funny that the word often used to describe rape culture by its deniers is the same as a 19th century blanket diagnosis for women who weren’t behaving within the confines of polite society and was “treated” with horrific “cures.”

The thing is, we are groomed from a young age in the shadow of rape culture. Don’t say “no” to men. Don’t upset them. Don’t dress provocatively. Don’t drink. Yell “fire” if you’re being attacked. Be honest. Don’t “ask for it.” Don’t walk home alone. Don’t be out late. Don’t be alone in a room with a man. Don’t bruise his ego. Don’t sleep around too much. Protect yourself. Don’t be a bitch.

The list of contradicting life advice goes on and on, assuring that no matter what, we assume some of the blame in our own abuse. It creates an environment of doubt on our part and puts fear into those who would come forward. Instead of placing the onus on the rapist, we stand trial. Instead of being greeted with belief and support like it was any other crime, we’re confronted with incredulity and apathy. Somehow, we brought it on ourselves, and the rapist becomes the poor guy who just got caught up in our mistakes. And when we come together and speak out publicly, we are doxxed, harassed, and maligned. Many of us develop addictions just to cope with it all, and an alarming number of us are at risk for being assaulted yet again.

Even with the consequences of this cultural disease on full display, a large portion of America still can’t bring itself to admit it. And who would want to? Who wants to hear that they’ve been screwing up their children with mixed messages or that so many women (and men) have survived such a life-altering ordeal with little to no help from society? That they may recall their past and realize they have had a questionable grasp on consent all along?

But, that’s the truth, and no society has ever progressed by ignoring what knowledge it has acquired. So, if we don’t want this uncomfortable truth to exist, we have to stop explaining it away and learning nothing.

Now, if you don’t mind, I need to go fix my eyeballs. I rolled them so hard while writing this that I’m pretty sure I’m cross-eyed now.


Trish NelsonComment