Aug 20, 2012

It's only Monday, and already it's a banner week for rape denial

Well well. An elected politician in the US provided a helpful distinction between "legitimate" rape, by which presumably he meant "rape in which it is legitimate for the victim to feel aggrieved", and, erm, the other kind. Because it's important to make sure we have the right language to use when women lie about being raped, because even though they have been raped, they haven't been legitimately (or forcibly, or honestly, or rape-raped) and are therefore lying sluts out to victimise innocent men[1].

Not to be outdone by the American misogyny circus, British elected politician (and first rate clown[2]) George Galloway, as well everyone's favourite nerdy Python Terry Jones, helpfully lined up to explain to the misguided masses that having unprotected sex is a crime in Sweden, which is why WikiLeaks is innocent. Or something.

It's like there are all these people (oh, ok, men) out there who are expending a serious amount of effort on making up scenarios in which holding a woman down and putting your penis in her vagina while she is asking you not to is not rape. Nuh-uh. Summing else, not rape, nope. No rape here. I mean, really, you'd almost think they felt it was really important to make that point, no? Almost as if, I dunno, maybe for thousands of years men could force sex on women with impunity, and the idea that maybe sometimes that's actually not OK anymore is really unpleasant to these guys?

Let's get this straighty-up straight, honeycups: when Julian Assange makes a 10 minute speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy without once mentioning the immediate cause of his being holed up there in the first place, he's not just being forgetful: he is executing a deliberate rhetorical manoeuvre designed to allow him to get away with raping two women[3].

And when other men perform seemingly ridiculous mental acrobatics in order to imply that some if not all rape charges are not actually, really, honestly, legitimately rape-rape, what does Occam's Razor dictate that we assume?

That's right. That thy are exercising rhetorical manoevers in order to be able to claim that men who raped women should get away with it.

They are protecting their right to get away with it.

People get all hot under the collar when you spell it out to them like that; or they good naturedly try to come up with less gobsmackingly awful reasons, as in the case of saying that it's really all about abortion (I'm not sure that treating women like cattle for the sake of sexual power in order to justify treating them like cattle for the sake of farming unwanted babies is much of an improvement, but it provides some comfort in the form of an intellectual remove from immediate ugliness).

I don't mean that Ron Paul and Ken Clarke (much less Whoopi Goldberg) have raped women. I just think they are really, really attached to the theoretical possibility of being able to. Partly this is because  people are taught so little about the joys of consensual sex that it's easy to fear, deep down, that there's just the tiny possibility that you might have raped someone at some point, and that thought makes people defensive. Partly it's because rape culture is the dominant paradigm and everyone gets antsy when the dominant paradigm is under threat. Partly because they're woman hating shit sacks of inhuman loathing and callous cruelty.

At the end of the day, who knows. But let's not fool ourselves about what it is that people say when they say "X is not really rape". They are also saying "Y is not really a rapist". As well as "Z is a lying bitch". These three things are logically necessary corollaries of each other, and they have played out with textbook accuracy in the media discourse about both the Assange & the Strauss-Kahn cases. So please, can we all just stop pretending that the whole rigmarole is about anything other than men defending their age old right to stick their schlongs into women at will?


[1] I mean rapists. No, I mean men... Oh I don't know anymore - whichever one I use on Twitter, I get accused (by, erm, men) of being a terrible mean meanie.

[2] Oh dear, did I say that out loud?

[3] Not "allegedly raping" - because his lawyer has admitted all the charges on his behalf in a British court, so we know the facts. And said British court has ruled decisively that these actions constitute rape under British law. Legal culpability in a Swedish court with Swedish standards of evidence is all that remains in question, making Assange's need to elide the fact that he's a rapist from his refusal to travel to Sweden all the more urgent.


  1. As far as I can see his lawyer didn't admit the charges, only presented them in detail (more details than the Swedish prosecution did when asking for him to be extradited), trying to convince the British court that the specifics of the charges don't add up to assault according to UK law. He specifically said that he's not dealing with whether his client agrees with the descriptions of the events given by the prosecutors.

    (I hate courts.)

  2. I'm not a lawyer, so this is also only as far as I understand, but the Guardian's account of his lawyer's statements in court indicates that he didn't dispute the prosecutor's allegations. He didn't deny that force had been used; his defence was that the victim didn't resist, and he normalized the use of force in general. In other words, his defence was to say, "Insofar as my client carried out any of these actions as described, so what? It's not illegal anywhere but crazy Sweden." The court explained that everything described would be a crime in England as well.

    You're right that this isn't exactly an admission or agreement with the facts (it's that pesky "insofar as"), but at the very least, there was absolutely no attempt to deny them, and the defence focused on downplaying and normalizing.

  3. OK, this is fair comment, so I'll clarify my statement: the Assange challenge to the UK's complying with the EU warrant was not on the basis of disputing the facts of the case. It's reasonable to assume that if they had any evidence to disprove the factual basis for the warrant, thy'd have used it - but technically Dora is right.

    In his unauthorised autobiography he does admit to all the salient facts, though, and basically shrugs it off with "so what? I can if I want to, and they're just over-sensitive". I will attempt to resurrect the reference from my ridiculously out of control "feminism" bookmarks folder.

  4. PS For the benefit of any future commenters, I just want to say that the above is exactly how much space Julian Assange gets to himself on this thread. It's bad enough that he's highjacked the Guardian.

  5. Hello! Sorry, I have nothing salient or interseting at all to add, but I've just been reading the comments on a Hadley Freeman article on the Guardian. I can't be arsed to sign up to CiF; I generally find reading the comments there spirit-crushing. So... I clicked on your name and found this blog. I don't think I've ever been more ashamed to be assosciated with left wing politics than I have this week. Seeing you take down the morons on that article was massively inspiring, and I think your insights into the mindset of rape apologists are absolutely spot on. That's all I wanted to say. Erm... I feel slightly silly now, but the internal cheering was so loud and sustained, I had to find an outlet, and clicking the like button seemed a bit minimal.

    1. That is lovely and delightful of you, and I'm grinning like a loon now, so if anyone should feel silly it ain't you. :) Thank you!