Sunday, February 06, 2011

Rape, Roethlisberger, and #HR3

(Edited to modify some of the wording, since I do not have proof that Roethlisberger committed the actions I mention below.)

The Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex has all but shut down by ice and snow, the week before Ben Roethlisberger (and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers) will play in the Super Bowl here in JerryLand Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

If I were a Christian Right self-righteous preacher, I'd tell you this snow/icestorm happened because God hates rapists.

The topic of rape has been all over Twitter, and the news, this week, because of HR3, a bill that wanted to "redefine rape." Because we have such a loose, willy-nilly interpretation of the act already, we clearly need to put some restrictions on it. We don't want all these silly women jumping up and saying they were raped, now do we? Next thing you know, people might start believing them!

The other day I mentioned something about Rapistberger, and about him being an alleged rapist, to a group of (female) friends. The first response was something along the lines of, "Whenever I hear about someone accusing [someone rich and famous] of rape, I have to wonder if they're saying it just to get the guy's money."

Another person asked why the woman hadn't charged him with rape, why the guy hadn't been taken to court.

"Because of what she said!" I responded, pointing to First Responder.

This was a roomful of women, y'all. You'd think sisters would have each other's back.

"Why didn't she report it?"

"Why did she wait [so long] to report it?"

"She's probably lying, trying to get his money/ get media attention."

These are not uncommon reactions.

You wanna know why the victim didn't report it? Because she didn't want to be called a liar and a whore.

You wanna know why it took her "so long" to report it, why she didn't go to the authorities immediately? Because she didn't want to be called a liar and a whore, but she was lucky enough to have friends who supported her and helped her eventually build up the courage to confront her attacker.

Or because she was drunk or drugged, and wasn't sure what had been done to her.

Or because she knows she can't afford lawyers that can compete with the ones her attacker's money can buy.

Or, in Roethlisberger's alleged victim's case, because she knows she doesn't have a case that can be proven in court because one of the bodyguards that allegedly helped Roethlisberger commit the alleged crime was, according to some sources, an ex-cop (or off-duty cop) who made sure Roethlisberger covered his tracks well enough, so her lawyers could not build a case against him. (This is info I got from Freddy, who got it from the sports radio show he listens to. And you know how pro-woman those guys tend to be... so, if anything, this is the "light" version of the events. I shudder to think of what the non-macho-friendly version is... Or see here, where they state Rapistberger's bodyguards are there to make sure there aren't any witnesses, or here, which quotes the victim's friends saying the bodyguards kept them from going to check on -- or rescue -- their friend. But I don't really need to give you details of this particular story; pick any report of a famous/rich guy raping a girl, the media's reaction is always the same.)

Rape culture is so ingrained in our lives and our mindsets that we don't even think twice when we victim-blame; we're not even aware we're doing it. It's second nature to react by questioning the victim instead of the attacker.

Funny how we don't do that in any other cases, huh? "I was shot!" "Well, were you standing in front of the bullet? You were asking for it." "Are you sure you were shot? Maybe that's just ketchup." "What were you wearing? You know red makes people angry, you shouldn't have worn that color." Or, as Laura Anne Stuart points out,

I feel pretty confident that following Vick's case, no one accused those skanky, gold-digging dogs of "asking for it" or opined that drunk slutty canines really want to be beaten. However, those are just the sorts of things that are routinely said about women who accuse professional athletes of rape. We are far more sympathetic to animals than we are to women. 

(Before I go off on another rant, please read her article, The Roethlisberger Payback, and consider participating in the pledge.)

A few months ago, it was Assange, who obviously couldn't be a rapist because he came up with a cool idea for a website. Roethlisberger, well, that happened a while ago (over the summer?) and he must not have done anything wrong because the girl never formally brought charges in court, and, anyway, he had to sit out six -- no, wait, four -- games. Four games! Can you imagine the agony?? What the poor guy must have gone through!

When cis women report being raped, they face hostility; they're called liars and sluts; and if the guy is rich/famous, they are attacked and mocked by the rapists' fans.

We discuss whether it was "rape-rape." Was she drunk? What was she wearing? Was she asking for it? Was she flirting? Did she change her mind? Is she just looking for a big settlement? To get her name in the news?

It wasn't really rape if...

HR3, a big waste of time that accomplished nothing other than making it look like John Boehner is "doing" something to "save teh babiez," attempted to limit funding to abortion. Yes, exactly what the Hyde Amendment already does. But, you see, the Hyde Amendment includes a provision for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. So Boehner and his buddies wanted to make sure we're not getting out of hand with this "rape" thing, calling every little assault "rape." In order to be raped, you needed to have bruises and broken bones, according to these people. Public uproar made them remove the language that attempted to redefine rape, or further limit its definition.

Feminists got all up in arms about a cis man telling them what was and what was not rape. Because, seriously, honestly -- how dare anyone tell anyone "your rape wasn't rape-y enough?"

The irony in all this, is that... cis women do it all the time. Not to each other (well, sometimes. See the above conversation), at least not as much as they do it to trans women.

In order to be raped, our cissexist society says you must have been born with a vagina. Trans men can be raped (because, donchaknow, they're not really men -- they're really women, being eccentric, right?), because they have a vagina. Or at least were born with one. Trans women? No. That's not real rape. Not "rape-rape."

Oh, wait...

Remember what it felt like to have a cis man deny your assault experience? Now that we know what it feels like to have it done to us, let's not do that to each other anymore.
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  1. Actually, the Roethlisberger victim really did report it right away. The reason they didn't prosecute was because of some malfeasance by an officer on the scene who didn't take her claims seriously.

    As for the House bill, since junked, I think they were aiming to prevent rape charges like one of the ones against Julian Assange, in which the accuser decided it was rape a couple of days later when she learned Assange was sleeping with someone else.

  2. Okay, let me start by saying, I don't know WHAT I believe. I'll be the first to admit I didn't follow the case too closely, it was a tainted view here in western PA anyway. I was waiting to see what happened in court.
    I'd like to say innocent until proven guilty, but in cases like this I'm hesitant. I don't want to say she made it up, or it never happened, because it probably did. I don't know.
    The problem is, he's so protected that there can never be a true investigation like there would have been for any other alleged rape. (I only say alleged because I do not know what happened.)
    I wish men like Roethlisberger would use their position of fame to PREVENT terrible things from happening instead of CAUSING them.
    I wish we could stop the violence of crimes like rape.
    I don't know where I was going with this.
    Except I'm confused, and I don't know who to believe.
    A similar case happened around my hometown lately. A guy who graduated a year ahead of me was accused (now convicted) of rape that occured a few years ago, when the girl was 10. Along with other charges. This is terrible.
    But so is nowing that the girl's mother is unstable. The girl herself is unstable. She's accused her brothers, her step-dad, a majority of male family members of terrible acts.
    So how much is reality, and how much is fantasy scared into a little girl because she has no idea the impact of what she's saying?
    I knew the kid, and I'd never leave my little sister with him. But I don't now if I FULLY believe every word the girl said (she messed up in court and claimed he sexually abused her while he wasn't in the country...honest mistake, or confusion from too many stories in her head?)
    I just don't know.
    I wish the truth was easier than one person's word against another.

  3. So, are you saying women never lie about being raped?

  4. "Rapistberger"

    I thought "Our job is to "LOVE one another as [Jesus] loved [us]." Not judge, not intimidate, just LOVE."

  5. Graham: the bill is called the "No Tax Funding For Abortion Bill." They were trying to redefine rape in order to put more limitations on low-income women seeking abortion -- the Hyde Amendment forbids tax fund to pay for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is in danger. By calling it "forcible rape" (and requiring women to "prove" it was "forcible" because they have bruises and broken bones) they were putting even more obstacles in a woman's way. (Wasn't the Assange case in Sweden? US law shouldn't come into play at all in that...)

    ProSanity: yes, there are cases where someone has been wrongfully accused of sexual assault. A teacher at the school where I used to work was suspended for I don't know how long because a student claimed the teacher had "come on to him", or something. It quickly came out the student was lying (upset about a grade, he bragged to his friends about getting the teacher fired), and the teacher was able to return to work.

    I also know of another case where a student misinterpreted a teacher's comment, and accused the teacher of inappropriate conduct.

    There are cases where the person accused of sexual assault or misconduct are innocent. But not EVERY case. Not even HALF of the cases. But the way our society responds to accusations of rape or sexual assault is by blaming the victim, slut-shaming the victim, defending the attacker (especially if he is rich, or famous, or invented a really cool website -- because we all know that people who do one cool thing could never do, like, something uncool).

    We ALWAYS doubt (and attack) the victim.

    Yes, falsely accusing someone of rape is a bad thing. It can have serious repercussions in that person's life. But, you know, raping someone is also a really bad thing. And it has very serious repercussions in that person's life.

    Let's give the victim the benefit of the doubt at least as often as we give it to the criminal.

    Anonymous: When did I say that? When did I imply that?

    JustUs: Yes, that is our job. However, I, like many other people on this planet, am human, and therefore flawed. I make mistakes. I sin. That's one of the very reasons why Jesus died in the cross, because humans cannot escape sinning. And, though I should, I have a hard time forgiving unrepentant rapists. I'm not likely to turn the other cheek in this case.

  6. Obviously I need clarification, or I wouldn't have asked the question. I believe it was a 'yes or no' kind of question.

    Also, please note that I have been perusing the 'feminist' blogs, many that have been posting on this subject. It must be scary to be a man in your (the big 'your') world.

    Regardless of what we may wish to believe, women are not entirely without blame for the culture of 'victim blaming'. Every woman who has falsely accused a man of rape is also to blame.

    Seems you have tried and convicted all the men you are talking about, as have others. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? And here's a good research topic - do a study on the lives of men after they have been falsely accused AND convicted (or even just brought to trial on a charge) of rape. Same thing happens to their attackers. Nothing. Same thing happens to their lives. Destroyed. It's not about what the majority of cases are or aren't. It's about individual lives that are destroyed. I'll bet there are still kids in that school who talk about the teacher who was falsely accused as if he was guilty.

    And leave me out of your "we" (as in we always blame the victim not the attacker). Society as a whole has made rape a difficult case to bring to trial and prove. There's enough blame to go around.

  7. "And, though I should, I have a hard time forgiving unrepentant rapists. I'm not likely to turn the other cheek in this case."

    Admitting to sin, knowing you should change and then doing nothing about it just compounds your sins (probably daily). It reeks of pride and arrogance.

    And I have a hard time forgiving unrepentant abortionists and proaborts who speak out in favoring of killing preborn humans. (yes, there are unrepentant rapists who do not believe they did anything wrong -- deep down I think they know just like deep down you know that abortion is wrong).

    It is hard, but I forgive you and every unrepentant proabort. I will never accept what you support and promote. I will always speak out in opposition to what you encourage as a legitimate choice.

    But I forgive you.

  8. "But I forgive you."


    Thanks! I am SO GLAD. Now I can sleep at night.

  9. The rapists you haven't forgiven have no problem sleeping either.

    How nice that you share in their arrogance.