Whenever I read an article about rape, I notice that the comments are full of angry men (and some women) lashing out at rape victims and those who support victims and oppose rape. & it really isn't surprising, because about 300 thousand people get sexually assaulted every year just in the U.S. according to the Department of Justice (via RAINN.org). There are less rapists than victims, but that is still hundreds of thousands of rapists. Because of (mostly) men who dominate comments sections like this, many mainstream news sources are dominated by awful comments, as rational, compassionate people wisely choose not to look at the comments at all. However, I think we need to face what a significant portion of people truly believe when it comes to rape.
Here is a rundown of the sorts of comments you see:
- Rape jokes
- Stop talking about rape, what about FALSE rape accusations!
- Oh, so now you are calling men looking at women rape?!
- Women lie about rape!
- Being drunk and regretting it isnt rape!
- Feminists lie about rape!
- Liberals lie about rape!
- People are profiting off lies about rape!
- These people are not real victims and this article is an insult to real victims!
- Slurs/insults like: bitch, retard, cunt, twat, feminazi, variations on idiot, other general name-calling
- Telling anyone who expresses support for rape victims or dissent that they are a bad person in some way
- Men get raped too!
- "Debunking" the story
- blaming the victim
- relentless 'debating" with someone who has asked them to stop, even after being asked to stop or ignored
- invoking rookie-level debate club terms like ad hominem and "logic", right after calling someone a retard
So I'm going to start by addressing the LEAST aggregious of these problems, because most rational, compassionate people can easily see the problems with most of these behaviors. To me, the least bad thing here is bringing up male victims, but I will get back to that one; the second least worse imho is the "debunking" crowd, assuming they didn't engage in any of the other behaviors which is rarely the case. I think it's fine to point out errors in an article, study, argument, whatever, and even if you pointing out those errors doesn't seem like the best way to be an ally, it is better to have the correct information and that can only happen when people are willing to correct wrong info. So let's assume that you see a "debunk" comment that isn't full of insults and inaccuracies, that even (as they rarely do) takes a moment to acknowledge that rape is a problem - what's so bad about that?
Well of course, the primary issue I have is that these posters rarely DO take a breath to acknowledge any sympathy for rape victims and often do start by name-calling and often cite untrustworthy sources, a misinterpretation, or are simply incorrect. But that all aside, the main problem I have with this behavior is that these people seem to think, like a Creationist trying to "debunk" evolultion or a Holocaust Denier, that if they can find ONE discrepency that merits the silencing of anti-rape activism and we can all go back to pretending rape doesn't exist. Instead of reading the article and thinking about it, they are immediately jumping to a "yeah, but-!" position, immediately googling furiously and copy-pasteing an article that often has more nuance than the commenter realizes, in an attempt to "disprove" the stories of rape victims and thus urge people to ignore them. It's also a problem that these debunkers think they are being rebellious when in fact MOST articles about rape are full of comments like these, and ignoring and minimizing rape is the norm, just like how racists think it is rebellious to call black murder victims "thugs". It's a "truther" mentality, and it makes people focus on correcting the debunking instead of experiencing the emotionality of how terrible rape really is.
So what about those male rape victims? Well, let me say that I am known in the internet wilds for being a hard-core, unrelenting, revolutionary, cunt-wielding patriarchy-smashing feminasti, as you can tell from my general writing. However, believe it or not, like many feminists I (*gasp!*) have criticisms of feminism and feminists. Like racism for example. And leaving men who are hurt by patriarchy behind is a major problem to me. Feminists do a lot to help male victims, such as being the people who made raping a man illegal, but we need to do more, because MRAs certainly aren't going to help, they're too busy harassing female rape victims. Male rape victims get left out by the mainstream media way too much and it sucks. So having said that, why am I sick of seeing men commenting "what about male victims?" on articles about rape? Well, if I am dying of cancer and my mom comes to visit me, would it really be OK for my brother to come into my room and demand she leave immediately to talk about his AIDS instead? Or would it be more appropriate for him to join her in visiting me, and then to ask that she help care for him next? That may be a clumsy metaphor, so let me say it straight: When people are talking about female victims, we should be showing support for those women. When people talk about male victims, I dont see women saying "women get raped too!", I see them supporting those men. Also, a lot of these comments arent really about supporting men at all, they are about shutting down women.
Now, let's say at this point you think I'm totally wrong about these two things, which I will grant is not unreasonable. You are saying I am over reacting. Perhaps so. It's an easy thing to do when rape has hurt people you love. However, I think it is incredibly irrational to defend all the other types of heinous comments people leave. Angry (mostly) men responding to a story about rape by calling the victims liars, for example. Oh, sure, it might seem to an uneducated person on a single article about, say, Cosby, that these people are simply expressing a difference of opinion. but if you start reading comments about ANY rape victim, over and over again, you will see the same claims.
A popular claim is that women who have been raped were simply drunk and willing. I think this comes from the assumption that a barely-concious female body you are using to pleasure yourself with is not resisting, and maybe you are drunk also, so therefore it was willing. The idea that women simply decide after sex that it was a rape should be ridiculous on its' face but somehow people dont question it. But THINK, dammit, WHY would women do this? IF they had sex and they enjoyed that sex shouldn't they be happy? If rape victims get so much abuse that some rape victims literally commit suicide due to bullying, and comments sections are full of people calling them liars, and there is no monetary value to an accusation, what's to be gained? IF women are constantly falsely accusing, why is it that EVERYONE agrees that most victims never even report rape? Why is it that in our personal lives we know women who tell you about a rape and don't even quite see it as a rape (for example, I know more than three women who said a man held them down and forced himself on them and didn't think it was rape even though they did feel scared. This thinking in victims is sadly most common with child victims because for obvious reasons they aren't taught about sex, consent and assault at all before being assaulted).
The "she lies!" myth is inherently ironic because it presumes that we should assume a woman is lying without any actual proof that she is lying. I hope I don't need to explain how that is hypocritical to you. In this view, rape victims are guily EVEN WHEN proven innocent - people are STILL calling vindicated victims like the - idk 40, 50? - Cosby accusers liars. Victims whose rapes were captured on film are called liars. Victims whose rapists were actually convicted are called liars.
Another thing these Rape Defenders commonly do is pretend that their position is the LOGIC! one. This is really common with men trying to shut women up. They will say that whoever is talking to them is "relying only on emotion", even when she cites studies and is very calm, even when HE is angrily name calling and making false, unsubstantiated claim. The hypocrtical irony HERE is that the entire reason people rape and defend rapists is emotional! They want power, they are angry, reading about rape makes them feel bad, so they defensively attack the article, the victim, the victim's supporters. It's also incredibly fucked up to expect people to not have emotions about rape, hopefully feeling sad and angry that rape occurs. We all SHOULD be feeling emotional about this.
Below are some screen shots of some of the stuff men said about rape that fit with the examples I've given of shitty behavior. These are all from one thread. I may add more photos to this same post in future. I believe many of these men are rapists themselves. Obviously this portion is extremely triggering. 'm sorry I didn't devote any time to transcribing this for people who can't see images, if you would like a transcription let me know in the comments. Until next time, take care of each other and support victims, not rapists.
this is one of the few comments that FB has actually removed.
the article & highest rated comment. MRAs often send people to a comments section to flood it with bullshit, but this site, Vice, has a lot of asshole readers for whatever reason.
this is an example of a relentless commenter who "debates" someone who has told him to go the fuck away. Note the stereotyping. My majors have been in Creative Writing and my medical field career.
the Bush comment is a running 9/11 "joke"
IF I recall correctly Revenge of the Nerds did have a rape scene in it, ironically - a man put on a mask and pretended to be a woman's boyfriend. Rape of a woman as revenge on a man. Incidentally, I think Joel's joke is kind of funny and not that awful tbh but I might go to Feminist Hell for even thinking that.
saying rape is based on how conventionally attractive someone is, even though men and children and the elderly and the dsabled (no I am not saying old and disabled people are unattractive, just not by conventional stndards) and overweight people and all sorts of people are victims, and it really isnt about attraction for at least a significant percentage of rapists.