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Accountability

September 10, 2009

It’s almost twenty years ago that a college friend told me about when she was raped. A man she considered a friend drove her to an out-of-the-way location, then held her down and penetrated her. She said no, and she decided that too much physical resistance ran the risk of a beating, which wasn’t a risk she wanted to run. Afterwards, she said, what she needed more than anything was for him to admit that he raped her.

There is little research (though there is some), but some kind of vast majority of men who rape find some excuse or script to tell themselves that what they did wasn’t rape, was acceptable and that they are not bad people. People’s capacity to do that never ceases to amaze me.

I’m just picking one example. Before that and after that, time after time, I’ve heard women who have been raped tell me that what they want most of all is accountability. That’s not all rape survivors, I’m sure, but I’ve heard it enough to believe that it is a powerful motivator. Responsibility. Vindication. Moral victory. An admission that what was done to them was wrong.

Andrea McNulty does not want Ben Roethlisberger’s fucking money. She wants an apology and a donation to charity. The defense from the fans and apologists is always that the woman who accuses an athlete of rape is seeking a payday. That does not ring true to me, and it is not the facts of this case. What they want is an acknowledgement. They said no. They had a right to say no. Their no has meaning. Ignoring it is wrong.

Is that so hard? Yes. For rapists, I think it probably is. If they were capable of taking responsibility for what they do, they wouldn’t do it.

(About the notion that McNulty is some kind of nut: I have no idea if it is true or not. I am not particularly moved by it, even if true. The non-neurotypical have a right not to be raped. If we dismiss the claims of anyone who suffers from a mental illness, or who is just wierd, when they say they were raped, then we’re painting targets on their backs and simply telling rapists to pick the right targets. Which … is effectively what we tell them anyway. As a practical matter, isn’t it true that for a woman to get relief from the justice system for rape, she has to satisfy a monastic standard for personal conduct and a demographic standard of acceptability? But that’s another post.)

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. EGhead permalink
    September 14, 2009 9:09 pm

    As a chronically depressed woman who was occasionally suicidal and has had her accusations routinely ignored… thank you.

    The real irony is that the abuse was the trigger event for the depression.

  2. Becca permalink
    September 22, 2009 11:19 am

    In these high profile cases, I’ve heard people say, “But he’s a famous athlete (or actor, politician, whatever), he doesn’t have to rape anyone. All the girls want to sleep with him. She’s (the victim) just looking to get paid.”

    That pisses me off so much! Like the rapist is so famous and attractive to women that it is impossible for him to rape. He is entitled to have sex with whomever he wants. Bull shit.

  3. George (Newbe) permalink
    September 28, 2009 5:48 am

    Your voice needs to be heard. Accountability – as a male who has preferred irresponsibility, this is not an easy reproach to bear. But it is honest, and the loving thing to do. Taking account, or responsibility for a wrong one has done another, is to admit to being a louse.

    The story of the rape you describe in this blog reminds me of two instances in my life as a young man. Can a woman who does not say no, and does not resist, still be a victim of rape? Yes, she can. And this is because learned passivity has been a survival mechanism both for children and for women since ancient times. So, just because she can not get up the courage to say no, does not mean that inside her heart she does not say no. When I was a young man, “free love” was all the rage. And this made it “un-cool” for a woman to say no. I’m sure that in today’s youth culture, this “pimp” and “rap” macho-ism must quiet the unspoken “no” of the timid, unsure, and shy. Our young yearn for tender affection from those they deem strong and in power. But sex does not mean love. It is a means of acquiring pleasure, with or without comradeship.

    Matt Ridley (The Red Queen, and Genome) says that he believes that humans are raised less by their parents, and more so by their peers. I have to agree. And the record companies to a large degree decide who those peers are. This dose not bode well for a sustainable civilization, yes/no?

  4. PatriarchySlayer permalink
    January 11, 2010 2:00 am

    Unfortunately there are many many ways that a woman can be raped without her resisting or saying no. Some of it is instinctual possibly, that deer caught in headlights moment where you become as stone in the face of terror.
    Also being coerced into sex is a huge issue. I have heard tons of stories from co-workers, classmates, even close friends of their SO not allowing them to get any sleep until they would have sex with them. Or making them feel sooo guilty about not wanting to have sex, bugging them over and over about it until they give in. Also, if the person is so intoxicated/high that they can’t give consent, or sleeping/unconscious.
    The sad part is that most people don’t consider this rape. They know that there’s something off about it, but they don’t understand that it is rape. I think we need Yes Means Yes turned into a class so that our society can get educated. Scary stuff!

Trackbacks

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