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Ken Buck: The Pro-Rape Lobby

October 13, 2010
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Some people, many of whom I don’t share much common ground with, get all upset when I use terms like “pro-rape lobby.” I’m late to the Ken Buck story and Feministing and Pandagon have written at length, so I’ll summarize, rather than repeat.

Here’s the facts. The woman was so drunk she was in and out of consciousness. She pushed the rapist away. She thinks she probably said no, but she was too drunk to be sure. The rapist admits she said no. The rapist admits that when he finished, he tried to wake her up to apologize — and couldn’t.

Those are the facts from the police report, and I’m getting them from the transcript of the woman’s meeting with then-Weld County DA Ken Buck, now the Republican candidate for the Senate in Colorado.

Those are the only salient facts. Ken Buck refused to prosecute. I won’t go into the excuses he made, because they’re distractions. They are just bullshit. Ken Buck decided not to prosecute, when the guy confessed, because he didn’t want to. As a friend of mine says, “exercises of power, and excuses therefore.” Media moguls cloak their excuses in “the audience …”, consumer products companies blame “the consumers …”, and prosecutors blame “juries in this county …”

So, about this term “pro-rape lobby.” I said what it was when I first used the term, at Amanda Hess’s old digs at the Washington Citypaper:

What is clear from this thread and others is that there is a very real pro-rape lobby. They talk the language of disbelieving, but when push comes to shove . . . these trolls really do understand that women get raped when they are most vulnerable—but they are in favor of it. … They’re not really in denial—that’s a facade they drop when pressed. In fact, they’re just pro-rape. They think it ought to be open-season for predators on certain women in certain circumstances.

Perhaps there are some rapes that a guy like Ken Buck would prosecute, but there clearly are whole categories that he won’t, and those categories are the majority of rapes in the US (no, I’m not discounting prison rape, but even with our huge prison population there are not enough people in prison to make prison rape more common than the most common type, serial predators raping aquaintances who are under the influence of alcohol.)

That’s the pro-rape lobby. It’s not that they don’t believe the victims. The victim could come forward with a taped confession, a notarized confession, a pack of witnesses — it’s not about belief. Because even when the rapist supports the victim’s account, as he did here, the pro-rape lobby are the people that don’t care that it’s true, that don’t care that it’s nonconsensual, who don’t care that it makes out a violation of the statue, because they really don’t think that certain kinds of rape — against certain kinds of women, or women in certain circumstances, is wrong. They’re perhaps against some rapes, the kind where the rapist jumps out of the bushes with a knife, maybe — but the rest, they’re for. They don’t think most rapes should be crimes, they don’t think the rapists who commit them should go to prison. They’re the pro-rape lobby.

For that reason, anyone who thinks that my use of the term “pro-rape lobby” for hardcore apologists is over-the-top, is just plain wrong.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. coronercountess permalink
    October 13, 2010 4:38 pm

    I am SO glad you brought this up! I was apprised of this on Feministing. I got so pissed that I went to YouTube, hunted down every Ken Buck video I could find and left the following comment:

    “Just so everyone knows: Ken Buck refers to rape as “buyer’s remorse”. In 2005 he refused to prosecute a rape case because he sided with the rapist who himself explicitly admitted that what he had done was in fact rape.

    Let that marinate for a bit.”

    I want as many people as possible to know who they could be voting for.

  2. ginmar permalink
    October 13, 2010 4:40 pm

    A lot of guys are really invested in defending rape, rapists, and rape culture. They’re th4e rapist’s buddies, the guys who nod along when rapists defend rape—”Aw, who cares? She’s just a slut”–and they’re the guys who intimidate women into shutting up about it. They’re the guys who make themselves feel better about themselves by protesting to their family and friends that if somebody raped so-and-so they’d kill them, they hope he’d burn in hell, get attacked by lions…all of which are common problems in modern life. Those are the guys who just seem to never get skeptical of false reports of burglary, murder, and robbery. It’s almost like, though they never commit rape themselves, that they want to preserve the ability to do so.

    • Baberaham Lincoln permalink
      October 14, 2010 12:52 am

      It’s almost like, though they never commit rape themselves, that they want to preserve the ability to do so.

      I’d agree with this. When I encounter hostility in conversations about rape with men, it typically seems to be rooted in this underground fear that they’ll be accused of rape one day and/or annoyance at the idea that they actually have to give a shit about enthusiastic consent and make an effort to ensure they’ve actually received it.

      IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO NOT RAPE SOMEONE. Hundreds of thousands of men go their whole lives without raping a single lady. If you don’t know for absolute suresies if you have consent, you don’t. God.

      It always raises red flags for me, because if they’re worried about being accused of rape, I can’t help but assume they’ve done or do things that they know tread that line. And even though they know they’re treading that line, rather than simply back away from the line, they demand we flex it around them. It’s entitlement at it’s finest. Of COURSE men are invested in preserving this paradigm – it gives them the freedom to get their dick wet whenever they want and the ability to constantly reassure themselves of their dominance.

      And good point about the overblown “I hate rape so much I’m going to murder everybody’s face off” chest-thumping that’s so common. It sounds sympathetic, but it’s just another manifestation of the idea that some women (family members, virgins, children, random victims of violent stranger rape) deserve humanity and others (women who are drunk, scantily clad, sexual, promiscuous, gender non-conforming etc.) don’t. These guys will only kill a rapist who attacked their sister in the bushes, not their football teammates who gang raped a drunk sorority girl.

      • ginmar permalink
        October 15, 2010 3:29 pm

        Yeah, they change their tune awfully fast when it’s their buddy Joe—or their son, their friend, their boss, their brother…..But, hey, that guy in the alley? HIM, they’d totally kill!

      • Less Popular Tim permalink
        May 17, 2011 7:11 pm

        …“I hate rape so much I’m going to murder everybody’s face off” chest-thumping that’s so common. It sounds sympathetic…”

        Plus one might suspect that some non-trivial percentage of their rage at the hypothetical stems from the notion that somebody dared to mess with their property.

  3. 300baud permalink
    October 13, 2010 9:28 pm

    Very well said, and very thought provoking.

    I think part of the pushback you’re getting is that people would rather use a different term. E.g., we don’t say “pro-abortion” or “anti-choice”; we say “pro-choice” and “anti-abortion” (or “pro-life”). In that sense these people aren’t so much pro-rape as pro-do-what-I-want-without-regard-for-others, or pro-not-having-to-confront-the-hideous-things-I-have-done. Except they would surely spin it into something even more reasonable-sounding.

    But yes, I think you’re correct. However they’d like to think of it, it is in practice precisely a pro-rape lobby.

    • Anti permalink
      October 14, 2010 12:35 am

      I’d call it pro-misogyny if anything ‘pro’.

    • Baberaham Lincoln permalink
      October 14, 2010 1:11 am

      I say anti-choice, and so does every reproductive rights organization. Anti-abortion doesn’t really cover the full spectrum of their beliefs, and pro-life is, in no way, accurate. Pro-abortion is also not accurate, not only because “choice” encompasses more than just abortion, but because not everybody who is pro-choice actually agrees with abortion, they just don’t agree with forced pregnancy.

      Your point is valid – people don’t like the term pro-rape because it’s real and descriptive and accurate in a way people aren’t willing to examine because it forces them to confront some ugly truths and attach one of the worst words in our language to themselves or the people they support (just like overt racists who indignantly claim they’re not racist – avoiding the term is more important than adjusting their behavior). But I’d argue that it’s not just a case of simple ignorance, as in “I’m pro-whatever I want and whatever I want may be construed as rape.” I think these people KNOW it’s rape, KNOW it’s wrong, and simply don’t care or maybe even support it because they think certain women have it coming. Pro-rape is totally accurate, and only controversial because people are invested in not being held accountable for their actions, not because it’s purposefully inflammatory.

  4. October 14, 2010 12:22 pm

    The worst, absolute worst, thing about the rape advocacy blogging I do over at one of my blogs http://polimicks.livejournal.com is not the trolls like the charmingly named “falserapeguy” or the other loud and proud cretins that come crawling out of the woodwork.

    It’s when my male friends, guys I’ve sometimes known for years, out themselves as rape apologists or actual rapists.

    It’s happened, and it’s like a punch in the guy to realize, as a rape survivor, that I’ve been hanging out with someone who has raped, and who the hell knows why it wasn’t me. Seriously, one of these guys actually described forcing himself on his crying ex-girlfriend, who kept saying “No! No, get off me!”, and when I said, “Oh my God, you raped her!” said, “Did that lying bitch tell you that?”

    I very calmly said, “No, you did. Just now. She said no, and you admitted that you held her down and did it anyway.”

    “That wasn’t rape. We had sex before, and if she didn’t want it, she wouldn’t have been in my bed.”

    She was in his bed because they’d broken up amicably, she’d gotten drunk at a party at his place, and he told her it was cool if she slept it off in his bed.

    Yeah… THAT’S the worst part of blogging about rape, right there.

    • October 15, 2010 2:30 am

      God. :twitch: Reminds me of a woman I know who was raped by an ex-boyfriend, who later told her that she’d never be able to press charges because she’d been so overt on the day they first met years before. :twitch twitch:

      Personally, the phrase “pro-rape lobby” just worries me because (as always) my preference is to try to communicate with as many people as possible, and I’m not sure that particular phrase is going to have any convincing power on people who don’t already agree with us. :shrug: I respect it as a kind of rallying cry, though. And Ken Buck can go to hell.

      • ginmar permalink
        October 15, 2010 3:26 pm

        Basically, there’s people you can convince and there’s people that will just jerk your chain and never come around. Blunt phrases like the “Pro-Rape lobby” will offend the latter so you know what you’re dealing with.

  5. EmilyBites permalink
    October 15, 2010 11:27 am

    This strikes such a (depressing) chord, Thomas, thank you for the post.
    There are rape apologists out there who are so invested in defining everything out of the ‘rape’ category that almost no real-life actual rape will ever fall into it. But there are also many (usually men) who literally DON’T CARE if it was rape or not – they want to preserve their privilege not to be arrested for the same behaviour. These are men who freely admit that their primary concern here is being accused of rape – usually they say ‘falsely’ accused either because they don’t think what they are doing is actually bad, or because they would not actually rape anyone.

    So these men genuinely believe that it is worth preserving a culture in which rape is not a convictable offence, in which there is no deterrent to rape, in which tens of thousands of women are raped every year in the UK (where I live), in which rapists know that they can keep on raping, just so that they themselves don’t ever potentially face a conviction for rape.

    Anti-rape laws should not be made in the interests of rapists. People advocating that are pro-rape, whether or not they would actually commit rape themselves – in practical terms they are in favour of it.

  6. RevolutionGirl permalink
    October 19, 2010 12:22 am

    I agree. But here’s some hope for the situation. Westword.com, one of the most popular news/culture sources in Denver, featured an article all about the aforementioned situation and Buck’s stance on women. It’s nice to know that Denver knows, and Denver votes…

  7. ggg_girl permalink
    October 21, 2010 12:05 pm

    Unfortunately there is a very real pro-rape lobby, as this case shows:

    if you are a male high school athlete convicted of a felony you can stay on your sports team, but if you are a female high school athlete and victim of that crime you will be kicked off your sports team …

    http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/10/15/cheerleader-required-to-cheer-for-man-who-assaulted-her/

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