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Miley Cyrus, Celebrity Rapist?

May 13, 2014

Here’s what she said:

“You know, everyone’s a little bit gay,” she told the crowd. “It’s the truth. Everyone’s gay, all it takes is one cocktail. And if that doesn’t work, sprinkle something in their drink. That’s what I always do.”

Publications like The Guardian are giving her tremendous benefit of the doubt, proactively providing her a defense by calling it a “joke.”  I’m not willing to extend that benefit without more.

What she said, what she literally said, is that people should use alcohol to get people to have sex with them, who otherwise would not do so — and that if they doesn’t work, they should drug the drinks.  And she said she does that herself.  She didn’t say she did it once.  She said that’s what she “always” does.

I will not assume this is a joke.  Serial rapists target people they know; they overwhelmingly use intoxication instead of overt force.  They do this because it works, and by “works”, I mean people will supply explanations and defenses.

And the popular culture has already started supplying explanations and defenses.  That it was a “joke.”  That she didn’t mean it literally.  That she is just courting controversy.  Maybe all that’s true.  Or maybe she actually does exactly what she says she does, and the people explaining and excusing her comments are doing exactly what she counts on.

We have not heard any Miley Cyrus victims come forward; at least I have not.  But … would they?  Why would they? Reporting to police even under the best of circumstances is an uncertain proposition.  Look at it this way; what is the track record of rape allegations, by adult complainants, against celebrities?  Dismal.  How about against white celebrities?  Well, as far as I can tell, in the US, the batting average of sex offense convictions for assaults on adults by white celebrities is zero, ever.  No convictions.

Not one.  (I’m being specific here.  There are a handful of convictions for sexual assaults of children, like Roman Polansky.  There are a handful of convictions against black celebrities, including Mike Tyson and former NY Giants standout Dave Meggett.  No white people.  Marv Albert is the closest, I think, but he pleaded mid-trial to misdemeanor assault with no sexual component and did not have to register as a sex offender.)  Think about it.  Every once in a while there is an allegation, but the ones by adults against white famous people always end up a dead end for the prosecution.  Always.

The elephant in the room is that Miley is a woman, and we’ve constructed rape as a thing that only men do, and that only happens to women.  That’s not the reality.

I don’t mean to ignore rapes that happen to men here — they are more common than many people suppose, and that gets too little attention.  In my view, we also have not talked enough about the dynamics of age.  How often rape happens to men is highly sensitive to definition (penetrated versus forced to penetrate) and is very differently distributed by age for men than for women; there is very little discussion of any of this.  See generally this paper, which has gotten some attention lately, but we’re only at the start of that conversation.  You’re not really anti-rape unless you’re against all rape.  There are no good rapes.

Rape of men is not necessarily what Miley Cyrus alleged.  She prefaced her confession (what?  People are calling it a “joke,” based on assumption alone, simply assuming that it isn’t literal, so I’m going to go ahead and treat it as literal and call it a confession) with the remark, “everyone is a little bit gay.”  So she’s talking at least in part about same sex rapes.  When she says, “that’s what I always do,” she may be saying that she drugs women to incapacitate them so she can rape them.  And that doesn’t particularly make it better or worse.  Whether she means that she rapes men, or women, or both, or people who don’t fit on the binary, their gender doesn’t excuse drugging them and raping them.

It seems strange that someone committing a crime would essentially brag that it’s a kind of crime they commit.  But Roman Polansky bragged about raping underage girls, and Woody Allen cracked jokes about orgies with children.  In fact, rapists tend to assume that everyone sees the world the way they do and try to normalize their conduct.  As the inimitable Kate Harding said about misogynist men joking about rape and abuse and getting men to joke along:

you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

And that guy? Thought you were on his side.

Rapists want to get all of us to nod along and giggle.  Oh you!  Courting controversy again!  Making twisted jokes again!

Miley just said she rapes people.  If we say it’s a joke in poor taste, we’re really just nodding along with it.  What I want is a criminal investigation, but I won’t get that.  At least I’d like us not to all treat it as a joke.  True or made up, it’s a statement of criminal activity.

People who think I need a sense of humor need to get a sense of mission.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. dolphin permalink
    May 13, 2014 10:45 am

    Reblogged this on Dolphin and commented:
    Wow. Given Miley Cyrus’ endorsement of the rape song “Blurred Lines”… I think the author is spot on. I hope that if there are victims out there–that they will come forward, regardless of Miley Cyrus’ status.

  2. May 13, 2014 11:03 am

    Have you perhaps considered the fact that her other actions appear to be aimed at courting controversy and that it therefore makes sense to read her statement in that context? According to the Guardian, she was doing a show where she fellated a giant penis and performed with a dwarf. She’s obviously seeking outrage which makes it likely that her actions and words are aimed at provoking outrage.

    • May 13, 2014 11:09 am

      Have you perhaps read the post?

      • May 13, 2014 2:57 pm

        I have read the post. I think that your argument that the Guardian is unwarrantedly giving her the benefit of the doubt ignores the context of her statement. In the context where somebody is trying hard to be shocking, outrageous and controversial, it is sensible to assume that their controversial statements are made for the purpose of stirring up controversy and that the content of said statements have little to no credibility.

        You’re of course free to believe what you will, but I don’t see that statement as evidence of Miley Cyrus being a rapist any more than I see rap songs about cop killing to be evidence of rappers shooting police officers.

      • May 13, 2014 3:42 pm

        If you read the post, and you don’t realize or are not willing to integrate that I realize she has an incentive to cause controversy but that her statement and the media’s willingness to preemptively position it as a joke are harmful, then I can’t be of any further assistance to you. I understand your position. For the reasons I have stated, you are wrong.

  3. ThomasNeedsToChillTheFuckOut permalink
    May 13, 2014 11:39 am

    have you perhaps considered chilling the fuck out?

  4. May 13, 2014 2:56 pm

    Kind of a segue, but I recently found out that one of my friends, who is pretty vocal about rape not being cool, thinks that men can’t be raped by women because it requires male physical arousal.

    There’s a lot of work ahead of us if would-be allies still believe crap like this.

    • May 13, 2014 5:04 pm

      Yeah, the idea that our biology gets to consent for us is just a version of “asking for it.”

  5. Amysue permalink
    May 13, 2014 3:52 pm

    Regardless of whether or not one believes that Miley herself engages in rape is besides the point, the fact is her statement was not funny, not a joke and at best contributes to the normalization of rape behavior and at worst is an admission that she does not have a problem with using drugs or alcohol in order to obtain “consent”.

  6. May 13, 2014 4:50 pm

    “People who think I need a sense of humor need to get a sense of mission.” That is just an outstanding line, applicable across the board where people use humor to conceal (usually poorly) hate. Thank you for this post.

  7. helva2260 permalink
    May 14, 2014 5:37 am

    It’s the same sort of too-credible-to-not-be-taken-seriously statement as the guy who tweeted that he’d left a bomb in an airport – and was then shocked and insulted to find a team of police on his doorstep wanting to search his house and question him.

    So yes, whether she intended to be satirical or not, I agree that it’s something that the media, the police and the wider world cannot simply afford to assume was a joke.

    We’ve done this before in the UK – we all assumed that Jimmy Saville was joking, however distastefully. Very few people genuinely liked him, but we all thought we ought to, because he was doing so much for charity, so we told ourselves we were being irrational for not liking him. And then after he died, more and more people started plucking up the courage to come forward and talk about the ways he abused them, and it became horribly clear that he was a predator who’d been hiding in plain sight. He was in fact THAT predator who laughs at all the jokes and thinks that you laughing too, means you agree with him.

    The one up-side of the Jimmy Saville case is that as a country, the public, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service all seem to be getting (a bit) better at starting to assume all victims are credible until proven wrong rather than the other way around. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. And we have actually managed to convict two previously untouchable white male celebrities as a result, although their crimes had to be tried under the laws that were in force at the time they committed them – the judge in the Max Clifford case made it very clear that under current laws, one of the sex assaults he committed would now be classed as rape, and that was why he was giving him the maximum allowable sentence.

  8. May 15, 2014 2:28 pm

    Reblogged this on The Order of the White Feather and commented:
    This, exactly: “People who think I need a sense of humor need to get a sense of mission.”

    Thomas, who I deeply admire, once again has spoken clearly and articulately in the face of rape apologists and rape culture. Please read this post in its entirety and the comments beneath.

    Thomas’s words fuel my own charge and carry me into a scary but important event this weekend as a central speaker for the Steampunk World’s Fair’s Consent & Safety Track.

    May you all find peace.

    ~Olivia

  9. May 15, 2014 2:32 pm

    Thank you, again, for your words. As many people who have ears to hear this weekend at the Steampunk World’s Fair will hear your words through me and learn about the Yes Means Yes Blog and more. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your continued work and your clear, inspiring voice.

    May you find peace.

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