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.)