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Josh Brorby: Rape, In Theory And Practice

December 4, 2009

[Late Update: Brorby’s second apology was, in fact, quite well done in my view.]
A lot of folks have read Meet The Predators, about rapists who admit their conduct, and Predator Redux, about Dr. David Lisak’s more in-depth analysis of acquaintance rapists’ methods. Via YMY contributor Jill Filipovic at Feministe, we how have a guy explaining his method exactly.

[Update:Brorby has apologized, predictably claiming satire. Read it, believe what you want. No matter what one chooses to believe about Brorby, though, responding to this stuff is a major cultural fight. We’re not fighting for the rapists’ hearts and minds. We’re fighting over their license to operate. Do they do into the stalk believing they can get away with it, or not? That, and what they do in response, are the stakes.]

Back in Meet The Predators, I said to men in het spaces:

Listen. The men in your lives will tell you what they do. As long as the R word doesn’t get attached, rapists do self-report. The guy who says he sees a woman too drunk to know where she is as an opportunity is not joking. He’s telling you how he sees it.

Now, Josh Brorby has something to tell us about what he calls The Brorby Method For One Night Standing, which he admits requires a disregard not just for self and victim, but for the law. I’m saying that I believe him. I take him at his word. I believe this is who he is, and this is what he does.

Brorby says:

First thing’s first: you need to be hella drunk for this to work (or at least the girl does), so you need to find a party… You should also avoid any festival, gala, or Saturnalia whereat strangers may reside, or even anyone you only peripherally know. I suggest a nice get-together with a small amount of close, personal friends

Okay, so now you’ve got a party started. You need to scope out a hot little number to stand with for an entire night. I’d suggest finding someone you know really well, like a girl from your high school or someone you have class with every Tuesday and Thursday. Someone you talk to regularly. (This shouldn’t be a problem if you listened to my earlier advice – if you see a stranger in the room, get the girl you plan on having sex with out of there!) Get her something to drink – maybe a nice little Sex on the Beach, or some straight mouthwash. If you have the means you could just inject her with some Sodium Pentobarbitone (if this is the case, have a futon or mattress handy, she might drop to the floor).

She’s good and buzzed now, right? Maybe a little unconscious?
Whatever, bro, it’s a one-night stand.
This is where you drop the line, something funny yet titillating to let her know your intentions. Try this one on for size: “Let’s have sex,” and if that doesn’t work, drop this bomb on her: “Hey I’m going to have sex with you now.” If you’re a real dare devil just pull down your pants and get to it.

Where have I seen that before?

Oh Yeah. I remember:

• [Rapists] are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;
plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.

(Emphasis mine.)

Like Jill, I expect his defenders to say this is some kind of a joke. I’ll stand on my prior remarks:

The guy who says, “bros before hos”, is asking you to make a pact.

The Pact. The social structure that allows the predators to hide in plain sight, to sit at the bar at the same table with everyone, take a target home, rape her, and stay in the same social circle because she can’t or won’t tell anyone, or because nobody does anything if she does. The pact to make excuses, to look for mitigation, to patch things over — to believe that what happens to our friends — what our friends do to our friends — is not (using Whoopi Goldberg’s pathetic apologetics) “rape-rape”.

Change the culture… [W]e need to change the environment that the rapist operates in. Choose not to be part of a rape-supportive environment. Rape jokes are not jokes. Woman-hating jokes are not jokes. These guys are telling you what they think. When you laugh along to get their approval, you give them yours. You tell them that the social license to operate is in force; that you’ll go along with the pact to turn your eyes away from the evidence; to make excuses for them; to assume it’s a mistake, of the first time, or a confusing situation. You’re telling them that they’re at low risk.

Brorby feels entirely comfortable publishing his method, which is rape. He recommends getting acquaintances too drunk to make decisions and sexually penetrating them. He admits this is both wrong and illegal. And he’s fine with naming this method after himself. He doesn’t say some other guys do this. He says it is his method.

And all the rapists who read it will see that this guy can just say this, and people laugh right along. Roman Polanski can drug and rape a thirteen year old girl and the whole Hollywood community comes to his defense; this guy can say he drugs and rapes women and his defenders will insist, in high dudgeon, that we all laugh and pretend he isn’t doing it.


Unless the reaction to Brorby is so swift and so strong that everyone with the ability to google knows he’s dangerous. Unless his next editorial is about how nobody will leave him alone in a room with a woman or a drop of alcohol because of what he said, and he isn’t invited to anyone’s home anymore. Unless the women he’s victimized (statistics say about six) come forward, with his own writing and each other to buttress their claims and he is held to account.

Theory, and practice. He told us who he is and what he does.

*Apologies to Dr. Suess.
[Update II: Swift’s Modest Proposal worked because even the people Swift was satirizing would balk at actually eating the Irish. But even if one credits and satire explanation, one can’t satirize a position merely by stating it. The men doing the vast majority of the raping agree with everying in that essay. It won’t cause them or their defenders to pause and think about what they are doing. They’ll just take it as support. Satire that the satirized take as support is … part of the problem.]

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Liz permalink
    December 4, 2009 6:12 pm

    This is the response from the Dakota Student on their publication of his piece.

    It’s total bullshit.

    • December 4, 2009 6:56 pm

      They opened a whole other can of worms with that response.

      There was a student at my college who wrote a fairly anti-woman guy stuff opinion column series in the student newspaper one year. The one time he said something to me that was blatantly sexual (assuming a use for a school-branded giveaway bottle, solely on the basis I had entered the building with a male friend) and I acted offended, he used the fact the school let him run the column as a defense for his saying whatever he wanted. And nothing he said in the column that entire year was a third as bad as what he said to me.

      They just gave the ‘satirist’ and his buddies a nudge nudge wink wink university-backed confirmation that the column content itself was okay so long as there wasn’t a reaction to draw attention to it.

  2. Mar permalink
    December 5, 2009 4:49 pm

    …actually, leaving aside whatever his actual personality is like, I honestly believe it is satire. Please pay attention to particular lines:

    “my method requires . . . a complete lack of respect for . . . yourself.”

    “Get her something to drink – maybe . . . some straight mouthwash”

    It’s possible that deep in his heart, he truly means it, but the way it’s written, with large amounts of deliberate exaggeration and occasional direct jabs at the people who do this, it’s meant to satirize.

    However, it is offensive, liable to trigger, and just a bad idea to have published.

  3. wiggles permalink
    December 5, 2009 10:53 pm

    “…large amounts of deliberate exaggeration….”

    Problem is the exaggeration really isn’t all that large. His “satire” of a rapist is pretty much a day in the life of a rapist.

  4. December 7, 2009 1:54 pm

    Update II: Swift’s Modest Proposal worked because even the people Swift was satirizing would balk at actually eating the Irish.

    Not only that, even they would understand that the idea that doing so was so outrageous that Swift could only be taking the piss out of those who proposed “solutions” for the problem of poverty in Ireland.

    In other words, his target wasn’t the Irish, but those who smugly proposed social engineering (with a healthy dose of moral scolding) to solve the problems of poverty and starvation.

    Satire has a point of view, and it has a target, and that target is someone with power. Brorby’s piece, aside from being reprehensible, has no point of view, and its target is the class of people with less power.

    • Liz permalink
      December 7, 2009 2:41 pm

      That makes a lot of sense, actually. Thanks. That’s something the commenters on the piece and the editors’ response page need to hear. It seems like they feel that labeling the piece as satire explains why it should be acceptable, but your comment explains why it’s not acceptable satire.

      • December 8, 2009 12:23 pm

        A good satire appears, at first blush, to be targeting the less-powerful — “A Modest Proposal” started off discussing the poverty and moral characteristics of the Irish, after all — but the real target becomes apparent (to those who would see) at the twist of the knife.

        The problem with all these fuckwit college columnists is that they don’t go any farther than trashing the less-powerful for their supposed shortcomings. But they sure do like to claim that it’s satire when called out for being fuckwits.

        Now, it’s true that well-done satire often goes over the heads of the real targets — witness the fact that Stephen Colbert was invited to the White House Correspondents’ dinner and that Bill O’Reilley — who is Colbert’s target — doesn’t really seem to get that he’s not for real. But if you’re going to defend your piece as satire, you should be able to point to that knife-twist. And, as in so many cases, it’s just not there in Brorby’s piece. He’s not satirizing rape culture, he’s chortling up his sleeves about women being easy targets.


  1. FIA » “Rape jokes are not jokes. Woman-hating jokes are not jokes.”

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