Miley Cyrus, Celebrity Rapist?
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.