Monday, February 10, 2014

Rape Culture Realities

[Content note: discussions of rape culture, child sexual abuse]

As I'm sure anyone remotely aware of feminism, rape culture, or film already knows, there's a shit storm going down with the publication of Dylan Farrow's open letter about Woody Allen's sexual abuse of her as a child and his response (which doesn't get a link from me, because fuck that asshole.)

I don't care to discuss or debate the specifics of this situation (because to me Farrow's letter, the 1992 custody suit decision, and this list from Vanity Fair are all I need to see.) But as this high profile story has brought so much rape apologia prominently into mainstream discussions, it has made me all the more resolute in my belief that we live in a rape culture.

That means that victims who speak out are shamed, mocked, disbelieved, and blamed...especially when the perpetrator is a prominent person (man, specifically, almost always) who is respected in their field.

A few other things I read this week really stuck with me as other realities of our rape culture. The first was shared with me by Tumblr user sitcomeofmylife:
If you think rape culture isn’t real, consider this: When someone reports a rape, not only is the potential perpetrator called “the accused,” but the rape itself is “alleged.” This doesn’t happen with any other crime. 
If my house is robbed, it isn’t reported as an “alleged burglary.” If someone is murdered, it’s not called an “alleged murder.” How did that bullet get there? Idk, osmosis? No. Suspects are referred to as suspects, or accused persons, but no one doubts that it happened at all. 
Rape and sexual assault are the only crimes which, when they are reported, the default response is to doubt that the crime even happened. The first official response to rape or assault is to publicly declare, “We don’t believe you.”
This blew my mind and it is sadly accurate.

Next, was actually a piece featured on Buzzfeed (who has surprisingly been in the business of doing some educating about rape culture.) Buzzfeed user charlesclymer wrote a piece "5 Things More Likely to Happen to You Than Being Falsely Accused of Rape" and includes things like playing in the NFL or being hit by a comet. It ends on this note:
Because 1 in 33 men will be raped in his lifetime, men are 82,000x more likely to be raped than falsely accused of rape. It seems many of us would do well to pay more attention to how rape culture affects us all than be paranoid about false accusers.
This brings me back to Farrow and the firm reminder that I'd like to put out there...given the facts of the case, the severe social penalties that someone faces for speaking out, the extremely low incident of false accusations, and the all of nothing she stands to gain from this claim, why would she be lying? Why do we have any reason to disbelieve her?

And yet, some people cling desperately to defending Allen. I'm not sure why you would put yourself out there in that way, even if you love his work.

All I can think is...rape culture realities.

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