A Culture of Victimhood: Using Rape as a Weapon

This post was brought to my attention today by several women who were obviously incensed by Stacy McCain’s statements.

Here is the what I see as the heart of the initial post:

If you tumble into a random hook-up with no prior knowledge of the guy’s reputation and he turns out to be a selfish brute whose standard modus operandi is repulsive, dangerous or painful, in what sense are you a victim of anything except your own stupidity?

Rape is something that both sides are desperate to avoid and really quick to jump on when it seems as though it’ll work to their advantage. There is no delicate way to approach this, perhaps, but I believe it’s important to discuss.

I think we can all agree that no means no, and stop means stop. If at any point in preceding events a woman says no, all bets are off. No one is disputing that. There are, however, choices involved, and sometimes people make bad ones that they regret. If a woman decides after the fact that she made a bad choice, she doesn’t get to go back and decide that her partner was a “selfish brute”, to use Stacy’s words, and call it rape. At that point, the choice has been made.

A rampant culture of victimhood does nothing to empower women, and removing them of all responsibility in every situation is demeaning. Again, women are not responsible for rape in any instance, and the “she was asking for it” argument is generally noxious. However, using rape as a weapon against someone you’ve decided you want to destroy is inexcusable, and should be treated as such.

Assange is not someone that most of us would rush to defend, and there are certainly more facts that will be brought to light in coming days. I won’t pretend to know any more than I have read online about this situation. I certainly believe that when more than one woman comes forward and there are multiple accusations, things should be investigated. Speaking specifically to this situation, there seems to be little evidence that there was force involved.

Jill over at Feministe writes this:

There’s a lot going around in bloglandia and on the interwebs about WikiLeaks honcho Julian Assange’s sexual assault charge in Sweden; commentators are saying that Assange didn’t really rape anyone, and these are trumped-up charges of “sex by surprise,” which basically means that Assange didn’t wear a condom and so days later the women he slept with are claiming rape. . .
It also sounds like in one case, condom use was negotiated for and Assange agreed to wear a condom but didn’t, and the woman didn’t realize it until after they had sex; in the second case, it sounds like the condom broke and the woman told Assange to stop, which he did not. . . .

I don’t believe for a second that he managed to have sex with a woman without a condom without her knowledge. Let’s assume, however, that this actually occurred – isn’t the question more of an ethical one, on the level of not telling your partner you didn’t take your birth control? It’s still sex if he’s wearing a condom.

Regardless, I don’t think there’s much dispute that Assange is a scumbag. Being a scumbag, however, is very different from being a rapist. Should a stronger statement be made or more evidence surface, I’ll reevaluate the Assange situation. Until then, we should be careful not to let rape accusations with no basis be a trump card, and those who ask legitimate questions about public statements should not be labeled misogynists or rape apologists.

UPDATE: Stacy’s latest response is here.

11 Responses to A Culture of Victimhood: Using Rape as a Weapon

  1. Great post, I’ve been saying this for weeks. When I read the condom quote my head cocked to the side and the thought went through my head “how, EXACTLY, does one not notice that?”

  2. Very well written, Tab. Tough topic to tackle but i think you gave a balanced prospective.

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  5. “However, using rape as a weapon against someone you’ve decided you want to destroy is inexcusable, and should be treated as such.”

    The implication here, if I understand correctly, is that the only reason these women came forward is that they think Assange is a dick. Now, a dick he might be, but to assume that their accusations are being made simply out of spite is unacceptable. If you’re willing to give Assange the benefit of the doubt, you have to give the same to his accusers.

  6. Which I did, Anna.

    “Assange is not someone that most of us would rush to defend, and there are certainly more facts that will be brought to light in coming days. I won’t pretend to know any more than I have read online about this situation. I certainly believe that when more than one woman comes forward and there are multiple accusations, things should be investigated.”

    “Should a stronger statement be made or more evidence surface, I’ll reevaluate the Assange situation.”

  7. And this piece was more about the larger picture than the specifics of this case. Because no one has enough information, including you and me.

  8. You’re absolutely right. No one has the specifics of this case and it’s unfair to speculate. However, we DO have the specifics of a certain blogger commenting on this case and intimating that women who are sexually promiscuous get what they ask for. I believe you threw cold water on that notion in your post which was good to see. However, he posted a link to your post saying “Tabitha Hale would never date a scumbag like Julian Assange.” Now of course I know this to be true since you’ve got discriminating tastes. But he seemed to suggest that what you wrote was, if not in support of him, then at least in support of his larger point that women who spend time with assholes will reap what they sow.

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  11. I work in a prosecutor’s office and this isn’t as rare as you’d think. Women do use rape accusations as a weapon to describe what many of us would call consentual but regrettable sex. Let’s hope justice sorts this one out with facts instead of media hype.

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