Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual violence.]

Yesterday, Aunt B and Melissa Martin sent me the link to this piece by Frank Seravalli about professional hockey player Nick Cousins, "a talented but mouthy diva with a soiled off-ice history." Midway through the story comes this bit, about rape allegations made about Cousins and two teammates in August of last year:
Many wondered whether Cousins was snubbed from the Super Series and Team Canada for his alleged off-ice transgressions. Cousins and two teammates were arrested on Aug. 25 for having sexual intercourse with an unnamed woman, known to the players, against her will. Prosecutors have not dropped the charges, which are still pending in court. Cousins attended counseling before being reinstated by the Greyhounds.

The embarrassing situation gave Cousins, the Greyhounds and the Flyers a collective black eye. It's an image that he's still trying to shed.

"At the pro level, teams expect you to be an adult and act like one," [Philadelphia Flyers director of development Ian Laperriere] said. "He's got a good heart ... Let's be honest, stuff like that has been happening forever. You can't get away with anything now. He can't put himself in those situations.

"He's been in trouble with this stuff, but hopefully that's all going to go away. Part of my job is telling him that he needs to learn from that. You need to be careful what you're doing. All of our prospects need to learn from his situation."
So, to summarize: Cousins, who allegedly gang-raped an acquaintance, has "a good heart," but just needs to grow up and be more careful, and hopefully all these zany rape allegations will all just "go away" so Cousins can get back to the serious business of being good at sports.

I'm not sure what I find more contemptible: Laperriere's apologia for a player accused of rape, a crime which he dismisses with "stuff like that has been happening forever," and about which he seems more concerned that Cousins got caught, or Seravelli's description of the assault as "sexual intercourse with an unnamed woman, known to the players, against her will," which prioritizes the implicit rape apologia of "hey, she knew these guys, okay?" over the fact that the "sexual intercourse" was nonconsensual.

Boys will be boys, and girls will be lying bitches who will make trouble for boys with good hearts.

The whole story is about how Laperriere and Cousins' OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe are trying to get Cousins under control and perform like the win-machine they know he can be. Cousins, you see, has "plenty of potential but a poor reputation."

And the story in its whole is a fucked-up juxtaposition of Laperriere's apologia for Cousins' alleged crime of forcing a woman to do with her body what she was resisting and Laperriere's strategy to force Cousins to use his body to do what he is resisting, which is become a disciplined player. I'm not drawing an equivalence between being raped and being professionally challenged; those things are not remotely the same. I am, however, struck by the fact that Laperriere's indifference toward Cousins having used a woman's body for his own purposes (rape) abets Laperriere's continued access to Cousins' body for his purposes (winning). Call it trickle-down exploitation.

Throughout the story, there's all this expressed hope that Cousins will mature and "learn from his mistakes," but rape is about dehumanization, and Laperriere's indifference to Cousins' character, as long as he can perform, is dehumanizing to both Cousins and his victim. How does Laperriere hope to impart the message to Cousins that exploitation is wrong when he's simultaneously shrugging off Cousins' exploitation of women and exploiting Cousins for his hockey prowess without regard for the humanity behind it?

Naturally, he doesn't. He just doesn't want Cousins to get caught.

Rapists are accountable for rape. No caveats, no qualifiers. The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist.

Rape does not, however, happen in a void. It happens in a culture that tolerates rape and apologizes for rapists, especially if they are men whose bodies need to be used by other men to make lots of money. That seems like something we need to talk about, too.

This morning, Spudsy texted me (with I am sharing with his permission): "Mike Tyson is on WGN morning news and they're treating him like a fucking hero. Does no one remember he's a fucking rapist?"

Well. I'm sure he has a good heart.

[My thanks to Aunt B for sharing her thoughts about "the part where what matters is that Laperriere wants Cousins' body for his own end. It's apparently not important that Cousins may not be safe for his community. If Laperriere wants him, all other considerations" are irrelevant.]

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