This Is Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual violence; rape apologia.]

Yesterday, in many discussions of the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi, there was another round of "rape allegations ruin men's lives." Never mind that people weren't even waiting to find out what, exactly, the allegations were before unleashing this omnipresent bit of rape apologia. And certainly never mind that it isn't even true.

Last night, convicted rapist Mike Tyson was a guest on The Tonight Show. I watched it and tweeted about the segment.

Jimmy Fallon welcomed Tyson onto the show with a warm greeting, dancing with him. They yukked it up about Tyson's childhood Halloween costumes and other nonsense. During the segment, Tyson—against whom there were not merely allegations, but who was tried, convicted, and served time for raping Desiree Washington (among other violent acts)—promoted his book, his new animated series, his Hard Rock Cafe tour, and his video game.

Book. TV series. Tour. Video game.

That's a lot to promote. For someone whose life should be in ruins.

At the end of the segment, following a demonstration of Tyson's video game, Fallon and Tyson were laughing and hugging. Mike Tyson pretended to bite Jimmy Fallon's ear because ha ha that one time he assaulted Evander Holyfield is now just a punchline to him. Jimmy Fallon laughed and laughed.

image of Jimmy Fallon being hugged from behind by Mike Tyson; they are both smiling and laughing
(This bit has been edited out of The Tonight Show's online clip.)

Naturally, when I tweeted about this last night, I got pushback, largely along the lines of men telling me that Tyson isn't a good example of men whose lives are ruined by rape allegations (again: tried, convicted, served time) because he is famous.

But I could tell the same story, on a less visible level, about the man who raped me. (And at least one other girl.) His life is fine.

And I have multiple friends who could tell the same stories, on less visible levels, about the men who raped them. They're just fine, too.

And I'm betting that lots and lots of women (and men) could tell the exact same stories about their rapists' fine fucking lives.

Because, see, that's the thing: Mike Tyson isn't actually a bad or atypical example. The only thing that makes him an unusual example is that he was convicted—and he's still fine.

Book. TV series. Tour. Video game.

And here's the other thing: Many of the men who tell apocryphal tales of former brothers-in-law and distant cousins whose lives were "ruined" by rape allegations (which are always, always, presumed to be untrue) really mean that those men were inconvenienced for a little while. Embarrassed. Not that their entire lives were ruined. Or even meaningfully changed.

But there are a number of survivors who can tell real stories about how OUR lives were legit derailed by reporting.

The "Ruined Lives" canard is rape apologia. And it gets the truth precisely backwards.

[Related Reading: I Write Letters.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus