Rape Myth: But he wouldn’t rape anyone, he’s a nice guy/footballer/the head of wikileaks…
And then, God created rape myths. Well, actually… the patriarchy did, but they like to think of themselves as God, anyway.
We insist on disbelieving rape survivors. When “I Believe Her” was launched, it was in the midst of a backlash against a rape survivor; a backlash which has yet to die down. It wasn’t long until the admin noticed the same defences of Ched Evans’ being recycled. We’d heard them a million times before. “He wouldn’t rape anyone, he’s a nice guy”. “He wouldn’t rape anyone, he’s a footballer”, and so forth.
There’s a problem with this defence. Most women are raped by someone they know. A lot are in relationships with their rapists, some are just friends or work with their rapist. The patriarchy would rather people believed that rapists are mentally ill men, who lurk down alleyways whilst waiting for a target; that we could spot a potential rapist just by looking at them. We can’t.
By claiming rapists fall into certain categories, we send a message out to rape survivors. “You better make sure your rapist falls into these categories, else we won’t believe you.” Effectively, rapists who don’t fall into the boundaries that the patriarchy sets out are given a free card to do whatever they choose. After all, if society’s telling us it’s only stupid, ugly, mentally unwell men who rape, who will believe a woman who is raped by a man society has deemed is none of those things? Women are told to keep out for the patriarchal construct of a rapist, yet berated for judging men who meet these criteria. We’re told there’s an ugly, mentally unwell man waiting on every corner to attack us. The truth is that the rapists are our partners, climbing into bed with us and refusing to take no for an answer. Our rapists are men who society deems successful, gorgeous men, or the friend we’ve trusted for most of our life. They’re the men taking advantage of how drunk we are in a nightclub, or working us into a position where we can’t consent.
We can’t afford to live our lives afraid, but at the same time, we open our eyes to the truth, and it burns. Every rapist is someone’s son. In some cases they’re someone’s brother, someone’s uncle, someone’s idol. Some run a multi-national corporation, and some are talented football players. We need to teach our sons to avoid raping women, so that the onus lifts off our shoulders. Women are asked to prevent rape, yet the rapists are excused at every turn. This is why believing survivors is so important. We need the message that rapists aren’t the “other” out there. But we need rapists to pay for their crimes. A 6% attrition rate is one that leaves rapists laughing, it leaves women with the feeling that they’re not believed. It’s time to crack down on rape. It’s time to tell survivors “We believe you.” And it’s time to challenge people who claim a woman must have been lying about being raped because her rapist is a “nice guy”. Challenge them with three simple, but powerful words. I Believe Her. It’s something every survivor deserves.