#IBelieveHer: Reddit, The Guardian, And How Society Really Treats Rapists. *Trigger Warning*

A couple of days ago, Reddit ran a conversation, asking rapists about their perspective of assaults they’d carried out. Following Megan Carpentier’s article on The Guardian’s infamous Comment Is Free, detailing the conversation, I found myself heading over to Reddit to read the thread myself. Between Reddit and The Guardian, an interesting perspective emerged. On Reddit, rapists were forgiven, excused, and told they were now “great” guys. On The Guardian, the CiF saw an attack on feminism, the definition of rape and comments asserting that those rapes didn’t happen. Even when men admit to rape, there’s still people in the corner, claiming that it’s a false claim.

I felt nervous about the idea of a forum giving a voice to rapists. Seeing as so many rape survivors end up silenced, I personally think that the one narrative that doesn’t deserve a public airing is the unedited voice of the rapist. As a user of Reddit said: “Giving a voice to shitheads who don’t even feel any remorse about what they did isn’t a good thing.”  And he’s right. A lot of these rapists, telling their stories, didn’t show any remorse, tried to blame the survivor, and tried to claim that they were as much victims of their crimes as the women they’d raped had been.

But for the rapists who aired their stories, a more interesting narrative unfolded in the responses. We began to see how far some men would go to excuse rape. Memorably, AntiDamage tried to argue that pressuring a woman into sex wasn’t rape. It is.

Coercion is a concept I feel that many people overlook. Whereas the rape apologists claim that feminists try to widen the definition of rape, I’d argue that rape apologists try to narrow the definition. To me, rape is simply defined as a man penetrating another person who does not wish to be penetrated, with his penis. Simple, leaves no questions. If your partner doesn’t want sex, it’s not your place to try and change her mind. If you pressurise her into sex she doesn’t want, that is still rape.

One thing that struck me through the stories where men had claimed they’d stopped just short of raping a woman is how many  of them had claimed it was seeing something in her face, usually fear, that made them stop. But there lies the problem. Were these men so removed from the woman they wanted sex with – the woman they believed wanted sex with them- that at no point they chose to look at her face? It highlights our culture that objectifies women – the person you’re having sex with no longer matters enough for little gestures, such as looking at your partner. Women are becoming products from a standard factory line in too many men’s eyes, designed to be in a constant state of consent. It’s why the “she didn’t say no” line of defence is so dangerous. Women are not autonomous, and consent is not a guaranteed right. Assuming a woman wants sex with you is a dangerous viewpoint – If you don’t want to be a rapist, assume a woman doesn’t want sex with you, until she proves otherwise.

But the most important thing Reddit proved last week was simple, and a message feminists have been trying to get across for ages. The men, relaying their stories of how they’d raped women, were telling stories of how they’d raped acquaintances, whilst in a domestic setting. Reddit proved what we’ve been saying all along – Rapists aren’t lurking down every alleyway; they’re not deranged psychopaths. They’re the friends who we trust, the boyfriends, family acquaintances. For all the “Not My Nigel” arguments that women throw about in defence of their partners, the men of Reddit have proven that, yes… It really is our Nigels who pose the threat.

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4 thoughts on “#IBelieveHer: Reddit, The Guardian, And How Society Really Treats Rapists. *Trigger Warning*

  1. So important to get the message across – too many rapists don’t consider themselves rapists, simply because they don’t fit into that traditional stereotype. So while the thread was *awful* and I wish I’d never read any of it, it does serve a potentially useful purpose – but I recommend men rather than women read it, as most women – particularly women who interact online – already know what it reveals.

  2. Resistance is resistance, and it isn’t a game. There is no pressing thru; once you disrespect the No you enter rapist territory. Simple. This idea that women only say No because they are “playing hard to get” and not because they actually mean No is dangerous. How many more men out there are also rapists and don’t even realize it because they’ve been told/taught by fathers/brothers/frat boys that “girls” will say no 2-3 times before giving in?

  3. Thanks for this Frothy, interesting point you make about the way MRA’s want to restrict the definition of rape to about 6-8% of rapes (IE stranger in balaclava in dark alley) versus what rape actually is, the forcing of sexual intercourse without consent; and accuse feminists of wanting to “widen” the definition, IE define it from the victim’s point of view, rather than that of the rapist.

    They have the advantage over us in that of course rape has been defined in law and custom and cultural narrative, from the rapist’s point of view rather than that of his victim. Rapists drafted the law, adminstered the justice and wrote the songs and stories which glorify rape and call it seduction. And of course, the MRA’s want it to stay that way, of course they don’t want feminist input into the subject, because at the moment, they can carry on raping us with impunity becasue they are still defining the public discourse. The thought of losing the control of that discourse and being held accountable for their actions, is horrifying to them. Hence their wild-eyed defence of rape and the pretence that rape’s not rape if they or their friends are doing it.

  4. So clearly stated. Brilliant. Thank you. You have clearly described what happened to me, more than once. Women are smart enough to make deals with themselves at some point well past NO and shoving him away and pulling at your clothes, and you know no-one will hear you or care, and you will either be battered AND raped or die, women know, he isn’t going to stop, he is not listening or caring, I have to save myself and be hurt as little as possible in this that IS GOING TO HAPPEN, and he is 180 lbs and 6 foot, and I am 5 foot 2, or 7, and I do not want to die. That is rape. Also rape, is when you wake in the night with him “having sex” with you, when you had fallen asleep after getting a surly agreement to your no, please, no. So many other scenarios we all could tell, including being forced to have oral or anal when you refuse vaginal. All, rape.

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