rape apologists

Backlash of the Titans

Well, it’s been an exciting couple of days here at The Attractive Arts.

So that blog post Cydian wrote about rape culture? He cross posted it on another site, where it spontaneously sprouted a comment thread for the ages.

There was, of course, the obligatory defender-of-the-Masculine, calling himself “Naked_***,” who immediately started in with gems like this:

“We men should just declare National-Rape-Day where everyone fucks whoever he really wants. Get it out of our systems on that day, remind women what men are really like inside of their heads, and then the rest of the year, be the flaccid replicas of animals with excess testosterone that the women want us to be.”

Oh, and this little beauty:

“There are two types of animals on this world: predators and prey.

I am a predator, and hormones naturally coursing through my body make me that way. I will not apologize for this natural state any more than a lion would apologize for preying on a gazelle for dinner. My natural state is to mate with and impregnate as many women as possible. […]

Women who deny this fact about men are stupid / vastly misinformed.”

My favorite thing about that quote? The fact this His Nakedness is unaware that lions don’t actually hunt. Anyone who’s ever watched Nat Geo Wild can tell you that it’s the lionesses who bring home the bacon, or rather the gazelle meat. Chew on that, Naked Lion.

Anyway, suffice it to say that it was some of the most blatant rape-apologist bullshit imaginable. Unsurprisingly, a number of women immediately went on the counter-attack, myself among them. The debate raged on between Nakedthingy and various women, throughout the thread.

Meanwhile, man after man showed up to criticize Cydian for various things, roughly falling into 2 categories:

1. Those who were offended by their perception that he was calling them morons, lumping them in with rapists, talking down to them, etc.

2. Those who missed the joke and believed Cydian himself to be the kind of misogynist who thinks getting laid is the very most important reason to fight rape culture.

With the exception of Cydian himself, and one other dude who briefly chastised The Naked Douche early on, NOT A SINGLE ONE of these men felt the need to turn that all that righteous indignation against the actual misogynist asshat in their midst.

It was enough to make me wish I had created Naked_###’s profile as a test of sorts, to see how they would react when actually confronted by the kind of scary shit we women deal with on a daily basis.

Finally, when some jerkoff had the nerve to say that Cydian’s point was “obvious,” I had to speak up.

“Apparently it isn’t so obvious,” I wrote, “This entire comment thread is a case-in-point. Note how many men are spending a lot of energy attacking the OP for his tone (which is clearly intended to be funny/satirical), and how few of them are attacking the guy who is spewing a bunch of rape-justifying bullshit all over the thread (answer: 2).”

This in turn inspired a rather nasty backlash of angry men who felt that by pointing out what had just occurred (and no one could dispute that it had, the evidence was right there in front of them), I was personally calling out each and every man on the thread as being a rape apologist.

Some of their comments were reactive-but-rational, like the guy who pointed out that we women were doing a fine job of ripping Nakedface a new one on our own, and to butt in would have been patronizing “white-knighting.”

For the record: it wouldn’t have. There’s a big difference between fighting someone’s battles for them and giving a show of support so they know they’re not in it alone. Observe:

“Hey Naked Brute, you leave these poor women alone!” = patronizing.

“Hey Naked Guy, your argument is invalid” = not patronizing.

“Hey, [name of specific woman], you are spot-on in your critique of Big Naked Baby’s argument” = not patronizing. Supportive. And pretty damn sexy.

Then there was the guy who vehemently defended his choice to offer the author some constructive criticism (he was one of those who felt the article was itself misogynistic) rather than engage with a flame-thrower. Fair enough. Indeed, he was one of the most intelligent, well-spoken fellows on the thread, so I was deeply disturbed when he claimed that he felt Naked dude’s arguments were “self-refuting” and that to respond to his posts would be to give them undue credibility.

Ouch. Thanks for making all us women who felt compelled to argue against his offensive, dangerous, and frighteningly commonly-held notions feel like idiots.  Oopsie! Silly women, lending undue credibility to the pop-biology crap we’ve been hearing ALL OUR LIVES as the reason we must constantly be on guard so as not to arouse a sleeping dragon, blah blah blah. Good thing we have such smart fellas around to point out the real problem here!

What was that again? Oh yeah, that the author is talking down to rape apologists, using a harsh tone, and making a meta-joke about bro-culture that some of you found un-funny.

Whew, thank GAWD you set us straight!

And finally, there was the guy who went straight to the personal attacks, none of which were fit for re-print, here or anywhere, but which basically boiled down to:

“Shut up, you ignorant slut.”

Yup, no misogyny here, folks! Guess there was no reason for Cydian to have written that article after all.

Anyway, all that got me thinking about how often this same pattern plays out: guy goes out of his way to stand up for a person or group of people being persecuted, other guys descend on him like rabid wolves while completely ignoring, or even defending, the persecutor.

A personal anecdote from a recent social gathering at a friend’s home:

Guy who’d had one too many beers (henceforth OTMB) started giving a footrub to an attractive gal in a skirt (henceforth AGIAS). AGIAS had consented to the footrub, so all was good. At first. But then OTMB started moving his hands up her legs. She said, loudly enough for everyone nearby (myself included) to hear, “Woah, slow down there, Cowboy. That’s not my foot.” The interaction now had my attention, as well as the attention of a few other people, both male and female.

A couple of minutes later, I noticed his hands wandering up her leg again. I saw her attempt to physically move the hand, but OTMB persisted. Again, AGIAS chastised him in an increasingly impatient voice. I exchanged looks with some of the other women in the area. We could all tell that she was getting really uncomfortable, so even though I didn’t know her, I came over and said, “Hey, can I borrow her for a minute?”

He gave me the fuckoff look and said, “I’ve only done one side.”

“I think she’ll live,” I said. But he just kept going, and by this point AGIAS was starting to look frightened.

Just as I was trying to come up with a better exit strategy, a guy (also someone I didn’t know) intervened. He walked right up and said to OTMB,

“That’s it: hands off.”

He physically removed OTMB’s hands from AGIAS’s legs, giving me an opportunity to escort her to the back porch, where she thanked me profusely and asked if I knew who Mr. Awesome back there was.

I had no idea, so after she had regained her composure, we went back inside to find out.

Now, I didn’t necessarily expect that anyone would’ve handed him a medal in our absence or anything, but I figured he would at least get a few hearty pats on the back. Instead, we walked back into a shitstorm of epic proportions. He was surrounded by a group of angry men (including the host), telling him that his behavior was “uncalled for,” his manner too harsh, his intervention unnecessary. A few salient quotes I recall:

“You could’ve just told him to back off. You didn’t have to lay hands on the guy.”

“He’s a good guy, he’s just had a little too much to drink. He’s not some rapist.”

“It’s not like we didn’t see what was happening. We were watching to make sure things didn’t get out of control.”

All his detractors had different complaints/justifications, but all we could hear was:

“Dude, you are making us look bad! Cut it the fuck out!”

Meanwhile, OTMB was simply ignored. He was sitting on the couch, pouting, and drinking yet another beer.

At first, we were so shocked we didn’t know what to say. Finally, we (and a few other women), tried to intervene on his behalf. We were largely ignored as well, except by Mr. Awesome, who thanked us, checked in with AGIAS to make sure she was okay,  and then continued to argue with the other dudes.

Sometimes, this is what rape culture looks like.

It doesn’t have to look like a bunch of dudes sitting around talking about the bitches they want to fuck and high-fiving one another, and it doesn’t have to look like villagers throwing stones at a married woman who was raped because technically she was “committing adultery.” Sometimes it just looks like a bunch of men so busy with the all-important task of defending their own egos that they stand around arguing with the good guy while the bad guy is violating women right under their noses.

No, I don’t think every guy in that thread who failed to intercede is a rape apologist. No, I don’t think every guy who defended their drunk friend at that party is in favor of rape. But I think their behavior warrants consideration, mostly their own.

As I said to one of my more rational detractors:

“I never made mention of motives, as I have no way of knowing what those could be. All I know is that it happened. As to why it happened, that’s a question for you to ask yourself.”



Note: all quotes slightly altered to protect the identities.  I only changed articles like “the” and “a”