Reddit Rape Thread: Why I Don’t Care What Rapists Have To Say
Sometimes, I understand why our parents told us that the Internet was a dangerous place to be.
Reddit (one of the most dangerous places of them all) posted a thread recently encouraging rapists to come forward and tell their side of the story. I don’t know why anyone thought that would be an interesting or constructive exercise, but evidently it caught on, since women-oriented website Jezebel followed it up with an article entitled ‘Rapists Explain Themselves On Reddit, And We Should Listen.’
Sorry I’m not sorry, but I do not think we should listen. I understand the sentiment behind it, the ethos of opening and widening discussion, the idea that that we can learn if we pay attention to both sides of a discussion, the opinion of the writer at Jezebel that ignoring the views of the rapists and keeping the discussion in a “vacuum” gets society “nowhere.”
It’s a fair point, and would apply if we were lucky enough to live in a society where the voices of the victims of rape were privileged over the voices of the perpetrators. If that were the case, there might well be a valid call to educate ourselves on the rapists’ motives. But here’s the thing: we’re not that lucky. We live in a rape culture, where victims are blamed and shamed. Where rape cases go unreported because victims are so doubtful of their voices being heard. Of course society has a desire to learn about rape so it can combat it more effectively, but surely, SURELY the priority should be to privilege the voices of the victims, and learn from their experiences, and ensure their place in the discussion, before we even consider turning to hear what the rapists have to say? As the blogger bigfatfeminist so perfectly put it:
“The entire dialogue needs to change from ‘don’t get raped’ to ‘don’t rape,’ and I have serious, serious doubts that the way to do that is to sit rapists down and go, ‘So why did you rape?’”
These rapists aren’t saying anything we haven’t heard before. I’m not going to quote any of them. But they can be loosely grouped into commonly heard explanations of rape. “I feel terrible, but it happened because: she sent me mixed messages, my friends pressured me, she’d already slept with my friend, she often openly talked about sex, she was flirtatious, I’m biologically unable to ignore my penis, I had a difficult childhood.” Personally, I have nothing to learn from any of those explanations, because we hear them over, and over, and over again, in attempts to justify all kinds of behaviour. The tone is highly apologist, appealing for forgiveness, describing the terrible depression these rapists underwent after their terrible ordeal of raping someone. Well sorry I’m not sorry rapists, but I just don’t give a fuck.
Listening to these old, tired excuses won’t combat rape culture. In fact, paying attention to them before we pay attention to the countless silenced victims sounds exactly like rape culture to me. To quote again from bigfatfeminist’s perfect blog, since I couldn’t put it better:
“Our culture encourages rape apologism and victim-blaming enough as it is. To prioritize the rapist’s ‘side’ is nothing more than upholding that standard. I don’t understand how in the world is this supposed to help combat rape culture. Because we understand the motivations of rapists, we can then curtail those motivations? On an individual level that essentially amounts to policing yourself and making yourself responsible for whether or not you are attacked, which is the absolute essence of rape culture.”
To me, this looks like Reddit and Jezebel telling young women of the internet that they’ve put together a totally original exposé of all the reasons rapists rape. This not-so-subtly implies that if we want to protect ourselves from rape, this list can help us change our lifestyles and choices. Asking victims instead of rapists to make different choices? Well, that sounds exactly like a rape culture to me.
It angers me to even write this article, because I feel like just another member of the Internet media flocking to cover the story of the rapists’ voices while hypocritically not covering the voices of the victims. So to end, I’m going to direct you to those all-important voices, the ones that we should really be hearing and learning from.
After Silence and Aphrodite Wounded are both online support networks that encourage breaking the silence on rape and sexual abuse. They are directed primarily at female survivors but also have sections specifically for male survivors. Aphrodite Wounded also has a section for gay and lesbian survivors. SurvivorsUK and Pandora’s Project are online support networks specifically for male survivors.
Whatrapereallymeans and Arapesurvivorsblog, at Tumblr and Blogspot respectively, are the personal blogs of victims who share their stories of rape and recovery. Stopthevictimblaming on tumblr works as an advice column for anyone who has questions about rape or sexual abuse and also shares great pictures, stories, and campaigns.
One of these campaigns, the Don’t Be That Guy campaign, launched in Vancouver last year, is a prime example of how victim blaming moves society nowhere. Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton, or SAVE, describe their campaign in a wonderful and enlightening way:
“Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to how much they blame themselves after the assault. That’s why our campaign is targeting potential offenders – they are the ones responsible for the assault and responsible for stopping it. By addressing alcohol-facilitated sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities.”
Pictures from that campaign, which contributed to a fall of 10% in Vancouver’s sexual assaults, have been included throughout this article.
What are your thoughts on the Reddit rape controversy? Join us in the discussion by posting a comment below.
Written by Abbey Lewis
Find her on Twitter here!
Opinions stated in our editorials do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Feminspire and its staff as a whole, but instead reflect the opinions of the writer.
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