Not-So-Good Men Project & Enabling Rapists
Two days ago I read about the Good Men Project’s horrible choice to publish two articles. The first is called “Nice Guys Commit Rape, Too” and the second is called “I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying” written by an unrepentant rapist. I’m not linking to those articles because they don’t deserve any more hits. In fact, I think it best to completely boycott the Good Men Project all together.
The first article, although the author admits her friend (and it baffles me that she still calls him a friend in the present tense, if you wonder why, please read “My Friend, the Rapist“) did actually commit rape and claims he admits it was rape too, she spends the rest of the article explaining it away as a cultural problem and her friend was just “confused.” What-the-fuck-ever. There is no confusion here. Don’t stick your dick in a sleeping person. If you do, it’s rape. Pretty fucking cut-and-dry. Although she is right about it being a cultural problem, and it is partially society’s fault for doing *exactly what she is doing in that article* — excusing and justifying and enabling the rapist. But, still, the greatest fault lies ON THE RAPIST!
I could talk for hours on this, as my readers well know, but I’m just so very weary. Plus, so many others have done so already far more articulately than I could at the moment. So, please, read these.
Bad and damaging though the Royse piece and comments may have been, the new article is unforgivable. From the headline to the conclusion, it is pretty much nothing but an object lesson in minimization and normalization. The title is “I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying” and it is soon clear that the anonymous author is not really referring to his risk of being raped (although that is alluded to later), he is actually saying that he’s raped at least once and he’d rather risk raping someone else than quit partying. Gee, that’s big of you.
His point, such as it is, would appear to be that he moves in social circles where he and his friends regularly get wasted and have intoxicated sex, with varying degrees of inappropriateness, sobriety and clarity of consent. The argument is muddled in too many ways to list (I’m sure other blogs will fill in), but what I find most disturbing is that there is an absolute absence of remorse, shame or empathy for his victim. Even though his victim phoned him up, in the midst of a recovery programme (one can speculate how she ended up needing it) and told him outright he had raped her, he still didn’t believe it. He says he only really feels like a rapist when he is “severely depressed.”…
…How would the victims of rapists feel when they read the pieces? Would it help to make sense of what happened to them, in any way make them feel better about what had happened? And then imagine how rapists feel after reading the piece (and by any measure of probabilities, that is almost a certainty). Ashamed? Belittled? Determined to change their attitudes and behaviour? Or justified and excused?
I’m reluctant to suggest that the GMPs articles have actually made some future rapes more likely, but it would be foolish to ignore the risks. I would be much more confident in saying that rapists reading the piece or contributing to the site will feel assuaged, a little more at peace with their consciences, and a little bit better about themselves. Nice guys commit rape too, you know, and rape isn’t such a big deal. It’s not something important like giving up partying, now is it?
My friend had just recently broken up with his fiancee, the only girl he had ever dated, and he was understandably heartbroken. His friends thought he should fuck another girl to cheer himself up, but he wanted to reserve sex for a committed relationship. So one night when he was on X for the first time at a party and had probably taken too much and was in no way capable of resisting one of his friends had sex with him.
The thing is… I think that girl doesn’t think of herself as a rapist. Or even as someone who forced sex upon someone. From her perspective, she was cheering up a friend after his breakup, the sort of thing a good friend would do.
That doesn’t mean she’s a nice girl who made a few mistakes. It doesn’t mean that it’s something anyone could do. It doesn’t erase her culpability. It doesn’t make it a fucking MISUNDERSTANDING.
Boycott the Good Men Project – excerpt:
The editors at the ill-named Good Men Project (GMP) are apparently on a mission to rehabilitate the public image of male rapists and convince people that most of them are “nice guys” and “good dudes.”
Their most recent stream of rape apologism began with an article by Alyssa Royse, also posted at xoJane, on how “nice guys can be rapists, too.” Royse argues that a friend who raped a sleeping woman is both a rapist and a “really sweet guy” who genuinely believed he had an “invitation to have sex” with this woman – because she was sending “signals” – and somehow had no idea that unconscious people, by definition, cannot “have sex with” anyone.
GMP has also since posted an anonymous first person account by an admitted, unrepentant serial rapist who sees rape as an acceptable “risk” and “tradeoff” for the “positive, happy [sexual] experiences” he’s had while partying…
…As such, I can no longer support the work of anyone who works with, writes for, or shares content with The Good Men Project. I encourage others to consider doing the same.
There are several great posts linked from Boycott the Good Men Project, so please read it and educate yourselves. And, yes, I will be doing the same. Anyone who is a rapist, rape apologist, or continues to be friends with either does not have a place in my life. Period.
So when a “good” man commits rape, he’s either innocent, or it was an “accident.” This juvenile, fairy tale logic is dangerous, and it’s no way to build a movement that gets men involved in the issue of sexual violence. Frankly, we need a much more nuanced conversation all around. While rape is absolutely a gendered crime, it’s not gendered to the absolute essentialist extreme that too many feminists suggest. I understand the tactic, but it’s not helping. Most men aren’t rapists; some women are rapists; some people who aren’t men or women have experiences with sexual violence. And no people are just “good” or “bad,” though people can certainly do monstrous things. Gender essentialism may help us make a point about rape in the short term, but faulty logic hurts our cause in the long run. The fact is, rape is committed by humans. But Royse is so committed to the good/bad paradigm, she has to conclude that when a “good” person commits rape it must mean that consent is hard and he’s an “accidental” rapist.
I’m gonna say it again, go read Grace’s much longer and more thoughtful post on this topic. Grace brings it all back to the main point: this conversation takes our attention away from the needs of the people I care the most about in this situation – survivors. And it does nothing to build consent culture.
Humans are not merely capable of holding two mutually exclusive beliefs, they are GIFTED at it.
We should pay fewer taxes and also fund schools and roads more.
Every gay person is going to hell – except my kid.
Rape is never the victim’s fault – unless the perpetrator is a nice guy, in which case she must have asked for it.
The reason the perpetrator can view his actions as just a mistake, and the reason he didn’t ask, is his gifted management of cognitive dissonance. He’s able to believe both that he is a nice guy and that he can have sex with an unconscious woman, by fabricating a story out of rape culture, including the invisibility of the woman’s trauma.
“I’m a nice guy and I want this, so it can’t be a big deal.”
Or “I’m a nice guy and I do this all the time, so it can’t be rape.”
Or “I’m a nice guy, which means I never intend to hurt anyone, so if she says she’s hurt, she’s over-reacting.”
His cognitive dissonance – indeed, our cultural cognitive dissonance – says he shouldn’t be held responsible for raping someone – an act described by Richard Trembley as the most violent crime a person can survive – because he’s a nice guy.
One thing that original article got right: we live in a culture that weaves a rich tapestry of beliefs and attitudes from which perpetrators can fabricate their convenient truths. “Rape isn’t a big deal. It’s not rape if she doesn’t kick and scream. If she makes me want her, that’s what she gets.”
(Typing that was GROSS.)
We’re all enmeshed in the fabric in rape culture, yet very few men rape (PDF). The robes of a rapist are sewn by hands that are narcissistic and lacking agreeableness and conscientiousness(more here). No, no, rape is not an accident. Rape is not a mistake. Rape is specific and deliberate. It is a choice that makes perfect sense when it is dressed as sense; strip it bare, though, strip it of rape myths and victim blaming and gender stereotypes, and all you have is a felon.
Cognitive dissonance is something I’m quite familiar with through my PTSD from my rape earlier this year. This is one thing that “date rape” victims have to deal with that “stranger rape” victims don’t: the seeming conflicting information surrounding the rape. In stereotypical stranger rape, as horrific as it all is, the rape is quite clearly a rape. In “date rape,” the victim likely doesn’t want to admit it was rape. It took me 5 months and a dozen sexual assault professionals to convince me it was, but still the conflicting thoughts and emotions assaulted my mind day in and day out. “He said he loved me and adored me right after, so it couldn’t have been rape, right?” “Just two days before we were so happy, euphoric. So, it had to be a misunderstanding, right?” I could go on and on, but I won’t. No need for me to relive it again. The point is that I had severe difficulty in merging the word RAPIST with my LOVER. They just didn’t mesh. I couldn’t for the longest time admit it was assault, and he did it twice in that same week as well as devalue and discard me so cruelly. I just kept thinking it was some kind of mistake. He was just angry. I was just too sensitive. Ad nauseum.
But, no. It was rape. Twice. He is a rapist. Period. He might also be a good dancer and a funny guy and a skilled lover, but that doesn’t change THAT HE IS A RAPIST.
Who Needs a Good Rapist Project? – excerpt:
The Good Men Project’s recent posts are a particularly horrific and exploitative example of a narrative that centers the perspective of perpetrators, and their supposed needs and feelings, in the name of “humanizing” them. But there’s similar reasoning at work in other recent pieces on sexual violence, e.g., Cord Jefferson’s piece on pedophilia as a “sexual orientation,” and Jennifer Bleyer’s somewhat less disturbing Slate article on the same topic.
The argument goes something like this: the idea that rapists are blatantly evil and monstrous is wrong, and an obstacle to preventing sexual violence. Many (most?) perpetrators are “good people who do horrible things.” Without recognizing this, we can’t have a nuanced, honest conversation about sexual violence. If we want to keep people from becoming perpetrators or reoffending, and if we want to rehabilitate perpetrators, we need to humanize instead of demonize them.
Note what’s always conspicuously absent from this argument: any real consideration of survivors. (emphasis mine)
Sure, there’s vague acknowledgement of rape as an abstract “bad thing.” But the material emphasis is on keeping good people from “accidentally” or “against their better judgment” doing this bad thing – on the tragedy of becoming/being a rapist – not on the fact that rape is a bad thing done to another human being who has to live with the trauma and fall out and lack of support that usually comes with it. We’re only asked to invest in the supposed pain or damage or confusion of otherwise “good” rapists.
Survivors are, at best, effectively erased as barely mentioned, abstract victims. They aren’t afforded the kindness, demanded for perpetrators, of being “humanized” with personal details, firsthand accounts, or sympathetic portrayals. At worst, as in Royse’s and other GMP pieces, they are actively blamed for behavior that “led to” rapes or assaults that from the perpetrator’s side are rationalized, minimized as “accidental” and “unintentional.” [eta: as a reader noted, Royse not only blames the victim in this case, she also shames and dehumanizes her for being sexual: “if something walks like a fuck and talks like fuck, at what point are we supposed to understand that it’s not a fuck?”]
This last article hit very, very close to home for me, and I would guess for most victims who speak out and are shunned, shamed, blamed, etc. Everyone is so concerned about possibly, accidentally accusing a possible innocent man and “ruining” his life, that there is no concern for the victim. At all. In fact, in their fear of “demonizing” the rapist, they in effect demonize the victim, claiming she’s a liar, crazy, heartbroken, vindictive…the list goes on. Where are the questions for the rapist? He says he didn’t do it? SURPRISE FUCKING SURPRISE! He’s a rapist! Do you think he’s going to admit that?
I see this over and over again in communities, starting with my hear-no-rape, see-no-rapist former community in Austin, they are so afraid of what *might* happen if they take action or even ADMIT there are rapists in their ranks, that they don’t address what IS HAPPENING: people are getting raped. These communities continue to give SOCIAL LICENSE TO RAPISTS, enabling them to KEEP RAPING. The victims are then retraumatized along with fresh victims on the horizon. Instead, they shut the conversation down and talk about happy bunnies, rainbows, and loving stories of consent, leaving the victims cursed to silence, alone.
The research of Lisak, et al, shows that rapists will choose communities that will excuse, normalize, justify, ignore, and protect their behavior. Looks like these sex-positive communities are a great place for them because we sure wouldn’t want to discuss anything “negative” in a “sex-positive” community, even if it means stopping rapists in their tracks by not giving them a space to operate.
I’m really not going into the excuses ad-nauseum again. It’s all in my False Accusations post. To summarize: we’re talking about these accused rapists not being welcome at parties and potlucks and events. We’re talking about welcoming the victim and giving him/her a safe place to socialize without having to FACE HER RAPIST, or the fear of doing so. We’re talking about keeping other people safe from known rapists and sexual abusers and other such predators.
That’s the place to start. Cultural change. Community Responsibility.
Other related articles:
- Why did the Good Men Project publish a blog by an unrepentant and unconvicted rapist?
- NONSENSE AT THE GOOD MEN PROJECT: “NICE GUYS COMMIT RAPE TOO”
- Responsible Community Response
- The Power of Responsibility
- The R Word
- A Fate Worse than Death
- Nice Feminists Commit Rape Apologia Too
- Sympathy for the Devil: The Good Men Project and Rape
- Good Men Project Clearly Ironic; Posts Rape Porn
- What in the Holy Hell is This?
- Wanna Make Love? It Really Is That Simple.
- How Not to Have the Conversation About What It Means to be a Good Man, Part 1
- The Good-Men-Who-Only-Occasionally-Rape-People Project – Excerpt, because it’s so fucking rad and right-on…
“So, here’s the thing, right? A rapist is just someone who has committed a rape. It’s one of those things that you only really have to do once for it to be a name we can apply to you. It doesn’t mean you wake up every day and plan your life around your next rape. It’s not that kind of label, in the same way that just killing one measly dude is enough to land you with the uncomfortable term ‘murderer’. If it sounds a bit harsh that people are calling you a rapist because of that one rape you did ages ago, it’s because you’re not supposed to rape anybody, ever. It’s one of those awkward little rules we came up with after we figured out that rape is a bad thing. I’m sorry this causes you party problems. I’m doing a proper sadface.”
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~ by omgrey on December 15, 2012.
Posted in Lost in the Aether, Romance & Relationships, Trauma & Recovery
Tags: austin burner community, austin ecstatic dance, austin poly community, austin poly rapist, author, broken heart, burning flipside, burning flipside flipizen, community, community responsibility, fear, good men project, grief, healing, heartbroken, honesty, intimacy, love, misogyny, nice guys, nice guys commit rape too, nice guys rape too, non-monogamy, o.m. grey, olivia grey, open, open marriage, passion, polyamory, rape, rape survivor, relationship advice, relationships, responsibility, royse, sexual assault, shattered, social responsibility, xojane