Monday, October 12, 2009

Victim Blaming 101: It Wasn't Rape-Rape...Sure, and the Age of Consent is Just a Number

The debate is certainly heating up over Roman Polanski’s arrest. I for one am glad because this is not something that should just be swept under the rug. This is something that needs to be talked about because the public perception of rape is obviously severely skewed. There are way too many myths circulating out there about what rape “isn’t” and it needs to stop.

Now whenever there is scandal in the entertainment industry you can always find a few celebrities contributing their opinion. Two notable figures in this debate have been Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Rock. (click their name to view video) Chris Rock has always been an asset to the feminist movement in my opinion as his comedy routines often call out behavior that is offensive to women. In one routine he asked all the men in the audience if they were feminists to which he got an unenthusiastic response. He then asked them if they had a mother, a sister, a daughter…if so, they were a feminist. Because if someone hurt their mother how would that make them feel? If someone insulted their mother, made her feel bad about herself, would that make them angry? He may be shallow, egotistical, and crude but Chris Rock knows what a feminist is.

Rock also recently released a documentary entitled “Good Hair” which examines the traditionally white standards of beauty that black women are exposed to. He was promoting this documentary on Jay Leno when he brought up the Roman Polanski case. His inspiring rant may have been in response to Whoopi Goldberg from The View who said that, “I know it wasn't rape-rape. I think it was something else, but I don't believe it was rape-rape.” (Jezebel)

Poor Whoopi. She is getting slammed for this and sadly it was probably just a case of not thinking before speaking. That being said, she should have known better. Her words illustrate a perception of rape that a lot of the general public shares; that there are “levels” of rape, that some types of rape are worse than others, and that in certain cases the rapist isn’t completely at fault.

Oh HELL no. The victim is never at fault. Why? Because the rapist is the one who is physically doing the raping. It doesn’t matter what she was wearing, what kind of person she was, whether they had a sexual relationship before; if the woman says no, it is rape. Tell your friends because it scares me to think there may still be confusion about this.

Roman Polanski drugged, raped, and sodomized a 13-year old girl. That. Is. Rape.

It is being suggested that the sexual relationship was “consensual.” Who are these people and are they on acid? The victim testified that Polanski gave her champagne, drugs, and took nude pictures of her in a hot tub before having sexual intercourse with her despite her resistance and requests to be taken home. He doesn’t deny this. He plead guilty and fled the country when he found out the jail sentence for statutory rape was, well, kind of long.

So it’s not even her word against his. Too bad we are a culture that loves victim-blaming, a culture that is quick to suggest that OBVIOUSLY this 13 year old girl was asking for it and willingly participated in consensual sex with a 44 year old man.

Let’s just suppose, for a second, that this is true.

When you are 13, there is no such thing as consensual sex. When you are 13 you can barely decide what outfit you want to wear to middle school that day, let alone whether to have sex with someone. This is why the age of consent exists. It wasn’t like a bunch of politicians were sitting around one day and thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be fun to mess with those crazy teens by telling them they have to wait to have sex? That sure would piss them off.”

No. The age of consent was put into law because we recognize the fact that children do not have the cognitive ability to make informed and unbiased decisions about their physical well-being. A 13 year old girl is working with a limited supply of brain cells. Her priorities range from how popular she is to how good her hair looks. If she thinks for one second, “If I don’t do what this man says he’ll tell all my friends and I won’t be popular anymore” chances are she will have sex with him. That, ladies and gentlemen, is her extensive and thorough decision-making process. So go ahead. Just TRY and tell me that is consensual sex.

In Georgia the age of consent is 16 which personally I think is still too young. The majority of 16 year olds I know can barely tie there own shoes. It is mind-boggling that they are considered old enough to make smart decisions about there sexual health, but whatever. I'm not the expert and I don't make the rules.

The moral of the story is this; there is no such thing as rape that isn’t rape. I don’t care if Roman Polanski made a shit-ton of amazing movies. I don’t care if he has spent the last thirty years saving dolphins, feeding the homeless, and is this close to finding the cure for cancer. If you rape a 13 year old girl and try to get away with it, I will hunt you down vigilante style like it’s my job.

Oh and Chris Rock is my hero. And Whoopi Goldberg, even though her comment was inappropriate, has made an issue go public that needed to be clarified. And she starred in The Color Purple. So there’s that. Try and go easy on her.

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