On rape apologism apologism

Trigger warning: this post discusses rape apologism and cites examples.

Yesterday I blogged about what rape apologism looks like. Within minutes of tweeting it, rape apologists began crawling out of the woodwork, and soon the comments thread was riddled with rape apologists (and some absolutely brilliant commenters taking them down).

It was around then that I noticed a weird form of meta-rape apologism forming. Many of these rape apologists were vehemently defending their right to rape apologism: they were engaging in apologism for rape apologism (while, simultaneously, performing their own rape apologism). It is a curious higher level of the perpetuation of rape culture. This is what rape apologism apologism looks like.


Apparently, I wasn’t very nice to the poor precious rape apologists in my original post. Take poor little @lewisskinner, who reckons I should be a lot nicer:

I didn’t say it was ok, & I don’t think it’s ok. But shouty indignation & name-calling is not a clever way to make your point.

He then continued with this:

Incidentally, “rape apologism” is a very loaded term don’t you think?

That’s right. Apparently “rape apologism” is a bit loaded, and therefore, presumably, might somehow damage our argument.

You know what’s worse than being called a rape apologist? Rape.

It did get me thinking, though. “Rape apologism” is a fairly benign term for the consequences of the action. Perhaps “rape facilitation” is more appropriate.

The “being nice” line crops up again and again as a silencing tactic against women calling out bullshit from an oppressive system. As this amazing post (which you should read through) points out, it is merely a way of shoving us back into our appropriate gender roles and ultimately preventing us from changing anything.

“You’re trying to shut down debate”

This red herring tends to rear its head whenever someone has lost an argument and the other party doesn’t really care to engage. It is hardly surprising that this one keeps appearing when people try to justify rape apologism. This one seems to be most popular with the conspiracy theorist-type rape apologists, like Assange fanboy JB_Scott:

Your article seems to have a big fuck off brush and quite of a lot of tar to paint everyone with who has an opinion on the particular case or the subject of “rape” itself. Oh & Assange??? PMSL That wasn’t serious was it???? You really don’t have a clue [smh]. And by disagreeing with your points, I’ll automatically be adjudged to be a quote “rape apologist”? LOL Get a grip…

Like Islamaphobia, your “rape apologsts” term is a complete nonsense and unhelpful, particularly in debating the issues.

Here, JB expresses a completely daft argument that there is somehow a “debate” about consent (hint: there isn’t, unless you’re a rapist), and that I’ll just try and silence his right to type poorly-punctuated comments by calling him a rape apologist. Well, JB, you’re a rape apologist. I put your comment up, and the internet thinks that not only are you a rape apologist, but you’re also an oozing ballsack.

See also dear old @lewisskinner, with whom I engaged and gave curt answers to his stupid questions:

not baiting,but debating. Well trying, but @stavvers will not engage. Refusing a platform to those you disagree with = #fascist?

Apparently, pointing out that rape apologism is A Bad Thing is akin to stomping around in jackboots oppressing women.

What function does rape apologism apologism serve?

Rape apologism itself is a vital component in maintaining a system wherein rape is possible. Many people benefit from this belief system existing. Many more have internalised this ideology, parroting it and desperately trying to believe the world is fair and right.

Defensiveness kicks in when it is pointed out to people that what they believe is not only untrue, but also actively harmful. They fight tooth and nail to maintain their self-image as a decent human being. They want to continue parroting rape culture, and rape apologism apologism never comes without rape apologism. @lewisskinner started frantically tweeting me single newspaper stories which he believed showed that women often falsely accuse men of rape. Commenter David Walsh gave this particular gem:

 So I hope I won’t be considered a “rape apologist” for suggesting that while all rapes are abhorrent, perhaps some are more abhorrent than others.

Ultimately, it’s a similar linguistic trick to “I’m not racist, but…”: the individual is attempting to separate from being part of an oppressive culture.

But they aren’t. They are part of the problem, and the more they deny it, the worse it will get.

10 thoughts on “On rape apologism apologism”

  1. Oh I do wonder where I fit in within the realms of ‘rape apologists’ so I shall express a view and see what happens.

    I do think your reference to Julian Assange was misguided. Yes, there have been allegations with enough potency to result in arrest warrants being issued for him. However, as no conviction or publicly available overwhelming evidence is available as yet, calling him a rapist is tantamount to libel/defamation. Course if you’d said that “Assange is probably a very dodgy character who you might want to think very hard about not being alone with” would’ve been fine. Yes, he may have gotten away with rape but you risk falling into the trap by calling him a rapist which subsequently, so some would say, invalidates your argument as you have no evidence except hearsay.

    On the subject of the conspiracy theory RAs (shortened because I didn’t wanna keep typing it out), in the case mentioned, I too see it as a curiosity that one was convicted and the other walked free. My curiosity is piqued because I wonder if the courts let someone get away with rape due to a technicality.

    When all is said and done, rape is rape. Doesn’t matter who it’s by, one commenter got nail on the proverbial by stating that nuances exist in rape cases but these are only useful in determining sentencing rather than allowing other labels to be applied.

    What this case shows is that rape is far more complex thing than people are aware of and it does come down to who is more believable in court. Proving that sex occurred is easy, proving what was said, what condition a person is in, not so easy. There is more to be said but I’ll leave it at that and let people decide

    1. She wasn’t calling Assange a rapist. She was referring to the lines that his supporters use to belittle the allegations against him as being rape apologism.

      All these people who claim “curiosity” at the two verdicts should actually just admit that they are ignorant as to the law on rape. Using the word “curious” suggests that there is something suspicious or underhand about the verdicts. The two verdicts are actually consistent but I don’t have the energy to spell that out again as I did on the previous post (which you can look up if you want to see how they are)

      1. Yeah, gotta admit, I was misguided on the misguided part but only spotted it afterwards and facepalmed myself. So fair dues on that.

        Curiosity seems to have a different meaning for you than for me *shrugs* such is life.

  2. Agree with the post, but I disagree with you slightly on what function apologism serves.
    The reason behind a lot of the rape apologism from men who are otherwise quite sensible – differentiating this from women hating crazy idiot like the footballer’s team-mate – is that , if you’re a half decent person, it’s quite hard to not automatically empathise with some rapists. Which is ironic, but there you go.

    Unlike some crimes, like murder or drunk driving, rape in a lot of people’s heads – including, sometimes, mine – isn’t necessarily a sign of some great moral defect, but instead of somebody doing something really stupid, or going too far, or making a silly mistake. Or at least, that’s what we’d like to think. When you picture a murder in your head, you never, ever think “in his position, given the circumstances, I’d have killed too”. But in some rape cases? It’s quite easy to think “if I’d had a few drinks, if I’d gotten the wrong idea, would I have been able to judge how drunk she was”?

    To make a really, really terrible analogy, it’s quite easy to picture some rapists as early morning drunk drivers: the guy who goes to a party, has a few drinks, leaves at 7am assuming he’s sober, but gets pulled over and hits just over the limit on the breathaliser. Of course, that’s a horrendous analogy, because a rape always has a victim who ends up scared for life, but it’s still an incredibly serious crime that somebody could, in theory, have committed with no idea they were committed it, and with no intention to commit it at all.

    Of course, the vast, vast majority of rapes aren’t like that. They’re terrible, horrifying experiences, committed by people who deserve what they get – or don’t get, as the case is too often. But there’s a chance they’re not, so you can empathise.

    There are 2 different types of rape apologism: rape apologism that serves to promote the culture that condones rape in the first place, by chauvanistic twats (I suspect you don’t get much of this on this blog) and then guys (and women) who assume that rapists can be nice people who just suffered a really serious lapse of judgement. Maybe they’d think differently if they read the witness statements and heard the interviews -but they don’t. We just overhear brief snatches on Twitter or the Metro, saying that a footballer had drunken sex with somebody, assuming she’d consent.

    And of course, there’s also the fact that we live in a society that glorifies sex after a few drinks. Most clubs on Leicester Square are unashamedly blunt about what their function is – we’ll get you all drunk enough so you can all get laid. So it’s not entirely surprising that when people hear that having sex with somebody who’s drunk automatically makes them incapable of giving consent, they empathise slightly. Because most people have had consenting drunken sex.

    God, I’m being a rape apologist aren’t I? Sadface. That was longer than anticipated.

    1. Good grief, and they accuse feminists of assuming “all men are rapists”. For leaping to that particular conclusion, give me a rape apologist any day. They start from the assumption that the mere sight of a woman in a slightly short skirt or (for that matter) formal evening wear cut on conventional lines for women’s evening wear turns any man into a barrel of quivering lusts. Your suggestion, though, that ending up raping someone is one of those unfortunate possible outcomes to a bloke’s boozy night out, the rough equivalent of gastro-enteritis from an ill-chosen doner kebab, really does take the biscuit for bald-faced idiocy and lack of empathy.

      And, by reference to your spectacularly ill-chosen analogy, do you have any idea what would happen to you if, after the police looked at your positive breath sample, cautioned you and invited you to provide an explanation, the explanation you gave was, essentially, “Well, I went out for a few beers with my mates and it’s just one of them unfortunate things that happens, innit?”

    2. Yes, you are. And if you aren’t able to distinguish between ‘drunken sex that one or both of you might well regret when you sober up’ and rape, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to either drink or have sex at all.

      Christ almighty. It’s not hard to grasp. If she (or he) is too out of it to be into it, it isn’t consent – it’s rape. If she or he doesn’t indicate that they want something to happen, it isn’t consent – it’s rape. If she or he indicates that they don’t want something to happen, it certainly isn’t consent – it’s definitely rape – even if they did want it to happen or it was happening a few minutes (or even seconds) ago.

      None of this is grey area. None of it is straying into the realms of being a ‘silly mistake’ that’s easy to make – even if you’re shitfaced and horny. There isn’t any scope for mistakes – if you’re sober enough to fuck, you’re sober enough to know whether your partner is up for it. If you aren’t sure, then you’re sober enough to do the decent thing – go to the loo, have a wank then go and sleep on the sofa; if you decide to go for it anyway, to treat them like a glorified wanksock because you dehumanise them to the extent that you don’t really care what they want (and yes, this is exactly what you’re doing) – you’re a fucking rapist and deserve to go to prison.

    3. Yeah, the guy who is only interested in his own sexual gratification that he doesn’t make sure that the person he is having sex with has consented is a nice guy. Good grief. What fcking planet are you on?

  3. Another great post, the male contributor to our blog wrote an insightful post on how and why men might turn a blind eye, the apologists need to consider their own lack of self awareness before they start attacking others,the fact is some men don’t want to look at their own behavior and own it, or own up to the fact they may have failed in the past. So instead they hot out at the person who is doing that most dangerous of things, making them think.

  4. Look, I’m not condoning rape apologism but I’m pretty sure there’s legitimate reasons for rape apologism apologism #hattrick

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