Content note: This post discusses rape and rape apologism, as well as mental health stigma
Actor Shia LaBeouf said in an interview recently that during a piece of performance art, he had been raped by a woman. I believe him. I believe when people say they have been raped, that they have been raped. I believe survivors.
To tackle rape culture, this is a position from which we must all start. Unfortunately, there are too many with a vested interest in keeping rape culture alive to see an outpouring of support for Shia LaBeouf. Instead, what we see is a gleeful rush of dismissal and disbelief, focusing on how LaBeouf wasn’t acting as they thought a survivor should, that he must be making it up for attention, that je seems kind of crazy, that it’s impossible for a woman to rape a man. Tired old tropes, the lot of them.
What is particularly sickening is the glee with which Shia LaBeouf’s story is dismissed. It’s like rape apologists have finally been presented with a target for the vile thoughts bubbling up within them, knowing that they’re no longer “allowed” to say these things about women because of the evil SJW conspiracy, but not realising that what they believe is truly repulsive, regardless of the gender of its target.
Last night, the rape apologist agenda was given validation in the form of a high-profile backer, as Piers Morgan told his millions of followers not to believe LaBeouf:
You’ll see here that leaking shitcanoe Morgan is focusing on some tiresome and long-discredited tropes: that LaBeouf didn’t report to the police and that he didn’t follow the Good Survivor™ script that we must all follow in order to be believed. While a gratifyingly large number of decent people called him out, there was a worrisomely large proportion of men cheering him on.
It’s absolutely abominable that somebody can dictate to millions the reasons not to believe a survivor. I had thought Piers Morgan to be an unwanted fart in a small room before, but now I see that he is something far more dangerous: he is a man who wants rapists to be able to continue raping.
The whole response to LaBeouf has laid bare the faces of rape culture. Each undue focus on how LaBeouf acts weird and crazy so shouldn’t be believed makes life easier for rapists: people with mental health problems are more likely to be raped precisely because they are less likely to be believed. Each repetition of the myth that someone with a vagina cannot rape someone with a penis is a complete nonsense, and makes it easier for rapists to thrive. Each cry that LaBeouf did not report to the police is a slap in the face of the vast majority of survivors who also did not report.
I’m surprised–and disappointed–that there aren’t more people outraged about all of this. It seems, once again, that it’s only feminists talking about it. Is it really true that we are the only ones who care about dismantling rape culture? I hope not, with all of my heart, but I fear that this may be the case.
6 thoughts on “I believe Shia LaBeouf (and Piers Morgan is a rape apologist rat turd)”
Exactly my thoughts, I have absolutely no doubt that he is reporting accurately. Anyone who attacks the personal integrity of a person reporting rape, is complicit with that rape and also in the culture that enables and facilitates it. Speaking as an old straight white man who has been around a while and seen much more of life than most commentators.
Reblogged this on Artemis Flight Books and commented:
Silence is acquiescence.
I was shocked to read this news. For a second there I believed Piers Morgan because Labeouf was a bit eccentric these. Then when you think about it, no survivors will actually make up such stories.
Unfortunately the law – British law, at least – doesn’t recognise female-on-male rape. The legal definition of rape is defined as “having sexual intercourse with a woman (including a girl), or a penis to be inserted into a woman’s vagina, anus or mouth without her consent and knowing that she does not so consent.”
Rape law is written in such a way as to require penile penetration so, legally, women are incapable of rape, unless it is statutory rape, i.e. sex with a minor who cannot legally consent.
We know this is nonsense, of course. Men get involuntary erections all the time, much to their embarrassment and amusement. It’s an autonomic response that women can take advantage of and American law has recognised this, as outlined in this article http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2012/01/men-can-be-legally-raped-new-fbi-definition.html
Statistics for successful rape prosecution are abysmal because we love to blame the victim. We blame their dress, their drinking, their bebehaviour. They didn’t fight or struggle hard enough, they didn’t protest loudly enough. It’s never the attacker’s fault, the victim was “asking for it” and secretly liked it.
I expect Shia LaBeouf will experience more negativity than sympathy, just like every other woman who’s been in a similar position. It’s wrong and we need a shift in attitudes where sexual violence is concerned. But how we’re going to bring this about is the $64,000 question.
Pedantic legal correction on the comment above, for what it’s worth: although in English law only someone with a penis can commit rape (s.1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003), this is not true of the offences of assault by penetration (s.2), sexual assault (s.3) or causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent (s.4). The first of these has exactly the same requirements and penalties as rape, except a penis is not required. So while it is strictly true that in English law ciswomen can’t be convicted of rape, in practical effect they can.
It’s a bit of a mystery why the law was left like this; I suppose it was to preserve the conventional definition of rape, except that it doesn’t fit with how the word is actually used. The coverage of the LaBoeuf story shows that most people do use the word ‘rape’ to refer to a nonconsensual sexual act with a man, even if (like Morgan) they were doing so to deny it occurred.
In any case, regardless of the terminology, I think we can all agree:
1. Women can rape men.
2. Rape victims are still widely not believed or taken seriously. Particularly when they’re perceived as being somehow ‘undeserving’.
I feel like there is exactly one valid reason for outright disbelieving a report of sexual assault, particularly if you’re being public and vocal about your disbelief.
That reason is “I was there and that’s not what happened.”
And if someone thinks that’s “too harsh” or “overreacting” I would point out – there is more than one crime, even more than one felony, where a victim’s testimony is evidence of an essential element of the offense.
Rape is literally the only one where the victim’s testimony under oath is not considered *sufficient* evidence of that element, and that’s because we have such a strong assumption as a society that reports of rape cannot be trusted.
Our acceptance and public airing of unsupported disbelief have a direct impact on whether the justice system works. That is rape culture.