I’m not surprised that the DSK case was thrown out because the prosecution didn’t feel they could trust the victim. I’m not commenting on whether or not there was innocence or guilt. Actually, Emily Bazelon of Slate.com does a reasonable assessment of the whole thing here.
Cases like this one are difficult. Some aren’t as difficult. But the lingering fact in these stories (and others like them) is the giant fucking elephant in the room.
We live in a rape culture.
You don’t buy it?
Here’s an oversimplified example, but trust, I’m just getting started. Guys, when was the last time you yelled at a female friend for walking alone at night? Ok, now. When was the last time someone yelled at YOU for walking alone at night? It probably never really happens, right? The sentiment is this: Because we live in a rape culture, I am treated as a walking hole that needs to be protected at all times by men otherwise other, bad men will come and try to stick things in me.
Over and over again, the responsibility for not getting raped is placed on me because we live in a rape culture. We admonish women for running at night or taking the subway home by themselves after going out drinking ‘til 4 a.m. We make her call when she gets somewhere because her vagina has been unchaperoned for far too long. Because we live in a rape culture, I need to go above and beyond what is normal and acceptable “safe” behavior because otherwise, you know, rape.
Because we live in a rape culture, we only accept victims if they’re wide-eyed heroines. White. Virginal. Professional. College-educated. White. With parents who are married and live in the suburbs. White. No substance-abuse problems, ever. Also: white. Because we live in a rape culture, we only accept rape if these gentle souls get pulled into alleys and “ruined” by a stranger because he is sick, twisted and psychotic. This is the right way someone gets raped.
Because we live in a rape culture, I would be the perfect rape victim for all the aforementioned reasons. But I’ve had sex before in my life, so no dice. I’ve also told lies. And because of this rape culture, every sexual partner I’ve ever had would be trotted out in front of the court to discuss how easy/medium/difficult it was to get me in the sack. Every lie I’ve ever told would be dissected in order to discredit me.
Because we live in a rape culture, guys trying to “slip it in” (even after being told “no”) was an oft-told morning-after story among my group of college girlfriends — and not a single one of us ever considered it rape. No one wanted to be “dramatic about it” because girls cry rape all the time but it’s actually their own fault because who can blame the guy when you’re both already naked? Because we live in a rape culture, we believed these things.
And as such, because we live in a rape culture: YOU get to tell ME all the things I can do to prevent my own rape.
Because we live in a rape culture:
Instead of banning magazine advertisements that use gang-rape imagery to sell clothes or whatever — just tell me to wear pants.
Instead of demanding that our sports heroes not be rapists — just yell at me like my super does when he sees me with my running shoes on at 11 p.m.
Instead of not purchasing video games that let players beat up and murder sex workers — just insist feminists hate and ruin everything.
Instead of refusing to allow the media to use shitty terms like “gray rape” or “date rape” or “forcible sexual contact” — just instruct me on how to keep my drink with me at all times in a public place.
Instead of turning inward and educating ourselves and actively working to change perceptions and behaviors and societal norms — just blame and humiliate the woman who reports her rape and go through all the ways she brought this upon herself before acknowledging any evidence. If there is any evidence left.
Because we live in a rape culture, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what it means to live in a rape culture, but it’s too tiring/not fun/annoying/hysterical to call attention to the rest of it.
So I get how OUTRAGED we all are about DSK, the rape cops, etc. — but it’s stupid to blame the legal system because it’s just a symptom of the larger problem that is (say it with me now): we live in a rape culture.
And the sooner we fucking accept the way things are, the better and faster we can maybe make it better.