Monday, 1 September 2008

Rape Is Always Rape

So, this morning, IMDb says to me (possible trigger warning, it certainly upset me):

Dame Helen Mirren was the victim of sex crimes in her youth - because she didn't have the courage to stand up to men who wanted sex with her.

The veteran British actress has admitted she was date-raped on several occasions, but never reported the incidents to the police because the men involved weren't violent.

In a candid interview with Britain's GQ magazine the actress says, "It's such a tricky area (rape), isn't it? Especially if there is no violence. I mean, look at Mike Tyson. I don't think he was a rapist.

"I was (date-raped), yes. A couple of times. Not with excessive violence, or being hit, but rather being locked in a room and made to have sex against my will."

And the star believes that, although women have every right to say no to men in the bedroom, they shouldn't press charges against someone they were planning on being sexually active with.

She adds, "I don't think she can have that man into court under those circumstances."

What the fuck, Helen? First of all, no, it's not a tricky area. Rape is the absence of enthusiastic consent. That seems pretty fucking simple to me. Second of all, what do you mean, "no violence"? Rape is violence. It does not become more or less "like rape" with the presence or absence of a punch in the face. It's one of the worst and most invasive violent crimes we know of, and the idea that it's not so bad because the rapist didn't hit his victim is vile. Absolutely fucking vile.

But we don't stop there, oh no. Helen Mirren thinks that if we were planning to have sex with someone (and, presumably, if we are already in a relationship with someone), we cannot press charges if he rapes us. That would be unfair. For fuck's sake, Helen! I used to like you. So if I go out with a man I like, and he turns out to be a rapist, is that my own fault? Should I have known better? Do you really think we can pick out which men are rapists and which men aren't? Do you really think that if we consent to sex once, or even plan to consent to sex, we have consented to sex indefinitely? Why the fuck can't we take him to court? Are we just sluts, or should we know better than to ever be alone with a man?

I understand, given that Mirren has been raped more than once, that this might be a coping mechanism. Oh, it's not so bad, I probably would have had sex with him anyway, at least he didn't hit me. Trust me, I understand that. When you feel that you cannot report a rape because you won't be taken seriously, it makes sense to try and convince yourself that there's a reason you won't be taken seriously. The police have better things to do with their time, it's only natural that nobody would believe me, think of the poor women who get beaten senseless before being raped. I sympathise. But for the love of God, don't try and make the rest of us believe it. Don't buy into the slut-shaming culture. Every weekend, people go out on dates with new people. Every weekend, some of those new people turn out not to be as nice as previously thought. Women have been raped this weekend. Some have probably been beaten up, too, and some haven't, but the act of rape is the SAME. The women in the first category have gone through exactly the same experience as those in the second category - the physical assault is extra. It is not part of what makes a rape a rape. The women in the second category have not been "sort of raped" or "had sex and regretted it". It's rape. Rape is always rape. And what these women do not need is to hear more people spouting off about how they weren't really raped, and it was kind of their fault anyway for not being a perfect judge of character and for liking someone who turned out to be an evil rapist asshole. It's not their fault, Helen, it's his fault. It is not a "tricky area". Rape is always rape, and it's always the fault of the fucking rapist.


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