Laurie Penny, the radical feminist and polyamorist, caught hold of the developments surrounding Julian Assange last week and decided to make them all about her. Her article starts off with a warning:
This post comes with a trigger warning for rape and sexual assault that should be visible from space.
I don’t know about trigger warnings, but a Martian would have certainly caught the wokeness.
Some of them are just everyday internet idiots who happen to believe that if a man who you have previously consented to sex with holds you down and fucks you, that isn’t rape. If you were wearing a short skirt and flirting, that isn’t rape. If a man penetrates you without a condom while you’re asleep, against your will, that isn’t rape, not, in Akin’s words, “legitimate rape”.
Or, if it’s Roman Polanski we’re talking about, it’s not “rape-rape“.
Old, white, powerful men know what rape is, much better, it seems, than rape victims.
Whoopi Goldberg aside, it’s old white men to blame. Who else?
As a culture, we still refuse collectively to accept that most rapes are committed by ordinary men, men who have friends and families, men who may even have done great or admirable things with their lives. We refuse to accept that nice guys rape, and they do it often.
We do? Actually, normal people believe most rapes are carried out by sickened individuals who inhabit the criminal fringes of society with the remainder falling to men who otherwise appear ordinary and whom you’d never suspect of such a crime. I’m sure Penny knows this, but:
This is not an article about Julian Assange.
No, it’s an article about Penny:
The man who raped me wasn’t a bad guy.
He was one of the good rapists?
He was in his early thirties, a well-liked and well-respected member of a social circle of which I am no longer a part, a fun-loving, left-leaning chap who was friends with a number of strong, feminist women I admired. I was nineteen. I admired him too.
Note the importance of his political orientation in Penny’s explanation as to why she ended up in bed with a rapist. Had he been a paid-up Republican I somehow think Penny would not be using sentences such as “the man who raped me wasn’t a bad guy”. Her judgement was found wanting then, and I’m wondering whether it’s any better now.
One night, a group of my friends held a big party in a hotel. Afterwards, a few of the older guests, including this man, invited me up to the room they had rented. I knew that some drinking and kissing and groping might happen. I started to feel ill, and asked if It would be alright if I went to sleep in the room – and I felt safe, because other people were still there. I wasn’t planning to have sex with this man or with anyone else that night, but if I had been, that wouldn’t have made it okay for him to push his penis inside me without a condom or my consent.
The next thing I remember is waking up to find myself being penetrated, and realising that my body wasn’t doing what I told it to. Either I was being held down or – more likely – I was too sick to move. I’ve never been great at drinking, which is why I don’t really do it any more, but this feeling was more profound, and to this day I don’t know if somebody put something in my drink that night. I was horrified at the way his face looked, fucking me, contorted and sweating. My head span. I couldn’t move. I was frightened, but he was already inside me, and I decided it was simplest to turn my face away and let him finish. When he did, I crawled to the corner of the enormous bed and lay there until the sun came up.
In the morning I got up, feeling sick and hurting inside, and took a long, long shower in the hotel’s fancy bathroom. The man who had fucked me without my consent was awake when I came out. He tried to push me down on the bed for oral, but I stood up quickly and put on my dress and shoes. I asked him if he had used a condom. He told me that he ‘wasn’t into latex’, and asked if I was on the pill.
I’m going to take Penny’s word for it that this actually happened. Granted she has made stuff up before, but the purpose of this post is not to cast doubt on her version of events. As she describes above, she was raped. Which is a pretty shit thing to happen.
I don’t remember thinking ‘I have just been raped’. After all, this guy wasn’t behaving in the manner I had learned to associate with rapists. Rapists are evil people.
So who taught you, at age 19, what rapists were like? I’ll hazard a guess that the “number of strong, feminist women” she admired who were friends with this rapist made the same political points you did, i.e. that old, powerful white men are largely are the ones to look out for and that being left-leaning automatically made him “decent”. Thus leaving you hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with a real-life rapist.
They’re not nice blokes who everybody respects who simply happen to think it’s ok to stick your dick in a teenager who’s sleeping in the same bed as you, without a condom. This guy seemed, if anything, confused as to why I was scrabbling for my things and bolting out the door. He even sent me an email a few days later, chiding me for being rude.
The point of Penny’s post appears to be that her rapist appeared nice but turned out not to be, on the assumption that it was an easy mistake to make. But what exactly was this social-circle of which she is no longer a part, and who the hell were these friends? This man appears to be engaging in behaviour deemed acceptable to the group: where is their culpability in all of this? Did he treat others in the same way? Note that the age gap is at least 12 years, which at the respective ages speaks volumes.
I had to wait two weeks for test results which showed that the man who raped me had given me a curable infection.
Why do I get the impression that this individual is not half as normal and decent as Penny is letting us believe. At a guess, I would say he is a slimy fucker of the first water who hangs around lefty circles hoping to get into the knickers of women, usually much younger and with low self-esteem and few morals, throwing out leftist and feminist platitudes to get himself accepted with no further scrutiny. Penny, at nineteen years of age, ought to have stayed well away from him even if she didn’t think he was a rapist.
I told my friend that I felt dirty and ashamed of myself. She said she was sorry I felt that way. Everybody else in that social circle seemed to agree that by going to that hotel room and taking off my nice lace dress I had asked for whatever happened next, and so I dropped the issue. They were right and I was wrong.
Some friends. Who, let’s not forget, were feminists.
It’s so common that – sorry if this hurts to hear – there’s a good chance you know somebody who might have raped someone else.
I can believe this, but it is more a reflection of Penny’s social circles and readership than the presence of rapists among menfolk in general.
I didn’t report my rape. It took me months even to understand it as rape. I stopped talking about it, because I was sick of being called a liar, and I got the shut-up message fairly fast. I tried to stop thinking about it.
By whom? Your family? Friends?
But this week brought it all up again.
That was yesterday. And that’s why I’m writing this post now. I’ve actually written it three times, and deleted it twice, and I’ve decided to bite my lip and click ‘publish’, because this vicious drift towards victim-blaming must stop. It’s not about Julian Assange, not really, not any more.
No Penny, it’s about you. Only it’s inadvertently about your appalling judgement, both then and now. Not in a way that implies you shouldn’t have gone to bed with him or led him on or that you deserved it. Not at all. Just that you should never have even met him in the first place, let alone admired him, and nor should you have entered a social circle of people who allow this sort of thing to happen and then blame you afterwards.
Had Penny wanted to write an article about her experiences, she could have listed the reasons why she, being young an impressionable, fell into this circle and made contact with these people and how she could have done with some sensible advice at the time. That may have been of some use to any young woman – and there will be many – who finds themselves in a similar situation of falling in with rather unpleasant older women who appear to share their values yet who consort with rapists. But that would require challenging her deep beliefs surrounding the nature of modern-day feminism and wouldn’t supply an opportunity to score political points and insinuate that every third male is a rapist.
I write this partly because the damage these so-called feminists do to impressionable young women is shameful, and twofold: firstly they encourage women to make extremely poor decisions which are very difficult to reverse, and then they deny them the ability to deal with what has happened and move on. Instead they fill their heads with the same garbage that got them into the mess in the first place and encourage them to preach the same poison to the younger generation – as Penny is now doing. Her brand of politically-charged feminism is going to make it more likely impressionable young women get raped because she is presenting ordinary, decent men as rapists and encouraging them to adopt the same misguided attitudes towards sex, friendship, and social interaction that landed her in such trouble. She’s learned something from her experience, but alas she ought to have learned a lot more.
The other reason I write this is because it aligns closely with the main character in my book, based on somebody I knew, who made some appalling decisions as a young and impressionable young woman in the absence of a decent set of friends and competent family members, and – almost a decade later – utterly failed to deal with any of it thanks to surrounding herself with older, radical feminists that encouraged her to embrace the lifestyle further, avoid any self-reflection, and angrily reject criticism.
These people have a lot to answer for.