Question for Pierce Harlan, the guy behind the False Rape Society blog: Do you really think this is the best way to fight false rape allegations?
The real problem here isn’t that he’s recycled an old rape joke; it’s that he’s pretending that rapists are somehow a species apart from ordinary men. His big complaint is that the PSA in question “passes off a criminal deviant as a typical guy.”
Pierce, what do you think rapists look like? They’re not villains out of some silent-movie melodrama, twirling their whiskers and cackling with glee. They don’t have giant R’s tattooed on their foreheads. No, they look like “ordinary” guys. Exactly like them. Rape prevention — and crime prevention in general — would be a lot more effective if criminals could be easily identified at a glance. But the world doesn’t work that way. Most criminals look pretty ordinary, actually.
But the problem with Harlan’s stance here go beyond that. The fact is that most rapists aren’t sinister strangers hiding in an alleyway; the overwhelming majority – something like 70% — are people known to their victims. As someone who writes regularly about rape, Pierce is presumably aware of this, which means either that he’s being completely disingenuous, or that he’s simply pretending that date rape (and non-stranger rape in general) doesn’t exist.
The PSA in question is far from perfect. Aside from the terrible acting, the main problem with it is that it it’s victim-blaming. Its depiction of a rapist as an ordinary-looking guy – and a friend of the victim — is the one thing it gets right.
To get an idea of the sort of person who reads (and agrees with) The False Rape Society blog, here are a couple of comments on the, er, “controversy.”
Here’s a comment from YouTube, posted by someone who obviously got there from Harlan’s blog (it appeared after the video was linked at the FRS; before the recent batch of comments, the video hadn’t had a comment for three years).
So the message is that if a guy is being helpful at a party, he’s probably a rapist? This is not a fair psa. It did better than some though, by highlighting the fact that the female friend ditched her.
Apparently, in this guy’s mind, trying to remove the clothes of a woman almost completely incapacitated by alcohol is just a way of being “helpful.”
Meanwhile, on the FRS blog itself:
Wow- just like TV- apparently the only people on earth who ever do ANYTHING wrong are white males- preferably fat ones to give feminists a little extra to hate.
While we’re on the subject of false accusations, here’s a strange bit of paranoid word-salad on the subject that I ran across recently from a Reddit Men’s Rightser.
Is it really possible that anyone – including the author and the people upvoting the comment — could actually believe this nonsense? If so, what a strange, sad world they must live in.
EDITED TO ADD: Holly Pervocracy just wrote a great and highly relevant post on what she calls “Slavering Beast Theory.” As she explains:
In the Slavering Beast Theory, there are two kinds of men. Two species, nearly. … There are ordinary guys and there are Slavering Beasts. And they are very, very easy to tell apart. They act different, even look different, to the point where any adult should be able to distinguish them in any casual social setting. …
This dichotomy is how someone can simultaneously believe that women shouldn’t go out after dark because rape is such a big problem and believe that tons of rape accusations are false. It makes perfect sense if you believe there are Slavering Beasts out in the dark, but if an ordinary guy is accused of rape, there must be more to the story. It explains why people are angered by rape prevention tips aimed at men–those are insulting to ordinary guys, and Slavering Beasts won’t listen. And it justifies the belief that abuse victims had it coming: either they were abused by a Slavering Beast and should have known better, or they were abused by an ordinary guy and must have done something terrible to provoke him.