What does a Rapist look like?

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So what does a rapist look like? Thats the question for this essay to discuss.
I’ve been following the Assange and Wikileaks cases very carefully. The superb Feminist columnist Laurie Penny wrote a blog poston Julian Assange’s Rape case. I think there are two disturbing factors in the ‘Julian Assange is a good man and good people don’t rape Narrative’. Firstly we assume that implicitly all those that do good acts (assuming that wikileaks and freedom of information is a good thing) are ‘good’ people. I severely doubt everyone behaves in a morally upstanding way all of the time.
The other related factor is that instantly when one assumes that, we are led to believe that women cry rape all the time. Unfortunately some women do lie about such things, and that sort of experience really changes how we statistically think about these issues.
The specifics of this case are involving a ‘condom malfunction’ and it should be noted that Julian Assange is accused of the lowest form of rape allegations – and some of this case does relate to the ‘dirty tricks’ by a certain imperial power.
The second key assumption is that ‘good guys don’t rape’. But there is as Pennie observes ‘a rape culture’, and most rape (sex without consent) is perpetuated by men who are Doctors, Lawyers, Academics, Teachers and otherwise seen as excellent upstanding members of society. These things are not ‘bad bedroom etiquette’ this is a real crime that affects thousands of women every day. It may be the most under reported crime – not to mention male rape victims who face a host of societal stigmas. Please remember that women are not a priori the holders of moral authority on any matters.
In Summary what is perhaps the most disturbing thing is as Johann Hari observed ‘Its scary how many people won’t accept that a women is raped, unless she is taken away kicking and screaming’. No is a word that doesn’t mean consent, and we should all remember that Rape is a very common and ultimately banal crime.

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5 thoughts on “What does a Rapist look like?

  1. “The other related factor is that instantly when one assumes that, we are led to believe that women cry rape all the time.”

    On the contrary, there is a very strong “a woman never lies/must always be believed” movement and which is seriously threatening the right of due process to those who stand accused of rape. That there is a growing counter-movement focusing on the many incorrect that do take place should be welcomed—even the mere accusation of rape can today do more damage to a man than a rape to woman.

    I note that studies have been made than indicate very considerable number of false accusations (not necessarily deliberate false accusations, however—these studies typically focus on whether a particular individual is unfairly accused, not wether a crime has taken place).

  2. peadarcoyle

    Michael, you do bring up a good point. If our underlying assumption is that ‘women never lie’, which is plainly empirically wrong then that is also dangerous.
    Also your comment on the disproportionate damage caused to the reputation of a man in regards rape. For instance no charges have been brought to Assange, and it is rumoured the charges relate to a rather low form of rape, and something about a ‘condom malfunction’.
    However I think the essence of what I was saying is that we can’t assume implicitly that Mr Assange is innocent, he should face a fair trial – and it certainly shouldn’t be charged for an espionage act in the USA.

  3. Melissa

    Even though I agree that there are women who lie, men lie as well. I was put in a position where it did happen to me and that rumor is all to well true about women lying. I was put through turmoil because of this and I was treated like the criminal and lost my mind along with other things. He flourished and has not been charged. No means no. You can not identify a person who wants to assault a female. They are not physically identifiable. Only the types and traits of a rapist can be identified. Anyone who is raped, they were sought out and seen as volnerable and it was done at an opportune time. Rapist know what they need to do to get away with it. They know that women who are raped are not supported because of lack of evidence. women who do not get support where it counts, from authority, family, and friends, will have a more difficult recovery from trauma. If someone has raped someone, then they deserve to have their life ruined as well. They cannot even phathom what they take from someone because of their selfishness. If they are not stopped, they will keep doing it and if false rumors go around as they do, they will keep getting away with it.

  4. peadarcoyle

    Your personal situation is very traumatic Melissa. I am deeply sympathetic and I hope that your life improves.
    This was dealing with the particularly political case of Julian Assange, and the complex nature of Rape cases.
    I agree No means No. I also agree that most of the people who claim rape, have indeed been raped.
    ‘If someone has raped someone, they deserve to have their life ruined as well.’ Perhaps you mean they deserve to be punished.
    There is a huge problem with what is called the ‘Just World Fallacy’ I’ve heard otherwise sensible people say ‘well she deserved it innit, look at the clothes she had on’. Women have every right in our society to wear Mini Skirts, that does not give anyone the right to commit the act of Rape.
    Melissa we are a long way from a Just world, I just wonder if some high profile cases do harm to laws in these areas. Unfortunately statistics do not convince people as readily as anecdotal stories.

  5. @melissa

    “They know that women who are raped are not supported because of lack of evidence. women who do not get support where it counts, from authority, family, and friends, will have a more difficult recovery from trauma.”

    Here we really have two different issues that need not affect each other: Firstly, due process and the presumption of innocence. Secondly, support to victims. There is no contradiction between demanding solid proof before someone is convicted of rape (or any other crime) and that the (alleged) victim be given support. Note e.g. that there is no reason for the family to take the same position as the court, that psychiatric help may be given even without the need for a conviction, and that even an eventual finding of innocence does not imply that there was no rape—it is quite possible for someone innocent to stand accused of a rape that did occur. (I did some reading on this a few months ago, and the number of innocently accused was above 50 % in some surveys, be it through honest mistakes in identity after a rape or malicious accusations without one, with an absolute minimum of around 20 % in a DNA-test based investigation.)

    There is really only one area where these issues are in some contradiction, namely the fear of the victim of being attacked again by the same perpetratror, respectively, her wish for revenge/closure. However, a repeat offender would be very stupid to risk attacking the same woman twice. Further, if we would remove the presumption of innocence on that basis, we would turn the justice system into a mockery, open the roads for abuse, and potentially cause many more innocents to have their lives more severely ruined than rape does today.

    As an aside, I suspect that you radically over-estimate how calculating rapists are.

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