Good Men Project, “nice guys commit rape too”: rape-apology, nice guys and bad girls.Posted: December 24, 2012 | |
Recently, a sandstorm has blown up surrounding a controversial article published on the Good Men Project. This article suggested that “nice guys” commit rape “too” – obviously there are the evil bad guys who lurk in dark alleyways, and then there are the author’s friends, who are granted the status of a “nice guy” since he ONLY penetrated a woman whilst she was a sleep, and anyway, the girl had TOTALLY been coming onto said rapist for weeks. Alyssa Royse, the author of this piece, said: “[S]he was asleep when he started to penetrate her. She did not consent prior.”  But somehow, her friend, though undeniably a rapist, is still a Nice Guy™. So, if the rape was not the fault of the girl herself, and Royse believes that the “problem isn’t even that he’s a rapist”, then what or who is truly at fault here? Like, duh, “mixed signals.”
How a sleeping woman manages to send anyone signals apart from dribbling on her pillow or the occasional foot twitch is beyond me. To suggest that anybody could think penetrating someone who is unconscious is okay-dokey is beyond the realm of belief.
The issue here isn’t a case of mixed signals. It’s a case of black and white: rape is non-consensual. There is a major problem that not enough education and sex guidance is being given to teenagers as young as possible from school, from parents, from youth groups: sex without consent is always rape. It’s a case of not only does no mean no, but yes means yes. It is not enough for someone to reject consent. You must always check that you do in fact have consent. Your partner must say yes. If there is a chasm of communication, silence, unresponsive, avoidance, you do not have consent and if you continue to attempt to have sex with said person, you will be committing rape, and that is not the fault of mixed signals, but of yourself. This needs to be drilled into every single person from the day that they begin to learn anything about sex.
Though Royse doesn’t deny that the act was an act of rape, she softens the blow by listing off the girl’s credentials as a willing victim:
I had watched the woman in question flirt aggressively with my friend for weeks. I had watched her sit on his lap, dance with him, twirl his hair in her fingers. I had seen her at parties discussing the various kinds of sex work she had done, and the pleasure with which she explored her own very fluid sexuality, all while looking my friend straight in the eye.
Only she knows what signals she intended to send out. But many of us can guess the signals he received.
Royse states over and over again that she isn’t victim blaming or being a rape-apologist and then in the same breath goes on to say something that is problematic, but expects her credentials as a feminist to clear her of any suspicion.
Of course, this is a familiar picture and an attitude that is worryingly prevalent. Attitudes towards rape, even by those such as Royse who pit themselves as defenders of rape victims, are often entrenched with misogynistic values and a tendency to try to defend the Nice Guy.
For example, a 2008 debate on Sciforums.com on the topic: “sex without consent is always rape.” Debaters tried to list a number of scenarios where sex without consent isn’t rape and is acceptable…
I mean Joe has sex with a woman who is unconscious due to alchohol. [sic] He gently screws her with condom, no force, no disease passed. The woman will have no recollection of the event whatsoever and she wasn’t a virgin to begin with.
Jack and Jill are breaking up. They have been together for 2 years, but they have different views of their futures, so they just had an amiable breakup. Jack is moving out and comes up to the appartment [sic] to collect his belongings. They had a verbal agreement for a last goodbye sex. Jill just took a strong sleeping pill and is sound asleep. Jack comes in and finds a note saying “Take whatever you want.” Jack decides to proceed to have sex with the sleeping Jill, because that’s what he wanted. It is unclear that Jill would want to or not.
In a short story by Roal Dahl (I also heard similar stories actually happening) 2 friends agree to switch wives without their knowledge. To make it happen one friend grows a bear just like the other has and starts to smoke the same kind of pipe, etc. In short they make their physical appearance very similar. There is a weekend sleepover and they do the switch the sex happens in the dark, and of course there is no consents from the wives because they don’t know it. The story ends when one of the wifes [sic] in the next morning turns to her husband and says: ”Honey, last night was the best thing ever happened to me.” Legally I would classify this as fraud or trickery and not rape, although if we go by the strict definition, it could be rape. 
These three examples I picked out detail very clear instances of rape, but because the motive wasn’t to hurt, scare, or overpower, the debater believes that they do not qualify in the strictest sense of rape. This falls easily into the category of a Nice Guy get-out-of-rape card. Again and again, despite the statistics, we are falling back into the trap of “real” rape occurring in a dark alley by a stranger at knife point with the threat of violence or murder, even though we know that six out of seven rapes are committed by someone who is already close to the victim. These examples Royse would easily count as more instances of “mixed signals”, rather than malicious rape.
When will we learn that rape is rape is rape? Whether at gun point, whether by a friend or a stranger, whether by a convict, whether the woman is your wife or a girl in a tight dress in a bar, when consent is not given the act is one of rape. I don’t care if you’re a Nice Guy. I don’t care if you’re a Nice Girl. If you commit rape, you are a rapist above anything else in my eyes.
We ought not to privilege some people with a higher status, absolving them of blame, according to our perception of them as a nice person. When we put someone up on a pedestal as a nice person, we fail to see them for what they really are: human. Humans are capable of anything, of rape, of murder, of assault. So what if they’re nice to their cat and they always send their gran a birthday card? The only thing we should judge people by are their actions and if one of those actions is rape, then they are a rapist, regardless of all the nice actions that came before the act of rape. Royse might easily believe that her friend was not to blame, but “mixed signals”, but for me? If a man penetrates an unconscious woman, that doesn’t make him a “nice guy”, as Royse calls him. And if a woman such as Royse defends the actions of a rapist? …Well, that doesn’t make her much more than a rape-apologist. Actions are what counts. Royse wrote a rape apologist article, and so she is a rape apologiser. It might seem black and white, but there is a very distinct line between consent and non-consent, between condoning rape and damning it.