Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rape Denial: Nice Boys Don't Rape

Until I was raped the first time I believed most of the stereotypes about rapists. The one notable exception is that I didn't know anything about the stereotype that all or most real rapists were black. This exception was probably due to the fact that in the closest unsolved serial rapist case to where I lived the suspect was white. I also owe this to the attitudes within my family.

Until I was raped I had never heard anyone talk about the possibility that boyfriends can rape their girlfriends and I didn't hear it for years as anything other than a radical claim by those nasty feminists. There were plenty of people who refuted those feminists' claims and who said that nice boys don't rape they just give bad sex. Because the subject was so painful I tried to avoid the subject whenever I could. And I continued to feel completely alone.

I knew force was used by my boyfriend, but I'm not sure I immediately labeled him as a rapist. I certainly didn't label him as someone who plotted against me even though when I finally went back through the events which led up to rape and tried to capture the dynamics on paper, all the signs of premeditation were there. At first I felt stupid, but then I realized that the rape made every preceding interaction seem more obviously sinister than it was. When you know how the story ends you spot all the clues to the big finish.

Until I was raped I believed all rapists were obvious monsters whose intentions would be known immediately. But I quickly learned to distrust those who demanded my trust or my compliance.

When I was using alcohol to numb the pain I felt after being raped the scruffiest men I encountered rarely were a source of serious physical danger.

The 2 men who I talked about earlier in the blogathon were nice clean-cut college students with a nice car. They were the winners while those I regularly hung out with were the losers and the drifters. To these nice young college boys I was a piece of garbage to be used and discarded.

So I know firsthand that the myth that nice boys don't rape is false. And when people try to disprove a rape claim by talking about the alleged rapist's volunteer record or how they help find homes for abandoned puppies, I know that proving "niceness" doesn't disprove rape.

If general niceness is the alleged rapist's only defense then that person is going to seem more suspect than he did when I didn't know he was such a "nice" man.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:00 PM   5 comments links to this post


At July 28, 2007 4:07 PM, Blogger Cindy said...

You are blogging for an excellent cause! Awesome job, keep up the good work!

At July 28, 2007 6:02 PM, Anonymous Walter said...

I'm glad you posted this online! It's important to talk about these sorts of things. I had a close friend who did her thesis on the frequency of rape on a college campus, and the numbers were discouraging.

I think that the important thing to remember is that once someone's been labeled a rapist, there's a certain connotation that surrounds them. We assume that because they're a rapist they're somehow defective, or drastically different from the rest of us. But that's just not the case.

There's a reason that rape is so prevalent across cultures and across economic groups. I'm not going to pretend I know what that reason is, but it's a large problem that seldom is truly discussed because people committing the crime get written off as 'rapists'

At July 29, 2007 2:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was assaulted last December by a man I had gone on a date with, one of the things he said to me, after I first told him how much he was frightening me with his refusal to stop demanding sex and put away the porn (he had brought his laptop with him. We were parked on a hill overlooking the bay bridge in sf), was, "Look. I'm a nice guy." His prioritization of his perspective over mine was so profound, it has stuck with me and continues to inform my interactions with men who self-identify as "nice."

Thank you so much for maintaining this blog. You are an incredible advocate for rape victims, and your words have helped me immensely in my daily struggle to deal with the trauma I suffered at his hands and at those of my rapist ex-boyfriend, and the retraumatization I feel whenever I read rape-supportive attitudes elsewhere. You speak the truth. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

At July 29, 2007 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen that study where a disgusting number of college boys said they would rape if they knew they could get away with it?

At July 29, 2007 2:24 PM, Blogger Walter said...

I haven't seen the particular one you're talking about, but the study my friend did cropped up the same results. An uncomfortably large number of college men admitted they'd rape if they could get away with it.

Here's a good question for a discussion: What do you think that means?


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