Stop judging rape accusations by how hot the alleged rapist is

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Stop judging rape accusations by how hot the alleged rapist is

Or by how much you loved them in your favorite teen TV show

There was some really disgusting posts about Ed Westwick on the internet today. And no, it wasn’t that he was accused of holding down an actress and raping her at a party — which he’s since denied. No, it was the reaction to that news from women on the internet, women who we’re friends with, women who we respect, women who have been (rightfully) bashing keys with righteous fury against systemic abuse of women in the media, politics and film industries since the first whiff of how deplorable Harvey Weinstein really is.

Because there was something different in how they reacted to Ed Westwick — they were sad that he’d been accused of rape. They didn’t want to believe it because he’s hot, he could “have sex with anyone he wanted to anyway”, and as teenagers they wanted to fuck him when he was Chuck Bass.

Look, obviously it’s foolish in times like these to turn around and point the finger of blame at other women. It’s Daily Mail fodder, it’s counterproductive. Until there’s actually some change, we should be banding together, not complaining about each other. So honestly, I really didn’t want to react how I did to those posts, which was to wince and cringe and think “ah, fuck, don’t say that.”

The minute we start saying “omg, not him, please!” “omg I used to love him!” “omg I’m so sad!” about rape allegations against people we stan for, we fall into a deep hole.

Why should we — not just women, any of us — think we have the right to excuse someone’s behavior, alleged or proven, just because they’re hot? It’s first world problems to the extreme. It’s complaining that Netflix isn’t gonna let us see what happens at the end of House of Cards because of Kevin Spacey, it’s saying “yeah, it’s gross, but man, Woody Allen’s films are just good, you know?”

As the endless Harvey Weinstein allegations kept rolling by these past few months, it seemed like every account mentioned his appearance. He was fat, he was old, he tried to make women masturbate him in his room. The picture it painted was somewhere between threatening and pathetic, and it was hard not to revel in it. This was women getting their own back for having to pretend to tolerate him, even find him attractive, for years, for having the power of every Harvey Weinstein — unattractive, old, ugly, fat — looming over them for years.

It was the same when the allegations started to be against journalists, against politicians. These guys were ugly and fat too, invariably. Every time a new name was dropped, the attitude was “not surprised, but still angry.”

These guys fit our stereotypical image of a sexual predator, they’re the men your mom warns you about when you’re a kid. So, hey, maybe it makes sense that we’re not surprised (but we’re still angry) when those guys are outed as perverts and abusers but we’re surprised when the abuser is chiseled, smiling, adored.

Here’s the problem with that, though: when you grow up and you stop believing your moms warnings, you realize that abusers aren’t the creepy strangers that are hiding around the corner waiting for you. They’re guys you know — that’s what the statistics overwhelmingly tell us (three out of four rapes are committed by someone known to the victim).

In the real world, abusers can be sexy, they can be stereotypically attractive, they can be popular — beloved even. It’s simple, but it’s apparently something we need to remind ourselves: You can be good looking and be a rapist. Sometimes it’s how they get away with it. “It couldn’t be that guy”, this mentality says. “Why would he need to rape anyone? He’s hot!”

What that attitude ignores is that rape has absolutely nothing to do with sex or even being attractive. It’s about power, and abuse.

@rosielanners

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