I’m 36 years old and I’ve never raped anyone. I recently spent almost a whole day reading that now infamous Reddit thread [serious trigger warnings for all sorts of awfulness] inviting sexual abusers and rapists to tell their side the story. I didn’t want to read it at first. I read the articles about it. I circled it…and then like probing an open wound I kept worrying at it. I wanted to understand why. I read and was depressed, sickened, angered. And I noticed some unifying themes.
Most of the rapists posting don’t think what they did was actually rape. They seem to acknowledge that it was “technically” rape — otherwise why would they be posting there? They all have some sob story about how they were in “a weird place” or were “socially awkward”, they were virgins, they were drunk and horny. Some of them talk about how their victim got into their beds. How their victim initiated one kind of physical intimacy. Then, always, in every case, they wanted to do something that their partner did not want to do or was not conscious for. Then they raped someone.
Rapists sometimes jump out of bushes in the night, but they usually don’t. Rapists work with you, they go to your school, they are in your family. Recent polling suggests that about 2% of the US population is a gay or lesbian man or woman. How many gay or lesbian people do you know? A study of college students in 1987 had 4.5% of the men self identify as rapists. Think about that. Let that sink in. Let that turn your stomach.
Most men are not rapists, but a staggering number of them are. They don’t see them selves as rapists in most cases, I’m sure, but when you have sex with someone against their will you have raped them. There are no mitigating circumstances. I’ve been a drunk, horny, virgin, who was socially awkward, and in a weird place – but I never raped anyone. Not once.That’s not a super power, folks. That’s just how you’re supposed to behave.
In that 1987 study 4.5% of the men surveyed decided that what they wanted was the most important thing in the world. I see men talking about how to be careful so that they don’t get accused of rape by basically telling men not to be rapists and I’m furious and disgusted. This is what rape culture is. It’s a society where rapists don’t have to admit they’re rapists because so much goddamned rape is tolerated and treated as normal. It’s a society where people talk about punishing rapists by raping them.
And you know what? Skepticism and atheism are a part of rape culture. People ask if raping specific people they disagree with is immoral and no one is really shocked. We’re most of us appalled, but are any of us shocked? That is rape culture.
And now a personal anecdote. I was at a national skeptic event. I met a prominent male skeptic at a party. You’ve heard of him, but no I’m not telling you who. You don’t need to be a woman to have your reputation destroyed by naming names of powerful people. Said famous and powerful skeptic role model commented on my appearance, said that many of his gay friends would like me. He said that I should visit him so that I could be drugged and raped by his gay friends. He meant this as a joke. Many people would especially dismiss it as a joke because I’m a big cis man
And that’s rape culture. And rape culture is in our movement. I want it out.