Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My thoughts on a super rapey email.

A member of a Georgia Tech fraternity sent out the most incredibly rapey email I've every seen. It's basically a how-to guide on "Luring Rapebait."

I'm sure that there are already a lot of blogs addressing this and I'm sure there will be a whole lot more, so I'm not going to do a whole break down on all of the rape myths, dehumanization, and sexism (against men and women) that exists in this email. It would take me a really long time, as hardly a line passes without the stuff, and I have a fundraising meeting to get to. You can read the email for yourself here. And I'm just going to talk about the two things that bothered me the very most about this email.

The first thing is that there are several instances in which he tells his "bros," in no uncertain terms, that if a woman says No it either means try harder, or remove her ability to think clearly (or be credible?) by getting her more drinks. The most overt of these messages is probably when he writes, "If for some reason they aren’t down for a cheek kiss, just dance through it or say you are going to get another drink and see if they want one. And then repeat from the beginning." In other words, if she doesn't want to get physical, let her think that's fine with you, get her another drink. Then, lull her into a false sense of security by de-escalating things, making her think that you really like HER and are okay just dancing or whatever. That way, she continues being friendly, drinking, and then when you rape her you can always say that she led you on.

This guy writes down contingency plans for every No a bro could encounter. Every one of them is about manipulation, shame, or further intoxication (btw, you CAN'T consent to sex when intoxicated, so if these guys were looking for consensual sex alcohol wouldn't even be entering the equation). 

Okay, the second thing is the one that bothers me the very most, which really means something considering how much this whole damn email bothers me. It's this line:

This person has just written a six paragraph email that outlines the process of an alcohol facilitated rape. This person is talking about rape, very likely, as a serial rapists. He seems to fit the profile exactly. He is helping people plan violent crimes and with these two sentences he's attempted to employ the biggest rape myth there is as a buffer between himself and appropriate consequences.'

 Rape Myth: A rape is ONLY something perpetrated completely randomly by horrible, ugly strangers. Therefore, if a girl would want to make out with someone, he couldn't possible rape her.

This, of course, is untrue and so damaging to potential victims and to survivors. Because of this myth tens of thousands of women, every year, do not seek justice or healing for themselves. This myth tells women that if they "lead someone on," they no longer have the option to say no to intercourse. So, what is leading someone on? It seems to me, that our culture tells us it happens as soon as the guy in question thinks intercourse might be an option. So as a woman, how do I know when that is?? Is it after I've initiated petting? Is it after the first really passionate kiss? Is it when I say I'll dance with him? When I accept a drink he buys? When he sees that I'm wearing a low cut shirt?
You see the problem?

Let's take another step out of the rape culture to ask these questions:

Is being raped an appropriate punishment for leading another person on?

Is being raped an appropriate punishment for anything?

Why would a person want to waste his/her time punishing someone for leading them on instead of trying to meet someone who would be happy to engage in consensual sex?

I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Update: The young man who sent this email wrote an apology. I saw it today, and while I have a hard time believing that it is as sincere as it's meant to seem, I still think it's an important step for our culture. The fact that he felt obligated to issue an apology at all is surprising to me considering the usual, defensive response after incidents like this. See the apology here, it's actually pretty good.


  1. Yeah...there is so much wrong with that letter. I'd like to know what his definition of "raping" is....cause it may be (as you suggested) him upholding a rape myth of who is considered as a rapist or it could be that he thinks there is a specific sexual act that is rape...like it is something akin to skipping foreplay.

    1. I think you're probably right about him not consciously thinking about it as rape. But really, the intention doesn't matter. What matters is the harm that is done and whatever his intentions, he did cause harm. That's why I'm so glad he apologized so soon after the incident. He did the exact right thing, just like when you step on someone's foot, you don't tell them that their pain is irrelevant because you didn't intend to step on their foot. You apologize and try to watch where you're going a little better in the future.