Rape is Complicated

But listening is simple.

Tw: Rape, Victim-Blaming

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In the past month, a very small number of very high-profile predators have faced a few very carefully metered-out consequences. But, as a lot of 50-year-old white Al Franken fans have been saying this week, maybe, mayyyyybe this is going a little. too. far. Isn’t rape like soooo complicated?

It was one thing when Taylor Swift . That made us mediocre white people feel so good. And the way it was just, utterly over after that, or for the sake of woman. It was so simple.

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Franken

But now that nice man in the Stewart Smalley wig is getting accused of being a grabber, and isn’t rape so complicated? Like so, complicated? ! Hm, so strange, because a victim’s never needed to be cordial to a perverted douchefuck before! It’s so weird how his a momentous cultural tide-shift in which victims are believed and punishment is actually finally being dispensed! Suspicious. Rape is complicated!

The wrongness of it isn’t complicated of course. Roy Moore, with his nine victims, isn’t complicated. Harvey Weinstein, with his cadre of attractive, recognizable victims, isn’t complicated.

…Except for the fact that Lena Dunham reported , and warned Hillary Clinton about it, telling her not accept his campaign donations. Clinton still did. Whoops. But Clinton tweeted a #metoo! Clinton’s relationship status with rape calls forth a social media reference as outdated as her campaign strategy: it’s complicated.

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Dunham

But then, Lena Dunham sure is rape-complicated too! When a writer for her show, Murray Miller, was accused of assault last month, because he was nice & she never saw him do a thing! It’s like when women from Saturday Night Live wrote and he seemed pretty cool! Future letches: take your number of mayyyybe victims, times it by three, and you need that many people to vouch they weren’t raped by you. Best of luck trying to not rape that many people!

When a topic as interminable and triggering as rape pollutes our consciousness, we’re left yearning for a simple, straightforward note of redemption. Enter Time Magazine, which this week named all the people who’ve broken the silence about rape as their Person of the Year.

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The cover isn’t complicated. It’s adorned with women who’ve fought with dignity for the sake of everyone else’s safety…plus Taylor Swift. And Taylor Swift’s there.

Inside the issue are all the people who make matters more complicated. Like, t. A documentarian and activist, Burke’s denied the limelight because she created #metoo ten years ago. Her presence reminds us that victims, especially women of color, have been clamoring to be heard for millennia. Burke fought, organized, toiled, but the world did not bend its ear to listen.

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Tarana Burke

The world waited, with ears plugged, for the likes of white, famous Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein’s most vocal accusers. McGowan, , and had to take it down because uhhhh Rosie that shit was intolerably racist even back when Lennon wrote it. Also Lennon was a wife-beater. Rape is so complicated!

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Crews

Also inside the Silence Breaker issue is Terry Crews. As a black, muscular man who was assaulted by a white male agent, his silence breaking is especially profound. This week, . Crews’ experience challenges the narrative of men as predators and women prey. He says he came forward to make it clear that even if a victim has the strength to fight back, they may still freeze up.

Also complicating the discussion is the case of pop star Melanie Martinez, who was . Now, if you don’t know who Melanie Martinez is, you are over 29 years old, not into Gothic Lolita fashion with a chintzy Hot Topic Twist, and never watched The Voice. Sidebar, we all know that former The Voice judge Okay good.

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Martinez

Martinez’s accusers : the pop star befriended them, then cornered them, demanding sex, . The first woman to break the silence on this, vocal artist Timothy Heller, said .

Rape is so complicated. Even while cries of “me too” ring out and change the souls of each of us who hear it, there are cries still being stifled. Melanie Martinez forces us to confront that women are not solely benign victims or uncomplicated crusaders for justice, that power can be misused by a person of any gender. Of course, Lena Dunham, Hillary Clinton, Taylor Swift, and every shitty white lady defending Al Franken on Facebook reminds us of that too.

Terry Crews reminds us that rape is racialized as often as it is gendered. That entitlement to a body does not just come from male privilege, but from whiteness, and money, and status, and anything else that gives symbolic strength. Every black person who has had their hair groped by a white stranger already knew that, of course. So did every poor person who’s ever been sexualized by a leering or judgmental boss. And every trans person who’s had to explain their body to cis family or friends.

The sheer cultural impact of #metoo should make it clear to us that predators are plentiful. That there are many paths to feeling like you deserve access to somebody else. That many of us have done fucked up things ourselves. That a lot can happen when the world decides to listen. Rape is complicated. But listening is simple.

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This piece was originally read live by the author at

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