On “Not Rape-Rape”

On Twitter this morning, folks were talking about all the Hollywood folks who have come out in support of Polanski.  Even Whoopi Goldberg trying to claim this wasn’t a “rape-rape.”  Even, allegedly, Sharon Tate’s sister trying to draw some distinction between rape and rape.

Dude drugged and raped a crying thirteen year old girl who begged him not to. Then, when he thought his plea bargain might be reneged on after he couldn’t even be bothered to show remorse, he fled.

None of these facts are in dispute.  This isn’t one of these pseudo-gray areas where she seemed like she wanted it and then she “changed her mind.”  Or she was “seduced” out of her “no” by his persistence.

She was drugged by him (indicating that he knew she wouldn’t be even remotely compliant otherwise), and raped repeatedly as she said no over and over.

So, how is this not a rape-rape, even if we were to accept the idea that there is any such distinction between rape and rape?

Why would these Hollywood folks jump to his defense?

This morning, I realized something so gross I had to float it by y’all to see what you think.

I think they think that no only shouldn’t he be punished because he’s the great artist Roman Polanski, but that it wasn’t rape-rape because it wasn’t some gross, disgusting guy who raped her, which of course would be terrible, but the great artist Roman Polanski.

It wasn’t rape-rape because it was a great man, way out of her league, deigning to pay her some attention.

Rape as flattery.

It wasn’t rape-rape because she doesn’t have to be ashamed of who raped her.

(I hope by now y’all have seen Kate Harding’s great piece at Salon about this.)

50 thoughts on “On “Not Rape-Rape”

  1. Yeah I agree with you. I posted about this the other day and had friends e-mailing me that I was being “too conservative.” Hilarious, in light of everything else going on this week.

    One friend says she thinks it wasn’t actually rape, other than in the statutory sense, because the victim wasn’t an ordinary 13 year old but rather “a little slut.” Well, so what if she was? I don’t care if she’s a 13-year-old prostitute or a 13-year-old stripper. I don’t care if she’s his wife. It’s still rape.

    Mostly what I can’t fathom is this sudden support for the wealthy guy who used his money and connections to dodge the law. When did we start thinking if you’ve got the money it’s okay to evade your sentencing? You know, no one can convince me that Ken Lay isn’t holed up in the Bush family’s compound in Paraguay; when he returns in 30 years are we going to be all “bygones”?

  2. He even stuck it in her ass. Doesn’t anal sex usually involve some discussion first, like “do you do anal,” or “do you like it?” Seems like even more evidence that this was indeed a terrible case of RAPE.

  3. Being a rapist trumps being a “great artist” every time, Hollywood. Get it right.

    One good thing to come of this is that I now have a helpful and extensive list of people whose movies I won’t be watching.

  4. I think you’re right. The apologist reaction is terribly disappointing, and terribly sad. And you’re absolutely right.

    I’m as lefty as lefty can be. But I continue to be disappointed at how the left can fall down on the job when it comes to actually protecting women and children. We claim to stand for the powerless, but when push comes to shove too many of us back down.

    Kate Harding’s column about this was brilliant.

  5. The Salon article is dead on. For those whose argument centers on the idea that it happened so long ago and why can’t we just forget it all, I wonder if Polanski felt the same way about efforts to find Nazi’s who participated in concentration camp killings many years after the fat? You know, like the ones that killed his parents?

  6. Sharon Block’s Rape and Sexual Power in Early America explains how this legal/cultural attitude took shape to allow “great men” unpunished sexual access in ways that would have been felonious if it had taken place between class equals. It’s about the clearest explanation of how class shapes not only the punishment but what can be considered a crime I’ve encountered.

    But yuck to this all. I’m not even sure why we’re still talking about whether something can be “rapey” enough to count.

  7. Doesn’t anal sex usually involve some discussion first, like “do you do anal,” or “do you like it?”

    according to the testimony submitted to the grand jury, there was discussion involved. specifically, Polanski asked her if he could do it; she said no; and he did it anyway.

    yeah, i don’t see why anybody’s defending him, either.

    (wordpress hates me again? or not?)

  8. I think* that part of what’s going on is that the victim has so completely forgiven Polanski.** A lot of people are probably mentally reading this forgiveness back into the past, as if it wasn’t rape then because she has been able to come to terms with it in the meantime. Because they do like/admire him, and we all look for excuses for the bad behavior of those we like and admire. I think they feel that he’s been let off the hook, retroactively, by the fact that she’s not vindictive now.

    *and of course I have no access to the hearts and minds of the folks we’re discussing, so I could be completely wrong, but anyway I think

    **since she has had 30 years to work on forgiving him, and evidently, unlike him, has used that time to deal with some issues

  9. Thanks for the link to Kate Harding’s piece, I had missed that. I completely agree, it’s mind-boggling to hear all of those who are coming out in his support now and insisting that the charges be dropped. Although not entirely surprising since the Hollywood community has supported his work this whole time he’s been “in exile”. Not being old enough to remember the incident when it actually happened, I was quite shocked to read about it a few years ago and wrap my brain around the fact that he was hiding in plain sight, making movies and carrying on his life while these charges were still outstanding in the U.S.

  10. I’m glad you jumped on this. I agree with all that’s been said, including: Hey Whoopie/dumbass? If this doesn’t qualify for rape-rape, what does?

    13 years old? check
    drugged? check
    cried and repeatedly said no? check
    assfucked after saying no? check

    The only other thing I want to add is this unbelievable “argument” of “he made great movies”.

    Who fucking cares? It’s not like he pulled children from burning buildings (and didn’t assfuck them).
    He made a movie that contributed to society by providing two hours of distraction. That doesn’t make you Gandhi. It’s irrelevent.

  11. It was rape. He was convicted of the charges. And he blatantly escaped a jail term (which he would have already served) and pretty much just thumbed his nose up at the Judicial System that he pleaded guilty in a court to.

    I know he’s talented, but he raped a kid. And, I must say, I’m disappointed in Whoppi Goldberg. I’ve always sorta dug her but I disagree completely.

    With the John/Mackenzie Phillips stuff from last week and then this case this week, I can’t help but be a bit perplexed about both of these debates. Rape is rape.

  12. There’s also been a school of thought for decades that he already paid a karmic debt by losing his wife and unborn son.

    Shit like that is what drives me most batty about pop culture in general. This idea that if you have a riveting story to tell you get a pass on your bad choices. Call it Michael Mackenzie Jackson Phillips Syndrome.

  13. Coble, that would be a sort of preemptive karmic payment, huh? Since Tate was murdered in 1969 and Polanski didn’t rape the girl until 1977. I didn’t know that any version of karma claimed that going through a tragedy gave a person a karmic IOU for later bad behavior.

  14. Exactly.

    They’re also cutting him slack for the Nazi camp business. Which was farther back yet.

    This is the same school of thought that excuses mjackson for drugging and raping little boys bcz his father was mean and mj himself mad some dancable tunes.

    There is an EXCELLENT movie that talks about the entrenched Hollywood perception about rape being excused when it’s done by powerful men. It’s called Girl 60. *(I think. I may have the number wrong).

  15. Well … there’s a distinction to be made between reasons (which are real, and may be very sad) and excuses. “I did this partly because of X, but I did it and am responsible for it” is waaay different from “it doesn’t matter that I did it, because of X.” We’re supposed to learn that as kids.

  16. 100% gross (both the original crime, and the response). I’m with you. Also on the “rape as flattery” thing.

    On the upside, at least the very conservative members of my family and I can agree on something. Sigh.

  17. Exador, I would have jumped on it sooner, but it seemed so god damn obvious that I kind of thought folks could just see it for what it is. But then the Hollywood whine-fest started.

    I hope folks like Clerks because Silent Bob is one of the few Hollywood folks who’ve bothered to come out on the right side of this issue.

    But I think nm is spot on. A lot of people are, I think, projecting the fact that the victim has done what she thought was necessary to be able to deal with this as meaning that it’s okay for us to ignore it.

    The thing that kills me, too, is this idea that because Polanski has been a victim of so many horrible things, we need to forgive him this. But that’s how horrible things get perpetuated. People who have unspeakable things done to them turn around and do them to others.

    We don’t let them off the hook, even as we hope to understand what happened so we can stop it from happening to others.

  18. This reminds me of reading Michelle Foucault in grad school. Myself and another student just couldn’t get over his argument that age of sexual consent was a socially-constructed idea. It is to a certain extent. Clearly, sixteen year olds are sexual creatures, a friend of mine who teaches high school just caught two of them going at it in a bathroom at school.

    But Foucault argued that an adult man having sex with what he described as sexually-curius children as young as nine was no big deal. Part of the issue here is that Whoopi is partly right in asserting that Europeans, especially the French, do see this issue much differently than we do. The national age of consent in France is 15. Last year in Paris I saw a man that must have been 30+ with a young teen on the subway making out. Nobody cared.

    Of course, this girl was 13 and didn’t consent. But I think that is how Polanski has prospered for so long. Europeans have protected him because they over simplified the issue and thought he was being abused by our puritanical nature.

    He is still a kiddy raping ass whip as far as I’m concerned.

  19. I think what he did was terrible, and too many celebrities get exemptions from the law, for a variety of reasons.

    The only thing that makes me question if he should go to trial, is that the woman who he raped came out saying she wanted the charges dropped. She said what he did was horrific, but the media invasion of her life was 10x worse and it lasted a year, and she doesn’t want to relive all of it in a trial. She said she got over it a long time ago. I would just hate to see the victim suffer more. :( But it’s a tough call for sure.

  20. The Hollywood crowd is amazing. Buttfuck a 13 year old and they get all misty eyed about your creativity, but download a file illegally and the shit starts to fly.

  21. Megan, I know! Talk about a sick view of the universe–the universe preemptively offed your wife because it knew you would rape a child.

    Morgan, I think the thing is that, as much as I think it’s important to take the wishes of the victim into account, at this point, there’s a secondary crime–he fled rather than face the court. I would be all for the DA deciding to respect the victim’s wishes and not retry the original rape (if Polanski were somehow granted a new trial). But I don’t think that should in any way stop the DA from prosecuting the flight.

    Casey, I think the thing that’s interesting–and in fact, it made me wonder if the French might not have been a little duped–is that now that the grand jury testimony has been so widely available, many French organizations and people who originally supported Polanski have dropped their support.

    I think he’s been playing folks in Europe–“Oh, those Americans, you know they’re so Puritanical. All I did was have sex with the girl”–and they believed him.

    Now that it’s so clear (thanks to the internet) that he drugged and raped her, repeatedly?

    His European support is drying up.

  22. I don’t think he had all that much European support to begin with, according to the opinion polls, except among the European equivalent of Hollywood. There have been some things on the blogs about it, for instance this at Alas.

  23. Pingback: No sympathy for an all too familiar devil « Peachleaves

  24. Alright I’ll jump in and say something here no one wants to admit.
    In Hollywood there are a lot of 13 year old little girls who do want to have sex.

    There is also the fact that while this certainly was statutory rape and one can therefore argue whether or not
    1. the act of sex is indeed a harmful one if it weren’t for all the public scrutiny (the victim says the public scrutiny was her only bad effect – not the act)
    2. whether or not 19 or 17 or 12 or 9 (Alexander The Great conquered the world when he was what 13? and I’m sure he had sex before he did it) or any other COMPLETELY ARBITRARY AGE is the proper one to draw the legal line in the sand about and whether the USA is rediculous to do so at ages that are many years into child bearing ages that in the 1900’s people often started whole families at


    3. whether the USA is on a man hating binge never before seen in human history where a penis has been equated with a knife or gun even when neither a knife or gun is present ( the reviolencing of non violent rape)

    Well after all that one can see why someone might just say that it wasn’t “rape rape” becuase IT WASN’T.

    Yes it was illegal but only technically and neither was the victim harmed ACCORDING TO HER. In all known cases believe it or not the mere contact of or insertion by a penis against skin DOES NO HARM.

    In fact if one judges punishment by harm done then one should be punishing the prosecutor and the press for not dropping the case becuase in the victim’s own words they are who caused her the most harm (and are doing so once again)

  25. while this certainly was statutory rape

    no, actually, it was rape. she said no.

    and, frankly, arguing that breaking the clear and simple law shouldn’t be prosecuted as a crime whenever the victim says they weren’t hurt? that’s not what the law is for.

    i have very great sympathy for the now-fortysomething woman who was victimized all those years ago, but the laws against rape do not exist just to do what she (and victims like her) would want to see done. the law does not have “satisfy the victims’ desire for revenge” as its one and only purpose, and much as i understand it can hurt her to keep bringing this shit up, she’s not the only one who matters in this case.

    Yes it was illegal but only technically

    aww, ain’t that cute? a woman saying “no, don’t rape me” is only a technicality.

    you have not the faintest notion of what i’d do to you if i had you in the same room with me, and if you ever want to sleep again, don’t tempt me to tell you.

  26. Nomen, thank you for fielding that last comment. It literally gave me the chills to think that someone would say that stuff in a public forum.

  27. Dear Stop the insanity inaccuracy:

    In addition to the fact that the victim of Polanski’s assault has testified to saying “no” repeatedly, even after being drugged against her will, a clear indication that she did not want to have sex with him:

    1. the victim says that the public scrutiny was one of the bad effects of the rape; she has not said that the rape itself had no bad effects. On the contrary, she has said that it had very bad effects at the time but that over the course of 30+ years she has been able to deal with them.

    2. Alexander the Great was in his twenties and thirties when he carried out his conquests; he did not conquer the world, or even that part of the world of which Macedonians of his time were aware but only the Persian Empire and a bit of the Indus Valley. People did not often start whole families at 13 in the 1900s, or in the 1800s, or at any time in recorded human history.

    3. Not all violence involves a weapon; putting a penis (or any other object) inside a person who has not consented is violence.

    I could recommend some basic reading sources and googling techniques to help you with your problem; would you like them?

  28. I think people like Stop the Insanity are getting hung up on the ‘statutory rape’. I may not be correct here, but my understanding is that the statutory rape conviction was a plea bargain. So while he’s convicted of statutory rape, he actually committed rape in addition to the statuatory rape.

    The perception of statutory rape is entirely different from that of rape. When someone is tried for statutory rape there’s the perception that everyone consented, and it’s only a crime because one party wasn’t ‘technically’ old enough to consent. Hence the ‘not rape-rape’ argument.

  29. Alexander may not be the best example for this situation either. As I recall he had some sexual disfunctions of his own. Not to mention his policy of marrying off his soldiers to women in the areas he conquored. I wonder how many of those war brides met their new husband while being raped by him.

  30. Sexual disfunctions, W? What’s wrong with a little bisexuality among those who like it?

    IIRC, Alexander was thought to be praiseworthy for not raping his personal captives/booty. He kept the “rape the local women” idea for his followers. Evidently, at the time, one proved oneself to be superior by restraint; nowadays, folks like Stop seem to think one proves it by lack thereof.

  31. Alexander The Great conquered the world when he was what 13?

    Uh, no, he was in his early twenties. He was already 20 when his father died.

  32. I kinda wonder if the “Save Polanski” movement in Hollywood right now is mostly due to this kind of stuff being not too far out of the norm in Hollywood.

    Polanski raped the girl in ’77.The next year in 1978, a 12 year old Brooke Shields would do nudity in Pretty Baby. There may be a pederest streak all gussied up as art in Hollywood that just isn’t tolerated outside of it. Even among those in Europe not part of the artistic elite.

    And my own little theory: Combine that streak with a deadened familiarity to the casting couch, which who knows how many well known or obscure 15-17 aspiring starlets have been on, and maybe that’s why Hollywood, in this instance, just doesn’t get it why what Polanski did was so out of bounds.

  33. Ugh, slightly off topic but related to Lee’s comment, I stumbled across the Brooke Shields tub photos earlier this week and I have had horrible nightmares about them for the past two days. I don’t know that I have ever wished to unsee something as much as I wish to unsee those.

    I know a judge ruled that they weren’t pornography, but the one is obviously supposed to be titillating. And the way the photo is taken, like anyone, even you, dear stranger, have the right to look at this beautiful girl naked, just really viscerally disgusts me.

    So, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s the norm across the board in Hollywood, but there’s definitely a sub-culture who could insulate themselves enough to not only air these fantasies, but make them real.

  34. Since Coble or Newscoma threw the Phillips thing in there, here’s my 2 cents:

    Mackenzie Phillips, in relating the story of her first arrest for drugs, she said that her father told her “congratultions, you’re a real Phillips now” and something to the effect of “the rules don’t apply” because she came from a famous family.

    Sadly, I contend this is the general consensus around Hollywood.

    I just finished reading Motley Crue’s book “The Dirt” — and across the board, as they were screwing everything in sight, age didn’t matter. The sh*t these guys got away with is appalling.

    Roman Polanski should rot in jail. I don’t care if he simultaneously found the cure for AIDS, cancer and the common cold, he raped a 13 year old CHILD. There is no justifying that. NONE.

  35. NM,

    LOL. Actually, I posted without reading and felt silly afterwards. You had, indeed, said it much better than I.

  36. It was bizarre to hear and read of Polanski’s arrest first while in Berlin. European media seemed to project a universal tone of outrage at this latest puritanical episode of American jurisprudence.

    I have to say my initial inclination was toward sympathy for a great director who has endured horrible things in his life — a feeling abetted just a little by my having been a teen in the 1970s and knowing that human behavior has rarely if ever been more licentious, across boundaries of age and class, than it was in the last half of that decade in the U.S.

    Facts I have learned since returning home Tuesday night, including some of those marshaled by the esteemed B., leave me feeling entirely in sympathy with those condemning Polanski here.

    But the nagging thought remains: Do I feel this way because of what I now know, or because of where I now am?

  37. um,Europeans are people too.
    not everyone ‘over there’ is a “libertine” or supports polanski….
    that is rape culture propaganda, as much as anything else(“everyone does it or overlooks it or wants to do it”)
    polanski said the exact same thing in his own defense”(they all want to do it”)
    re hollywood guys.
    kinda like the so called moral “majority”.
    inflamatory self defense propaganda.
    the “no one cares because everyone does it”

  38. Tom, if you would have stayed there long enough, we’d have hooked you up with some European feminists, no problem.

    Glad you’re safely back.

  39. I just posted on the use of rape language in business. I suspect the word is being misappropriated there because managers feel impotent sitting at a desk all day.

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