Trigger warning: this post quotes some horrific rape apologism and discusses rape
Remember that rape apologist who was once on the telly who said some awful things about rape, including how he likes to do “stealth raids” on his wife when she’s asleep? Steve Brookstein. Come on, you must remember him. He showed up in the comments on my post about him, remember? He was also on telly once, or something? Yeah, I know, he’s instantly forgettable, but unfortunately hasn’t fucked off yet.
Anyway, Steve’s retained a fridge-buzz of Twitter misogyny in the last week, continuing to say awful things about rape. He blamed men’s hormones for making them rape (but that didn’t make them rapists, somehow). He promised to write a blog clarifying his position (because he’s totally not a rape apologist, somehow). He engaged in survivor-blaming (women too drunk to consent “offer it up”, somehow). He suggested that instead of spiked drinks, maybe women were “easy lays” (which is probably OK on some planet, somewhere, somehow). Then he got all confused about how drunk “too drunk is”, called some people Nazis and reiterated his promise of a blog clarifying why he totally wasn’t a rape apologist, somehow. Then he deleted all his tweets, so big thanks to the eagle-eyed @AGBear who managed to screencap it all.
Today, the much-vaunted blog has arrived. Has Brookstein managed to explain how it was all a big misunderstanding and that he really does understand how sexual consent works, and there was [insert some sort of explanation for his behaviour that I honestly can’t even conceptualise]? By that last bit of the sentence, you’ve probably guessed the answer. Steve Brookstein is a big massive rape apologist.
It opens somewhat promisingly:
Say NO to drunken sex – and I’m talking to the guys!I was going to call this “This blog could save a young man’s life.” but anyway…
Has Brookstein realised that people shouldn’t be having sex where one or both of you is too drunk to be able to establish consent? No. No he hasn’t. See, poor Steve regrets talking about Julian Assange and Ched Evans (one is wanted for rape, the other convicted and imprisoned for rape) and everyone’s been all mean to him. Also, he thinks poor little St Julian is having problems:
Assange is already getting abuse with his image being tarnished forever and he is only wanted for questioning.
Yeah. Steve had probably best read up on the Assange case from someone who knows what they’re talking about rather than the foil-hatters, too.
The main thrust of Steve’s argument is that the law on rape changed recently, to reflect a new condition that the perpetrator does not reasonably believe that the survivor has not consented. Under this, rapes where the survivor was drunk can be prosecuted more easily. Steve thinks this is pretty unfair, because how can anyone possibly know about these changes to the law? His heart goes out to Ched Evans:
If Ched Evans had sex with this girl just 18 months earlier the judge would have advised the jury to come back with a NOT GUILTY verdict.
See, poor Ched, according to Steve, is a victim of redefining rape:
“Easier to convict men”? That’s not making it easier to catch a rapist, that is redefining the crime. That is a change to the definition of rape. I expected to see something in this piece on this change in the law of consensual sex. Considering that it could result in a man going to prison for 5 years. Sorry Ched, you should have read the new CPS guidelines!
Now, if you think this sounds a bit like an argument a weeping syphilitic chode might make, you’re right. Steve Brookstein even quotes that certain weeping syphilitic chode in his blog. O’Neill was wrong, and so’s Steve.
Anyway, Steve continues being an aggressive bulldozer of wrong for several hundred words, with a little diversion to point out that in a high-profile scenario, he’d seen a video and the survivor didn’t look “that drunk”. Also, he keeps suggesting that drunk women have some sort of hold over men who are literally unable to control their penises, and goes on about tedious shit about how active consent would require signing contracts (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). Only at one point does he manage to say anything even approaching right:
When men have had “NO MEANS NO!” drilled into them are you surprised a guy thinks “yes!” is ok?
Unfortunately, Steve thinks this means we shouldn’t be too hard on men who rape women who are too drunk to consent. It’s a half-decent point, though. We do need to re-evaluate our model of consent. And a lot of us have, to enthusiastic consent. Look for an enthusiastic yes, rather than an absence of a no, or a slurred “yeah, whatever”.
And this is what Steve and his ilk–unfortunately, there’s many who think like him–simply cannot wrap their heads around. And it’s this that should be taught to everyone. Seeking enthusiastic consent helps you stop being a rapist and makes you a good fuck. The “no means no” message needs to go.
Of course, this doesn’t absolve anyone who hasn’t done this from wrongdoing. It’s something everyone should be doing anyway. It’s the difference between borrowing and stealing, to use a terrible analogy. It’s not redefining rape to say that this should happen. It’s ensuring rape doesn’t happen at all.
But the Steve Brooksteins of the world don’t get this. Maybe they’re rapists, maybe they’re just shit in bed. Either way, they continue to aggressively push their agenda, lashing out whenever anyone offers an alternative. They cling to tropes and an ambivalent faith in the justice system (rape is only rape when it’s been convicted, except sometimes even then it’s not rape). These ideas need undoing. The myths are not true. What the legal system says is rape, and what rape actually is are two different things. The majority of rape happens without any engagement with the legal system, and conviction and punishment (retributive justice) is not the way to deal with rape and rape culture.
What we need is a revolutionary change in the way we think. Many of us are already there, already talking about and practising techniques that make rape harder to perpetrate. It’s the Steve Brooksteins of the world that are holding us back by continuing to perpetuate the culture that allows rape to happen. They’re complicit, every single one of them.
And we’ll talk louder, make it harder and harder for them to push their archaic ideologies. One day, there will be a world without rape, and they’ll be silent. They’ll either be convinced, or ignored for their vile, minority opinions.