Content note: This post discusses rape and rape apologism, as well as mental health stigma
Actor Shia LaBeouf said in an interview recently that during a piece of performance art, he had been raped by a woman. I believe him. I believe when people say they have been raped, that they have been raped. I believe survivors.
To tackle rape culture, this is a position from which we must all start. Unfortunately, there are too many with a vested interest in keeping rape culture alive to see an outpouring of support for Shia LaBeouf. Instead, what we see is a gleeful rush of dismissal and disbelief, focusing on how LaBeouf wasn’t acting as they thought a survivor should, that he must be making it up for attention, that je seems kind of crazy, that it’s impossible for a woman to rape a man. Tired old tropes, the lot of them.
What is particularly sickening is the glee with which Shia LaBeouf’s story is dismissed. It’s like rape apologists have finally been presented with a target for the vile thoughts bubbling up within them, knowing that they’re no longer “allowed” to say these things about women because of the evil SJW conspiracy, but not realising that what they believe is truly repulsive, regardless of the gender of its target.
Last night, the rape apologist agenda was given validation in the form of a high-profile backer, as Piers Morgan told his millions of followers not to believe LaBeouf:
You’ll see here that leaking shitcanoe Morgan is focusing on some tiresome and long-discredited tropes: that LaBeouf didn’t report to the police and that he didn’t follow the Good Survivor™ script that we must all follow in order to be believed. While a gratifyingly large number of decent people called him out, there was a worrisomely large proportion of men cheering him on.
It’s absolutely abominable that somebody can dictate to millions the reasons not to believe a survivor. I had thought Piers Morgan to be an unwanted fart in a small room before, but now I see that he is something far more dangerous: he is a man who wants rapists to be able to continue raping.
The whole response to LaBeouf has laid bare the faces of rape culture. Each undue focus on how LaBeouf acts weird and crazy so shouldn’t be believed makes life easier for rapists: people with mental health problems are more likely to be raped precisely because they are less likely to be believed. Each repetition of the myth that someone with a vagina cannot rape someone with a penis is a complete nonsense, and makes it easier for rapists to thrive. Each cry that LaBeouf did not report to the police is a slap in the face of the vast majority of survivors who also did not report.
I’m surprised–and disappointed–that there aren’t more people outraged about all of this. It seems, once again, that it’s only feminists talking about it. Is it really true that we are the only ones who care about dismantling rape culture? I hope not, with all of my heart, but I fear that this may be the case.