Content warning: this post discusses rape and rape culture
There’s not really a specific look to a rapist. They’re not born with the word RAPIST emblazoned across their foreheads, nor do they glow faintly in the dark. There’s no visual markers of a rapist. Would that there were, it would all be so much easier to just set the fuckers on fire before they have a chance to hurt someone.
Warwick student George Lawlor missed the memo that there wasn’t a specific rapist aesthetic, and was mortally offended when, like loads of other people in his year, he was invited to a workshop on consent. He reacted in the most point-missing way possible.
“I love consent,” he bleats, calling the very notion of consent workshops “incredibly hurtful”. He writes screeds about how everyone totally understands consent while not demonstrating this in the slightest, boiling it all down to–and I quote–“Yes means yes, no means no. It’s really that simple.” George Lawlor reckons workshops talking about what consent really, actually means is a waste of everyone’s time, particularly those who organise such events.
In doing all of this, George Lawlor has achieved one thing, and one thing only: he’s made himself look like a rapist. His short article and selfie have worked wonders in demonstrating a lot of the little hints I look out for, after years of the unfortunate experience of having encountered rapists. Men who display these behaviours, I now avoid. Here are the ways that George Lawlor has made himself look like a rapist:
- He prioritises his own feelings above those of anyone else. At length, George Lawlor bangs on about how hurt he is that someone invited him to a consent workshop and how selfish it is that such workshops are happening without a thought for his own wounded feelings.
- He manifestly does not understand consent, thinking it a simple matter of a yes or a no. Sadly, it’s a fuckton more complicated than that: a yes can be coerced, a yes can be withdrawn, a yes can be drunkenly slurred by someone who is in no fit state to understand what this word means.
- You know who is usually most insistent that they are not a rapist? Rapists. False denials of rape are so common as to be banal.
- He displays absolutely no willingness to self-examine the gaps in his own knowledge, or to reflect upon past experiences and see that maybe he should think about doing things differently in the future. Those who think they have nothing to learn are those with the most to learn, and a safe person should always have the capacity to admit that they could be wrong.
- While he does not squawk out the mantra itself, the notion of “not all men” hangs over his article like a fedora. Those who want to protect their own self-concept are often fucking dickheads.
- He clearly doesn’t understand why feminists are starting to organise consent workshops to teach consent universally. Spoiler: it’s to kick back against a culture that helps rapists, by arming everyone with an understanding of how not to rape.
- Those who get sneery about feminist initiatives and organising are almost always misogynistic dungheaps of the highest order.
- He clearly doesn’t understand what a rapist looks like: how it’s more likely to be the guy you know than some random stranger in an alley, how it’s more likely to be a guy who thinks he did nothing wrong than a monster chuckling about how he’s totally a rapist, how rapists don’t have horns or something like that.
- He clearly hasn’t a fucking clue as to how to end rape culture, suggesting “campaigning, volunteering and caring for other people” would be a better use of our time. Well, we’ve been doing that since fucking forever, and it has its place, but that doesn’t exactly work on its own (and volunteering and caring usually works best after the fact).
For a Tory, George Lawlor sure is waving a hell of a lot of red flags.
Are consent workshops a panacea, a means for hitting the nail on the head and ending rape completely? Of course not. But are they a useful tool for chipping away at rape culture? Absofuckinglutely. Everyone should discuss what consent is, really think about it, and get to the difficult truths about their own histories. Awareness is absolutely crucial: both self-awareness of what you’re doing, and awareness of what other people are doing and whether that’s OK or not.
In resisting this preventive measure, George Lawlor is helping rapists, and only rapists. He’d do well to begin by asking himself why he wants to do that.
Update 16/10: You should all read this excellent piece from Warwick’s Women’s Officer, explaining why consent workshops are vital. It’s especially important you read it if you’re a man who’s come here to clutch your pearls at the thought that women are creeped out by behaviour such as Lawlor’s.