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Don’t be an Almost-Ally

August 2, 2013


[UPDATE: I see that one of the commenters quoted below has taken it upon himself to link this post from the blog in question, and to notify the other commenters that I am “ripping them to shreds.” I find this puzzling, given that I 1) specifically declined to name them so as not to make them out to be “bad guys” when they’re really just representing some common and misguided attitudes about rape, and 2) deliberately used gentler-than-usual language and pointed out that these are basically well-meaning folks. In light of that, I think it’s pretty awesome that I’m the one he’s accusing of “oversensitivity.” Carry on, and welcome, new readers!]

A quick primer for those responding to allegations of athletes, celebrities, or anyone, really, accused of rape or sexual assault (with the usual disclaimer that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty):

The news today that two minor leaguers in the Colorado Rockies’ system have been charged with first-degree rape has prompted a wealth of reaction on the intertubes. Thus far, I’ve managed to stay away from the sites that I’m guessing are generating 31 flavors of victim-blaming (twenty bucks says I could find five different iterations of “She probably thought it was cool to bang baseball players and then regretted it the next morning!” within ten minutes of searching), and that’s not the sort of extreme and obvious Wrong Response I’m interested in discussing today.

No, I want to call attention to a kind of reaction that’s simultaneously better and worse—less overtly misogynistic and cruel, but potentially more subtly dangerous, in a way, because it’s offered in an ostensibly supportive spirit. I’m talking about those folks who agree that rape is a very, very bad thing….but who have their reasons wrong. They are the Almost-Allies, and they’re so close to being real allies that they might as well just go all the way.

Here are some examples, taken from—I assume—well-meaning people :

“Sad. To be 23 and know that your life is over.”

That is sad. It’s especially sad when you’re 23 and you know your life is over because, say, you have terminal cancer. It’s a lot less sad when your life is over because you made the choice to commit a violent crime and now you’re facing a lengthy prison term. You know what else is really sad? Being raped. In fact, it’s even sadder to me than being the rapist. [ETA: Yes, this commenter later added his sympathies, which I do believe are entirely genuine, for the victim. But the point is that he didn’t do that until he was reminded. That doesn’t make him a bad guy. But I question his framing of the rape.]

“What a shame that these kids get such an amazing opportunity to play professional baseball and they blow [it] just by doing something stupid like that.”

Okay, we’re getting a little closer. But again, look who’s missing from this sentiment: The victim herself. Isn’t it more of a shame that they violated and injured her than that they wasted a shot at playing in the bigs? Further, I’m not convinced that first-degree two-on-one rape is best described as “stupid”—not when we have adjectives like “repugnant” and “sadistic” available to us at the same cost.

“You have absolutely no game if you play professional baseball and need to rape a woman to get laid.”

Here’s another guy who understands that Rape Is Wrong but has completely misunderstood (or, alternatively, is willfully misrepresenting) why. Let’s review: Rape is not about a lack of “game.” Rape is not about wanting to “get laid.” Rape is a crime of violence and domination, and discussing it in fratty dudebro language only perpetuates the rape culture.

“Chillax bro!”

This one’s a bonus—directed at me minutes ago by the same commenter who posted the first comment quoted above, after I responded to a few of these postings on the other blog.

Apparently he still needs to be reminded that there are any women involved in this rape story.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2013 3:01 pm

    All these quotes came from

    I ask your readers to determine on their own if it is as bad as this blog makes it out to be.

  2. August 2, 2013 3:07 pm

    “Hey, look—another guy who understands that Rape Is Wrong but has ….” Why do you assume someone named “bronco58lb” is a man? Couldn’t it easily be a woman?

    Then you ignore a post by a woman, “natslady” which says:
    “Unbelievably bad. First degree rape (if guilty), they really messed up that victim. Sounds like two guys who should have been sent home (from reading the article, neither one was actively pitching), rather than hang in that town and that apartment with nothing to do for hour after hour, day after day, except maybe a little rehab.”

    What? Didn’t fit the bash men narrative?

    • August 2, 2013 3:16 pm

      I found natslady’s comment puzzling, and I wasn’t crazy about the way it seemed to ascribe blame to the team bosses rather than the perps themselves, but it wasn’t the same type of “ignore the victim and bemoan the sad fate of the accused” response as the others, and I had about 15 minutes to write a blog post, so I chose accordingly. I also omitted several other comments that might well have been included.

      Yeah, I started a blog about a sport played almost exclusively by men because I want to “bash men.” Eyeroll.

      Detroitfanatic, I’m not interested in resuming our HBT repartee here, so please don’t bother. Thanks/peace.

      • August 2, 2013 4:07 pm

        You wanted to write a column, so you nit picked a paraphrased sentence here and a paraphrased sentence there in order to fit your narrative. Baseb

      • August 2, 2013 4:27 pm

        1) I did not want to write a column today, actually. I wanted to take a nap.
        2) I paraphrased nothing. I excerpted without taking anything out of context.
        3) My “narrative” is that there is in our society a persistent failure to talk about rape in language that doesn’t blame the victim and/or portray the perpetrators as the REAL victims. And if you think that’s something I just made up, or a function of my hypersensitivity, then you’re just continuing to prove my point.
        4) I would now like to go watch my team play baseb. Ta.

      • August 2, 2013 5:05 pm

        I don’t think it’s fair to go to a baseball blog where people are heavily invested in the game and find a few sentences to help you make your point. I know these players. Maybe not these players, but hundreds like them. I know the Tigers top 20 prospects by heart. I have been to every Rays affiliate this year except Durham. I know these guys. It’s sad to see them in prison jumpsuits.

        By no means does that statement make me misogynistic or cruel, or whatever you called my statement. It also doesn’t mean I don’t care about the victim. I hate what they did, and they deserve prison.

        If I read and responded to this on huffingtonpost, my statement likely would have been different. I wasn’t on huffingtonpost. The last post I made on huffpost was how upset I was at Anthony Weiner. Not because of what he did to Huma Abadein, but because he was a very promising young politician who blew it. I suspect you are more angry at Anthony over what he did to the party and his young, promising career than what he did to Huma. Ignoring the victim? No. Just expressing grief and anger.

        3 years ago, I had a friend sentenced to 7 years in prison for DUI and vehicular manslaughter. I feel sad for him. I feel sad for his victim. I have been to see his parents and expressed my grief. I have been to see him and expressed my grief. I haven’t been to see the victims family. It doesn’t mean I haven’t cried for them, or the victim. I have. But more than anything, I’m sad for my friend.

        Your cause is righteous. Rape is a serious proplem. But I’m sad for these guys, and make no apologies.

      • August 2, 2013 5:22 pm

        I’m “heavily invested in the game” too, you know. It doesn’t get in the way of being sensitive to rape victims and careful about the language I use to talk about rape.

        I never could stand Anthony Weiner, so your suspicions aren’t accurate, though I respect your point—and I would point out again that I took pains never to portray you as a bad/insensitive/sexist guy. Sadly, some of your ensuing comments have made it harder to stick to that opinion, though I’m trying.

        Move on. Please.

      • August 2, 2013 5:34 pm

        I know. I know. You can take part of my comments and post them on your blog. But I’m not allowed to come here and defend them. It’s nice to be the person in power, huh, especially when you insist on getting the last word in.

      • August 2, 2013 5:47 pm

        Sweet lord, you’re tiresome. I’m not sure how approving a half-dozen of your comments is “not letting you defend yourself,” but okay, go. Have the last word. Give me your worst.

      • August 2, 2013 7:51 pm

        That’s your idea of me getting the last word? Look. Maybe you are new to this wordpress thing, but I get an email from wordpress telling me someone responded to my comment. So if you want me to stop posting, please stop emailing me.

    • August 2, 2013 11:11 pm

      detroitfanatic, as multiply noted on HBT, you seem incapable of grasping that this post was never about you until you MADE it about you. Whereas fearlessleader took pains to preserve your anonymity, you pointedly identified yourself and then inanely and insistently and incessantly redirected attention from the original issue to your poor bruised feelings. You used this blog to pummel your own ego, then whined about being misrepresented and picked-on. The subsequent series of laughably juvenile jabs at fearless back on HBT were a particularly classy touch, too.

      A shame…before you got all disturbingly reactive and stalkery, you seemed like a pretty decent and potentially educable guy.

      P.S. EMR, I think I love you.

      • August 3, 2013 10:20 am

        I wanted to see who it was who kept correcting every statement on a baseball blog. I clicked fearlessleader’s name, only to be brought to her blog. I then find part of my quote, with an explanation as to why I am a “dudebro”, an “almost ally” against rape, and “less overtly misogynistic and cruel, but potentially more subtly dangerous”.

        These accusations hurt me. I didn’t dismiss rape in any way, but was used as an example of what was wrong with society. That will piss anyone off. It pissed me off.

      • August 3, 2013 10:43 am

        Thanks for clarifying that your feelings were hurt, because your previous 42973 comments on three different web pages certainly hadn’t made that evident. What you still fail to grasp is that your initial words about the rape were themselves hurtful to rape victims and potential rape victims. Perhaps they didn’t reflect your True Soul, but the fact remains that your immediate public reaction to a brutal rape was “how sad for those guys,” and you still haven’t owned up to that or to its power to harm. I took pains to specify that I didn’t think you were a bad guy (though you’re giving me reason to reconsider that), but you insisted on lashing out in a dozen different pathetic, juvenile ways—and, in the process, driving about ten times more traffic to my blog than it would have gotten if you’d resisted the urge to splash the link all over HBT.

        I’m sorry that you’re pissed off. But this isn’t really about you, except to the extent that you’re determined to make it so.

        Further comments from you will be deleted unless they represent something different from what you’ve been posting for the last 24 hours.

      • August 3, 2013 11:11 am

        Please stop emailing me.

      • August 3, 2013 11:28 am

        Dude, cripes. YOU control whether you get e-mails when someone replies to this blog by checking or unchecking the “Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail” box. I assure you she is not intentionally sending you a damned thing. Uncheck the box and drop the persecution complex.

  3. EMR permalink
    August 2, 2013 4:27 pm

    As a man, and a sort of amateur social anthropologist, I think I know what’s going on here. When Dudebro is observed in the wild, this sort of thing happens a lot.

    Perhaps due to the tightness of his baseball cap, Dudebro can only take in so much information at any one time, especially if it comes from a woman. Dudebro is generally only comfortable with women if they are dressed in orange shorts and a skimpy top, serving him overpriced chicken wings. After the “woman’s point of view” intake limit has been reached, Dudebro’s brow becomes furrowed and his arms begin swinging. His knuckles drag across the floor, and his hat automatically flips around, and he is furious and no longer in a chillaxed state. He becomes defensive and may accuse his female opponent of being a “male-basher” because, in this heightened state, Dudebro does not comprehend the concept of “false equivalency.” Instead, Dudebro’s defensiveness betrays a deep-seated fear and distrust of women.

    Here’s an informative video on the subject:

  4. Mike permalink
    August 3, 2013 3:19 am


  5. hittfamily permalink
    August 3, 2013 11:52 am

    Wow. I had to see why that HBT thread had over 100 comments, now I see why. Great blog. Detroitfanatic is a jerk.

    I think his point is fair though. I didn’t think his original post warranted your response urging him to amend his statement the way you did. I can understand why someone would be upset to find their nontoxic words used against them on a blog like this. I think if you are going to engage and correct people, you shouldn’t cut and paste their words onto your site, and then write a lengthy commentary as to why those words are hateful and hurtful.

    Next time, maybe, just observe. I doubt he would have found this site if you didn’t engage him. It’s hard to be objective when you are goading people on.

    • August 4, 2013 4:38 pm

      I respect your position, hittfamily, but do you have any idea how many times a day women “just observe” guys talking about rape as if (among other things) it’s as big a tragedy for the rapist as for the victim? At what point do we get to point out why this sort of language is harmful?

      In the original HBT post, I didn’t ask detroitfanatic to amend anything; I merely addedd on to his “how sad for these boys” statement to include the alleged victim as well. Because I didn’t think detroitfanatic MEANT any harm, I specifically did not mention him by name, but he decided to publicize the post (which otherwise probably would have been read by 20 of my friends) far and wide.

      Anyway, thanks for your reasoned comment. 🙂

      • hittfamily permalink
        August 4, 2013 5:33 pm

        I lost a very close family member, Patty Hitt, to domestic violence last year. I have since taken notice of violence in media, TV, and conversation. I couldn’t watch shows like Law and Order for months after. I still find it odd that “who done it” parties are thrown to find out who the murderer is. Heck. A TV show just aired on ABC an hour ago in that exact format. This stuff never bothered me until last December.

        I am glad that rape isn’t used as casually as murder. I hear “I’d kill him if he did that to me” a lot more than “I’d rape her if she did that to me”. After what happened to my family at the hands of the abuser, and the hell she went through alone leading up to it, I have pricked up my ears a little more to the issues women deal with on a daily basis. I enjoyed reading your blog, and I hope you got a little more traffic out of it thanks to detroit’s childish overreaction, even if a little anger was justified.

      • August 4, 2013 8:21 pm

        Oh, hittfamily, I am so terribly sorry. That’s beyond horrible and you have my deepest and truest sympathies. Perhaps I can make a donation in Patty’s memory to a domestic-violence-related cause; if you want, let me know if there’s a particular one you favor. Peace….

      • August 4, 2013 8:42 pm

        hittfamily, I am sorry beyond words for your unspeakable tragedy. I send you my sincere sympathy, and wish you and your family solace and peace. Take good care.

    • August 4, 2013 5:11 pm

      hittfamily and Taylor: Thanks for coming at this in thoughtful fashion — much appreciated. I have to emphatically second, though, what fearlessleader has said to you here, and I think her premises are very important ones.

      hittfamily, a central issue of this blog posting was that that detroitfanatic’s words (and the words of the other posters anonymously reported here) were NOT nontoxic, and just because THEY (and perhaps you) think they are doesn’t make them so. Why is it wrong to point that out (and, truly, to point it out in a deliberately respectful, non-aggressive, non-personalized way), even if it hurts feelings? That smacks of being called intolerant for pointing out homophobia/racism/choose-your-ism. Which is abject bullshit.

      What are personal blogs for if not for the blog-owner to express opinions? Fearlessleader was not trying to engage detroitfanatic specifically, let alone GOAD him for crying out loud. She simply excerpted examples of language that the speakers did not see as damaging, showed in straightforward fashion why they actually were, and showed how and why language like that helps maintain the same status quo that suggests that women simply observe the things that upset or offend or minimize bodily harm, rather than pointing them out. Do you see? This is not nor ever was personal (until DF made it so); it is cultural and it is dangerous. The insidious edge is that lots of generally decent guys say stuff like this and don’t understand why it’s harmful.

      Taylor, if these men end up being innocent, every word that fearlessleader has written here remains valid because 1) she specifically stated that they should be presumed innocent and 2) this is not about those men in particular, but rather about common offensive reactions to situations such as this. It’s not about the players, and it certainly never was intended to be about detroitfanatic.

      Thanks, guys.

  6. Taylor permalink
    August 3, 2013 7:51 pm

    Hmm, but you as the author are making statements that suggest it’s a certainty that these players raped a woman, while chiding others for the things they’ve said. The legal process has only slightly began to play out. What if these players end up being innocent? Then what?

    • August 4, 2013 4:40 pm

      I believe there’s a disclaimer on the post that says that these young men are innocent until proven guilty. Really, the post isn’t about them, but about some of the reflexive ways society tends to talk about rape/alleged rape, and why they’re not really helpful.

    • August 4, 2013 6:44 pm

      Taylor, see response to hittfamily. 🙂

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