Trigger Warning for rape apologism and graphic descriptions of rape, especially in linked article.
An ongoing UK rape case presents us with a perfect example of rape apologism, and the grave cultural misunderstanding over what exactly constitutes both rape and consent.
Jack Tweed, the widower of a reality show star, is charged on two counts of rape. His friend Anthony Davis is accused on one count of rape for the same instance. Davis launches a defense of both of their actions in a way that is particularly disturbing:
The alleged victim, who is now 20, told Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London she was “horrified” and went into “complete lockdown” when Davis joined Tweed on the bed and they both raped her together.
But Davis told police he was stood between the door and the bed and could see Tweed was having sex with the teenager up against the window.
“She didn’t protest it,” he told police.
“She didn’t say stop. She didn’t say anything to suggest she didn’t want it to happen.
“She didn’t say anything at all.”
She didn’t say anything at all. In other words, she didn’t say yes.
In a better world, a more compassionate world, a world that cared more about the humanity and rights of others, these would be words you would never, ever speak in order to proclaim your innocence regarding an alleged rape. In a better world — a world that thought rape was a real crime, and that women’s bodies actually matter (not because only women are raped, but because rape is so associated with women and socially constructed accordingly) — when accused of rape, admitting that you did not at any point obtain any form of consent would be a virtual admission of guilt. Not a defense.
There are non-verbal ways to give consent, certainly. But Davis is in no way referring to those types of consent. He is, in fact, seemingly not talking about consent at all. What he is talking about is a lack of explicit non-consent. He is talking about women as though they are a permanent state of consent, a state that must explicitly be revoked to constitute rape. He is speaking about women as though they exist to be sexually used, as though they have no inner lives, as though they have no basic bodily rights. He is speaking about women as not needing to give consent, but being 100% responsible for loudly and verbally withdrawing it. He’s speaking about women as being obligated to say “stop,” but about men as being in no way required to ensure that there is a meaningful “go.”
He is claiming that a woman’s silence essentially allows him to do whatever he wants to her.
He then goes on about the alleged victim’s grave and apparently very damning failure to scream:
He went on: “The whole episode in that room couldn’t have been longer than four, five minutes, max, if that.
“If a girl had been assaulted or raped, she would have come out of that room traumatised.
“She would have been screaming, surely someone would have heard something.”
Davis added that, when the victim was having sex with Tweed by the window, her leg was in the air.
“If she did want him to stop, all she had to do was kick him and he would have been off,” Davis said.
Seemingly, Davis is prepared and willing to pull out every rape apologist, rape denialist, victim-blaming myth in the book as a means to claim his innocence. Interestingly, he spends precious little time explaining that consent was present, and how that consent was expressed and verified. He just wants us to know that the alleged victim didn’t do anything to precisely indicate that her body did not belong to these two men.
It couldn’t be rape, because it didn’t last very long.
It couldn’t be rape, because no one noticed any visible trauma.
It couldn’t be rape, because she didn’t scream.
It couldn’t be rape, because there were no witnesses.
It couldn’t be rape, because it’s only rape when a victim physically struggles.
I couldn’t possibly be a rapist, because my alleged victim didn’t act how I expect rape victims to act.
It couldn’t be rape, because a rape victim must say “no,” or otherwise consent is present.
And she didn’t say anything at all.