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Famous People Can Rape, Too.

… But thankfully, this is very rare. Okay, so this blog post is something I’ve thought about for a while, though obviously not in this context, but that’s been today’s inspiration. I logged into Twitter, and I saw that #WeKnowTheRealHarry was trending. After a bit of investigation, I saw that One Direction fans are going crazy because Harry Styles, one of their members, has been accused of rape. The inspiration behind this post is that I wanted to explore exactly why ‘knowing the real’ person in ANY case doesn’t actually mean anything when it comes to this terrible crime.

I’m going to start by asserting the following three VERY IMPORTANT key points:

  • I don’t know a THING. I am not asserting that Harry raped somebody.
  • False rape allegations are shocking, ruin lives, and diminish the suffering of real victims.
  • Rape DOES HAPPEN though, and it’s about power and control, not sex.

With these very important things having been said, I’ll continue.

To a lot of people, saying ‘famous people can rape, too’, is a bit of a “DUH” statement. However, we have to remember that when you respect and care for someone on an extreme level, it’s impossible to see anything else. Some people even defend deplorable actions simply because they like the person who’s committed them. Famous people are people just like anyone else. Some are good, some are bad, but most, like the rest of us, are a total combination – they’re human. Sadly, humanity can be an awful spectrum.

I’m not exactly a One Direction fan, but I’ll admit it – I quite like singing along to their music, and I think a lot of the members are attractive. Like, super attractive. I also feel ridiculously sorry for the amount of abuse that the band gets – sure, they’re famous, but they’re people. They’re not public property for people to either abuse or claim rights to. It’s not fair.

When allegations of any kind are made about any member of this band, we have to consider that you know, there are vested interests out there which could cause people to lie. I watched the documentary, ‘Crazy About One Direction’, and honestly I felt so sad for the mental health of some of their fans – but that’s another issue entirely. It’s not a stretch though to imagine that people might fabricate pregnancies, relationships, or sexual contact with the band – even of the non-consensual kind. I volunteer for a Rape Crisis Centre, and we are taught to always believe a survivor. I 100% see flaws with that, and I do appreciate though that in high profile cases, it can sometimes be harder to do so, for reasons I’ve outlined above. However, the REASONS for discrediting someone can’t just be because you said so.

For legal reasons, because again, I know nothing (I’ve not even read the full allegations…) I’m going to take Harry Styles out of the equation. I hope this is a hoax, and in all probability, it will be. Spare a thought for girls who accuse famous people though. The onus is FULLY on her to prove her case, and even *if* it was true, they face so much abusive rhetoric from other fans.

There are some things which really need discussing though, and I think cases like this one simply highlight how many rape myths there actually are still in 2015. In this case, much like in the case of Ronnie Radke (the rock singer) recently, potential victims are dismissed for the wrong reasons – often really, really warped ones.

It’s fine to defend a band you like.

It’s fine to assume that they’d do no wrong. In most cases, you’d be right, I’m sure, and I feel sorry for ANY victim of a false allegation because it can ruin reputations and even lives. However, time and time again, I’m seeing things like this, about how cute he is, and so on. It’s irrelevant:

The hashtag #WeAllKnowTheRealHarry doesn’t have to be about one of the most famous people in the world. It could be about any man. I’m seeing lovely examples of how Harry has helped cancer patients. How he’s saved people from suicide or even just how he’s so damn sweet to his fans, even when he’s stalked.

Despite these things though, I think it’s important to note that a rapist isn’t always some stranger in a dark alley. It can be someone you know. Someone who you trust. In fact, it can be a stranger, even a stranger who volunteers and does amazing things for charity.

None of these things sadly mean that the person can’t also hide a darker side.  Again, I will reiterate. This is just a lesson – it is NOT about Harry Styles. Also, threatening people who make allegations just because you idolise someone doesn’t help anything.

By all means, protest someone’s innocence, but consider rape myths and how these aren’t real defences. Sadly, nobody really knows the truth about anyone, especially someone they may never have met. I’d be pissed off though if someone said this shit about someone I cared about though, and yeah, I’d probably go on about how they’re amazing, too. But I think people need to realize that someone can be one thing to someone, and something else entirely to everyone else.

A Real Case Of A Rockstar Rapist

Remember Ian Watkins? Just in case you don’t, he was the singer of the incredibly successful Welsh rock band called Lostprophets. In 2013, he was sentenced to 36 years in prison for crimes ranging from attempted rape of a baby to sharing indecent images of children. One of the things that stuck out to me most was when people defended him DESPITE evidence, saying things like:

“He’s so hot, he doesn’t need to rape!”

“He’s famous, he could get anyone he likes!”.

“I met him at a concert once, and he was soooo nice!”

In Ian’s case, that turned out to mean absolutely nothing. This further highlights the fact that despite having access to hundreds of women who would want to sleep with you, it doesn’t change your mentality if you’re a rapist. He’s guilty and guess what? His looks and fame didn’t stop that. I imagine a lot of people with his mentality in his position wouldn’t ever risk doing what he did, thankfully, but in some ways he just became so power hungry that he thought he was invincible.

Victim Shaming

I’ve seen a lot of victim shaming recently of the girl who accused Ronnie Radke (Falling In Reverse/Escape The Fate) of rape, too. Now, again, I’ll stress. I don’t know a THING about whether he did rape her or not. If he did, it’s disgusting. If he didn’t, I hope she realizes the ramifications of her actions. People calling her names and abusing her doesn’t help though. No matter how you look at it, she’s either a rape victim, or a person with severe mental health issues. Also, not all survivors of rape are the same. In the line of work I do, I see that some people want to talk about their attacks. Others won’t. You can’t define credibility based solely on that, even though it is less likely. Taking to social media doesn’t automatically make you a liar:

I’d like to demonstrate something else here though. I also saw, on the other side of things, that a lot of people said “well, he’s done some terrible things in the past, so he probably did it…”.

It also doesn’t work like that, either. Each case must be taken on its own merits. He’s innocent until proven guilty, and a rapist is a rapist – or not – regardless of their perceived character, whether good or bad.

What I Want To Stress…

This post isn’t about instilling fear or not trusting anyone. It’s not about tarnishing a person, or an industry. It’s hopefully just to make people realize that sexual violence is about power and control, not sex. Just because someone CAN get it from a willing person, it sadly doesn’t always mean they will. Thankfully, most people aren’t rapists. However, in many cases in life, you can’t just acquit EVERYONE based on circumstantial stuff. By all means, have faith in people you believe in. Acknowledge that fame DOES make people a target for lies and attention seekers. But stop refusing to see any more to anything simply because you think someone doesn’t ‘need’ to rape.

By breaking down rape myths, I’m not opening the doors to suggest absolutely everyone is or could be a rapist. I’m just pointing out some common misconceptions. Rape myths and rape jokes perpetuate suffering further.

There are so many complex reasons as to why people rape, and I’m not a psychologist. Yet each and every one of these reasons are inexcusable, no matter who you are.

 

 

  • http://www.chocolateandlipstick.com Angela Angeline

    Well said, Claire. There are always two sides of a coin.

    Some people can fantasize about how lovely a person they are over infatuated with can be. Sadly that fantasy never includes their darker side. We don’t know people 100%, ever.

    I had a best friend a few years back. One of the nicest guys I ever knew. Always there to help a friend in need, from the smallest to the biggest obstacles. Every one thought he was a stand up guy. Then he sexually assaulted a woman while she was intoxicated, near unconsciousness.

    It doesn’t matter who they are or what we think, we are all capable of great evil. It’s how we treat those around us that can define us.

    Angie x | Chocolate & Lipstick || UK Beauty and Lifestyle Blog

    • http://clairelouise.net/ Claire Louise Sheridan

      Hey Angie, thanks for reading. I am so sorry to hear that your friend committed that crime – it’s awful to discover someone isn’t the person you thought they were. Despite their actions, it’s still somewhat of a grieving process.

      A very insightful comment though, we are indeed all capable, we just have to act with respect and compassion to one another.

      x

  • http://plutoniumsox.com/ Natalie Ray

    A very brave and thought provoking post Claire. I have studied this kind of thing quite a bit (as part of my degree and work I’m not a weirdo!) and I don’t agree with the statement that it’s about power and control, not sex. In reality, a lot of offences are sexually motivated, even when there hasn’t been a rape. Take murders for example, they are often sexually motivated owing to the gratification that the murderer gets from carrying out the act. Sadly, the perpetrators usually have mental health problems of their own and I totally agree with you that we cant’ jump to conclusions on either side of the debate – everyone is innocent until proven guilty and you’re absolutely right that famous people can rape as well, look at Jimmy Saville – he was widely accepted to be a decent bloke for so many reasons and what’s come out about him recently is just horrific. Great post, I look forward to reading more of your blog.x

  • murta

    Great post! It’s really bothered me how this was swept under the carpet:
    - Fans created a fake “text message” (which is clearly just a screenshot of an iPhone Note) supposedly from the original poster, admitting she lied (but that ignores and contradicts specific details of the original posts). As with the original posts, there was no proof of validity, but fans accepted this instantly as the truth (whereas the original posts was instantly deemed to be a lie).
    - Fans created a fake twitter account to make it look like the original poster was admitting to being a liar and made rape jokes
    - Fans drowned out any information/actual discussion of the accusation with a flood of Tweets which, as you mentioned, show arbitrary actions from Styles that apparently demonstrate he’s incapable of rape
    - News articles reporting on the fact that he’d been accused disappeared within minutes/hours of being posted, Twitter posts with details of the accusation were removed too

    Very disturbing, regardless of the validity of the claims, whenever fans display this kind of sycophantic behaviour in face of rape etc. accusations and good to see you being one of the few people casting a light on it.