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Paul Schrader's Rape Comments Aren't Helping Anyone

By Jodi Smith | Politics | September 26, 2018 |

By Jodi Smith | Politics | September 26, 2018 |


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Obviously there have been a lot of horrible takes on the subjects of consent and sexual assault due to the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. A multitude of Republican politicians have taken it upon themselves to publicly provide their condolences to Kavanaugh, which clearly expresses their inability to see women as people or believe them.

No amount of evidence is sufficient to prove that the women coming forward about Kavanaugh — possibly already unfit for the position due to alleged perjury — are telling the truth. Instead, decades-old calendars held onto by Kavanaugh and a ready-made page of signatures about his Good Character are held up as signs of just that — his alleged good, non-assaulting character.

Among the men and women blaming Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for not coming forward sooner or for seeking fame (as her family goes into hiding because of death threats from good, family values Republican party members), there have been supporters of Ford. Some of them were better than others at making their points clear and concise. Unfortunately, director and screenwriter Paul Schrader provided one of the worst takes on the subjects of appropriate male behavior and rape.

There are a lot of things wrong with this post, including the sweeping generalization that all men have rape fantasies. If your kink is rape fantasies and they are carried out with consent between the participating parties, then it is just that — a fantasy. Obviously 100 percent of men do not have that particular sexual fetish, but perhaps more damaging to sexual assault survivors is the implication that they may also have that same fantasy. That small inclusion of “every female” having a secret desire to be raped adds more fuel to the fire attempting to burn all accusers at the stake. People already refusing to believe that Dr. Ford could have been assaulted by Kavanaugh now have the idea to add “she probably enjoyed/wanted it” into their mix of victim-blaming.

The whole chunk of brain dump text goes on to become a sort of humblebrag by Schrader; he has had the urge to rape while drunk but never acted on it. What a great guy! Why can’t all guys just stick to wanting to destroy a woman mentally by assaulting her sexually and against her will instead of actually doing it? The world would be so AWESOME YOU GUYS HOLY SHIT. Schrader then ends his ridiculously smarmy pat on the back by asking whether nature or nurture led him to be such a beacon of Model Maleness.

Sure, Schrader is also stating that sexual assault is never acceptable, but that corn-chip shard hidden in the pile of late night Taco Bell vomit is nigh undetectable. He is a writer. That is what he does for a living. Yet he released a half-baked, un-nuanced hot take out in the world without as much thought as one would give a tweet about Chris Evans’ biceps. He believed his thoughts on the matter, as a man, were valuable enough that he was obligated to share them with his Facebook followers. The idea that women needed him to decry sexual assault in a manner that relates it to a fetish held by all males is stunningly short-sighted and ultimately damaging to survivors. Not every thought has to be made public and not every accusation of sexual assault requires a man to white knight himself in that person’s defense.

What do we, survivors of sexual assault, need? We need you to believe us. We need you to support us. We need you to not make things about you. We need you to use the clout and privilege you have to change minds and vote in people who see women as human beings. We need you to be mindful of how your words and actions impact our fight. We need you to be an ally in action and not just in poorly worded screeds.



Jodi Smith is the Associate Trade News Editor at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.



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