Column Over the past year, women and men have fought to make sure the general public could understand an important fact: rape culture is real. Luckily for the movement (and for the victims in the following cases), it looks like the tide is finally turning and people from different walks of life–not just feminists–are beginning to recognize that when a person says he/she was raped, he/she should be taken seriously.
During the past week, social media and news sites have bombarded us with images of the crying cop who was convicted of multiple counts of rape. The pictures of Daniel Holtzclaw are getting a lot of play (and laughs) because the former Oklahoma City police officer is, let’s be honest, a total, sadistic, entitled asshole–and for once, an asshole of his stature actually was brought to justice.
Holtzclaw’s crimes are terrible on the surface (because, duh, rape), but the officer’s actions are especially nauseating because he purposely picked victims who would not be taken seriously.
“[Holtzclaw] was a police officer with the Oklahoma City Police department (he was fired in January after the accusations surfaced),” Time reports. “His 13 victims were black women. The youngest was 17 years old, the oldest was a 57-year old grandmother, and many had criminal records or histories of drug abuse. Prosecutors said he deliberately picked women he thought were marginalized and vulnerable because he thought they would be too scared to come forward against him, and ran background checks to select victims who had run into trouble with the law. Holtzclaw’s crimes were based on assumptions of privilege and credibility that have eroded beneath his feet.”
Now, we’re well aware that just because Holtzclaw is super-duper sad about getting convicted of 18 counts of sexual assault, his misery won’t bring peace to his victims. However, this conviction does send a message to all the entitled dingbats who prowl the streets: You can’t get away with rape just because you’re an authority figure (unless you’re Bill Cosby). And if you try to get away with it, you’ll probably get caught and end up serving a lot of time. (For Holtzclaw, that number is a satisfying 263 years in prison.)
The second “victory” came recently, too. A few weeks ago, Stoya, porn star, accused her former boyfriend, James Deen, also a porn star, of rape. According to Time, the rape accusation came via Twitter.
“James Deen held me down and f–ked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword,” Stoya tweeted. “I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.”
Now, I think we all know the typical treatment women in the sex industry tend to get when they accuse someone of rape — it’s something akin to the following: “well, you’re a sex worker so it doesn’t count,” or “you were getting paid for it, what’s the big deal?”
While we’re not saying Stoya got awesome treatment all around, we can say that we’re pleasantly surprised by the amount of support people and organizations are giving her. In fact, news outlets, such as The New York Times and CNN, have reported on the subject in-depth, and are reporting on how uncomplicated rape, sex, and consent are.
Time reports that, almost instantaneously, the porn industry “turned against” Deen. And according to Buzzfeed, Kink.com, a well-known fetish company, cut all ties with Deen “as a performer and a producer.” Evil Angels, another porn company, also reported it would “suspend its relationship with Deen until more information is available.”
Since Stoya has accused Deen, other women (Tori Lux, Joanna Angel, Ashley Fires, Amber Rayne, Kora Peters, Nicki Blue, Lily LaBeau) have also come forward about their experiences with Deen.
This is a big deal for a few reasons: (1)people are respecting Stoya and her experience. While I have heard a few people say things like “she’s lying,” “she deserved,” the majority are not, and (2) most organizations reporting this news are, yes, saying Deen is innocent until proven guilty (as it should be), but not very many are disparaging Deen’s accusers. (Honestly, I think we have Cosby’s accusers to thank for that.)
It finally looks like we’re seeing a culture shift and although it’s very slight, we hope it will help bring justice to all who deserve it.
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Image of protest by arindambanerjee, via Shutterstock