A rape apologist is a person who defends acts of rape, usually by claiming that rape is not a serious crime or that people do not need to give consent to sex.
It is that person who suggests that women should take precautionary measures to reduce their chances of being raped; such as carrying pepper spray for self-defence or avoiding places where crime is likely to happen.
“What did she think was going to happen if she went to his apartment?” is a question I heard a lot when I finally spoke up about being violated by this very prominent Namibian guy,” says V.
“I decided to finally speak because there was a lot of girls telling their stories online and I realised that there were so many of us who had experienced the same thing from the same guy and his group of friends.
While we were telling our stories, it seemed it gave the opportunity for the apologists to come out of their hiding places. It was hard. It is hard. People just went in. Talking about how I was dressed, my behaviour, my character; the whole nine.”
Are we then saying that it’s okay for someone to sexually assault you if you accept or extend invitations?
Rape apologists give rise to more rape apologists. They derail the conversation and shut up rape victims. They sap the energy from rape victims seeking justice for the crimes committed against them. They are custodians of the rape stigma and their aim is to isolate rape victims and drown out the voices of the people who believe and support them.
How do you know if you are a rape apologist?
You lean towards the accused
You believe the victim might have some blame
You bring up cases of male rape victims
You make arguments that cast doubts on the victims story
Dr R MacKenzie, Clinical Psychologist tells The Lounge that many people subconsciously are rape apologists, mainly because of how they were raised and the belief system they have been taught.
“Learn empathy; know what it is like to be forced to a sexual activity without your consent. Rape is a traumatic experience and every victim needs all the support they can get. Learn that there is no format of how rape happens. Although there is no manual these perpetrators are following, rapists are usually very calculating when committing their crimes and they bank on rape apologists, (like your former self), to keep getting them off the hook.
Read stories of rape victims and talk to the women in your life. Learn that the fault is never theirs, or what they wore, or the time of the night. The fault lies only with the criminal mind of the rapist. Also, listen without bias, form opinions on a case by case basis,” MacKenzie advises.
V tells us that he has heard so many excuses and justifications that she could be an excellent apologist herself these days.
In fact, she now has developed standard responses to every naysayer and to every person who deliberately would attack her or any other woman, making them feel like they are to blame for what has happened to them, thereby exonerating the men from every bit of wrong-doing.
She shares some of her responses with us:
“Rape apologist: Not all men rape.
Me: I know. But some men do rape. It’s a big problem in our society really, and we should not make excuses for it.
Rape apologist: It’s only a small number of men who just do it over and over.
Me: And those men are committing a whole lot of rapes.
Rape apologist: If I’m making out with a girl, I don’t want to stop in the middle of things just to ask for permission.
Me: That’s why you ask before you start anything. Why don’t you want to be 100% sure that your partner is okay with what you’re doing? Why does having a woman explicitly state that she is willing to have sex with you a mood-killer?
Rape apologist: Women should defend themselves; carry pepper spray or guns or something.
Me: What if the woman is disabled? Disabled women have about an 80% chance of being sexually assaulted during their lifetimes. What if her attacker takes out a weapon? What if she too drunk/high to actively resist?
Rape apologist: Men get really turned on when they see women wearing provocative clothes. Some guys just can’t help themselves. If women are that worried about rape, they should cover up more.
Me: You’re aware that women have been assaulted while wearing a burka?
Rape apologist: If women are afraid of rape, they shouldn’t go out alone at night. And they shouldn’t walk down dark streets.
Me: Who told you that rapists never attack during day time hours? And who told you that men never raped women in their own homes?”
Silence in the face of rape makes you an enabler and not a rape apologist. But the minute you break your silence and then justify the rape, then you are an enabler and a rape apologist