“Even in cases such as Steubenville – where there was video evidence of the rape – the mainstream media seemed to take the side of the perpetrators. Many news outlets spoke extensively about the perpetrators’ “promising football careers,” lamenting the fact that the rape would hinder their futures.
These defenses have recognizable patterns: They rely heavily on emphasizing how “normal” the alleged perpetrator is. And of course, a part of their normality is their adherence to certain gender-based expectations.
The truth is that anybody can rape and be raped, regardless of their character, their gender, or their age. I’ve met rapists who seem smart and genuinely kind. I’ve met people who were thoughtful and interesting, and later found out that they had sexually assaulted people. My rapist was a popular, intelligent, seemingly sweet guy who was great at academics and a star soccer player.
Repeat after me: People who seem nice can be rapists.
People who seem “normal” can be rapists.
Real men do rape.
Disbelieving survivors does not just mean that there are fewer consequences for the rapists. When we victim-blame or insinuate that most survivors are lying, we discourage survivors from seeking support and further isolate them.”