Hollywood thinks rape is okay, just not “rape-rape”

ETA: Celebs supporting Polanski’s extradition. You can sign the petition, too. Thanks, Charles!

France has wisely backpedaled from their recent remarks about Roman Polanski which suggested the U.S. should just excuse him because he’s so old, the crime is so far in the past, and he’s so talented, and he had a tragic childhood (the Holocaust), and he suffered through Charles Manson’s followers killing his wife, Sharon Tate, and their unborn baby.

These rationalizations are a slap in the face to every Holocaust survivor, every person who’s lost a loved one to violence, everyone who survived a tragic childhood, who has never raped anybody, and it offends me. But nothing the French said borders on the kind of simple, clear misogyny we’re hearing from Hollywood.

You’ve probably heard by now that Martin Scorsese (which kind of porn does he like, Mickle?), David Lynch, Harvey Weinstein, Whoopi Goldberg, Debra Winger, Woody Allen, a few dozen other misogynists are saying Roman Polanski should be released immediately, because “there’s rape, and then there’s rape” (from Debra Tate, Polanski’s sister-in-law) or, in Goldberg’s infamous turn of phrase, “it wasn’t rape-rape.” She offered clarification: she was just “trying to get the facts straight”, and those facts, she claimed, were that he had been arrested and charged with unlawful sexual intercourse, not rape.

This is, of course, an outright lie. He was arrested and charged with “rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14” and his lawyers bargained it down to the lesser charge. The plea bargaining was largely meant to spare his young victim the stress of testifying in court.

And Debra Tate, on the Today show:

“There’s rape and then there’s rape,” she said. “It was determined that Roman did not forcibly have sex with this woman. It was a consensual matter. I am a victim’s advocate, and I know the difference.”

I’ll get back to Debra Tate’s bullshit in a minute.

If you’re wondering what planet Whoopi and Debra are orbiting, it’s simple: they and their Hollywood misogynist pals are all just coincidentally using a strategy that, I dunno, sounds like something Polanski’s lawyers might have cooked up. That is, they are pretending the plea Polanski entered before he fled (having consensual sex with someone too young to legally give consent) legally erased the allegations that he drugged a minor and performed sex acts on her while she protested repeatedly.

If Polanski had been sentenced, this would be true. We would have to say/write he was legally guilty only of statutory rape, and all the rest we would call “allegations”, or else we could be sued for defamation. Similarly, no matter how sure you are O.J. Simpson committed that double murder, you can’t call him a “murderer” publicly without exposing yourself to a lawsuit – because he went through trial and was found not guilty.

But Polanski chose not to face his sentence, didn’t he? He could’ve withdrawn his plea and demanded a jury trial if he didn’t like how things were going.When you flee justice, the clock stops. That’s why the statute of limitations – which is about three years in California, depending on the “seriousness” of the crime and other factors – hasn’t run out. Legally speaking, the plea is just something Polanski said under oath. Nothing has been legally “determined” – to use Tate’s oh so lawyery term – because the judge never officially accepted the plea. If he’s extradited, California could simply pick up where it left off and sentence him, or it could forget all that and start over with a whole new trial.

So, legally speaking, we are back to Geimer’s grand jury testimony (be aware, it’s painful and gruesome to read), which in summary claims that Polanski kept giving Geimer champagne to sip for the photos he was taking, and as she got drunk, he gave her a quaalude, and then proceeded to perform various sex acts upon her despite repeated protestations. We also have some forensic testimony that backs up aspects of her statements. And we have 32 years of Geimer never, ever backtracking on a word of her story. So there is no excuse, legal or otherwise, for pretending it’s been legally “determined” he’s guilty only of having seemingly consensual sex with someone too young to legally give consent. Anyone participating in that pretense is not only a rape apologist, but in moral terms, a sort of accomplice after the fact.

Now let’s get back to Tate’s flight of narcissistic fancy.

Let’s get some “facts straight”, shall we? Tate is a victim’s advocate for people who’ve lost loved ones to violence, like herself and Roman Polanski. She obviously hasn’t studied rape and obviously knows nothing about it and obviously couldn’t care less what damage her words inflict on victims who are considering whether or not to come forward and seek justice, or are trying to figure out how the hell to heal. She is a hypocrite who sees “victims” only amongst people she relates to – everyone else is an object in the Themsphere. Their feelings and sufferings are not real. Only her own, and those she relates to.

Tate also claims that Polanski’s psych profile found him not to be a pedophile. I don’t see how this helps his case. Pedophilia is a sickness, a compulsion. It’s unforgivable, but it’s also often a clear cycle – you find the pedophile you’re so angry with was a victim before s/he was an offender, and then you’re angry with the person who abused him or her, too. If that’s not Polanski’s problem, then he’s just a plain vanilla rapist who prefers a particular age range. Some rapists target elderly women. Some target young women. Either way, it’s just rape, plain and simple.

In 1979, Polanski certainly considered himself the victim of jealous wannabe pedophiles:

“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!”

I’m sure you guys will pick out a lot of disturbing elements to this statement, but you know which one chills me to the bone? One of the most famous murders in American history is the murder of Sharon Tate by the Charles Manson “Family.” Had Polanski already forgotten his wife’s murder, just ten years later, when he says a murder would never have gotten as much publicity? Because no one else has. I know some of y’all were born in the 80s, and I’m betting you still knew some dude named Charles Manson was a psycho killer long before you knew some dude named Roman Polanski was an alleged rapist. Am I right?

Polanski is not the victim. He has been a victim at times, but so has Charles Manson. So was Hitler. When you willfully hurt someone, it doesn’t matter what unrelated miseries you have experienced. You are required by your society to overcome your demons or face the consequences.

And there is no such thing as rape-rape. But I kind of hope these Hollywood misogynists keep right on digging themselves in deeper with their bullshit. If they do, they will destroy their credibility as “liberals” once and for all, and I won’t ever need to write another article explaining how their bullshit faux liberalism really just masks a misogyny unparalleled in any of the “red states” they like to look down on.


  1. sbg says

    “There’s rape and then there’s rape,” she said. “It was determined that Roman did not forcibly have sex with this woman. It was a consensual matter. I am a victim’s advocate, and I know the difference.”

    *blinks* So, this was one of those “But I didn’t know no meant no! I thought no meant yes! No sometimes means yes, you know.” kind of arguments, right?

    I find the last sentence of that quote really unnerving and offensive.

  2. The Other Patrick says

    I pretty much agree with what you say, except for one small caveat: I think (hope*) that the undersigned of that first petition have mostly done so because generally, out of misplaced loyalty to another artist and, more specifically, on the grounds that they hold festival venues sort of “sacred ground”. I think (hope*) that the greater fear here is that China might arrest some pseudo-dissident actor or directress, or that George Clooney might be sent to Saudi-Arabia because the Saudis didn’t like his latest political film. Which is stupid, but stupid I can understand from Hollywood.

    *I hope because there are a lot of names on that list of people I really admire, and so my thinking is more like, “hey, Marti, will you sign this list? Polanski’s in jail.” – “Hm, alright, I’ll sign, whatever.”

  3. sbg says

    I pretty much agree with what you say, except for one small caveat: I think (hope*) that the undersigned of that first petition have mostly done so because generally, out of misplaced loyalty to another artist and, more specifically, on the grounds that they hold festival venues sort of “sacred ground”.

    I’m not sure what you’re saying here – that it’s somehow less icky because of this? Complacent or self-interested signing of a petition like that is pretty icky in and of itself.

    I’m trying to figure out how people still think in 2009 that there is only one actual form of rape – the kind that occurs in dark alleys and is violent – and that what happened to the victim here isn’t “real” rape at all, for any number of illogical reasons they like to cling to. I find it all discouraging.

  4. says

    @SBG, yes, she’s an advocate only for victims she can relate to. The rest can go to hell, apparently.’

    @The Other Patrick, I’m not sure aligning yourself with misogynists because you didn’t think is any less bad than aligning with them because you hate women. Every form of bigotry contains a small number of genuine haters, and the rest are just non-thinkers who let other people do their thinking in order to escape responsibility. “Oh, it wasn’t me, it was that dude! I realize he was wrong now, and now I’ve aligned with this other dude who will be doing my thinking now.” No, I think it’s equally important to hold the non-thinkers and the real haters accountable and apply the same label, be it “racist”, “misogynist” or whatever.

    Not that I’m saying you’re wrong. I think it’s fine for you to hope whatever you like. I just feel that for one of the petition signers to redeem him- or herself to my satisfaction, they’d have to publicly come forward and retract their support AND convince me they actually did some soul- and brain-searching (as opposed to “My publicist said I’d better do this, so I sprayed a tear in the corner of my eye and here I am”).

  5. Pocket Nerd says

    Hmmm. If we are expected to believe “I have a tragic past” is a mitigating circumstance, why don’t we see more female defendents successfully making the same argument? After all, one in three women is victimized by rape or sexual assault. Pure mathematics suggest we should see more women in on television saying “What I did was wrong, and I’m sincerely sorry, but I was raped when I was 10 and it has influenced every second of my life thereafter” while the media and the legal experts nod sagely and agree that she should receive more lenient treatment. We don’t, of course, so it seems “I have a tragic past” only counts if you’re male (and preferably wealthy and powerful)— therefore it’s really just another disguise for societal privilege.

    I try to be generous and assume many of Polanski’s defenders have bought into the FUD energetically flung about. He certainly has the money, power, and media influence to re-frame this narrative with himself as the victim, and he seems to have spent a considerable amount of effort over the last 30 years doing precisely that. The version pushed by Polanski and his flacks is sort of like some bizarre reverse-Dragnet world: “The story you are about to see is false; the facts have been changed to protect the guilty.” Most of the people who think it wasn’t “rape rape” seem to be arguing from that fictionalized version of events, not what actually happened… and I suspect at least some of them simply don’t know the real truth.

    (And oh, Whoopi, Whoopi… what has Hollywood done to you? She’s been riding the Woo Train far too long, I’m afraid. It’s obvious she’s as clueless about this case as she is about vaccination and homeopathy.)

    Incidentally, whether Polanski is a “pedophile” in any meaningful sense is irrelevant. Many, perhaps most, children who are sexually abused are victimized by opportunistic offenders, not those whose primary sexual attraction is aimed at children. These aren’t people who are attracted to children qua children: they merely find the helplessness and dependency irresistable. Children are the perfect victims, as they have neither power nor experience nor credibility; you can say “even if you tell, nobody will believe you” and know it’s true. Regardless, sexual attraction to children is not, in and of itself, criminal— but neither is it a justification for rape. Polanski’s behavior marks him as a sexual predator, and I’d wager he used similar booze-drugs-and-pressure tactics on other women. Maybe they watched Samantha Gaimer with pity, shaking their heads and thinking “Thank God I wasn’t the one to come forward.”

  6. Anemone says

    My mother would side with Polanski. I remember her siding with an accused teacher once, and saying not-nice things about the girls who complained. I don’t get it, but thank goodness for all the people coming out against him.

    I’m repeating myself here, but Hollywood thinks rape is ok, and sexual harassment is ok, just so long as it’s art, or done by an artist. I have such a hard time figuring out how to explain to people that sexualized content on camera is sexual harassment. I don’t get it. It’s brainwashing or something. It’s all the same old tired stupidity.

    At least it’s not the 70s anymore.

  7. Pocket Nerd says

    Anemone, I respectfully disagree that “sexualized content on camera is sexual harassment.” Some people like stories about sex, and some people like watching sex. Sex is not implicitly harmful, though (like most things) it can be used in harmful ways. I take issue with media that reinforce stereotypes or objectify women (or anybody else), but I think it’s possible to make sex part of the narrative without making it a story of the All-Powerful Penis.

  8. Anemone says

    Pocket Nerd, I don’t want to derail the debate here. If you want to debate it on my blog you are welcome to come over.

  9. Anemone says

    To clarify, I see parallels between what Polanski was allowed to require people to do on camera and what he thought he ought to be allowed to require people to do off camera.

    Sexual harassment of performers.

  10. says

    hey! the link to my comment doesn’t work. (maybe it’s my browser?)

    This is slightly tangental to the point, but I’m really glad you brought that up, actually, because I’ve been thinking a lot about Hollywood big wigs reactions to the arrest and how that relates to the often deplorable portayal of women and other marginalized groups in movies especially. And how much of the lack of female directors and the like is self-selection that comes from 13 yo girls hearing stories like this and figuring that pursing filmaking is not worth risking their safety.

    (Cuz seriously, what 13 yo girl is going to hear all this and think, “golly gee, that Wes Anderson fellow who made the fantastic Fantastic Mr. Fox is totally going to care to take a look at *my* work one day”)

    And you mentioning Scorcese’s fetish – and me then remembering how I came to know this – makes me wonder also about how shitty it must be to be one of the few aspiring female directors.

    My brother’s friend may have been given the task of organized Scorcese’s porn collection, but he also did some work on “Gangs of New York.” Matthew Gray Gubler interned for Wes Anderson – which led to a minor role in “The Life Aquatic” – which helped land him a role in a highly rated primetime drama. I wonder though, if that’s the kind of work Scorcese thinks is appropriate for a student intern, what kind of work would he give a female intern? Would he ever pick one to begin with? HAS he – or Wes Anderson – ever picked one to begin with?

    Both boys are super talented and – as friend-of-a-friend and a fan respectively – I’m very glad they got the opportunities they did and I think that they have worked hard for what they have now. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t all kinds of crappy shit going down behind closed doors.

    And I just keep thinking about how this is all so self-perpetuating:

    Men make art but women do not, therefore women are disposable

    women are disposable, therefore what they make is of no value, unlike what men make

  11. says

    also, re: the question of whether or not Polanski is a pedophile:

    Technically, considering the ages of the victims we know about, he is more likely a hebephile. I point this out not to excuse what he did – rather the opposite. I’ve seen people point out that a “13 yo isn’t a 10 yo!” and conclude that therefore his relationships are normal on his part. Which is nonsense. That he is attracted to post-pubescent children rather the pre-pubescent children does not change the fact that he preys on children, nor that he focuses on children specifically (when he is able to).

    (thank you, Criminal Minds, for that lesson. ….and now I’m hearing Gubler explain what a hebephile is in my head. …which keeps reminding me of Wes Anderson signing the petition …and makes me want to go hide my head in the sand so that I won’t ever have to risk seeing mgg do the same …No! Gubler No! …channel Dr. Reid! …he’ll make sure you do not stray to the dark side!)

  12. says

    aaaaand just in case anyone cares, it’s porn featuring asian women. which I bring up now only becuase I think it’s actually relevant, seeing as how porn focusing on asian women tends to (from what I hear) focus on women being not only submissive but also child-like.

  13. Robin says

    I know some of y’all were born in the 80s, and I’m betting you still knew some dude named Charles Manson was a psycho killer long before you knew some dude named Roman Polanski was an alleged rapist. Am I right?

    Indeed you are. I don’t think I knew anything about Polanski until late high school or college, whenever the last big hullabaloo about his possible extradition was. I’ve only seen two of his films, both made in the last decade. (No, I haven’t seen Chinatown. Yes, I probably should.) Not quite sure when exactly I became aware of the whole Manson situation, but I know it was before that.

    This whole debate about “rape rape” is even more incredible than the discussions that happened last year on my favorite Mad Men blog after a character was raped by her fiance. (Yes, the series is set in the 60s when there was no such term as “date rape”, but when talking about it from a modern perspective, there’s no doubt it was rape. [/tangent]) Polanski drugged and sexually assaulted a young girl after she said “No”. There’s no excuse for that.

  14. Scarlett says

    Born in 1982. Dunno when I heard about Charles Manson, it’s one of those things I remember *always* knowing about. In my late-teens I would say when I heard about Polanski.

    As Jenn said in her other post, there’s ‘rape’ ‘statutory rape’ and ‘consensual sex’. I MIGHT allow for some blurred lines if, say, two adults got drunk/high together of their own free will and the rapist didn’t have a clear enough mind to grasp what they were doing/what was going on, but even then, I’m disinclined to give leeway.

  15. says

    For the record, I was born in 1978…I heard about Manson (vaguely), and I never heard anything about Polanski until this month.

    That what he did is monstrous should go without saying…as is what his defenders are doing.

    If I could share a link, there is some discussion of this on Conservatism over on LJ. When even the evil right-wing thinks you are scum, the discussion should be over.

  16. says

    I really enjoyed your link – that was a wonderful response the LJ author gave, because honestly, Jacques Fansten’s explanation was so self-contradicting, it was a bit mind-boggling to read the leaps back and forth.

    When even the evil right-wing thinks you are scum, the discussion should be over.

    I’m not sure what you meant by this, though. I know you lean right-wing, so I assume you’re being facetious – perhaps assuming most of us the people who visit this site are not supporters of the right wing? That’s probably true. But I wanted to point out that in another article on Polanski, I said:

    “Note that Dreher then quotes a “liberal columnist”, among others. Liberals and conservatives have finally found something they can agree on? That rape is wrong and VIPs shouldn’t get special treatment when they commit crimes? Maybe there’s hope yet.”

    And by that, I meant I’m really pleased to see people rising above the opportunity to sling mud at their political opponents and band together against what’s happening here.

  17. says

    Pardons if you thought I was being snarky; yes, I was being facetious. I just know that we conservatives do not exactly have a reputation for “compassion”, nor a sterling record on women’s rights. And apologies, because I posted before I read your other comment…you are absolutely correct, and that’s the spirit I was aiming for. For all the divisions between left and right, I’m glad we can find agreement on something, especially something pretty damn important.

    Oh, and I fricking love Rod Dreher, even though I don’t agree with him on all things, either. I’m thinking about disassociating with the terms “left” and “right” after reading his book.

  18. jen says

    COMPLETELY agree with this article. Wow, I can’t believe Whoopi would say something like that. So ignorant, so evil, so horrible. It’s pathetic. Anyone who has actually read the transcript between the girl and the police knows that this was rape in every way shape and form. Honestly, I get really scared for our future as women these days. I mean it seems like these days men are either objectifying women or they’re gay. Perhaps it’s just Hollywood/TV? I think I’m going to stop going to the movies for awhile..cut back on the television.. need a breath of fresh air from all the misogyny.

  19. Julie says

    Don’t forget, it was Whoopi who thought it would be a great idea for her boyfriend at the time (Sam, from Cheers, what’s the actors name?) to put on blackface at a “mocking dinner” at some Ivy League school.

    So that she made this comment doesn’t surprise me.

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