We Spleen: The Roethlisberger Excuse

OK Jason Whitlock, how many times do we feminists have to tell you that a drunk sorority girl is not an invitation for rape and sexual assault? Your argument defending Ben Roethlisberger and blaming women for not assuming all guys are sexual predators on the prowl, is insulting to both women and men.

Roethlisberger’s case has been extensively discussed here at the Ms. Blog. Roethlisberger released a statement of “apology” last week where he maintains that his actions are immoral but not criminal. “Though I have committed no crime, I regret that I have fallen short of the values instilled in me by my family.” Locking a woman in a bathroom so you can have your way with her isn’t a crime? Yeah, OK.

Roethlisberger was not criminally charged despite numerous reports. Unfortunately, like a lot of rape cases, blame is often put on the accuser for “asking for it.” Whitlock’s points of defense for Roethlisberger are as follows:

  1. Usher’s “2008 smash hit ‘Love in This Club’ was most popular with women,” therefore women are down to have sex in a club’s bathroom.
  2. An unnamed former sorority president says women are more likely to admit to rape than promiscuity (“P” is the bigger scarlet letter?): “I don’t believe a bunch of hammered sorority girls in this situation,” she said. “It’s all about having fun and then making sure you’re not held accountable and your reputation is still good.”
  3. Sorority girls aren’t rational people, therefore shouldn’t be taken seriously. “Statements made by drunken sorority girls are not facts. Statements made by sober sorority girls about an evening spent bar-hopping and drinking are not facts.”
  4. The accuser “engaged in a lewd and highly flirtatious conversation” and wore “a name tag that read DTF — ‘down to f—.’” Obviously two important signs that a girl wants to be raped.

And lastly, Whitlock warns women:

No matter how nice the guy might sound, there’s a damn good chance he’s looking for one-night-stand sex or trying to set up a train. Some of the women are looking for the exact same thing.

“Set up a train”  is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “a lineup of guys having sex with one girl one after another.” Really, Whitlock? “Nice guys” are just interested in a slightly more polite gang bang? And women are looking for the exact same thing? You must have a very poor perception of humanity.

You can email Jason Whitlock with your thoughts at BallState0@aol.com.

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/denverjeffrey/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Comments

  1. Aww, come on Erica, give Whitlock some credit! It takes a special mind to reference “Make Love in This Club” in an article that defends a man twice accused of rape.

  2. jdcannon says:

    I’m no fan of whitlock but consider this: rather than demean the man, the bigger issue is the POLICE in GA clearly felt there was no credible proof a crime had been committed. Last I checked, Whitlock doesn’t make those decisions. And in a world in which many males have been jaded by less than honest accounts of sexual assault involving the Duke Lacrosse team, Kobe Bryant, and even David Copperfield, I think it is a bit simplistic to assault Whitlock’s point of view, which is that Ben is guilty of poor judgment but not necessarily criminal behavior.

  3. Get off your high horse and take off the pants suit. Twice accused does not mean twice guilty. In the first case the woman chose to bypass the criminal charges and file a civil suit, about a year after the alleged incident. In the second case the woman showed no signs of forcible entry following the rape kit. Roethlisberger may be a sexual deviant, but so is his accuser. The rape kit tells the truth; she consented to sex in the bathroom, only to conjure up a rape story upon sobering up.
    The following statement reveals your obvious bias: “Locking a woman in a bathroom so you can have your way with her isn’t a crime? Yeah, OK.” Despite the FACT that the accuser recanted her demand for a DNA test from Roethlisberger, and even pondered bypassing criminal charges and heading straight to civil court (can you say, CASH-GRAB?), you’re willing to make statements made by the accuser and her friends absolute fact.

  4. Wait, who’s wearing a pants suit?!?!? Am I supposed to be wearing a pants suit?? Nooo!!! I swear I’m not!! Who told you that?? Please, I beg of you Tim, don’t accuse me of wearing a pants suit!!!

  5. BAHahaha, Annie! I also was once accused of wearing a pants suit and I didn’t know if I would ever recover. Now, let me unbutton my suit jacket and comment on Erica’s post….

    Perhaps our society will never stop using one event to determine an entire body of people (i.e. one woman lies about rape = ALL WOMEN LIE ABOUT RAPE), but it’s all I wish for. One drunk sorority girl who lies about rape doesn’t represent the thousands of other drunk sorority girls who are taken advantage of.

    By automatically assuming that this girl is lying about Ben’s assault, we are encouraging women around the world to remain silent about their own rape.

  6. Yeah, and what bugs me MOST about that article (it is so difficult to pick!) is that warning at the end. He writes a whole article about rape, and then warns women that nice guys might be out for a “one-night-stand”?

    One night stand =/= rape. Suggesting that women conflate the two just gets under my skin.

  7. There is a whole group of women who consider themselves feminist who would probably agree with your assessment of Whitlock’s claim that women should think all men are sexual pedators. In fact, on their blogs, they say all men are potential rapists. One in particular leading the charge of men=everything evil is http://www.britisshameless.com.

    I think Whitlock’s article has been taken out of context but I agree that Ben is out of control and needs to reevaluate his life.

  8. klander24 says:

    FBI stats show that only 4% of rape accusations are false. Yet somehow, the perception is still that the women are all lying. What this boils down to is the same as always – women are expendable and we are here on this planet only to make a man’s life enjoyable and to enable him to do whatever the hell he wants all the time. How dare we try to take control over our own bodies? If God wanted me to be barefoot and pregnant, he/she wouldn’t have given me the ability to THINK – something that it appears that most men who have commented here sorely lack.

  9. “Locking a woman in a bathroom so you can have your way with her isn’t a crime?”

    ——————————————————————————–

    After an extensive investigation the GBI and the DA determined that they didn’t even have enough evidence for probable cause. The rape kit did NOT support the accuser’s accusation. The accuser’s story was inconsistent and she did not cooperate with the police before finally asking the DA not to proceed with the case. The accuser never even made the initial accusation– it started with two of her sorority sisters (who lied to police according to the GBI reports), while the accuser first said “no” when asked if she was raped.

    But you still think he is guilty?

    For the record, the bathroom door didn’t even have a lock on it, so your statement is incorrect in just about every way.

    By the way, her “friends” were so concerned about her getting raped that they left her at the hospital alone while they went home to sober up.

    Funny how none of these facts made it into your cute little post.

  10. Catherine says:

    @ Nick – funny how none of the items you mention ever seem to make it into articles DEFENDING Roethlisberger — Whitlock’s being one example. The people who tend to defend him instead tend to rely on sexist generalizations and victim-blaming rather than “facts.” As in WHitlock’s case, most of his defenders focus on how sorority girls are slutty liars and guys naturally just want to get laid. THAT is what Erica is describing as the “Roesthlisberger excuse.”

  11. @ Annie and Noelle: First, I wasn’t accusing you of wearing a pants suit, rather I was poking fun at this “article’s” author. However, I notice that no one disputes my points about the leaked stories of the accuser and her friends being taken as the gospel truth. The point of Whitlock’s article was not to condemn ALL women as liars and criers of “Wolf”, but to point to the inconsistencies in her story and offer some logic into a one-sided argument and how they fit into the pattern of the sorority girls that do cry “wolf” after a night of regret. He did, after all, have a seemingly reputable source to back his claims. I’m also not saying that all women lie about rape, that would be foolish to say. In this case, the accuser and her friends’ stories don’t match up and were very inconsistent from the beginning.

    Bottom line is she showed no signs of forcible entry, no defense wounds were on Roethlisberger, and all of these “facts” that the accuser and her friends put out for the world to see all came out well after the alleged incident. According to the official reports that came out after the accuser was left all alone at the hospital for evaluation while her sorority sisters went home to sleep off their respective stupors. Isn’t it great that no one chose to stay at the hosptal with her? Kind of warms the heart, doesn’t it?

    Yes men are, for the most part, vile pigs. I can accept that and I very well may be one of those vile pigs, but I do allow myself to think from both sides of the aisle. I don’t hate women; I love them , I have all their albums. Bottom line is women can be promiscuous as well, and alcohol isn’t always needed to unlock the “promiscuity badge” in a woman. The accuser, as a matter of fact, was wearing a name tag that read “DTF”. In plain english; Down To F*#k. It’s a shame she regretted the decisions she made that night and it’s a shame Roethlisberger chose to bang her in a bathroom rather than taking her home and doing it in the privacy of his bedroom. It’s no excuse to rally behind what she and her friends were saying and trash an idiot (Roethlisberger) that likes public sex, all w/o taking into account any of the inconsistencies in her and her friends’ stories that are reported as facts that argue against her motives for reporting the alleged incident. As feminists you should examine her behavior and have something to say about her actions and their erosion of the feminine mystique, rather than act to the stereotype of illogical man-haters.
    Thanks again for the forum.

  12. @Tim Maybe you should find out why you think you are a ‘vile pig’ and make some changes in your life. Nothing changes if we don’t change ourselves.

    @Nick the bathroom might not have had a lock on it, but two body guards acted as a human lock, so to speak.

    Semantics aside, here’s the bottom line:

    I personally don’t know what happened that night at the club. Neither do you. My motivation for writing this article was to point out how people like Jason Whitlock are a major reason countless rapes go unreported and, as Noelle eloquently stated, why “women around the world remain silent about their own rape.” When I was roofied and sexually assaulted by two men my freshman year in college, I was afraid to report it to the police for fear that family and friends would think I was a ‘drunk slut’ who was ‘asking for it.’ Some of my friends shunned me when they found out and told me I was the one who was out of control. My counselor was the first person to make me realize that it wasn’t my fault. Whitlock’s way of thinking promotes rape culture, dismisses sorority girls as less than human and makes all men look like ‘vile pigs.’ I’ve certainly met many ‘vile pigs’ but I also know that there are plenty of men who don’t want to ‘set up a train’ on girls, drunk or not.

  13. Tim- I don’t think you really understand what you’re saying when you use the term “feminine mystique,” although that is indeed the name of a book.

    Also, are you sure you knew what you were saying here?

    “Bottom line is she showed no signs of forcible entry, no defense wounds were on Roethlisberger”

    Forcible entry? What was this, a buglary? And did you mean defensive wounds on Roethlisberger? B/c he was probably not defending himself. Or did you mean to suggest that a 20 year old drunk woman ought to be able to rough up a football player enough to leave a mark while trying to physically resist him? Because that doesn’t make sense. And a “seemingly reputable source”? Some anonymous rando who says she’s an expert on sorority members? Ok. Then I’d like to cite my friend who I just got off the phone with who knows everything there is to know about football players. And he says that Roethlisberger is mentally retarded. Case closed.

    Listen, as long as you think of yourself as a vile pig, then what’s the use in trying to convince you to value anyone else. I can live with the fact that some people are self-loathing and just suck, that’s out of my hands.

    Meanwhile, Erica, thanks for sharing your story, you are a brave woman.

  14. Also, @Tim it is disturbing that you think I am a ‘man-hater’ when in fact you are the one calling men ‘vile pigs.’ It is a common misconception that feminists hate men, but feminists actually believe in the abolition of ALL gender stereotypes, including the one that says ‘real men’ should be macho and sexually dominant. I’d be happy to introduce you to men who are not sexual predators so you can stop hating yourself.

  15. @ Erica: First and foremost, I’m sorry you had to experience what you did and I hope your offenders eventually faced some form of punishment.

    Second, I’ve read Mr. Whitlock’s article numerous times and I still don’t see how he is painting with such a broad brush, as you say. As someone that followed the story from its beginning I can see how Whitlock may have been speaking to an overwhelming majority of the sports media due to the speed with which they picked up and ran with the accuser’s statements. He says, “the media cherry picked…as though they were as unimpeachable as video replay.” If you read his statements (not made by his FEMALE source), he has his cross hairs aimed at the accuser and her friends, in addition to his colleagues that were so quick to pick up the tabloid headlines and run with them. For the most part he wasn’t referring to all women in general. I can agree that his choice of words in the “set up a train” paragraph may have been a little off, as well as the 11th paragraph.

    His source, having formerly been a member and president of a sorority, and current sorority advisor has allegedly seen enough reprehensible behavior amongst her sorority sisters to recognize when something smells fishy. The statements she made to him were based on her personal experiences both as a sorority member and sorority advisor. It isn’t Whitlock that is painting with a broad brush, rather his FEMALE source.

    Lastly, I didn’t flat out call you a man-hater. Re-examine what I wrote, please. I said you are acting to the stereotype. I too believe in gender equality. Household chores and parenting should be shared, and men shouldn’t look and act like apes. However, your acceptance of the accuser’s statements as absolute fact reveals a lack of rationale in your thinking. Before you go and rebut this statement, I should point to your opening paragraph:

    “…how many times do we feminists have to tell you that a drunk sorority girl is not an invitation for rape and sexual assault?”

    Never once do you mention the possibility that the events of that night were merely two drunken fools getting it on in a public bathroom (in your rebuttal to my comments you do allude to this possibility). Without a second thought, Roethlisberger is a rapist! You say your reason for writing the article was to call out Jason Whitlock and those of his ilk as the cause and blame for countless rapes going unreported. Based on the comments of his FEMALE source, shouldn’t you aim some of your venom at the former sorority member that acted as Whitlock’s source of information?

    @ Annie: I understood what I meant by saying “the feminine mystique”. I used the book title as a means to point out the err in the accuser’s actions and how they further play in to the stereotypes and drift away from what feminism is about…or at least my vague understanding of what it truly should be…not the stereotypes.

    When I said there were no signs of forcible entry I was alluding to the findings of her rape examination. Her “naughty areas” showed no signs of trauma, meaning it is more than likely (and almost definitively) that she was a willing recipient of Roethlisberger. Had the accuser been adamant enough in her alleged refusal, she would have had tearing in her opening. It’s more than likely that she was willing and ready to rock. Furthermore, if she was being sexually assaulted or raped, she could have used her fists, fingernails, teeth, knees, or feet as means of fighting back against Roethlisberger. The last time I checked, he only has 2 hands to hold her down, if he did indeed forcibly assault her. And while he is 6’5″ tall and 240 lbs, it only takes a mere 5 psi to obliterate a man’s testicle.

    In closing, you should brush up on your reading comprehension. I didn’t state definitively that I’m a vile pig. I said “I very well may be one of those vile pigs”, meaning the jury is still out on me.

  16. Thanks for explaining how vaginas work to us, Tim. Maybe later you could help me understand my menstrual cycle and give me some advise about dealing with my endometriosis.

    Let me tell you from experience, fighting off a man who is pinning you down and raping you is not that easy. You’ll probably never have to find out for yourself, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

    Nobody knows what happened in that bathroom. Even Whitlock admits that at the end of his post. But despite admittedly not knowing whether it was consensual, he tears the accuser apart. That isn’t fair. That is wrong. Maybe women push back and take the other side, but only in response to crap like Whitlock’s post.

    What you need to understand is that some of us have been raped, some more than once, and it’s a cold and scary and lonely world afterwords. And people like you could think about that, and try to understand how what you say and do makes it harder for people like me and like Erica to recover from rape. Or you could continue spending your free time looking for ways to prove that some girl who has nothing to do with you really wasn’t raped, and then looking for places to share your findings with whoever will listen. And believe me, you are welcome here. But don’t you see how the stuff you’re saying hurts people? You don’t have to believe that Roethlisberger raped either of the women who accused him, or any other women who might not have accused him. But why do you want to go out of your way to tell women who are trying to create a safe feminist place in the world that:

    “Had the accuser been adamant enough in her alleged refusal, she would have had tearing in her opening. It’s more than likely that she was willing and ready to rock. Furthermore, if she was being sexually assaulted or raped, she could have used her fists, fingernails, teeth, knees, or feet as means of fighting back against Roethlisberger. The last time I checked, he only has 2 hands to hold her down, if he did indeed forcibly assault her. And while he is 6′5″ tall and 240 lbs, it only takes a mere 5 psi to obliterate a man’s testicle.”

    I mean, come on dude, seriously. Coming at me with the shit you learned from CSI? Do you get how insensitive that is? If you want to be a cop, be a cop, maybe you could actually help somebody. I have been raped, twice. The first time I couldn’t fight back b/c I was roofied, the second time I tried with all my might. And when I read that it sounds like you think that I should have been able to obliterate the testicles of my attacker, or that I should have been better coordinated and able to fight back better. And that makes me feel really shitty, because again it reminds me of all the people in the world who think that to some extent it was my fault, and who don’t care about what happened to me. Do you know how that feels? It hurts! That’s why we write this shit. That’s why we’re feminists. Not to go out and defend drunk sorority girls, but to try and defend rape victims from all the bad stuff out there that makes it worse by saying something, and doing something. Isn’t there a better way to use your head than to go around trying to pick fights with people who try to stand up for rape victims?

  17. I read the police report on the Smoking Gun and I don’t know how any reasonable person could think a woman wasn’t raped. A huge football player’s bodyguard escorts a drunk 20 year old to the back. Her friends immediately try to get the bodyguards to let them get their friend who “shouldn’t be back there with Ben”. They refuse. After 10 minutes, the victim comes out, crying, and all of them ask for help from the first police car they find. Ben’s victim: I believe you, I believe you, I believe you.

  18. Brianna says:

    This case is appalling, even though some seem to think it lacks evidence, it is a sad display of our society. It is all too often a situation such as this occurs. And because they are not publicized enough, when a teen girl is put in a similar situation, she is too afraid to go to the authority. Perhaps if we didn’t try to fault the victim and instead fixed our society’s collective mindset, we would all know that being drunk doesn’t not imprint a big YES across a female’s forehead. Just because the door was not locked does not mean the female wasn’t forced to stay. Whether or not this man committed the accused rape is not something we can decide here, but what we can do is further find out why the victims BAC is more important to some then her assault.

  19. Fiona Gierzynski says:

    What the hell ever happened to the sexual revolution? When I was in college, way back in the ’70s, our generation was supposed to be making it so that “slut” “whore” and other names would no longer be used to confine women to a sexuality of someone else’s choosing! Being a feminist meant that you were as free to say “yes” as you were to say “no”…and your word should be respected either way. Now my kids are dating, and it’s STILL “Men do and women don’t”, as my puritanical late father once told me. I asked him who the men were doing it with? Each other? He explained “Other people’s daughters”. When I pointed out how wrong he was, he took my picture out of his wallet and disowned me…again.
    I’m not defending anyone, I’m just amazed that we are STILL having to discuss this same old crap! When are women ever going to be allowed to just be themselves? Some are wanton, some are chaste…most are somewhere in-between…just like men. But no one deserves to be forced to do anything they don’t want to do, and no one deserves to be called names or shunned because of what they like to do. Grow up, people! Once you are an adult, what you do with your own body is no one else’s business but yours!

  20. Phyllis says:

    Can I just say that just b/c she was wearing something saying she was DTF, did not mean she was DTF him??? I mean, really? Wanting sex at the start of a night is a free pass for rape? I need a name tag that reads WTF.

  21. Darlene says:

    This incident underscores what I have known for many, many years. Gay men are the best men. You just don’t have to worry about this kind of crap when you hang out with them.

  22. @ Annie: You’re hilarious! Please post more.

    About Jason Whitlock, I’m unfortunately not surprised by such an insensitive and rape-myth laden editorial. While completing my PhD at Ball State (which I’m assuming is where he went given his email address), I participated in an outreach on sexual assault to the athletes there. The response we got from them were very similar to the things he says in his editorial. Rape myths abound and victims are given short shrift. I particularly loved the juxtaposition Whitlock used between talking about sex as “making love” vs. the “wham-bam” and “bang.” Does he really not see any difference between those? And as a sorority girl myself back in the day, I am seriously offended by his assumption that I am not believed because of my association in a particular organization. I wonder how he would feel if the same assumption of lying based on participation in, say, a professional football league was broadly stated.

    I’ve been following the Roethlisberger rape cases for a while because I was really hoping he would face charges eventually. Given the 96% truth rate for reporting rapes plus my experiences as a psychologist, I tend to believe women when they accuse men of rape. I too read The Smoking Gun report and think it is quite clear what happened. Like many men and professional athletes, Roethlisberger apparently thought his male privilege and entitled status allowed him to use women’s bodies as his playground regardless of whether they wanted to participate. The media has largely been complicit in this belief and not just with Roethlisberger. Until they and the larger society start holding men accountable for rape (and stop holding women accountable for failure to prevent rape), little will change.

    FWIW, I completely understand the victim’s desire not to press charges and think it is reasonable given the circumstances. I remember what Kobe Bryant’s accuser endured (her name and address given out so that legions of Kobe fans could verbally assault her and make her fear for her safety) and am certain she realized it would be a similar experience should she choose to move forward with a legal case.

  23. @ Tim

    Yeah, he only has two hands to hold her down. He also has two knees to hold her legs apart. I’m sorry but I don’t buy the “vaginal tearing” stuff. It’s not like there’s a wall that comes down if a woman doesn’t want sex. He’s a football player. Not to be sexist but she’s a woman. I had a hard time keeping my ex off me and he was just normally muscular. What I’m trying to say is if he had her legs held apart with his knees, her arms held down with his hands, she’s probably not moving very much. If she’s not moving very much, I don’t see how there would be tearing. Unless you’re talking about her being wet, but can I remind you that sometimes when men are being raped in prison they sometimes get hard-ons. The body responds differently than the mind. And she was probably turned on before, I mean they went back there in the first place.

    Your argument of how they were “two drunken fools getting it on” is kind of cheap, too. If at any point during sex the word “no” comes up, and it still happens, it becomes assault. Even if they were halfway through and she said “no, stop,” he should have stopped. Yeah, it would have been a cock-block and probably suck for him, but you know what? He can deal. If he can’t, he needs to grow up and get over himself. So she went in the bathroom with him, which ended up being a bad idea. But she doesn’t deserve to be raped for it.

    Oh and I can’t believe you’re using the NAME TAG as reasoning. I’ll walk around with a name tag that says “Mary” or “actually a man” and it doesn’t make it true. That’s just so, so stupid to think that defends the case. Again, a stupid mistake, but… really?

    @ Annie and Erica I’m sorry for you guys and what you had to go through. And women shouldn’t have to be afraid to defend themselves. You know it’s a sick world when…

  24. @Catherine…

    Catherine, what I posted are details that I read from the GBI report itself. Right from the main source. Most of the media have only reported the outrageous statements of the accuser and her friend. Most of what they say is BS. Take a look for yourself. There are a lot of valid reasons that Roethlisberger was not charged. The hospital, the police dept and the DA all don’t believe she was raped and there was no evidence to support her claim. Why would you think otherwise? What evidence do you have?

    @Erica…

    Erica, there are lots of witnesses that were interviewed that contradict the accusers friends’ story about the bodyguards blocking them from getting to her. There are also statements from the friends that contradict each other. It is obvious that they fabricated the story…but they were also very drunk according to many reports, so maybe they just didn’t have their wits about them.

    The bottom line is that there isn’t a shred of evidence against Roethlisberger (physical or otherwise)– but the media has duped a lot of you into presuming him guilty.

  25. anonymouse says:

    “As feminists you should examine her behavior and have something to say about her actions and their erosion of the feminine mystique,”

    Feminism has nothing to do with holding up a ‘feminine mystique’, or any other silly gendered roles. :( Nor does it have any thing to do with scolding women for their behavior or actions when they are made victims of a crime. It’s about believing a woman is free to be who or what she wants to be without being made a victim as a result of it. It’s about supporting freedoms for women.

    (Also, not all women fight back against their attackers. Some of us just go limp in a state of disassociation. Everyone’s reactions are unique. There is nothing wrong with any of these reactions. Please never volunteer with a rape helpline.)

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  3. [...] in the house alone.” And yet DOESN’T tell football players NOT TO RAPE. Amazing. Ms. Magazine attacked Whitlock’s “poor perception of humanity,” while Jezebel scolded NPR [...]

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