Hey, Remember How Kobe Bryant is Probably a Rapist?

In 2003, when Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a hotel employee–who later refused to testify after her name was dragged through the mud–I first contracted Kobe-Bryant-is-a-Rapist Tourette’s. The condition consists of blurting out at inopportune times (such as the current Lakers vs. Celtics NBA championship finals) and to unsympathetic audiences (such as the denizens of Los Angeles), “But, um, does it bother you that Kobe probably raped someone?”

If you have a similar condition, you will be familiar with the following responses:

  • (steam-spewing-out-ears) Who the F**K cares??
  • (in a voice of exasperated reason) Look, Kobe can sleep with whoever he wants. Why would he need to rape someone? Plus she went to his room. Clearly she wanted to sleep with him. You know, those girls who want to sleep with celebrities–they’re not like you or me. They just want to be close to fame. If they think they can get famous with a rape allegation, they do it.

I carefully crafted a counter-argument in a Salon.com comment seven years ago:

[This is a] sexy fairy-tale portrait of men who are given whatever they want. … Athletes who are constantly rewarded for aggressive, hyper-“masculine” behavior learn to cultivate and act on violent impulses, and as celebrities they learn that they can act without consequences.

I use a version of this as my retort. It has never ever convinced anyone.

So I turned to Jaclyn Friedman, co-editor of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape, for talking points, and she gave me a brilliant one:

Ever heard a rape charge against Tom Brady? David Ortiz? Lance Armstrong? Heck, for all the money and bad press Tiger Woods has earned, has anyone ever accused him of rape? The truth is, there are hundreds of filthy rich, incredibly famous men, and only a small handful of them have been accused of rape. If inventing a rape accusation was a great way to get rich, it would be a lot more popular.

Statistically, she’s on to something. More than 20 women came forward as mistresses of Tiger Woods, and none accused him of rape.

But Jaclyn–someone with purple-and-gold froth beginning to pool at the corners of their mouth may interject–maybe all these women just weren’t smart enough to realize they could get money and fame from a false rape accusation!

Jaclyn has an answer for that, too:

Actually, that hardly ever works. Much more often, women who are brave enough to publicly accuse rich and famous men of rape get vilified in the press, have their personal lives exposed and mocked by fans and are disbelieved by police and the courts. In fact, a study by USA Today in the wake of the Kobe Bryant rape trial found that athletes charged with rape were far less likely to be convicted or even agree to a plea deal than non-athletes.

But Jaclyn … Kobe’s rich and famous. He can get laid anytime. Why would he need to rape anyone?

The answer is that rapists don’t rape because they’re hard up for sex. They rape because they like raping. It’s ugly, but it’s true. Even if you’re rich and famous.

So if you’re watching the Celtics-Lakers with friends tonight and, like me, you look at Kobe’s slick moves and think only, “Man, I wouldn’t want that guy raping me,” go with the impulse and ask, “Um, isn’t Kobe a rapist?” And then–after you get the expected responses–quick, quote Jaclyn Friedman.

Photo from Flickr user boixoesnoise1987 under Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. Katrina Jagodinsky says:

    I try to use sarcasm in these situations by allowing basketball commentators to set the tone for my anti-Kobe comments. When the announcers say, “Bryant, known for forcing the action, is setting a tough pace,” I always jump in with, “Too true! Watch out ladies!” There are all kinds of opportunities to re-interpret the play-by-play sportscasting with similar jibes that remind sports fans that they’re watching a functioning celebrity rapist…the same works for football, by the way, so as a feminist sports fan I’m looking forward to that season as well.

  2. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, says:

    This was the most idiotic article I’ve ever read in my life. Get off Kobe’s dick and watch him hold up the championship today.

  3. Jessica Stites says:

    @Katrina lol I’m taking your comment as a personal challenge while watching the game. “What was THAT, Kobe? You have to set up your shot–can’t just try to sneak it in at the last second!”

  4. Why do you say probably?

  5. I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking this. All the fame in this life won’t change the outcome of our final judgment.

  6. Wow! Well done Jessica, just…very, really, very well done.

  7. commonsense99 says:

    So why has the offender repeated…(i.e. Big Ben)

  8. Ted Fentley says:

    I hate professional athletes and all so I don’t care about this guy Bryant, but when it came out that the gal had the semen from several men in her underwear, and that her story changed several times, well, doubt was cast on her story.

    Maybe you didn’t get the memo because you hate sports as much as I do I guess?

    • Nesmockin says:

      So promiscuous people can’t be raped? I love chocolate, but after several bites, I’ve usually had enough, if you know what I mean.

      Re: her story changing several times, you may want to check out the research of Roland Summit, a physician who wrote about Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome. It is notably common for cases of assault and abuse (involving all ages and demographics) to be prolonged/gradual, delayed, and even retracted. This is, in part, because of how the brain stores memories during traumatic events, and how it retrieves them following the event. Additionally, many survivors of abuse and/or assault also frequently report excessive guilt, self-doubt, confusion, and shame due to the legal, social, and emotional rollercoaster ride that ensues with reporting. That’s one of the cruelest aspects of abuse and assault – difficulty obtaining closure and justice in the midst of the psychological damage it leaves behind.

      • Nesmockin says:

        …common for REPORTS of assault and abuse to be prolonged/gradual, delayed, and retracted… sorry, typo

  9. Thank you, Jessica, for bravely and honestly naming the condition so many of us suffer from.

    When my son was little, he wanted those over-priced basketball jerseys, and I when I finally agreed to buy him one for his birthday in a popular sports store in a crowded mall, I said, “anyone but Kobe Bryant.”
    “Why not Kobe, Mom,” he said.
    “Because he (probably) did a bad thing to a woman, honey,” I said.
    “Ok, Mom, how about Carmelo Anthony?”

    My son was fine, got his jersey. The store employees glared, laughed behind open palms, snarked as we left.

    That was okay. The more Kobe Bryant jerseys left on the rack by mothers and fathers who refuse to give rapists THEIR economic support, the more we put our money where our mouths are!

  10. Yes! Thank you for writing this Jessica! I do this all the time. “Kobe RAPED SOMEONE! Doesn’t anyone care?!”

  11. I feel exactly the same way, Noelle! Thanks for the article, Jessica!

  12. greencrow says:

    Katelyn Faber admitted lying to the police in her statements, had a history of mental illness, had other men’s, (not Kobe’s), semen and pubic hairs in/on her panties when examined and then refused to press charges. I am as against rape as anyone but in this case you have to take a step back and think maybe, just maybe all those red flags mean something.

    • Nesmockin says:

      Yes, greencow, they do… maybe you should also read some of the literature (or at least my post above)…

    • Getacluegreencrow says:

      OMG, she lied about where she washed her face. How dare she forget something so important???

      Are you suggesting it’s okay to rape somebody with a mental illness, that somebody with schizophrenia is incapable of telling the difference between consensual sex and non-consensual sex, or that somebody with schizophrenia would never say no to sex?

      Again, are you suggesting that it’s okay to rape somebody who’s had sex with other men or that a woman who’s had sex with other men would never say no to sex?

      She changed her mind about pressing charges after 14 months of harassment and death threats, not to mention seeing how many people like you didn’t believe her. Most rape victims don’t press charges from the very beginning for those very reasons, she went further than the majority of rape victims, so I’m not sure how that’s relevant here.

      …which one of these is supposed to be a red flag that might mean something?

  13. OnlyMalePosterHere says:

    All chicks here. (cept for Ted, but he hates sports, so he’s not really a man) No wonder the opinions here are completely one sided.

    Ya’ll just want to be part of the action. Of course ya’ll think Kobe raped Faber, because you would do the same thing Faber did.

    @Donna, why the paranthesis between “he did something bad to a woman?” Cuz u dunno for sure? Don’t ruin basketball for your son based on YOUR own assumptions. Just FYI, your son’s gonna grow up to fantasize what you seem to fear the most. All males do, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s biology.

    Please don’t write another stupid article if you’re going to add a “Probably.” I’m infuriated that I even wasted 5 min of my time here. I bet this chick is also a Boston fan.

    • are you actually implying that all males fantasize about rape? i'm a straight male, and i have not. you should probably discuss this issue with your therapist.

    • Nesmockin says:

      OnlyMalePosterHere – wow. So many logical errors, so little time… maybe numbering them will help me weed through them…
      1. This is the Ms. Magazine website. That’s why the posters are mostly “chicks.” Not sure what you were expecting, but you’d find predominantly male perspectives following articles on, say, the Men’s Health or Maxim websites. If you find reading through mostly female comments aversive, you’d likely be safer from them there.
      2. Stating that women as a whole group “just want to be part of the action” and “would do the same thing Faber did” indicates that you think a) women are not individuals with their own genuine thoughts and feelings, but mass-replicated products of one biosociological cookie cutter; b) women are not already “part of the action,” whatever that really means; and c) whatever a man like Kobe Bryant has to “offer” in one encounter is worth more to a woman than her safety, dignity, and peace of mind. Super, over-the-top misogynistic on all accounts.
      3. “Don’t ruin basketball for your son based on YOUR own assumptions.” What a dramatic, silly over-statement. Basketball will never be ruined for any child because his/her parent insisted that role models act humanely – nor will any other sport. Basketball existed before Kobe Bryant ever did, and it will after he’s gone too. I’m sure someone more deserving of fame can represent basketball just fine.
      4. While males certainly fantasize about sex (as do females, fyi), psychologically healthy males do not fantasize about rape. Psychologically healthy men who are also purportedly happily married do not have random sexual encounters with women they barely know. Don’t assume all men are like you and Kobe Bryant, because they aren’t.
      5. Most women don’t really like being called “chicks,” especially by men who do it while casting aspersions on their character based on gender.
      6. The last few sentences of your post make you sound really entitled and self important. Drop the cocky, dismissive attitude and see how the quality of your interactions with women begin to improve dramatically.

      • You just tore his head off. I suspect he is cowering in a corner, weeping over how that “chick” just made him look stupid. Good work. Kobe is a POS.

  14. If a woman goes off with a man expecting to have sex, it doesn’t that mean that she’s agreed to anything he wants to do with/to her or that she can’t change her mind. She’s supposed to be a sex partner, not a sex toy. Of course she can be raped if she hasn’t agreed to the type of sex he forces her to have or she’s changed her mind. The idea that a woman isn’t a rape victim because she agreed to have sex is another manifestation of the double standard – women aren’t supposed to want sex and if they do, the deserve whatever happens.

  15. Well, no one no longer seems to care that Michael Jackson was “probably” a pedophile, not to mention a drug addict and very bizarre parent. We have very dubious “heroes” in our society. Even if someone has immense talent, without character, they are not worth admiring or defending.

  16. debbie jennings says:

    Thanks for the TRUTH! Why do so many people put athletes on a pedestal as if they could never do something as heinous as rape? It has been proven that it happens all the time – yet fans continue to blame the victim and support the athlete. My daughter was gang-raped by four college football players – yet people actually thought that she could stop it – or worse that she asked for it?? What is wrong with your thinking? She won judgements in a civil case – but guess what? NONE of the athletes have paid – one playing for the NY Giants claiming bankruptcy while supporting illegitimate children! Like the victims of O.J. – they have to continue to spend money and expose their pain repeatedly for civil suit payment. A week long segment on Jerramy Stevens in the Seattle Times (exposing his rape case) won a Pullitzer Prize. Why? Because the journalists finally exposed the truth that fans denied for years. And the journalists lives were threatened. What is wrong with you people who are BLIND when it comes to your favorite athletes?? You need help!

  17. R.Dianne Bartlow says:

    Check the evidence. This whole case would not have blown up without hard evidence, and no matter how much the victim was chastised or settlement forged.

  18. Awesome job Jess! This was so witty and just awesomely written. I have to be very honest in saying…I wonder how I would feel if I actually liked Kobe and the Lakers…I really and truly don’t. But do we instinctively judge others based on how we feel about them…even though we actually scarily don’t know these people

  19. Mary in Vail says:

    Just a little note – I know Katie Faber and was at a party with her the weekend after the “rape” and she was bragging about sleeping with Kobe Bryant. Next thing we all heard she had accused him of rape. I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened, but I would bet he didn’t rape her, she was just hoping to make money off him and the situation did no turn out in her favor. Just because a man is accused of rape does not automatically equate guilt. Some girls are guilty of lying.

  20. KobeIsGuilty says:

    She had semen from ONE other guy besides Kobe Bryant in her underwear. That was apparently her boyfriend at the time. Nothing wrong with that! Also, are we going to blame someone for having mental health problems and say that they cannot be the victims of rape? That in my mind is discrimination. Rape does not discriminate. I was taken advantage of sexually when I was about this young woman's age, and I did not prosecute. I should have, but I did not, because I was too afraid of the entire process of going public. It is extremely frightening, especially if you have no self confidence. Imagine going into open court. I completely understand why she backed out and didn't do it. If she were much older, it would have been easier for her to prosecute Kobe Bryant, but at the age of 19, that is very, very hard to do. I am surprised more people haven't thought of this. So many have automatically sided with Kobe, but I have always thought he is guilty of rape.

  21. What is this “he can sleep with whoever he wants” crap? Do you really believe that? Only a whore would be interested in “sleeping” with this gargoyle. Or may you’re just thinking about your wife/sister/daughter?? Not all women are like that. After all, what does he do? He’s good at playing round ball. Wow, amazing.

  22. HotelEmployee says:

    As a former hotel employee at a luxury property that the Lakers stayed in frequently in the late 90’s, I can tell you that I was not the least bit surprised to hear that Kobe was accused of raping this woman. This is clearly a man not used to hearing the word no. He is one of the biggest assh*les I have ever met. He is fully capable of doing exactly what he was accused of.

  23. I’m a little late to the party, but I seriously dislike all the people who defend Kobe. He went to my high school, and we even have a gym named after him. I honestly despise that so much.

  24. It’s absurd that anyone still believes he raped her after what her friend said. She refused to testify and it had zero to do with her name in the press. This was all about money. I don’t have an opinion about Kobe and I’m not a fan, but the case and evidence spoke for itself.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jaclynf, Ms. Magazine, Uncle Sylvia, Etana, Carolyn and others. Carolyn said: RT @jaclynf: Hey, Remember How Kobe Bryant is Probably a Rapist? (in which I am quoted liberally @msmagazine ) http://bit.ly/dbamii […]

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