We Spleen: The Ben Roethlisberger Excuse

Okay 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.

Ben 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.

Follow Ms. coverage of sexual violence issues here. 


Erica Shultz is the digital production artist at RVCA in Costa Mesa, California. She spends her free time reading, making zines & comics, and playing drums. Follow her comics on Instagram or check out her website.