If you spend time on Facebook at all, you may well have encountered this image which went viral a few days ago: George Lawlor, a student at Warwick University in the UK, had posted this photo of himself in outraged response to receiving an invite for a sexual consent workshop. He did not need to be taught not to be a rapist, he asserted. “That much comes to me naturally.”
Which, of course, begs the question: what, in George Lawlor’s opinion, is a rapist supposed to look like? Because to me, quite frankly, this young man looks very much like someone who could well be a rapist* – say at a frat house party when the girl has passed out – and perhaps not even realize the wrong of his doing. In other words, the very target group of this workshop he got into such a fit about.
Maybe we should ask DeviantArt. In as much as genre literature, film and tv shows – mainly of the murder mystery and bodice ripper kinds – considerably contribute to our collective mental image of what a rapist should look like, I even consider this post to be on topic, if tenuously so.
But I must admit that I get really pissed off about types like this George Lawlor. In which opinion, if we judge from the backlash on the internet, I am not at all alone! So once again, let’s call this a post about the power of images.
Rapists are demons: the winged incubus in the night, the evil king Ravana who abducts the beautiful Sita in India’s classical epos the Ramayana.
Rapists are mad: they’re the mentally disturbed priest who confuses his religion with acts of depravity. They’re some loathsome Bad Santa type who chains up beautiful young women to violate and butcher them.
Rapists are faceless: they cover their face and wear a mask, and they revel in the smell of blood. Or maybe they are of the suave kind and fancy red, red roses.
Rape is about the victim, not the perpetrator: the facelessness of the rapist contrasts sharply with the helplessness of the victim, whether she fights back or silently endures. Or while she suffers the consequences of psychological trauma, social stigma, and unwanted pregnancy.
So then I went and looked up some high profile rape cases, and what the perpetrators actually did look like:
The Mt Rennie gang rape rocked Australia back in 1886. The perpetrators were a group of young men, nine of whom were eventually convicted (some were executed, others received a life sentence).
The photographs are old and faded – but is it just me, or does this young man look quite a bit like George Lawlor?
Phil Pickett is a British musician and music teacher at the prominent Guildhall School of Music in London. He was recently convicted of raping and indecently assaulting several of his young female students, inside conveniently sound insulated music practice rooms.
The rapes happened in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. It took his victims thirty years for the authorities to believe their stories, and bring the man to trial. Quite the British gentleman!
The American stand-up comedian Bill Cosby has been accused by more than 50 women of rape, sexual assault and sexual misconduct – in particular of being drugged so that he could have sex with them – in cases dating back to the 1960’s. A number of lawsuits against him are currently pending.Would you have believed it of this friendly, smiling man?
Such a nice and cute young man Woody Allen was. His torrid split up with actress Mia Farrow made media waves in the early ’90s, when she acted on her then seven year old adopted daughter Dylan’s assertion that Allen had sexually abused her, and shortly afterwards found out that he was having an affair with another of her adopted daughters, Soon-Yi Previn – 20 at the time – whom he has subsequently married.
Allen was never charged for sexual abuse of a child, and has denied all such claims, suggesting that Mia Farrow planted the story out of vindictiveness. Dylan has since come forward again and insisted that her statements are true and the culmination of several years of inappropriate behaviour toward her when she was a child – a circumstance which several people close to the family have also testified to.
Allen was also never able to see why there might be anything wrong with sleeping with his stepdaughter – technically, it was neither rape nor incest and therefore not illegal. It just tore the family apart, not to mention taking advantage of the psychological vulnerability of a much younger woman with a traumatic past.
Sir James Wilson Vincent “Jimmy” Savile (OBE, KCSG) – British radio and tv personality and celebrity charity fundraiser: that is, he gave money to hospitals so he could have access to patients confined to their beds in order to sexually abuse them. The allegations of sexual abuse against him range in the hundreds, making him possibly the most prolific sex offender ever.
Admittedly, he does look like a raving lunatic in most of the photos I have found. But he is – that is, was – a “Sir”.
These two fresh faced youths were convicted of sexual assault in the Steubenville High School rape, which made waves because bystanders life-streamed the event on Facebook and Twitter. I rest my case.
Aren’t they all charming? And mind you, the examples I have picked aren’t your average confused bloke who didn’t quite get his head around what consent really means. They aren’t even your average entitled, controlling, abusive partner or boyfriend or husband. Most of these friendly, smiling, educated, well respected men are hardcore repeat offenders or child molesters. Or both.
So maybe, George Lawlor, you could quit moaning and go to that workshop. You might learn something.
All images are copyright the respective artists, and may not be reproduced without permission.
Editorial clarification: so far as Amazing Stories was able to ascertain, the Warwick University student, Charles Lawlor, has never been accused of sex crimes or sexual harassment. Use of his image and name here was prompted by his public protest, as expressed in an editorial in his college paper. Further discussion on the subject – largely explaining why Lawlor just doesn’t get it, can be found here.